Udon Noodles With Shrimp

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Graze or Gobble: Udon Noodles with Shrimp! Everyone goes crazy over noodles. Udon noodles, made popular by the Japanese culture, offer the chewy thick texture associated with comfort food. Basically made from flour, salt, and water, they can take on the flavor of whatever ingredient you add to it. Being a shrimp-lover and mushroom fanatic, the choices here were not even up for debate. My kitchen, my choice. But I can tell you this, the sauce alone is slurp-worthy.



7-ounce package udon noodles

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/3 cup mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped

8-10 large shrimp, precooked and tails removed

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 cup baby spinach leaves

1 green onion, chopped for garnish

Ingredients for the Sauce:

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil


Make the sauce first by combining oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, and toasted sesame oil. Whisk until smooth. Set aside. Boil the udon noodles, according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and set aside. Warm one tablespoon olive oil in a skillet. Increase heat to medium-high setting. Add sliced mushrooms. Stir 2-3 minutes until cooked. Add chopped yellow onions and cook 2-3 minutes longer, or until soft. Transfer vegetables to a platter. In the same skillet, add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add large shrimp. Sprinkle with garlic powder, seasoned salt, and red pepper flakes. Sauté both sides of the shrimp. Add the udon noodles to the skillet to heat through. Pour the sauce over the shrimp and noodles. Stir. Add mushrooms and onions; gently toss. Turn off heat. Fold in the baby spinach leaves; allow them to slightly wilt. Scoop noodle mixture into individual bowls. Garnish with green onion pieces. Serve immediately.

Unagi Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: Unagi Sauce! Anyone who likes Japanese cuisine is familiar with the term “unagi”. You may have seen a squeeze bottle, among other sauces, in a condiment caddy placed on each table at a restaurant specializing in sushi. Those who use unagi regularly may choose to call it “Eel Sauce”, but I’ve found that term used for shock-value more than anything else, especially among family members. If you were ordering grilled eel, well sure by all means, call it that. More importantly, let’s talk about taste because unagi sauce is that thick, sweet, salty stuff you could literally slurp with a spoon. I’d recommend adding a mound of steamed rice to your plate so it wouldn’t be so obvious.



5 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup mirin

3 tablespoons sake

1/2 cup soy sauce


Place a saucepan over Medium heat. Add sugar, mirin, and sake. Mix well. Add the soy sauce; stir to blend. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. It allows the sugar to dissolve equally. Reduce heat to Simmer. Stir occasionally for 10 minutes longer. Bubbles will appear around the surface of the liquid. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool. Once it reaches room temperature, it is ready to serve. Store leftovers in a covered jar in the refrigerator.

Kenji Burger in Kapaa, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Kenji Burger in Kapaa, Kauai. It’s always good advertising when a sign boasts: “We use 100% Kauai grass fed beef,” especially if you prefer a fusion diet of healthy meats and vegetables. Grass fed beef translates into leaner burgers. At Kenji Burger, the Japanese mix of Asian cuisine with American favorites provides a taste extravaganza that’ll leave your head spinning. Think outside the box. Teriyaki burgers, misoyaki fish sammies, spicy poke bowls, loaded sushi burritos, and furikake fries. This is not your ordinary burger joint. See the maneki-neko Japanese cat figurine, with its paw raised, perched on the counter? It definitely brings good luck. Perhaps you’ll give them a try. Kenji Burger is spot on.

Dining Outside the Home: Kintaro Japanese Restaurant in Kapaa, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Kintaro Japanese Restaurant in Kapaa, Kauai! When the locals recommend a place to eat, pay attention, especially if they are making reservations for a private celebration behind shoji screens with tatami mat seating. Kintaro is that good. For others, it’s first-come, first-served whether you are seated at the exotic sushi bar, a table for two in the dining room, or family-style seating around the teppan yaki table grills. For starters a plate of complimentary crispy fried wontons were served by the friendly wait staff. They were so yummy, we ordered more. And because using chop sticks is part of the experience, the filet mignon and lobster tail combo were already cut into bite-sized cubes arranged on the plate. The rest is easy. Sit back, bask in the Asian decor, and enjoy the cuisine.

Dining Outside the Home: Sushi Bushido in Kapaa, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Sushi Bushido in Kapaa, Kauai!  Is it a Japanese art gallery in a restaurant or a Japanese restaurant in an art gallery? Take a peek inside and see. You will be amazed! Located in the center of Old Kapaa Town in a place known as the “Dragon Building”, Sushi Bushido is a blend of everything traditional in local-style sushi through contemporary creations in dinner entrées. And the art, you wonder? The artist has a tiny studio next door, which is why an entire red wall inside Sushi Bushido is dedicated to her paintings. That’s what I call a “Win! Win!” for both parties. Check out the Sushi Bar, specialty rolls, and Tempura dishes along with a nice selection of beer and Sake. Trust me, you’ll be in good company. 

The Return of Nippon Maru: A Japanese Sailing Vessel

Standing on the shore, gazing out to sea, if you looked hard, put an open palm across your brow, and really squinted, you could see it. Like a mirage in the desert, it seemed to appear before fading into hazy white light. Blink. There is was again. Beyond reason, if seeing is believing, then it had to be a ghost ship of some sort, gliding back and forth on the horizon, but never approaching land. Until it did. A military intelligence service veteran, standing on the jetty wall of Nawiliwili Harbor, proclaimed “She’s actually coming in.” The Nippon Maru II, a 1930 four-masted Japanese training vessel, was about to dock after 21 long days at sea. The last time it had visited the island of Kauai was in 1983. As if awestruck, tourists and Native Hawaiians stood as still as marble statues. They gaped in wonder when the buoyant museum slid into Pier 2. The familiar white rectangular flag, with a bright red disc in the center, identified its country with pride. Word is after its return to Japan in 1984, it became a permanent landmark docked in Yokohama Harbor. During its service, it had logged over 45 trips around the world and brought up 11,500 cadets. Historical. Just as gallantly as the Nippon Maru II arrived, two days later, the prestigious training ship with its four giant masts, solid wooden decks, and thick knotted ropes guided its way back out to sea. The energetic sailors, dressed in crisp white uniforms, scaled the nautical rope ladders with ease. From every position they heartily waved their arms at the crowd. Shouts and cheers of farewell billowed on the trade winds. Then with imperial majesty, the Nippon Maru II slid out of sight without ever unfurling its mighty sails. 

Bellagio Conservatory is Transformed into Japanese Tea Garden in Las Vegas, Nevada 

Fragrant cherry blossoms, graceful pebble fountains, delicate origami cranes, and exotic koi fish in a tranquil pond are a few of the eye-popping elements in this vibrant display. At every turn, thousands of fresh tulips, daffodils, snapdragons, and spring flowers blanket the ground among botanical animals enormous in size. Overhead ethereal hand-painted parasols appear floating in air. Linger among the bonsai trees, note the abstract stone art of Mount Fuji, and be inspired by the karma of the Far East recreated in the Bellagio Conservatory at Las Vegas.