The Hibachi restaurant in Lahaina, Maui is dining at its finest! Home of “Mo’ Butter Mo’ Better.” 

Shhh… it is the secret ingredient.

Stranger Danger

When you dine at a Hibachi restaurant, the host smushes you into a table that seats upwards of twelve people. Did I mention this is indoor dining only?

Back in the day before COVID, you would always have to share a hibachi table with peeps called strangers.

I barely remember those pre-COVID days, but if my mind serves me correctly, we would just sit down, and simply ‘grin and bear it.’

In those days, my greatest fear was the stranger who sat next to me who was either too loud, too drunk, elbowed me too much, spat food when they spoke, had not so subtle fahrt slippage, or all of the above. 

Kinda kills the ambiance of fine dining. Don’t ya think?

At a minimum, if I knew the person sitting next to me, I could make a big stink and complain. 

By the way, I wonder…can you get COVID through a fahrt?

On second thought, perhaps this was not the best dining choice during COVID.

Whatever. The salted butter sprinkled with salt and a side of grilled shrimp is to die for girlfriends!

Love Thy Table-Neighbor

I know, you are thinking, ‘she is such a biatch!’ Excuse me sistah! Oh my, what short memories you have. Perhaps even worse than mine!

There is COVID in Hawaii. And even though there may not be COVID in Florida, Arizona or Texas, I do not need to be literally sittin’ on top of a stranger. Then again, if my table neighbor is gorgeous and super-hot…there is always an exception to every rule! Shhhh. don’t tell my husband.

COVID Dining

The big question of the evening: Would we be lucky and get a table alone, or would we have to dine with strangers? 

No more guessin’! We were escorted to the table, which was empty. Hallelujah! Alone at last! 

And then… came the other family.

Oy. A million meshuga (Yiddish for crazy) thoughts were racing through my rather unstable mind. This family could be from Mars for all I knew. Actually, I could deal with a family from Mars. Mars instituted mandatory COVID vaccinations.

A family from Mississippi Arizona, South Dakota, not sure. Red States, conspiracy theories, vax chips implanted in your body…yada yada yada.

But really. Humor me. Just imagine, we actually had to share a table with strangers! We have never, ever done that during COVID! Shiat!

My word! What was a girl to do? Where could I run? The good news was that the restaurant stuck us with only one family.

Phew, what a relief. I suppose due to COVID, we did not get a third family literally thrown in our laps!

As it was, we were literally sitting on top of each other. No joke. However, I had to laugh because I believed the air I was breathing was laden with COVID spikes, and they were infiltrating every orifice of my body.

Rather than totally lose my mind, I needed to put my thinkin’ cap on. What would my Spiritual Advisor Dr. Fauci tell me to do?

Like duh! He would have told me not eat indoors at a restaurant. Hmmm. He sounds like my ‘ole big mama! 

If he only knew the COVID mess I got myself into. Where was the social distancing? Where was my mask?

And then, I did what any COVID paranoid lunatic would do: I moved my chair and table setting to the very end of the table. My plate was hanging off the table. A useless effort to maintain a teeny-tiny bit of air space between myself and the stranger next door.

Rest assured it would have been easier to just sit away from the table facing the corner.

I was plotzing. FYI, Yiddish word for ‘collapsing or fainting.’ The translation: Sistahs, I thought I was gonna die! It was over; yep, right there in the hibachi restaurant. Sayonara folks.

Why the worry? First of all, no one wore a mask at the table. Why should we? We had to show our I.D. and vaccine card.

But wait. This is COVID. Where is this family from? Mississippi? Did they really get vaccinated? Was their VAX Card legal? How can I find out this information?

Vetting Process

You know it sistahs! I looked over this family with a keen eye. Oh please. I was in stealth mode. I was not blatant. You know me… I am the most subtle person ever! Just like a bull in a China shop! But I had to be careful. If they were from Texas, were they packin’ a pistol? I just did not know.

