The Missus and I have a pretty nice routine for our "easy" days when we visit "home".
Things start with breakfast. The Missus can never get enough papaya.......there's nothing even remotely close to this stuff on the mainland. And I love good pineapple. What do you expect from the grandchild/child of Maui Pine plantation workers?
We then head off to the Missus's favorite swim spot; of all places, Ala Moana Beach.
We head out right after the morning rush hour....it's a week day so it's all the old timers, students, and Japanese tourists taking wedding photos.
I've always been amazed at how they seem so easy going, wearing wedding gowns and tuxedos in humid, 85 degree weather. But after chatting with folks like Kat, I understand.
On this morning it wasn't one, but two sets of couples taking photos.
While the Missus swims, I usually do a complete lap of Ala Moana Park and sometimes even head off toward Ward Avenue. On days like this one, I can't help but think, "man, to believe that I used to take all of this for granted".
Once out and dry, the Missus and I will head off across the street to Honolulu Coffee Company for a Kona V60 pour over for the coffee snob.
And while it doesn't wow Her like it used to. It's still a good cup of coffee.
Honolulu Coffee Co (in Ala Moana Center) 1450 Ala Moana Blvd, Ste 3066 Honolulu, HI 96814
We then head off and do our various errands. On this day, we decided to head off to Kahala Mall; Whole Foods and the Apple Store were calling. I decided on stopping off at another of my old favorites, in my 'hood, Gina's Bar-B-Q, still going strong 23 years later.
You know, I remembered when this place first opened. It's typical Local style Korean, our version of a Meat and Three. You order your entrée(s) and get three of what we call "vegetables", basically panchan, and the proteins are cooked to order.
It's a very popular style, the most popular is probably a chain called Yummy Korean BBQ. Every one has their neighborhood favorites when it comes to the local kine Korean BBQ places. I used to like Kim Chi II, though I haven't been there in maybe 20 years. My mom liked Choi's Family Restaurant, many of my friends love Soon's in Salt Lake (Oahu, not Utah....).
I'm old enough to remember when Foodland, which is now on the other side of the parking lot used to be in this spot. My good friend's second job was with Foodland. I also remember when there was a very popular video game place here called....if I recall, "The Space"???? I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong. I remember once going to use the restroom and finding two huge bags of pakalolo right on the washbasin!
Anyway wanting to check out the state of the food at Gina's, I ordered a "special", still a bargain at eleven bucks or so. It comes with bulgogi, kalbi, and the item I used to really enjoy (second best - the spicy chicken was #1), the BBQ Chicken.
Anyway, we took it to go, got a small salad at WF in Kahala and proceeded to dig in. The bulgogi wasn't up to snuff, dry, bland, and tough. The kalbi was typical local style, nice flavor, but not the best. That chicken was still a winnah! Nice shoyu flavor, slight sweetness, chewy, but in a good way. There was of course, the equivalent of three scoops of rice under all of this, soaking up the juices and drippings. The "vegetables" were passable....I'd say, even better than what I get here at some of the rather pricey Korean places.
Even though it's more about a good value, the chicken is not bad.
I'm hoping to head back to Gina's for the spicy chicken next time. Hopefully, I won't have to wait another decade.
Gina’s Bar-B-Q 2919 Kapiolani Blvd Honolulu, HI 96826
Funny, the Missus says that my demeanor changes as soon as I get off that plane and the island humidity hits me. Something happens. I'm able to fall right back into my "old self", relaxed, laid back...and then the pidgin starts!
Of course, the next thing we're looking for is poke. Like I've mentioned before, I'm a "townie"....to me there's only one decent place to get poke in the Waipahu/Ewa Beach area and that would be a place i've posted on several times before....
Tanioka's Seafood and Catering:
We always visit a couple of times.......
Much has changed over the years....the question used to be, "limu or shoyu?"
Nowadays, it runs the gamut....
Not the prettiest presentation....Styrofoam and sauce "all ova' da' place."
But it hits the spot.
Tanioka's Seafood and Catering 94-903 Farrington Hwy Waipahu, HI 96797
We also hit a place around my old neighborhood. Usually it's Ono Seafood, but the Missus wanted some smoked marlin, so here's another I've posted on before.
Man, I remember when this was Pizza Hut!
