To feed your body and soul in San Diego and all over the world

Hawaii

Last Days in Paradise

Day 5

Today, we started our morning with a quick fruit breakfast before heading off to the Pearl Harbor Historical Sites.  Other than the Pearl Harbor Memorial, there are also retired WWII vessels that you can visit.  The Memorial is actually completely free and a ferry takes you to it approximately every 15 minutes.  The other military vessels do cost, but you can buy a package to save some money.  CP and I visited the USS Blowfin submarine and the USS Arizona.  I’ll let the pictures do the story telling.

After our memorial visit, but before the USS Arizona, we needed lunch and we were not going to settle for a crappy hamburger or hot dog.  Instead, we hoped in our car and drove a bit to get to Tanioka’s.  This market was recommended to me by my colleague, an ex-pat, for having the best poke and other great bento items.

Once we were there, the large number of choices made it really hard to for us to decide what to get.  In the end, we bought more than what we could really eat…but the bounty cost us about $35.

Shoyu Poke

Lomi Poke

Spicy Tuna with Sushi Rice

Fish and tofu cakes

Fried ahi with wasabi aoili

Best things we ate out of this massive pile of food?  The Lomi Poke and the Spicy Tuna with the sweet sushi rice.  The lomi poke had a subtle sweetness to it, and a hint of garlic or something else.  The soft cubes of tuna melted away and the seaweed gave away to a wonderful crunch.  Best poke I ever had and not sure how others will hold up to this one.

After that big meal, we had visited the USS Arizona as you saw above.  The winded down pretty quickly after that and we headed off to Paradise Cove for our luau.  Unfortunately…as we got closer to the east side of the island, the sun we had was going away and we were driving into showers, to rain, to heavy rain.  Obviously, the luau was cancelled and we had to reschedule it.

Since that plan went out the door, we decided to head to one of the beaches we saw on our drive the previous day.  We already had all our swimming gear in the car in case of anything and good thing we did!  So instead of a luau, we had a sunset swim on a secluded beach on the northwest side of Oahu.  It was a wonderful way to watch the day end (and to have your honey attempt to block a wave from getting you by doing a head dive as if to take a bullet for me.  Except this was water and it just ended up splashing us both completely).

For dinner that night, we ended up at Duke’s Waikiki to satisfy CP’s craving of surf and turf.  I wasn’t completely hungry, so we followed CP’s craving this time.  One thing that I didn’t know, was that the restaurant company that owns Jake’s Del Mar, owns Duke’s as well.  I was a little surprised by this and found it funny we ended up at a place that had a little bit of San Diego too.

CP’s surf and turf – sirloin and lobster tail, with mashed potatoes and green beans.  He lapped up his meal with a smile on his face…guessing he really like it huh? J

My lomi lomi chicken with rice pilaf was not amazing, but not terrible.  It was just kind of boring and I did not particularly like it.  However, not to fear! Dessert comes and saves my night!

The Hula Pie!  It is macadamia nut ice cream, sitting on a chocolate cookie crumb shell, covered with a layer of chocolate ganache, topped with chocolate fudge and more macadamia nuts and whipped cream.  Man…it was a cold, creamy party in my mouth.  Even CP joined in the dessert (he just steered away from the chocolate, which was fine by me)!

Day 6

Our last full day in Hawaii, we headed straight to Hanauma Bay for some snorkeling!  Unfortunately, we did not bring nor buy an underwater camera, but the experience was surreal.  Since we were there early in the morning (granted…it was chill waters for Hawaii given the storms and cloudy start to the day), the fishes were all out and feeding.  The waves were really mild, so it made for a great snorkeling experience.  We saw many of the species of fishes that we saw also at the aquarium, so both CP and I were super excited about that.

As the day progressed, more sun came out, but the waves started getting a little “rougher” for the bay.  It was harder to find the fishes at that point as they most likely took refuge in their coral homes. At that point, CP and I decided that after 4 hours of snorkeling, we decided to call it a day (for snorkeling).

