Saturday, October 18, 2008

eating well in Hawaii (days 3, 4, & 5)

I think when I left off last time, it was mid-September, and we'd been eating up a storm in Honolulu for two days...

We woke up on the morning of day 3 (Friday) and decided to road trip it to the North Shore, to see if we could see some surfing. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate and there were no waves:


So, we just hung out at Waimea Bay Beach Park for awhile. While we were there, one of our friends joined the many people (mostly teenagers and kids) jumping off of a large nearby rock:


We consoled ourselves with some shave ice from Matsumoto's (not quite as impressive second time around) and prawns from Romy's (still fresh and delicious):


After eating, we drove all the way around the island, stopping from time to time to enjoy the views:


Towards the evening, we ventured into Kailua, where we picked up some "chocolate jump cake" from Agnes' Portuguese Bakeshop (looks too sweet to eat but isn't; it's deliciously chocolate-y), and then drove all the way around on the Kalaniana'ole Highway, passing by Diamond Head again on our way back into Honolulu.

For dinner, we went to the Coco Ichiban Curry House, a chain serving only Japanese curry:


We tried the takoyaki, the fried chicken, and the gyoza, but didn't have room for more than that. So simple, so cheap, so yummy. If only they would open a curry house in the Bay Area!

Afterwards we happened upon a street fair on Kalakaua Street, and wandered around watching the performers and smelling all the street food that we couldn't possibly manage to eat:


We met up with some friends from Honolulu at the Westin Moana Surfrider (at their suggestion), where we sat in the lounge catching up and having a few drinks. Very nice hotel and excellent table service, but I'm guessing way out of budget for our trip.

The wedding wasn't until 4pm on Saturday, so we slept in, for once. At the street fair the night before, we had been very surprised to see a sign for Okonomiyaki Chibo at one of the stands. Last year in Osaka a Japanese friend had taken us to Chibo for dinner and we had enjoyed it very much, so we stopped by to inquire, and it turned out that they had just opened a restaurant in a nearby mall, the Royal Hawaiian Center. Of course, we ended up there for lunch, and it was delicious. I've decided I prefer the kind of okonomiyaki where they put noodles into the batter and it turns out a bit crispy.

After walking around for a bit and enjoying a very fruity mango shave ice, we headed to Kaka`ako Waterfront Park for the ceremony. Despite being mid-September, it was sweltering hot that day, especially for the guys in their suits and tuxes. It was a beautiful and intimate outdoor ceremony, but shortly afterwards, during the downtime before the reception, we decided we just had to have some more shave ice (to fight the heat, naturally).

This time we headed to the highly reviewed Waiola Shave Ice:


We had the "Azuki Bowl", which came with milk flavor, azuki beans, and mochi balls. It was very good but reminded me more of Chinese or Japanese dessert than Hawaiian shave ice. A friend added green tea flavor to her bowl and it basically ended up tasting like a modified version of the Japanese dessert of green tea ice cream with red beans.

After finishing our second shave ice of the day, we had just enough time to drive to the reception, which was at the DAV Hall, in Ke'ehi Lagoon Park. At this point I'd been in Hawaii for four days and hadn't actually eaten any real Hawaiian food (except taro chips and poke) so I was excited for the dinner part of the reception, because I knew the bride's relatives (who happen to own a local catering business) were in charge of dinner.

As it turned out, they had the Kalua Pig I'd been craving (and it was excellent), sushi rolls, crab salad, pickled cucumber salad, and glass noodles, as well as some dishes that I hadn't had before: a coconut milk-heavy creamed spinach-like dish, an octopus dish, and a dessert that was kind of like almond tofu but was coconut flavored and was much more gooey. They also had a lot of poi, and well, I still don't like poi.

For dessert, there were four kinds of cake, all of which I managed to try:


I'd never been to a wedding reception quite like this one before. The last time I went to a wedding in Hawaii, the bride had grown up in Honolulu, but she was of Chinese and not Hawaiian ethnicity, so the overall tone of the wedding was much more traditionally American. This reception was very laid-back, and although the ceremony had been small, there were nearly 300 guests at the reception, mostly family. A live Hawaiian band played through most of the night, and various members of the bride's family would get up to do traditional Hawaiian dancing from time to time (and they were all quite good). At one point the groom (who is not Hawaiian) did a dance with the bride's father which he had been learning, and then the bride followed that up with a dance of her own. Overall, it was a very unique and fun wedding to have attended.

Our flight on Sunday wasn't until the late evening, but we had to drop some friends off at the airport before noon. On our way there, by request, we stopped again at Waiola for more shave ice. This time we tried the "Li Hing Mui" (Chinese preserved plum) with custard (basically flan). The combination sounded odd at first but it turned out really well, and in fact I liked it better than the Azuki Bowl we had had the day before.

After doing airport duty, we went to visit another friend from Honolulu. She tried to take us to Tamashiro Market for lunch, but it turned out they didn't serve lunch on weekends. Next we tried Nico's, but they were closed for a private event, so we ended up at Uncle's, which she said was less popular but I had a really decent calamari salad anyway, with large chunks of freshly fried calamari.

I'd already been to Pearl Harbor as a child and didn't remember being particularly impressed, but given that we had several hours to kill, we decided to head over to see the USS Arizona, just before closing. Even after getting there and looking around, I couldn't find any memory of having been there before, so I guess it's good that I went.

I thought this inscription was nice; it's a list of soldiers who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor, but chose to be buried with their shipmates later:


(I think the bits sticking out of the water are of the decaying ship.)


Finally, just before heading back to the airport, we stopped by the curry house again for dinner, because I was determined to try an udon dish:


As much as I love Japanese curry, I hadn't ever tried it on udon before. It was very yummy (of course), and I will have to try making it myself one of these days.

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