We actually prefer the smoked seafood and stuffs like taegu tako to the poke here.....
Not everything makes it into a post, I've deleted many photos for posts that never got started....that Mariscos place where I got ill, that very good fine meal with no lighting....though unless we're travelling, I usually don't even break out the camera for those type of meals. And the one's I just never got around to.... I've done these "Never Made the Cut" posts before. Here's another batch.....
Recently, "Kha" sent me an email for some Hawaii recommendations, which included some requests for the North Shore.......
One of the places was Mackey's Shrimp Truck.......I sent him a photo and realized I never posted on the place.
Which made me realize that I had photos from meals during our travels that I never posted on. Too much time had passed.....
Sometimes I even had a very good meal, but the lighting was just too bad......like this revisit to The Old Fashioned.
Pickled Pork Hock...pickled egg.....
Nice burger.....and cheese curds of course....
And an adorable Server.......
But that lighting....ick......
I just plumb forgot about our revisit to Fresh Catch....
We enjoyed the poke much more this time around....
The Missus loved the really aged poi.....which was a surprise.....it was really funky.
This last one is from Tunis. It was a surprisingly decent meal......
This was pretty inexpensive as well.... in the Airport in Tunis! Airport staff and flight crew were on the other tables....so I guess this is the place!
So that's it....another Clearing Out the Memory Card post! Have a great weekend!
Man, I didn't even notice I hadn't done this post....time to catch up!
After returning from the Big Island, we had maybe a full day to get our grinds in....the Missus wanted to make the most of it and I had wanted to check out Keeaumoku Seafood, and tiny shop just mauka of Beretania Street. Oh....yes, in case you didn't know, we never used East-West-North-South while I was growing up, in fact, I was kind of confused with those directions when I first started working, then living on the mainland. Back "home" we use "mauka", toward the mountains, or "makai" towards the ocean.
Anyway, the shop it a tiny one with barely a handful of parking spaces right in front of it. Funny, I still remember when Nippon Theatre was across the street from here....man am I getting old!
Anyway...we wen' score one of the spaces right in front of the place.
From the cold case, it seems that this place makes poke in small batches, which is not a bad thing. The poke did look a bit dried out as well, but we weren't here for poke. There was a rather stern mannered Korean woman working and a very sweet young lady who was Filipino. She really did a nice job putting together our plate.
I'd really come here for one thing.......this:
No...it's not the brown rice, ok? The Missus did insist on that to counter-act the rich and wonderful fried Ahi Belly. Man was this good! A slight resistance before melting away in your mouth. This being Ahi, not Aku, the flavor wasn't too strong for the Missus.
You also get an order of poke with the Ahi Belly. I chose the sesame oil poke, which was coated with masago. sadly, it wasn't very good. The fish was tough and this was strangely lacking in flavor.
The Missus really wanted to balance out the scales and we ended up going to Whole Foods in Kahala, where She built a massive salad. We had our meal at one of the tables right outside the market.
Man, we're still talking about that Ahi Belly.......
Keeaumoku Seafood 1223 Keeaumoku St Honolulu, HI 96814
I won't go into great detail about planning or trip; you can read a bit more in my previous post.
During my last trip, I noticed a lot of construction was taking place on a huge lot on Keaunui Drive. My in-laws live about a ten minute walk away. On this trip we saw that one of the "mega-Safeways" had opened on the property. I thought this was great, with more choices, and maybe with a better fish department than the nearby Foodland. Unfortunately, like Foodland, this place serves up carbon monoxide treated ahi....bummer. I guess we'll stick with Tanioka's. We were pretty much pooped and didn't do much the first evening.
But we headed out early the next morning. In all honesty, I'm not the biggest fan of Whole Foods. I did however, relish the opportunity to check out the Kahala location. I wanted the Missus to have a chance to grab some local produce. I was pleasantly surprised to see a really impressive looking food bar area......
This used to be the location of Star Market in Kahala Mall, which sadly closed in 2007.
It didn't seem like we'd have any time to visit a farmer's market on Oahu, so this seemed a decent option. Of course, driving from Ewa Beach on a week day morning wasn't exactly the most wonderful thing in the world....
