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!
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!
We started with the Pork Intestines with Preserved Vegetable.
This was better than what I'd had before at Spicy House, the flavor of the intestine was a nice funky-musty without overwhelming the dish. The preserved vegetable was cut into manageable pieces this time around and helped to heighten the mild heat as well as cut the offal flavor.
We also ordered the Shui Zhu Yu - the water boiled fish.
The flavor decent, nice heat, but lacking in Sichuan Peppercorn and Doubian Jian - bean paste. I like a nice layer of oil, but this was a bit too much. The amount of fish was generous, the pieces large, though very thin. I thought the fish was prepared decently, but when I brought the rest of it home, the Missus thought it to be one the mealy side.
Overall, this was pretty good....I guess I'm missing Chinese food.....
Spicy House 3860 Convoy Street #105 San Diego, CA 92111
There was a time when we'd be at Latin Chef just about every week. But over the years things seemed to have changed and when I visited twice last year, the food was especially salty. Another thing seemed to be missing on my visits to Latin Chef, the owner, Freddy. Whenever he's there, the food and service is much better.
Anyway, we had a bunch of days where it was almost like summer recently, so I thought I'd drive on down to PB and see what was up with Latin Chef. It was lunchtime and the place was deserted. No Freddy either....I hope he's doing well. I asked the served and she just shrugged and told me, "he was here yesterday......" As she dropped off the chanchita....which was stale.
I was pretty hungry and started things out with the Cebiche Pescado.
Which was nice, the leche de tigre (the cebiche marinade) was bracing and refreshing. The fish seemed to need a few more minutes bathing in the leche de tigre, but this was nice overall.
The pescado frito was another story.
While the fish was wonderfully thin and crisp, there was way too much salt on this....so much that it edged on being bitter.
This is how my meals have been recently at Latin Chef....kind of a mixed bag. Perhaps the place is getting a bit stale. I know that since the original chef left a couple of years, taking the recipe for tiradito with him, things just haven't been the same. I'm hoping my next visit will be better.
Latin Chef 1142 Garnet Ave San Diego, CA 92109
And here are a couple just for the heck of it......
I have a special place in my heart for Lana'i, though I really haven't visited much since "small kid time" and having not visited for probably about 17 years. My dad was from the island and I still have family there, though I kept this visit on the "down low". Over the years, I've taken the Missus to just about all of the main 8 islands, I'd been to all of them, well except for Kahoolawe, though I've set foot on Niihau. I've taken friends to Lana'i a couple of times, once we rented four wheel drive vehicles and drove to various sites and beaches on the island through the Garden of the Gods all the way to the beautiful and secluded Polihua Beach. In a couple of days we managed to hit all the places, Shipwreck Beach, pass the ruins of abandoned Keomoku Village, even making it to King Kamehameha's Summer Retreat, the remnants of the fishing village of Kaunolu. Still the Missus hasn't been to Moloka'i or Lana'i so I thought a nice relaxing getaway of two days or so might be just the right thing. In the old days, only cessnas made the flights to Lana'i, now larger planes do, but I thought the Missus might just enjoy flying in one of these.
Of course it all kind of starts getting fun when they ask you to jump on the scale to see how much you weigh....in case they have to balance the plane. And then of course, they take you out to the tarmac to board. This is when the Missus said, "that plane looks so tiny....."
Other than the pilot and co-pilot (on the way back there was only a pilot) there were only two other people on the flight.
One of the benefits of having a light load and being early was that the really nice folks took us on a extra pass and we went over and past Shipwreck Beach.
Yes, there really is a "shipwreck" stuck on the merciless reefs of Shipwreck Beach. However, even though the reefs here have been the end of many a sailing vessel, this one is not technically a shipwreck. It is a World War II vintage "Liberty Ship", a concrete ship that was wrecked on the reef along with several others as a means of disposal. While the others broke up and eventually became one with the reef, this one decided that resting on the reef would be its fate for now.
It proves to be a rather haunting landmark, or perhaps I should say "seamark"?
As for Lana'i Airport? Well, here it is.......
You don't really need a car on Lana'i if you want to just hang out and visit th two resorts or the beach. There's a shuttle that runs between the Lodge at Koele about a half mile out of Lana'i City, the Hotel Lana'i, and The resort at Manele Bay. You pay a one time fee of $35 per person, usually tacked on to your hotel bill and you get unlimited use of the shuttle during your entire stay.
I heard that the two Four Seasons Resorts were wonderful places to stay, but I wanted something a bit more, well, unique, in more of a Lana'i sort of way. I booked two nights at the Hotel Lana'i. We used to call this the "lodge" and I think many old-timers still do. It was built in 1924, originally to house Hawaii Pine management and visitors to the island.