The Chef

At a Hibachi restaurant, it is the luck of the draw who is your Chef.

And we scored big.

The Chef, who happens to be a part-time comedian and part-time knife magician, finally came on stage to his grill.

He brought the hibachi ingredients: about five pounds of salted butter and three pounds of salt. Grilled salted butter with a dash of shrimp, steak, chicken, and vegetables was the cuisine for the evening.

Knives Out

The Chef entertained us with a show of flippin’ and spinnin’ sharp knives. One false move, and adios to your table neighbor. At least that would have created more space at the table.

Mo’ Butter is Mo’ Better!

What can I say, I love hibachi! I love grilled butter sautéed with salt, and a hint of shrimp, steak, lobster or chicken. I loved grilled butter with a side of garlic and a hint of fried rice.

The dinner was great, as always. I suppose due to COVID, the Chef did not throw shrimp at us to catch with our mouths. Too bad. I loved watching someone get shrimp thrown in their eye!

Oh well, maybe next year.

The Heart and Soul of Beverly Hills: Prospect Gourmand

Chef Isaac and Chancey Gamboa

“My weaknesses have always been food and men, in that order.” Wise words from Dolly Parton.

I am not a food critic. Although, I do like food. And I do enjoy dining at a great restaurant. Prospect Gourmand in Beverly Hills is that restaurant.

Prospect Gourmand

A restaurant is as good as the sum of all its parts: The Chef, The Hostess, the Server, and last, but not least, the Cuisine.

Wait…there is more. There are the intangible qualities that make you savor every morsel of food, which makes you want to go back every weekend, every month, every year. It is that special restaurant that makes you feel a part of their ‘family.’

Prospect Gourmand, located on Robertson Drive in Beverly Hills is that Restaurant. Chancey and Isaac Gamboa are the owners of Prospect Gourmand, a niche restaurant that prides itself on farm to table food. Gourmand relies on local farmer’s markets for the fresh ingredients that are the foundation of Chef Isaac’s eclectic menu.

Chef Isaac and Chancey are a husband and wife team who have been cultivating their restaurant in Beverly Hills for over seven years, while simultaneously raising their four children. The Chef is a California Boy; Chancey emigrated from Cambodia. The Chef attended Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts — Las Vegas and trained under a Michelin Star Chef in San Francisco. Chancey’s family owned several donut shops.

Beverly Hills may be a global destination for luxury retail therapy and Hollywood Star Gazing. But, for Chef Isaac and Chancey, Beverly Hills is simply called ‘home’ to their restaurant and family.


At the beginning of 2020, Prospect Gourmand moved from La Cienega Drive to its current location on Robertson. As we all know, moving a restaurant immediately prior to the start of the pandemic, was not good timing.

The two pandemic lockdowns in Los Angeles, forced many restaurants to permanently close. Like so many other restaurants, Chef Isaac and Chancey experienced profound professional and personal financial hardship. Rather than permanently close their doors, they made the decision to convert their kitchen to a ‘take-out only business’ and prepare meals for the First Responders who worked throughout the Community.

During the early days of the first lockdown, Gourmand created their own version of an outdoor market, and sold fresh produce and other food staples on their storefront sidewalk. In fact, Chef Isaac baked daily bread, which became a coveted market item.

Generosity of Customers and Strangers

The sidewalk market and take-out business allowed Gourmand to literally ‘stay afloat’

Loyal customers of Gourmand reciprocated ‘in-kind’ the appreciation they held for Chef Isaac and Chancey’s self-less efforts. Generous customers purchased restaurant gift cards under the guise ‘they would be used when dining resumed in Los Angeles.’ To this day, many gift cards purchased during the pandemic have yet to be redeemed.

Prospect Gourmand warms the heart and feeds your soul. Oh, and by the way, I love Chef Isaac’s Lobster Tacos!

Lobster Tacos!

Cheers to Isaac and Chancey!