This was of course, Whole Foods, and the pricing reflected that. I'm not a big fan of the prepared and hot foods, many of which I find on the bland side. But the choice of all the local vegetables was very nice. The Missus and I had sort of a breakfast with stuff like Sumida Farms watercress and Ho Farms Tomatoes.
The Missus just loved the watercress and we bought some stuff for dinner.
Whole Foods Market Kahala Mall Shopping Center 4211 Waialae Ave, Ste 2000 Honolulu, HI 96816
Our next stop was set to be Tamura's Kaimuki, but their poke department doesn't open until 1030, so we decided to get something to eat. Well, we already did breakfast, so I guess we need to call this brunch?
We headed down to Ono Seafood and decided to share a poke bowl. We went with a "combo" poke bowl; for 50 cents more ($7.50), you get two different poke. The one item that I enjoy eating brown rice with is poke....the Missus loves the "brown rice revolution".
The fish here has been sparkling fresh on all our visits. The poke is not over-sauced and the texture of the fish is not compromised. The Missus really enjoyed the wasabi version of the ahi poke, while I liked the less heavily flavored "Hawaiian" style, with inamona adding a bit of nuttiness, and limu for some crunch. All the juice from the poke flavored the rice nicely, though the Missus has a bit of an issue with putting cold raw fish on top of hot rice...... I on the other hand have no such qualms......
Ono Seafood 747 Kapahulu Ave.Apt 4 Honolulu, HI 96816
We then headed back up the hill to Tamura's.
For some smoked tako, smoked fish, and some other stuff for dinner.
Tamura's Fine Wines & Liquors 3496 Waialae Ave. Honolulu, HI 96816
We decided to make one more eating stop..... We've done breakfast and brunch, so I guess this one is officially lunch? Anyway we headed to Mapunapuna and the former location of 99 Ranch Market. I'd always thought this was a weird location for a market and 99 Ranch Market didn't last that long. It's now a sort of food court with some shops....great for the working folks in the area. Though it still looks kind of seedy.....
I'd heard about a little place that makes a nice take-out chirashi with decent quality fish, called Take's Fish Market.
The place is run by a very nice older Japanese couple. They seem very mild mannered, even shy. I ordered the Kaisen Chirashi and was told it was going to be about 10 minutes. So while the Missus walked around I waited a while and actually saw them cut my fish fresh.
I then went for a walk and got the Missus to order something for me from another stand (see below). When I got back, my bowl was ready.
The shari (sushi rice) was prepared decently, not too sour or wet. The fish was very fresh, the hamachi impeccable. By no means is this an earth-shattering chirashi......but looking at the quality and price ($9.95), this is pretty darn good. I really can't, by any means, call this fast food. If I worked around here, I'd be having this just about every week.
Take's Fish Market 1151 Mapunapuna St Honolulu, HI 96819
While waiting for my chirashi, the Missus and I took a walk. It was just after 11 and this place was packed.
The place was doing major business! Looking at the food the other folks were eating, I could tell....this ain't Panda Express. So I got the missus to order me something while I went back to see if my chirashi was ready.
What the missus ordered for me was the Roast Duck Pan Fried Noodles ($7.95). The Missus handed the styrofoam container over to me and I was surprised at its heft. Opening up I noticed that man, this place really packed it in.
The Missus loved the gooey sauce on the vegetables....mostly napa cabbage. There was a good amount of crisp noodles, one of my favorite thing. I found the sauce more like a fairly bland gravy which needed some flavor. The duck was super meaty and wasn't too salty, though it was on the mild side with regards to anything resembling five-spice or bean paste flavor.
Still, this is a load of food........we had half of it left for dinner.
Mini Garden Express 1151 Mapunapuna St Honolulu, HI 96819
Speaking of dinner........it seemed like the Missus could not get enough watercress. We bought some Sumida Farms watercress and Ho Farms tomatoes and made a salad....and drizzled on a bit of soy and sesame oil for flavor.
Along with the stuff from Tamura's.
The smoked tako seemed a bit too sweet for our tastes.
In case you've been wondering.....the Missus and I took what seemed like a really short trip, it seemed to be over in the blink of an eye. We were getting a bit stale, so it was time for us to do something. I know I already went home once this year, but we decided to take that trip.
We ended up spending only a couple of days on Oahu and the rest on the Big Island. I've been there at least a dozen times and the Missus about 5 or 6. We had friends who lived in Hilo for a while. But hadn't been back in over ten years and were wondering if things had changed much.
