once again, i must hang my head in shame and apologize for my absence. i was away for 9 days, but the rest of it has just been real life and a giant black hole of stress sucking my inspiration. but this morning, i’ve committed myself to posting my hawaii roundup before i head off to seattle for the night.
november saw me return to waikiki for the 5th time. but this trip wasn’t about sightseeing or anything important… it was about getting some sun and relaxing with my husband. …and special guest appearances by my bro & his buddy and the puss & her family. all around, it was a great time.
we stayed at the aqua bamboo, which was new for me. it was actually my first time not staying at a beachfront property right on waikiki beach. for those familiar with the area, the bamboo is on kuhio, pretty much in line with the surfrider. so it’s not far to the beach… lets say a 5 minute walk (2 blocks), but i will still stand by my preference of staying beachfront.
the hotel itself was good… cheap and cheerful as they say… nothing fancy, but absolutely fine for a week stay. the hotel had an adorable little pool and the world’s tiniest hot tub, which was a factor in choosing the hotel, but at the end of it all we never actually made it in to either.
i did enjoy that the bamboo had a very affordable massage place that was poolside. my husband i both had a 50 minute massage for just under $80 including tax & tip. a great bargain. and boy did it ever feel good after that hike to diamond head.
ah the diamond head hike… its turned into a must do for me. you know… i must punish my body for so many mai tais. somehow it makes me feel better. this trip, i literally woke my hangover up, did the 45 minute walk to diamond head, then did the hike and back and then ate a giant burger and then swam in the ocean, then went for a massage.
overall, i’d say it was a hawaii win. cured my hangover, thats for sure.
so, beverages will come in their own post, because in hawaii, there is no shortage of happy hour and tropical delights… but this one is all about the food.
hawaii’s food is a unique style of cuisine that defines melting pot. it has strong influences from asia, polynesia, north america and when its mixed in with the traditional foods native to the area, you get things you can’t find anywhere else. my husband’s favourite is loco moco.
basically loco moco is rice, a hamburger patty, 2 fried eggs done any style and smothered in gravy. for breakfast. and its delicious.
you know how they say; when in rome…? well, when in hawaii, you’d best eat some loco moco. and my husband did. 5 times. lol. he was on a mission to sample the local favourite at as many places as possible… and his verdict was that every place did it a little different, but at the end of the day, it was all delicious. some places had a homemade gravy, sometimes adding mushrooms and/or onions… some places garnished with chopped green onions… some places put the gravy on top of the eggs, others eggs last. some burger patties were clearly frozen from a box, others were hand formed and fresh. but the base for all of them never changed… this delicious hawaiian style white rice. i’m not too sure how they make their rice taste so good, but it sure does. and for me, it’s one of my LOVES about hawaii, is that i can get this yummy sticky almost sushi style rice with my breakfasts.
so while my husband was eating his weight in loco moco, i was eating things like this:
and i can’t forget the magic of this…
ahhhh pancakes in hawaii. another random thing to be in love with, but i never ever order pancakes at home. i just don’t care for them much. but in hawaii its a different animal. topped with things like pineapple, coconut, macadamia nuts and other local treats… and then smothered in coconut syrup instead of maple? oh man, put a fork in me, i am DONE.
and let us not forget the papaya that much accompany every breakfast no matter what your main of choice is:
yup, thats the stuff.
another island favourite is “pupus” which as far as i can tell is just hawaiian for appetizer. which makes for hilarious (warning: may only be hilarious after several mai tais) jokes about needing to “take a wicked appetizer”. haha.
anyhoo…. we had a lot of pupus. because happy hour is cheap! and if you do it right, you don’t really need a proper dinner.
one of my favourite destinations for pupus in waikiki is hula grill in the outrigger waikiki on the beach. its upstairs from duke’s and often overlooked in favour of dukes. but here’s the thing. the decor is just as awesome upstairs, the food is pretty much the same and the drinks are waaaaay cheaper during happy hour. so the hula grill is where you’ll often find me at happy hour…. eating things like: kahlua pork potstickers and ceviche and crab & mac nut stuffed won tons…
and my personal favourites: crispy pork belly bao
and the honey chicken lollypops which were ridiculously sticky sweet goodness.