Since we both worked up an appetite, it was time to get another food icon of the island:

YES! Malasadas! And not just any malasadas, but the famed Leonard’s Bakery malasadas!  We bought a box of 6 with the cinnamon coating, and 1 haupia filled sugar coated malasada.  I was giddy with excitement and joy as I tasted the warm, fluffy, sugary pastry.  I felt my eyes roll behind my head as the wonder that is a fresh malasada can do for me.  CP was looking curiously at the box and my reactions to eating it, and finally was convinced enough to try one.  He was hooked, no questions about it.

After having our fill of malasadas, we went back to clean up and headed off to our luau!

Paradise Cove

Upon entering the cove, you receive a shell or flower lei (depending which package you bought), plus a mai tai or a non-alcoholic beverage.  All around the cove, there were free activities that were happening for the guests such as spear throwing and weaving a head band made from palm leaves.  Since we bought the basic package, I did not have any flowers on me, I immediately went to make myself a headband and bracelet made from the same flowers.

After properly decking myself out, there were several pre-luau shows that we watched including: the flower drop (a guy climbs up a palm tree and lets out a sack of flowers…and he climbed that tree super fast) and demonstration of how fishermen casts out the nets from the shore to reel in dinner.

Then came the revealing of the pig ceremony and a traditional hula dance:

Finally, it was dinner time!  The offerings: kulau pig, baked fish, fried chicken, salad, pasta salad, bread rolls (butter and taro), rice, and poi.  Desserts included: coconut jello, vanilla and chocolate cakes, and pineapple.

The food? It was a buffet, what did you expect? I got exactly what I expected: fair to bad food.  The pig was good, and that was about it on the savory end. The coconut jello was the best dessert since it’s a lot like what I eat at home.

After we all had our fill, the show began!

That was both CP’s and my first luau and we both had a great time actually.  True, it is completely and utterly a tourist attraction, but it was something that had to be done.  Would I do it again?….nah, once is more than enough!

Day 7 – Last day :(…

Sigh…like all good things, it must come to an end.  I was sad waking up that morning, knowing that it was time to go home.  Prior to going, I had to pick up some cookies from the Honolulu Cookie Company to bring home.

I picked up the mix tin box with 15 flavors and a total of 32 cookies.  The flavors include: Butter Macadamia, Pineapple Macadamia, Mango Macadamia, Lilikoi Mango, Kona Coffee, Chocolate Dipped Macadamia, Dark Chocolate Macadamia, White Chocolate Kona Coffee, Dark Chocolate Kona Coffee, Triple Chocolate Macadamia, Dark Triple Chocolate Macadamia, Dark Chocolate Lilikoi, Coconut, Dark Chocolate Coconut and White Chocolate Coconut. My favorite?  The Dark Chocolate Coconut!

Also, we decided to make one last stop to Puka Dog for a to-go lunch.  Just because I wanted to bring something else to eat on our plane ride, just in case that the meal served was not good.

That was our week long adventure in Hawaii.  It was everything I thought it would be and at the same time, the island gave me surprises that I did not expect.  I can see myself definitely visiting the islands again!

Pearl Harbor Historical Sites

Taniokas Seafoods and Catering

94-903 Farrington Highway
Waipahu, HI 96797

Duke’s Waikiki
On the Sand at the Outrigger Waikiki, Oahu
2335 Kalakaua Ave., Suite 116
Honolulu, HI  96815

Hanauma Bay

Leonard’s Bakery
933 Kapahulu Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816

Paradise Cove Luau
92-1089 Alii Nui Drive
Kapolei, Hawaii 96707

Honolulu Cookie Company

Multiple locations and online ordering available


Day 3 and 4 in Oahu

Day 3

After a day of doing little to nothing, it was time to do something again on our vacation!  But before any of that, we needed a proper breakfast to start.  Given that CP’s ideal breakfast are blueberry pancakes, no matter where we are, I found him a place that actually served it (you’d be surprised how hard it was…every place wanted to put either bananas or pineapples, which is not all that surprising since we were in Hawaii).