Since we'd been there so many times, we've done all the sight seeing stuff, so we just kind of just wanted to drive around and enjoy....to the tune of 600 miles in four days! So even though we've been here many times before, you can be sure that we'll be at least showing a couple of great sunsets.....
Maybe throw in a waterfall.....
And being on the Big Island, you know we've got to visit here.....
Of course there will be lots of poke....which the Missus just can't get enough of.....
Or even this....a bargain at $9.95:
The Missus really appreciated the local produce on this trip and took full advantage.
Though that doesn't mean I cut this out of my diet.......
We also had a chance to visit a couple of real "old time" favorites on the Big Island, places that are etched into the locals minds. These places have been serving up the same fare for decades and have a place in the history of the Big Island.
From the very "Local-Japanese"......
To a pork chop that was probably cooked in a cast iron pan several decades older than I am.......
It was all good.
Even the Hamakua Mushroom Burger........really!
We didn't have much time on Oahu, literally two nights total, but managed to enjoy ourselves......
So let me regroup and recover and we'll be back with a post!
On my last day, I decided to pick up something to have while waiting for my flight to the airport. so on the way to pick-up smoked fish at Tamura's and smoked Tako at Ono Seafood, I stopped off in Kalihi. Sugoi's comes highly recommended, so I decided to hit them up. They were very easy to find, I saw them when I dropped by Young's Fish Market.
Since it was pretty early the place was empty when I arrived. There was however, a huge assembly line behind the counter with stuff being piled into trays. I'd gotten specific instructions to get the Combination Bento with Garlic and Spicy Chicken ($11.75)...so being the good little soldier that's exactly what I got. Man, it felt pretty heavy, but I thought by the time I hit the airport I'd be pretty hungry.
Well good intentions and all, but by the time I filled up gas at what used to be Mel's Sunrise Chevron near Waialae...I knew by the smell permeating the car that this wasn't going to work out....man, talk about "Kusai".....holy smokes.....for sure I'd be stopped by TSA for carrying something TSTP - to smelly to pass. Plus, all the mainlanders would be giving me "stink eye" for having something so strong smelling at the gate, while the locals would be giving me the "stink eye" of envy. So I parked right across the street from a place very familiar to me.....
And removed it from the package....holy smokes this was huge....the photo does not in any way reflect how much stuff this was.....
(The following sentence is dedicated to TFD, who sent me a text asking "what does Broke the Mouth mean"...actually it's "broke da' mouth") And after I wen' hemo da' covah......whoa...major haunas.....but in a good way.
On the top is the garlic chicken, below that is the spicy garlic chicken.
The entire bottom of the tray was covered with rice....
And the hot dog and egg just seemed like overkill.
I preferred the regular garlic chicken to the spicy version....which I thought wasn't very spicy and much too sweet for my taste. Also the glaze made it more soggy, while the regular garlic chicken was still a bit crunchy. Nice flavor.....decent garlic.....had to keep putting Listerine Strips in my mouth to try and ward off that vampire killing fragrance. Good stuff, though I'll get something more manageable next time....like maybe the keiki size??? LOL!
So how does this ocmpare to Mitsu-ken? Man, it's been sooo long. I'll put that comparison off until next time...but that'll be a lot of fun for me.
Sugoi 1286 Kalani St Honolulu, HI 96817 Neighborhood: Kalihi
You can't go to Hawaii without getting a plate lunch, or two..... Here's a round-up of some plate lunches over the course of my last two visits.
Man, Grace's goes back a looong way for me. We used to eat at the lunch wagon near University....my good friend's first job in High School was working at the original location in Moiliili. He used to have to make the katsu sauce! Eventually, Grace's spread everywhere and like many chains of this type...sustainability just wasn't there I guess. The last time I ate at a Grace's was perhaps about 16 years ago....it was a chicken katsu, sweet sour pork mix at the now defunct (I didn't know that until the day I left for my flight home) Kapahulu location across Kaimuki High School. I'd wondered how my tastes and perhaps Grace's had changed over the years.....I knew that perhaps this would be messing with some good memories, but I just had to find out.