and at the end of a several hour long happy hour… we weren’t much worse for the wear financially.
then there’s downstairs. duke’s. what can you say? if you’ve gone to waikiki, you’ve gone to dukes. you just… have to. yes, its loud and crazy and filled to the brim with pasty tourists and there’s children… but it’s dead centre in waikiki beach and makes a wicked mai tai and has good food and live music and, well, it’s just fun.
i am particularly in love with their salad bar. there’s not a lot of good salad in waikiki, and dukes scratches my itch for fresh crispy lettuce and tons of good toppings so that i can construct my picky girl salad of choice.
but the fish entrees should never be overlooked. you get the list from the server of whats in season and fresh right now and you choose from one of 4 preparations that they offer and chow down. the fish entrees are always well cooked, perfectly seasoned and just fucking delicious.
we had the following: mine is the opah with mac nut crust and butter caper sauce (i just drooled typing that)
SAUTÉED MAC NUT AND HERB CRUSTED – Lightly dusted in parmesan cheese & bread crumbs, topped with lemon and caper butter
and my husband dinned on the ono done duke’s style…
BAKED “DUKE’S STYLE” – Baked in a garlic, lemon and sweet basil glaze
both were giant portions of fish so fresh, it may have been swimming yesterday… and at a fair market price. plus it includes salad bar. did i mention the salad bar?
my last category for hawaiian eats is pop ups, food carts & beach shacks. yes, food is everywhere in waikiki. on two occasions this last trip, my husband and i grabbed some fish tacos & pork tacos from the food hut right on waikiki beach beside the surfrider and deemed it one of the best deals around. $19 got us 4 giant tacos and a house brewed iced tea with pineapple juice in it to share. not too shabby.
a few days into our trip, on the way back from the beach to the hotel, we were surprised by a pop up market of sorts… except it was all food stands. it wasn’t selling groceries, like our markets here, but selling fresh baked delights and pad thai and poke and even empanadas and dim sum treats. so we stocked up and went back to our balcony with some local beers and made our own happy hour.
last, but certainly not least… once can not forget that hawaii knows its food trucks. possibly the best one i’ve ever seen… the malasadas truck. leonards is famous for its malasadas which are basically like a big round dounut rolled in sugar and sometimes stuffed with creme or fruit filling. they’re DELICIOUS. and leonards is the king. buuuuut we didn’t quite make it to leonards proper, so we were thrilled to stumble across their food truck on the way to sandy beach one day.
so while we did this:
we also go to eat this:
a clear win win situation.
and off course, on our quest to enjoy this beach:
we also got to enjoy this shrimp shack on the north shore.
there’s a lot of shrimp options, and generally we go to giovanni’s, but this one lured us in with their option to have local shrimp, while a lot of stands have switched to the cheaper and inferior thailand shrimp. the difference slapped you in the face. these were almost like my beloved spot prawns. sooooo worth the half hour wait. (this place was BUSY – also a good sign)
and of course, i had to have my coconut… and this time i also may have had a corn on the cob at the roadside pit stop…
mmmhmmm. and thats how i do hawaii.
oh, but before i wrap up, i’d like to give a surprising honorable mention to buba gump’s shrimp. yes, it is a chain theme restaurant and generally that goes against my better instincts, but my husband loves it and he actually sold me on it with this:
thats a pound and a half of hot fresh cooked peel & eats with half caijun spice and half butter and garlic. ya, we slayed those in a few minutes flat. they were messy and buttery and so fucking delicious.
but then we followed it up with some shrimp tacos…
and the calamari that they swore was the best ever and you know, it actually was like top 5 in my life and i’ve eaten a LOT of fried squid in my day.
theirs had half squid, half rock shrimp and also deep fried red peppers and pepperoncini peppers. well played bubba gumps, well played.
and so, i leave you with my last view of hawaii for this trip… diamondhead from my brothers suite on the 33rd floor of the sheraton. yes, it was a grand time had in hawaii, and yes, i’ll be back as soon as i can.