But instead of staying in a regular room at the hotel, I went ahead and booked the cottage, located to the left of the hotel building.
Being a couple of yards away from the main hotel, up the walk and separated by hedges from the parking lot, it provided some wonderful privacy.
There was even a deck.......
There's a nice living area and a separate bedroom.....and as another big plus; this was the only room in the entire complex that had a television! The woman at the front desk jokes about the possibility of having me rent out TV time to the other guests. If you've never been to Lana'i, you'll quickly notice that Lana'i City, at the elevation of 1600 feet is a bit cooler than many other locations.
The main businesses in Lana'i City run along two streets, Seventh and Eighth, with Dole Park between them.
One thing you'll notice right away are all the pine trees on Lana'i. That in itself is a quite a story. Perhaps I'll tell it one day.
It's hard for me describe life's pace in Lana'i, so I tend to use examples; like the speed limit is 20 miles an hour, there are no traffic lights, only 17 miles of paved road, 10 of which is from Lana'i City to the Four Seasons Manele Bay!
Even though I hadn't been here in almost two decades, things looked eerily the same. Timeless in a way...... I could easily say these photos of Eighth and Seventh avenues came from a different generation.
We had arrived fairly early and I thought a nice breakfast was in order. I knew just the place I wanted to check out.
This place is now known as Canoes Lana'i Restaurant, but growing up it was the location of S&T Properties. It was probably the most well known and popular diner on the island.
The Miisus and I decided to spilt a Delux Loco Moco, not cheap at almost $13, but this was Lana'i. It arrived looking quite good.
Deluxe because it came with fried rice, very local style with calrose rice and full of goodies. The Missus really enjoy the fried rice. But there was another reason for me coming here......the hamburger patty.
You see, the Tanigawa family had a secret recipe for their burgers and it was sold to the current proprietors of Canoes. I was told many years ago that this was the first burger I ever ate, so of course I had to try it. The burger is very soft and moist, very, very soft, like a good part of it is filler and mayo. In a way it makes sense, after all, Lana'i was fairly isolated back then and beef was probably quite expensive. You needed to figure out a way to stretch things while still keeping it sworth a couple of bucks. The patty literally melts in your mouth. The Missus ended up loving this as well, so after a couple of bites, I let Her have the rest. I'd had a couple of bites of my history, it was only right that the Missus get some too........
Over a year ago, when we visited China, we promised the Missus' cousins that if they visited Her parents on Oahu we'd be there. Of course we had to keep that promise, right? So we're back after ten or so days and countless visits to Ala Moana and Waikele Outlets......
And during the in-between time, we were able to visit a couple of places that I'd been itching to check out.
And I managed to reaquaint myself with places I'd been thinking about for years.....places I really missed.
And newer favorites as well.....
So you know they'll be more than enough poke for a post......
We even managed a short side trip......
To the Pacific Northwest....juts kidding. By the looks of the Cook Pines can you guess where this is?
Or perhaps the ranchland???
Here's the answer.....
My father was from Lana'i and I hadn't been back in at least seventeen years. I thought it would be interesting for the Missus to visit a place with no traffic lights, seventeen miles of paved road, and a speed limit of 20 mph.
And of course we had to eat, right?
It felt great to be "home", where there is an endless supply of sunsets......
And beautiful orchids....
And of course there are those items that just grab my attention for some reason or another as well.
Whew, it's been a pretty busy week for me. Mucho thanks to Cathy for making sure both the blog and myself survive to eat yet another day! Since I'm pretty bushed....I thought I'd just go over a coupe of things I've made over the last couple of weeks, starting with one, very familiar dish:
Thanks to my shaky photo taking skills, the Missus actually thought this was an ice cream sundae when She first viewed the photos.
I actually made this the night before the Amazing Graze. I figured I'd need something extra to take me through the day. Actually, I was at Seisel's picking up some calves liver for Da Boyz, when I decided to pick up some ground beef. The bad thing was, Da Boyz's liver was nine bucks...my ground beef two-fifty......yes folks, our household has truly "gone to the dogs".....
A couple of weeks back I came across some decent looking baby bamboo shoot at 99 Ranch Market, which I ended up purchasing. After arriving home I realized that I had no plan........
So I ended up lightly blanching the bamboo shoots and doing a pseudo-braise stir-fry with shiitake mushrooms them......
The sauce was an interesting combo, one that I used to make when I still lived in Hawaii...man we're talking fourteen years already!