Man, times have changed....so the mixed plate in now three items, you're asked for two "salads"..... and since no sweet-sour pork and the pressure was on, I got some roast pork and mochiko chicken to go with my katsu.
Man, that "Asian" coleslaw tasted like it was dressed with pure rice vinegar and I was never a fan of the almost mainland like sour mac salad anyway. In retrospect, I should have just gotten the chicken katsu...memories would have remained untarnished. The mochiko chicken was way bland and greasy, even by plate lunch standards. The roast pork was dry, lukewarm, the gravy gluey, and also flavorless...where was that bottle of tabasco again? The katsu still delivered though.....
Crisp and moist, it was as I remembered, as was the tsukemono like "kimchi". The katsu sauce tasted different to me..... I recall it having a stronger ketchup base. Nice to see the chow fun still resides below the proteins.
So lets see, if we tally things up, this was batting about .400, nice if you're playing baseball, not so great if you're trying to rekindle some memories. Of course the thoguht came to me, I'd never eaten at this location. Could that have been a factor?
Grace's Inn 98-820 Moanalua Rd Aiea, HI 96701
Diamond Head Market and Grill:
I'm not sure where I first heard about this place....I think it's either Kat or Kathy, so why not mentioned them both, right? I hadn't been round this part of Monsarrat in ages.....when this place was still Burgerland!
Man, this area is crazy now, with the trolley stopping right in front of the place, tons of Japanese tourists in the market.......still, arriving about 11 am, I managed to snag a space.
I was feeling pretty hungry, so I got the special for the day, a Kalbi - Korean Chicken mixed plate. And yes, this place does offer brown rice. My plate looked lovely, not over-carbed, and with greens....the new wave of plate lunches.
The grade of LA Kalbi, the cross cut short ribs was excellent by plate lunch standards, very tender and moist. There was a mild fruity component, but this was very mild in flavor, even when talking in terms of "local-style" kalbi which tends toward the sweet side. The chicken on the other hand was delicious, mild heat, light sweetness, not too salty....a nice savory aspect from what I believe is kochujung...really good.
I loved what I saw on the breakfast menu....so I think I'll bring the Missus next time for breakfast.
Diamond Head Market & Grill 3158 Monsarrat Ave Honolulu, HI 96815
During the last trip, I made a couple of stops at various places. I wanted the D's to have a taste of local food. In addition, the Missus wanted me to bring home some smoked fish and tako....so I had to do some sampling, right?
Right across from W&M Burgers, this place used to be a Pizza Hut, back in the day....I'm wracking my brain trying to remember what it was before. Anyway, now there's a friendly looking tako on the front.
So of course, I got some smoked tako......the version here was interesting, it was slathered in mayo. I also got some seaweed salad. I noticed that folks from China really love the seaweed salad. It's not a big deal, for me, but heck, if they like it.....
There was something about the smoked tako MrD really liked....I tried to explain to him it was the mayonnaise, but my FIL said there's no Chinese word for it! So did the Missus....so I guess it need to go down in history as the really great tasting stuff that shall remain nameless? Not my favorite version, but it was interesting to try.
Fresh Catch 3109 Waialae Ave Honolulu, HI 96816
The more I visit this place, the more I like it. I actually used to service Tamura's in Waianae a lifetime ago.
We actually stopped by back in 2010, but I guess I never did a post on that one. Anyway, I thought the smoked marlin here was pretty good, so this was pretty much my first choice for a tasting.
Geeez Louise....is that price for Pulehu Tako for real?? It's more expensive than prime beef!
Anyways, I got a trio for tasting. The D's were kind of wary of this stuff....until I told them the pipikaula was "Niu Rou". They ended up enjoying that the best.
My FIL loves smoked food. Both of us thought the marlin was much better than the swordfish.....more flavor, more moist, better texture.
The only thing the swordfish had going for it was that it held together better.
So this was one of my stops on the way to the airport. I bought the Missus a pound of marlin. During that stop I noticed the display on my right....which will probably make my San Diego craft beer buddies smile.
Tamura's Fine Wines & Liquors 3496 Waialae Ave. Honolulu, HI 96816
One of my other stops on the way to the airport was at Ono Seafood, which I've posted on before.
I grabbed a couple of bags of smoked tako for the Missus. Unfortunately, the poke bowl will just have to wait for a future trip. Plus, it'll be more fun eaqting this stuff with the Missus.