Longhi’s

Now…those 2 pancake stacks look the same with the exception of the topping right?  It is actually the topping that gives it away: one is a buttermilk blueberry pancake (top) and the other is a ricotta blueberry pancake (bottom).  The difference?  One is a good, standard, pancake…the other, is a creamy, decadent disks that will fill you up 5x faster.  Just take a look at the creamy goodness inside:

I had made it through half of the stack before I decided that it was a better idea to walk away than to push through.  CP on the other hand had wiped clean his stack (of 3…instead of 2 because his was slightly lighter than mine).  After our yummy breakfast, we had to make a stop in the Lego store we walked by on our way to breakfast because both CP and myself are big fans of Legos…but CP was just so excited to see a store with nothing BUT Legos.

He ended up buying 3 Starwars character keychains (since it was buy 2, get 1 free) and walked out of the store triumphant and happier.  🙂  With this good start to the day, we decided to go see some of the “sights” of the island…you know, the tourist stops.  It is in us both to do as much one can during a vacation (it’s more myself than anyone), so since we spent one whole day practically doing nothing…it was time to do something!  That’s why we spent the next 2 hours or so at the Waikiki Aquarium.

We learned that this monk seal is best known for “energy conservation.”  CP and I both thought, “How appropriate for this vacation…perhaps we should take a page from its book and we could learn a few things or two on how to enjoy life.”  I loved this seal because: 1. it’s just a blubbery cuteness and 2. lives the life I wish I could.

After spending the time inside a wonderful aquarium and learning about the animal that embodies Bruno Mars’ newest single, “The Lazy Song,”  CP and I decided to do something just completely the opposite.  Here’s a shot of what I’m referring to:

Can you guess where we were headed off to next?…No?  Here’s another clue then:

CP and I were about to take a “hike into history” up Diamond Head Crater!  Let me tell you…it is one, fracking harsh hike into history.  Irony lost upon us? Nope.  Deterred?  Ha! We’re city people in a profession where people think sleeping is inefficient use of hours in the day.  So suck it up, get lathered up (with sunscreen…we’re not stupid, skin cancer is not our agenda for this hike), and “LEGGO!”

There’s CP as we left the paved lower part of the crater’s park, into the rough and uneven terrain. I took random shots throughout the hike, but we hit a point where I was using all my energy to keep myself from slipping and/or twisting my ankle on the uneven trail.

Just when we thought we would never get anywhere, we reached a break from the hike to this gorgeous view:

After a brief break to catch our breath, cool off, snap some shots of ourselves…we continued our trek northward!  Let’s just say it was more uphill climbs before we hit some very steep stairs, followed by a long dark tunnel, then more stairs that were even steeper, then another tunnel before ending at…A SPIRAL STAIRCASE! (insert gasps and shock…feel free…I’ll wait for you 🙂 ).  Once we made it to the top, we were reward with amazing views of the island.  A perfect view down the shoreline of Waikiki beach, and the lush mountains of Oahu.

Needless to say, CP and I were happy we had made it up to the top in one piece for wonderful views.  Even though we were both a sweaty mess, we were champions of the crater for that moment!

Let’s just say the trek down was a hop and skip for us by this point.  Filled with joy and the taste of victory, we sauntered to the car and headed for a victory cool off snack at Waiola again:

A lime and pink lemonade shaved ice over 3 scoops of vanilla ice cream for CP.

And a modest lychee and lilikoi shaved ice for me.  Plus…

A musubi!  You seriously didn’t think I would not get this while here right?  (Side note: I am a BIG fan of spam.  Every since I was little, Spam was a treat for me since Mom didn’t like for us to eat too much of it because at the end of the day, it was processed meat.  However, pan-fried Spam made it to our noodles and ramens, as well as scrambled eggs for dinner.  Needless to say, I ❤ Spam!)  CP on the otherhand had a lot of reserves about eating it.  He, like many mainlanders and the uninitiated, looked at this product only to think of all the rumors about how Spam is not real meat.  Or that it was what kids at camp would call “mystery meat”.  As I explained to CP what Spam was and wasn’t, he made a comparison that I thought was completely brilliant and people can understand: “So basically, it’s like a hot dog?”  Yes! It is!!  Spam is ground and processed pig, with spices and repackaged for consumers.  🙂

Anyways…the conclusion to this story: CP was not only convinced, but HOOKED on it.!  Mission: Complete.