It is a little bit (con) fusion-ny, but works rather well.
Last week the Missus was working pretty hard, so I decided to make something She'd been requesting for a while, a celeriac (celery root) salad.
Since I was also smoking some salmon, I thought I'd tie this into the main course. I added some carrots for sweetness and mixed the following dressing:
1 Tb Dijon Mustard Juice from 1/2 Lemon zest of 1 lemon 3 Tb capers drained and chopped (I don't rinse, the Missus loves the briney flavor) 3-4 Tb Mayonnaise 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (this does add flavor, so if you're not a fan canola oil will do) minced fresh dill to taste salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste 1 tsp sugar (optional) a dash of truffle oil
I used a base of baby arugula and topped with bacon. The Missus really enjoyed this. The next day She ate the rest of the salmon with the salad in a sandwich!
Another day, the Missus had to head off to work so I made Her a small bento of sorts:
Yes, that's some roast duck over some sliced cucumbers to help cut the richness.....
But what the Missus really loved was the Asian stir-fried Rapini, also known as broccoli rabe.
The sauce is just a combination of good soy sauce, sugar, and cornstarch. First three dried chilis are scalded in peanut oil, the rapini is added along with a dash of Xiaosing. Three cloves of finely grated (you can't see, but you can taste) garlic is added later. The sauce is added at the end..... Man, this can out really good. And as you can tell, the Missus is getting into different vegetables.......or at least convincing me to cook them!
In case you've been wondering what's been going on here........ I've been having some problems with Internet access and such over the last couple of days. Luckily, as always, Cathy has been able to help me out. Because of the spotty access, it's hard for me to do a "real" in depth post, since I usually just sit down and start typing things out. This one actually took three days off and on, fits and starts, blah, blah, blah....... It started thinking I could get things done on Friday for Saturday...then Saturday....and finally it's Sunday. I hope to have everything back on course tomorrow...... So here goes, just a couple of real short items for this Sunday......
After years of thinking I'd get some decent rare steak (even on the side), I've learned that the "tao of dry top round" is almost universal in San Diego, and stick with a brisket-tendon-flank combination.
I was a bit disappointed to that they told me they were out of Ngo Gai....... Still, in terms of flavor, this was as good as I've gotten in the area in a while.
Convoy Noodle House 4647 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
Recently, I dropped by Homestyle Hawaiian.... and Mo told me to try one of the new "specials"..... the Roast Pork Loco Moco. ($8.95)
I'm not quite sure what to say other than...... this was an immense amount of food.... four large slices of roast pork, was enough for maybe three or four people in my opinion. The pork was moist, but I wished for more of the nicely flavored edges. This was too much of a good thing. I asked Mo if anyone had ever finished this, and he told me, "all the time!" You gotta remember that this has the equivalent of three scoops of rice (rice is hidden under the pork and gravy), and a scoop of Mac Salad. The gravy makes this version of the loco moco work, and it's a very decent version..... still, I want to know who has actually finished this dish. Mo told me that he's working on a loco moco "challenge"..... I can only imagine.....
Homestyle Hawaiian Island Style Food 7524 Mesa College Drive San Diego, CA 92111
Thanks so much for your patience......I'm hoping to have everything resolved soon....and I do realize that I need to finish up my China posts....after all I can't let photos like this:
*** Update 11/18, 0800 - The contest is closed....... there was only one person who guessed all six restaurant correctly. Congrats to Hao! The answers are all at the end of the post. And just for laughs I gave an eCup to the person who did the worst as well.
I haven't done one of these in a while....... I'll send a Peet's eCup to the first five folks who email(link upper right) me the correct guesses of the following revisits.
For the following three, list the dish and the restaurant:
1. This one is kinda hard, but not that hard......
Someone once mentioned lucious eyebrows.......
2.. This one is the easiest.
How about some drippy yolk porn......
3. This dish used to be much better when the restaurant was under previous ownership.....
But things have been getting better as the folks making the food have been gaining more experience.
For next three, you can just name the restaurant.
4. This "little little" place used to be in a different location.
5. I've never posted on exactly this dish, but guessing the restaurant should be pretty easy.
6. OK if you can't guess this one....... well, I'm not sure what to say.....
Easy, right? That's it, get those six and be one of the first five to email me the correct guesses and you'll get a Peet's eCup..... But let me ask you, are you a gambler? Would you go double or nothing? If you guess the name of this dish correctly, along with the previous six, I'll make it two eCups...... get it wrong, and you get nothin'(be accurate - as in what kind of meat etc, or the Chinese name would be even better)....... A couple of hints, it's not from a restaurant in San Diego, and it is delicious......