Ono Seafood 747 Kapahulu Ave.Apt 4 Honolulu, HI 96816
Even though my first "Breakfast of Champions" post is probably the most spammed (somehow appropriate) post on our blog, I couldn't help but do a follow-up. Here's the breakfasts I had during my last trip home.
Kapiolani Coffee Shop:
I really got a kick from the very old-school atmosphere at Kapiolani Coffee Shop during my oxtail soup stop, that I went back just to see what breakfast was like.
There were no customers when I arrived, and was directed to exactly the same table I had sat at before....funny, yeah?
I got a cup of coffee while I looked over the menu.....yep, this place is old school all right, the cup o'joe tasted like it had been sitting around since I was in high school! Man, it was like mud....the real friendly guy kept wanting to refill it, but I just kept telling him, "no need" and making up some excuse like, "my docta' said I got to cut down on da' caffiene, no good fo' my heart" and stuff like that. Yeeeesh......
I hoped that my loco moco fared better and it did.
The kitchen bouquet gravy could have used a bit more salt and the eggs were a bit past how I want my easy-over eggs to be, but this wasn't bad at all. The hamburger patty had been pressed on the griddle developing a nice char, but the gravy balanced out the possibility of a dry burger. Not bad at all.
But what I enjoyed the most was the mac salad.
it had just the right amount of salt and mayo and was nicely chilled. I actually wanted to order more mac salad.....but how would I explain, since I supposedly had "one bad ticka'".....no coffee because of a cardiac problem and I'm there eating like three scoops of macaroni salad??? Would have been a bit odd....so I decided just to enjoy what I had.
Kapiolani Coffee Shop 98-020 Kamehameha Hwy Aiea, HI 96701
Harry's Cafe, on Waimanu street, just a block and a half from Kapiolani has a bit of a cult following. The place is a total hole-in-the-wall and very divey....the type of places that "butt crack guys"...you know, the fellows who work the trades, stop and devour a ton of calories before heading to work.
They are also famous for a 99 cent breakfast........
I was a bit late for the special, but decided to drop by for breakfast anyway. The place was pretty busy when I arrived. Four movers were eating a massive amount of food on one table....at the bar, a pretty seedy looking couple talked toeach other real loud....the woman kept half running out of the place to get "some fresh air"....yeah, right. They ended up sharing two pancakes and one cup of coffee! Every time they spoke real loud, the movers would all turn and give them the "stink eye".
I really got a kick out of the labeling for the sugar dispenser......makes me wonder if someone once mistook this for salt ot visa-versa???
I believe that "Harry" retired a while back and sold the place to the very nice Korean woman, whose name is Christy if I recall.
I was pretty hungry and went with the Corned Beef Hash Loco Moco.
Honestly, not the best breakfast I've ever had....the yolks of the eggs had broken, the gravy was somewhat gluey, and the corned beef hash was too soft and mushy, with no caramelization. It also tasted kinda funky......after reading this post on Kat's Blog, I'm pretty sure it wasn't my canned corn beef of choice either.
But heck, it was reasonable and gave me more than enough calories for the shopping I needed to do for the Missus.
Harry's Cafe 1101 Waimanu St Honolulu, HI 96814
Hours: Mon-Fri 6am - 3pm Sat 7am - 2pm Sun 7am - 12pm
Diner's Drive In Waimalu:
On the day I was to leave for home, I left the in-laws pretty early. I still had some shopping to do and I wanted to hit up at least one place for lunch. Anyway, I wanted to check email and stuff and needed a wi-fi connection so I stopped in Waimalu at Starbuck's. As I walked to Starbuck's, I could hear Diner's calling me. It was early, I was a bit hungry so why not?
When I entered, I noticed two of the "bruddah's" each eating on a different table had two styrofoam containers open and were eating from both. It didn't register until I opened up my $6.95 breakfast.
Do they sell "small" eggs? Check out the size of the eggs compared to the three, fairly thin slices of Portuguese Sausage. No wonder those guys were eating two plates!
The woman working the counter was very nice though......not much else to say.....
Diner's Drive-In 98-1277 Kaahumanu St Aiea, HI 96701
So there you go.......a trio of breakfasts and a ton of calories....and I still lost weight! Go figure!