We basically wound down the day by the poolside again at the hotel in the waning sun light.   For dinner that night, CP was craving a hefty hamburger so we ended up going to Cheeseburger Waikiki.  This is a burger chain and…I really did not have anything to say about this place because I was not entirely pleased with my turkey burger.  Not exactly what I would go for in Hawaii, but CP wanted his burger and according to him, it was quite delicious.

Day 4

The following day, we decided to enjoy our day at Dole Plantation! 

There were several attractions you could go to and learn about the plantation and about pineapples.  CP and I went to all 3 attractions.  First stop: The Pineapple Express (…yes, we both smiled and had an unspoken moment there).

On this narrated train ride, you learn about the Dole Company’s history as you ride through the pineapple fields.  During our visit, the fields were bare as the season had passed already.  Given like any proper tourist attractions, proper planning included planting other crops that Dole grows, as well as showing the other fruits that are grown on the island.  The varieties included: banana, mango, lychee, cacao, ti leaf, and others.  Learn something new everyday!

The Dole Garden was next, where you can walk through their garden area to look and learn about the native plants and the many uses of them.  It was a gorgeous garden and a nice learning experience.

We took a brief break to get out of the sun and re-nourish ourselves at the café in the shopping area.  My choice of refreshment?  A Dole Whip!

CP’s choice? A hot dog chili plate with rice:

Strange as it may sound and look, it worked out quite well !

After resting ourselves a little to let the food settle, we headed to the world’s largest maze!  The challenge: find all 8 “check-in” points in the maze as fast as you can.  With our combined powers of navigation, a few mistakes here and there, CP and I successfully made it through the maze in approximately 2 hours.  Victory yet again!

With our satisfaction of conquering the plantation, we headed north for our next mid-day snack stop and the signature food/destination of the North Shore: a shrimp truck.  Our destination: Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck.

Tucked into a little forest clearing right off the road, you would easily miss the truck even with a GPS (we had this issue several times during our trip) and we did.  So we made a turn and made our way back.  Their menu is simple and minimalistic, all surrounding the key protein: shrimp.  Given that it was already well into the day, by the time we were there, all they had available was the shrimp scampi.  That was fine by us, all we wanted was to taste the delicious, plump (not-so) little shrimp.

The order comes with a pile of fresh, cook-to-order shrimp (sans the head…thank goodness) and 2 scoops of white rice.  The shrimp was cooked and bathed in a wonderful garlic, lemon, buttery goodness.  To put it simply, here was what CP said to me, “I normally don’t have the urge to lick my fingers, but…” *proceeds to lick his fingers*.  This is a sign because what CP said is true, we’ve eat BBQ and I have NEVER seen him lick his fingers.  Whereas I have no problem with doing so…whether BBQ, Indian, anything!  Thus, this just goes to show you how amazing this was.  I can still smell the strong, sweet garlic smell as I write about it and it lingered with us as we continued on.

We took the drive up to one of the beaches in North Shore to dip our feet in.  However, as you can see for yourself, a storm was brewing and yet, we thought it would just pass like it always did.  Well…let’s just say that did not go quite as so.  As we drove down the west side of the island back to Waikiki, the rain steadily started coming.  By the time we were back at our hotel in Waikiki, it was POURING!  It was flash thunderstorm and it was as if the sky turned into the ocean and gravity brought down all the water to us.  It was a mad house watching everyone trying to run for cover and the streets flooding within matter of seconds.  At one point, one of the sidewalks slightly below the hotel’s main road was a miniature moat or more aptly, a cesspool.

CP and I took refuge back in our hotel room to clean up, in hopes that the storm would pass.  And fortunately for us, it did!  We headed back out to grab dinner at Yotteko-Ya.

This ramen house was small and tucked at the far end of a strip mall.  Unassuming and you would never even think twice about it.  The only way you would go: recommendations or you just so happen to be stuck at that strip mall.  Otherwise, you would never find it.