I'll let things go until the morning of 11/18
Just remember, send me the guesses via email, a valid email so if you're correct I can send youthe Peet's eCup. One guess per email address please.
OK, here are the answers:
#1 - It's Beef Sate Noodle "Dry" from Tan Ky Mi Gia.
I had gone to Barbecues Galore to try and purchase more Ono Kiawe Charcoal. I was told by the manager of BG, that a "well known" BBQ Manufacturer had bought the company and then took the charcoal off the market because it was competing with items in their product line. I'm not going further than that since I can't confirm this info. I may try purchasing the charcoal on the Ono Charcoal Website.
Aahhh yes, breakfast and bowling alleys.... what could be better? Actually, you may be scratching your head a bit on this one. Back in Hawaii, there used to be some pretty good food served in Bowling Alleys. In fact, for a time, Kapiolani Coffee Shop, which used to be on Atkinson close to what was then Aloha Motors, and is now the Hawaii Convention Center, had a shop in Kam Bowl (which has closed). They made the best Oxtail soup!(Don't worry, if I recall you can get the same Oxtail soup at Asahi Grill and Kapiolani Coffee Shop in Waimalu) And in fact, The Alley Restaurant, in the Aiea bowl was on my list (most due to Pomai's post) when I returned home a few months ago. Unfortunately, I was unable to talk the Missus into eating in a bowling alley.
Still, I knew not to expect quite that, since I'd been to Gardena Bowl and the old Holiday Bowl Restaurant's before.
At 7am on Sunday, the place is half full, all old-timers, I'm the youngest by at least 15 years. I had a seat at the counter, and soaked in the atmosphere. I really can't use the word ambiance, because it seems to infer some "high maka-maka" quality. No, this was something special..... I'd never heard so much pidgin since I moved to mainland. And it wasn't just any pidgin, but "time-warp pidgin"..... I heard words, like "holo-holo", "Pake", and "manini".... Which seemed to indicate when these folks had left for "da' really beeg island......" The folks working really didn't talk that way, but they seemed to know most of the people coming in and eating.
The menu, part of it written on the greaseboard reflected the very old-school Japanese/Chinese influenced dishes I grew up eating.
On one of the greaseboards, it said "Poi - $3.50 extra".
I of course, ordered a Loco Moco ($7.50), which came with a dish of very old-school Tsukemono, just like Mom used to make.... literally, it tasted just like her quick Tsukemono... In fact, much of this had a home made quality, albeit that being the 60's and 70's home....
I like that they didn't ask me how I wanted my egg, it was done easy-over. The gravy was very dark, and there were shreds of what seemed like roast beef in it. It wasn't as salty as I expected, rather it was thick and dense, and I love a drizzle of Tabasco on my Loco Moco anyways. The rice was perfect....
The burger patty was lean, and seemed to have little filler.... which some folks might enjoy, but it was pretty chewy. Plus, I ran into what I call "the old toenail".... you know, you bite on a piece of bone or other hard calcified item which almost cracks your teeth. Also, the patty tasted like it was about a day or so from going South, that gamey-metallic flavor, which means you no harm (yet), but trips switches in my head.
Still, I enjoyed this meal. Just listening brought back memories, perhaps different from those that Fukagawa elicited, but very strong none the less. A nice step back to the type of "diner" I grew up eating in.
For that, I'd gladly return......... Plus that gravy ain't too shabby..... This was much like what Mom made, and as much as you criticize Mom's food, you always return for more.
Gardena Bowl Restaurant 15707 S Vermont Ave Gardena, CA 90247
I'm feeling a bit tired today, so I thought I'd minimize the writing and post mostly photos. So here are some revisits. I know I usually post the storefront before the food, but this time I'll post the food first, then at the end, I'll post the storefront. I've posted on these places maybe too many times, so if you've been reading for a couple of years, you'll recognize them right away.
That Pho King Restaurant! Sorry, I couldn't help with the childish humor.... in fact, I named the photos "more Pho King". OK, can I have just one more? The folks in the office enjoy.....whoa, almost did it again, they like....well.....oh geez.....you get the point! I was drinking my coffee one day, and I mentioned that we hadn't eaten here in a while. To which "MG" exclaimed loudly, "oh yes, I miss Pho King!" The expression on her face after saying that was classic.....she had that "I wish I could reach out and grab what I said and stuff it back into my mouth" look. I nearly snorted my coffee out of my nose.... and could only manage a weak.... "I think you'd better tell your husband." Such is the "Pho King effect". 'nuff said.....