Oahu Trip Report
This is actually an excerpt from a more complete trip report I wrote for tripadvisor. As you can see, most of my report is devoted to food!
Luckily we were there for the Okinawan Festival and it was only a 5 minute walk from our condo! There really isn't too many things Okinawan in NYC so I was very excited. I tried the andagi (Okinawan donut) served piping hot. I wanted to try the chicken nishime but it was already sold out! I saw the huge line for the yaki soba so I joined it. It was fine -- guess fried noodles are really popular. The most interesting dish I had was taco rice which is basically the makings of a tex-mex taco served over white rice. It was a bit strange eating bits of shredded cheese and rice together but it worked with the ground beef and lettuce. Having some scrips left I ended up picking up a package of potato chip arame cookies that was pretty good. Who thought about putting seaweed, soy sauce and potato chips into a delicious cookie?
Whole Foods (locations in Kailua and Kahala)
The Kailua location is newer and larger than the Kahala one. It was really interesting to see the differences between the Hawaii Whole Foods and NYC locations. Ooh -- poke bar! I also really dug the bulk bins of sprouted nuts and seeds. Wish my local Whole Foods would do that. I ended up getting a bit of this coconut banana breakfast porridge from the bulk bin to try. If I liked it I would have picked it up for gifts. Unfortunately it tasted a bit like soap to me. The best thing about the Whole Foods was that the people working there were so friendly -- a bit different than the NYC Whole Foods!
We stopped there to get some wines. Had good prices and decent selection of sparkling wines. Their French burgundy selection wasn't too hot. Seems that Hawaii is more into California wines. Big selection of beer and liquors as well. There's a small amount of food (eg. poke) as well.
The largest seafood market in Honolulu. Unfortunately we got there late on a Sunday afternoon and pickins were slim. But I picked up some lobster, prawns, and manilla clams. The prawns and manilla clams were reasonably priced. But the lobster was expensive compared to NYC. We were glad they took credit cards.
Shirokiya's (Ala Moana Center)
We picked up some food before our flight departed Honolulu. We kind of rushed it (luckily we scoped out the selections the day prior) as some of our luggage was in the back seat of our car. Our convertible could not fit two suitcases in its trunk and we both wanted to pick our own food. We ended up getting eel over rice, meat jun, bitter melon stir-fried with egg, spam musubi and garlic chicken. Way too much food -- our eyes were bigger than our stomach. There's so much to choose from!
Wed Night Blaisdell Market (Honolulu)
Comprised mostly of locals. Smaller in scope compared to the KCC Saturday one, but a lot easier to navigate. Ended up having dinner at the Pig and Lady and had the fish rice noodle soup with tomatoes and pineapple, fried smelts in honey sauce, string beans with peanut sauce and shrimp, oxtail gnocchi. A huge benefit of renting a condo is that you can take home leftovers and eat them the next day for breakfast or lunch. The fish noodle soup was outstanding. Reminiscent of canh chua but using fishcakes instead of whole fish. The broth was quite soothing and I could drink bowls and bowls of it. The fried smelts were good, but a bit soggy. Lucky we got the last of the string beans (it was only 6P). The peanut sauce is so good that I could eat spoonfuls of it. The oxtail gnocchi was quite rich but tasty. Also ended up picking up a pineapple for the next day.
Sat AM KCC Market (Honolulu)
I was planning to get a lot of produce in addition to the prepared foods so I got there earlier than I have usually done in the past -- around 7:40A. Holy crap! Market was already super busy with locals and tourists. I ended up getting some lillikoi, rambutan, choy sum, edamame pods, corn, pineapple, mango ($5/lb), and tomatoes. Where were the mangosteens? I heard they were in season during the summer but couldn't find them anywhere.
At the Pig and Lady (I just love that place -- super sweet folks with the best food), we got the pho gai and breakfast banh mi which basically is like a regular banh mi with a fried poached egg on top. The rice noodles in the pho gai seemed hand made and it's the perfect breakfast food for me (I'm not a traditional American breakfast person). I've had the pho ga before when they were operating their pop-up dinners at Hank's Haute Dogs. It seemed to be slightly better at Hank's -- probably because they were cooking it in smaller batches. But it was still so good. It seems that the Japanese tourists haven't gotten wind of Pig and Lady yet -- they were at the sausage, fried tomato, pesto pizza, grilled corn and grilled abalone stalls. So the line at Pig and Lady was relatively short at the KCC Market. At the Blaisdell Market, Pig and the Lady had the longest line. We shared a Pacific Kool basil ginger ale with our meal (though the Pig and Lady folks gave us complimentary cups of the pandan jasmine tea). I also got a milk chocolate strawberry mochi from Made in Hawaii (they were already out of the dark chocolate ones and it wasn't even 8A yet!). It was OK, but I prefer the mochi from Happy Hearts as I thought the texture of the mochi is lighter and fluffier. There's no storefront for Happy Hearts. You order via Email or phone and pick them up from Natsunoya Tea House (located in a residential area of Honolulu). I ordered a few bentos for gifts and picked them up on the day I was leaving.
Leonard's (Honolulu -- Kapahulu)
Always busy which is a good sign. Got the chocolate, plain, cinnamon and lilikoi. Favorite is still the plain. Please avoid the coffee. No cream or milk for it -- only had powdered creamer. Not good.
I prefer Agnes over Leonard's, but this time Agnes didn't fry the malasadas to order. Agnes is more rustic in style. I think one should definitely try it if in Kailua.
In the mood for something lighter, we went for nabe at Ichiriki. On a weeknight around 5P, I called to see what they had available. They said the first time was 8:30P. We were hoping to eat a bit earlier but that was okay. When we got there there were a lot of empty seats. I was wondering if they told us 8:30P so they could pace the service better. I ended up getting the seafood nabe and DH got the mushroom nabe. We ordered an appetizer of deep-fried poke which was okay, but I wouldn't order it again as the tuna became fully cooked. Both nabes were delicious and we were incredibly full. Both of us couldn't finish. To be perfectly honest I think we would have been fine sharing one nabe between the two of us but we wouldn't be able to try different items.