The restaurant specialized in ramen, but also served fried rice and appetizers.  They also offered a set meal where you could choose an appetizer, ramen, and have either white rice or fried rice.  The ramen soup base choices included: Shoyu, Shio, or Paitan.  Paitan is a rich chicken/pork based broth and has a milky look from the cooked down chicken/pork bones.  Also, you can choose how firm you wish for your ramen to be cooked: firm or soft.

Both CP and I ordered the Paitan ramen with fried rice (no eggs for CP though) and the Kaarage/Gyoza (CP/me).

The ramen you see above you was something else!  I cannot even begin to tell you how wonder, flavorful, rich, smooth, and silky!  I had never had a broth this rich in flavor in all my ramen adventures.  This bowl and my memory of it is what I will use to judge all other tonketsu and paitan broths from here on out.  (I am a fan of Tajima, but putting their broth on a good day up against Yotteko-Ya…it is like a Hefty bag commercial – “HEFTY HEFTY HEFTY……wimpy wimpy wimpy”.)

The fried rice and appetizers kind of just fell to the sideline and to the back after we had our taste of the broth.  Man…I really need a good bowl of ramen right now.

There we go folks! Just two and half more days to go in Paradise!

Longhi’s
3 locations (Oahu and Maui)

Waikiki Aquarium
2777 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI

Diamond Head Crater

Waiola Shave Ice
2135 Waiola St
Honolulu, HI 96805

Dole Plantation

64-1550 Kamehameha Highway
Wahiawa, HI 96786

Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck
2 locations in Oahu

Yotteko-Ya
1960 Kapiolani Blvd, #214
Honolulu, HI 96826


Day 2 in Oahu

We woke up to clear, blue skies and pristine, crystal waters.  So what else would we do, but go swimming!

Trust me…I was very high strung when we arrived, but after going through this routine: dip into the crystal blue waters, lay on the warm sands, soaking in the sun, and repeat – one can see why you can easily get swept up in the lazy attitude.  Basically, the only reason we finally decided to do something was because our stomachs were growling.  So…it was off to find a late lunch!

Lines of in-house made relish and mustards ready for dispensing

Puka dogs!

PUKA DOGS!!! It is basically taking a Chinese bakery item, that is quite common, and give it a Hawaiian twist.  A loaf of slightly sweet bread, pierced by a “puka” or a hot, iron poker, which toasts the bread from inside out.  They offer both white and wheat bread and then you get the choice of a polish or veggie sausage.  Next comes the hardest part: the choices of many relishes and mustard.  I had gone on a store worker’s suggestion (when we asked for directions): mango relish and guava mustard, with Hot garlic lemon sauce, on my polish dog with wheat bread.  CP had gone with a polish dog in white, with Mild garlic lemon sauce, and dijon mustard.

Simple and delicious. With the bread toasted inside, it gave it a nice little crunch when you bit into it.  My puka dog was salty and sweet, not that spicy (as my spice level is pretty high).  It was a mouthful of the tropics and not exactly what I would normally go for, but it was something I had to try and did not regret doing so!  CP was equally happy with his choice.

After that snack, we returned to the waters and continued our day with the amazing weather.  Eventually, we needed another snack and I needed some shaved ice!! (After all, we were in Hawaii!)

Under not only 1 visitor’s suggestion, but also a local who I work with, I avoided the “tourist trap” and headed to where the locals do:

Waiola Store

This place was literally on the corner of a neighborhood.  It isn’t a place where you would “drive by”, nor give a second thought had you driven by.  However, under the guidance of fellow foodies, CP and I had ourselves some great shaved ice:

Our respective treats: my azuki with mochi shaved ice, topped with a little condense milk.  And CP’s lime and pink lemonade shaved ice.  I loved how finely shaved the ice was because you would just put a little in your mouth and before you can even close your mouth, the ice was melted.  Next best way to cool off after dipping into the water.

