Oh, how I love Hawaii! Out of all of the places I've ever been, it's been the one place that's captured my heart in a way that nowhere else has been able to. I've been three times now and it just doesn't get old! While I love the natural beauty of the islands, all of the fun, active things to do outdoors, and of course the beaches, near the top of the list of the things I love about Hawaii is the food!
Surprised? Not so much? Obviously, if you are here on this blog, you can tell I really love food. But the thing I like about Hawaii's food is that it's fun and kind of eclectic. I mean, where else can you find so many dishes that include SPAM, of all things? Another thing that I have always enjoyed about Hawaii's food scene is how readily available all kinds of different Asian cuisines are, especially on Oahu. It's hard to find good Japanese curry and/or ramen here in Virginia (at least, where I live), so I love getting my fill of these foods when I'm in Hawaii (or California).
Here's a little recap of what I ate on this last trip. If you're interested in some pretty landscape photos, be sure to check out my photography blog, here!
1. Curry chicken plate lunch at Fatboy's with mac salad. Totally a fatty thing to do to eat macaroni salad and rice, but it's also a total Hawaiian thing to do. And it's surprisingly good. Or maybe that's just me, because I love mayonnaise??
2. Turkey sub from Timmy T's Gourmet Grinders in Kailua. Basically just like Jimmy John's, but they use Boar's Head meats and a bread that tastes more like a Hawaiian roll and less like the french bread JJ's uses. LOVE these sandwiches.
3. Some kind of really sweet drink from a rooftop Mexican place called Buho Cantina.
4. Chip and dip trio from my favorite...the Mai Tai bar at the Royal Hawaiian. The best place to see that quintessential Hawaiian sunset and have a couple strong ass cocktails that cost $15 each...ha.
1. There gets to be a point when I'm traveling and feeling the effects of eating to excess and decide I probably could use a few grams of protein in order to not turn into a sack of potatoes...this, or Premiere Protein from Costco are my go-tos.
2. Whole Foods hot bar breakfast!! If you're traveling to Hawaii from the East Coast, you eat a lot more breakfast because you wake up every morning between 4-5AM since the time is 5-6 hours behind what you're used to. Whole Foods never lets me down. Interestingly enough, I feel like the Kailua WF has a specific smell that always reminds me of that exact location. (Okay, maybe that wasn't interesting at all...ha. MOVING ON...)
3. Hapuia (coconut) custard filled malasada from Leonard's Malasada Mobile!!! Malasadas are Portuguese donuts that don't have holes. You can get them filled or not, but I prefer filling, either hapuia or chocolate. They're made to order, so they are hot, fluffy, and delicious.
4. Mussel pokè. Poke is basically raw fish. I'd never had mussel pokè before, but after trying a sample at Foodland (yes, grocery stores have great pokè...) I was sold. I love mussels. I love pokè. Mussel poke = match made in heaven. Perfect beach day food. And healthy.
1. & 2. Truffle oil and egg pizza and a fancy titos and soda from Prima in Kailua. Truffle oil on pizza is so heavenly.
3. & 4. My Thanksgiving meal on the beach, courtesy of Whole Foods (the meal) and 7/11 (the wine). I was surprised to find that although I really enjoyed eating my stuffing and potatoes on the beach, I actually really missed spending the day with family! I'm all about a beach day, but it felt really weird being so far removed from everyone.
1. Happy hour at Laylow Waikiki.
2. Pork belly ramen from a stand inside the ala moana mall. They've got a legit Asian food court with a ton of stands and $1 beers. Manichi Ramen is probably the best I've ever had...the broth was so smooth and silky and the noodles were perfectly chewy with the right amount of flavor!
3. Beef curry bowl at a stand at The Street. The Street is a cool little food court type place with several fun little eateries. I always feel like I can't get good Japanese curry at home, so I was thrilled to enjoy some in Waikiki.
4. Whole Foods again for the win...can't not have pecan pie at some point Thanksgiving weekend, right? This pie was so amazing...perfect amount of sweetness without being too much.
1&2. More ramen! Lucky Belly is a really fun Ramen place in Chinatown. It's really more of an Asian fusion place than a straight up authentic spot, but it's still really REALLY good. Lucky Belly is the place where I got one of my best friends hooked on ramen in 2016 if that tells you how good it is. They've also got a lot of amazing cocktails.
3. This is one of those things I feel like people would judge me for loving, but I am obsessed with chips and dip. I really wanted french onion, but couldn't find it, so I settled for ranch.
4. This cute little cafe near my friend's house called ChadLou's has made to order ice cream sandwiches!! You choose your cookies and ice cream and they put it together. I had macadamia nut ice cream between my cookies. Such a wonderful treat while I answered emails and caught up on some work.
1. The appetizer from Lucky Belly was this amazing (albeit, $16) gyoza!! Perfection and actually better than some gyoza I had eaten at a stand in the Ala Moana Center.
2. Banana, walnut, Nutella waffle from ChadLou's. I mean, NUTELLA WAFFLE.
3. Bacon, egg, avocado, cheese, ham sandwich from Ono's in Kailua. Get it?? B.E.A.C.H?? I am very passionate about breakfast sandwiches. This one was decent, but I can't say I'm up at night dreaming about it or anything...
4. Ice cream from Cream N' Roll. This was a really neat concept...they rolled out your choice of ice cream and any add ins and shaped them into, well, rolls. In general though, it just tasted like ice cream to me...which I can take or leave right now. I'm more of a savory winter eater.
1. "Fish and Chips" with cod and sweet potato fries. Sadly, I was disappointed by this. In theory it sounded amazing...but it really didn't turn out to be that great.
2. Shrimp and pineapple stir fry...in a pineapple! I'm still wanting to make my own Hawaiian themed stir fry. Mine would have bits of spam and pineapple and peas and green onions...maybe shrimp too!
3 & 4 Brunch at Koko Head Cafe! This is one of my must-visit places on Oahu! A Top Chef finalist is the chef/owner here and everything I've tried on the menu is amazing! All of the brunch items (which they serve all the time) are Asian fusion inspired, like the chicken and egg skillet I had. I love the rice on the bottom of the skillet because it gets crispy!! Also, gotta have a rum punch in Hawaii, ;)
1. Shrimp quesadilla with that famous North Shore shrimp!
2. Spam and egg musubi. Spam musubis are one of my favorite things about Hawaii...I LOVE Spam despite the fact that it's in all actuality pretty gross. If you've never had a musubi and you like Spam, be prepared to have a life changing experience when you finally get to enjoy one.
3. Rum cocktail with locally made rum in an animal mug. When I ordered my first drink, I asked specifically for this white porcelain cat mug, which I immediately fell in love with. I loved it so much I asked if I could pay for it and take it with me. Bad news? Bartender said no. Good news? Found one online for $12. My second drink was made for me in this fun toucan tumbler!
4. Last day wings at this little sports bar next to the grocery store in Kailua. If you're a football fan in Hawaii, weekday games are always on in the afternoon! Which is great for Happy Hour specials, but not so great for people who work traditional hours...
This trip happened at kind of a weird time for me, but I still managed to enjoy myself throughout all of the eating and cocktails and sightseeing. I'm planning a post with suggestions for anyone headed to Oahu, so stay tuned for that!!!