Basically, after this side snack, we took a drive around the island to see the rest of the island:

After we made it back to the hotel, we clean up and by that time, it was dinner time.  Where did we head to?  Yet, another suggestion by the same 2 foodies:

The best way to describe this place is a Chinese cafe style restaurant with big family portion dishes.  We ordered the signature Side Street Inn fried rice and the Miso-yaki chicken.  The fried rice was loaded with char siu, bacon, and Portuguese sausage…aka: it was pig with some rice.

The chicken was sweet, savory, and tender. It is what you would want for a good, grilled chicken.  The secret: marinating and cook with skin.  Mmmm….

It was another great day in paradise!

Puka Dog (2 locations)
Island of Oahu
Waikiki Town Center
2301 Kuhio Avenue # 2
Honolulu, HI 96815

Island of Kauai
Poipu Shopping Village
2650 Kiahuna Plantation Dr.
Koloa, HI 96756

Waiola Store
2135 Waiola St
Corner of Paani St
Honolulu, HI 96805

Side Street Inn (2 locations)
1225 Hopaka St.
Honolulu, HI

614 Kapahulu Ave.
Honolulu, HI


Remembering Paradise

CP and I were in Hawaii for almost a week and we both are missing it desperately.  It was the hardest thing for both of us to do: come back to our day jobs.  However, as I browse through the pictures that I had taken (all 600+), I fondly reminiscence the places we visited and the food we ate.  Since there’s so much to talk about and show, I’ll just start on Day 1:

We had a morning flight and by the time we landed in Honolulu, it was the afternoon and a storm had just rolled through.  By the time we checked into the hotel and walked to the beach right outside (it was beach front resort). Well, since both CP and I were starving from the mini lunch we had for our in-flight meal, we decided to just get a snack at the resort:

A nice bowl of yakisoba on the beach.  The yakisoba was not bad nor stellar, but it was at the beach.  Can’t complain! 🙂  After we had our snack of noodles, we took a dip into the sea.  I had imagined the water being a LOT warmer than it really was.  However, given that the San Diego coastline’s water temperature is approximately 60 degrees on average, the water there in comparison was warm.  It was a lot of fun and CP had the best time getting me into the water with him.

When we saw this in the distance:

We decided it was time to go in and get ready for dinner.  However, by the time we had cleaned up, we saw our first sunset of the vacation from our room’s balcony:

Great start!

For dinner, what else would we have other than…SUSHI!!!  Naturally, I did my research online while CP was cleaning up and found this place a little further in-land from the coast (not by much).  However, given it was a new city with new roads…we had some troubles navigating to it.  Like seriously Hawaii…can your road signs be possibly any harder to see at nights?  Long story short…in our attempt to get there, we almost had gone onto the freeway and also went the wrong direction on a one-way street.  Yea…it was a really exciting trip to dinner.

We made it to Imanas Sushi/Izakaya.  The restaurant’s small and warm, with a large communal table snaking down the middle of the curved dining room.  Once seated, it did not take us long to figure out what we wanted for dinner:

Rice ball in broth with nori

Chicken Katsu Skewers

Hamachi (Yellowtail) Nigiri

Salmon and Tuna Nigiri

Spider roll (soft-shell crab)

The rice ball in broth was only ok, mostly due to the fact that the rice ball was not crispy enough.  It should be pan-fried til a nice crispy shell forms, to keep the rice from getting too soggy.  Alas…this was not the case sadly.

The sushi was fresh and amazing.  I could’ve eaten just this all night, but I was so full from everything already, that we could barely finish the last bites (which was the roll).  The spider roll was only ok.  However, given that I am me, I needed something sweet to satisfy my sweet tooth. Thus, we headed to Bubbies Ice Cream & Desserts just down the road for a cold, sweet dessert:

Coconut-Macadamia Nut Fudge

My ice cream scoop was soooooo creamy and fresh!  I couldn’t believe that it was that creamy and it was not gelato.  They also had other desserts in their dessert case that looks like are made from their awesome ice cream flavors.

So that was our first day in Hawaii!

Imanas Tei Restaurant
2626 S King St
Honolulu, HI 96826

Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream & Desserts
1010 University Ave
Honolulu, HI 96826