As promised, here’s a tidbit of our Hawaiian food adventure. The first day on the island was a food tour – they took us around honolulu and let us try about 15 different types of food in total… yes, it was a food marathon and food marathons are always fun times. I was planning to take pictures of all the foods we tried, but it was nearly impossible b/c at one point, we were standing in the middle of Hawaii’s Chinatown, while sampling close to 10 different types of food, one after the other… but I did manage to capture some food from the places we sat down at.
The first six pictures are from our food tour. This first bun is a baked Manapua – comparative to a baked bbq pork bun, but this bread was sweeter and softer. We tried the Portuguese sausage and smoked kalua pork (their version of pulled-pork). So good, but I liked the kalua pork more…. think these are far tastier/better than baked bbq pork buns.
Our first stop in Chinatown was a noodle factory. We saw how they made, steamed and folded these noodles. They usually serve these steamed rice noodles in some dim sum dishes. Tasted really good paired with meat/ sauce. All I kept thinking while watching these ladies make the noodles was “what would happen if they dropped that heavy tray of noodles?… That would suck”.
The last thing we tried in Chinatown was a Kekaulike Cocktail (lychee-vodka-pineapple smoothie)… this was so good. C even asked for a double shot. That orange color came from this powder they call ‘li hing’ powder (they put this stuff in everything)… found it a little strange to learn that it was from those ‘salty dried plum miu’s’ that chinese people eat… not a huge fan of those.
Second last stop on the food tour. We went to a dessert place called Bubbies and tried their mochi ice cream. If you haven’t tried mochi before, imagine almost a chewy sweet rice cake, wrapped around ice cream. That’s probably not the best description… but something along those lines. This was my first time trying this dessert and it was strangely good.. the combo just works. According to Chris, you could actually buy these treats at T&T Supermarket, but they are really $$$$.
Green tea & Guava Ice Cream Mochi (Green tea was the best of the 4 we tried… in my opinion)
Peanut Butter Chocolate & Raspberry Double Chocolate Ice Cream Mochi
Last stop on our food tour was this famous bakery, especially known for their made to order malasadas – Leaonard’s. This place ranked first on all the food places to try in Hawaii, according to trip advisor, so you could imagine how excited we were when we found out this would be our last stop on the tour. Malasadas are Portuguese style doughnuts and Leonard’s serves them both with or without filling. I tried their original (most popular pick) and Chris tried the mango filled. The original was really light and fluffy and just topped with sugar. The mango filled on the other hand was really tasty but much heavier (literally and on the palate). They were both pretty good, but I guess we just expecting more… think we hyped ourselves up too much about this place because of what people had said on trip adviser… or maybe it was because we had just finished a food marathon and were just sick of food… not sure, but still definitely worth checking out.
So that was a little peek into our food tour. The rest of the pictures were from different places that we tried along the trip. I mentioned this place before : Sam’s Kitchen. Think it was our second day on the island; we were looking for easy and close food places around our hotel that served good food + poke of course, and this place popped up on yelp. It was a small food stand located a couple blocks away from our hotel and their food was pretty good, for a food stand. Their menu seemed more ‘local’ that other places too. Aside from their poke, we also tried their seafood box and loco moco.
This seafood box came with veggie rice, ahi poke, ebi mayo, fish eggs, and lomi lomi (the container on the right that looks like salsa – main components are diced tomatoes and salmon I think, plus other ingredients… so essentially like a salmon salsa). This box was good because it had a little bit of everything. But, I actually liked the loco moco more…
Loco moco, according to our food tour guides is a traditional ‘surfer’s meal’. (After a day of surfing, people would order this standard dish). As you can see, its topped with a sunny side-up egg, over a burger patty, over a bed of greens and rice. Mix it all up with their meat sauce and you’ve got yourself a delicious easy meal. Surprisingly, it was actually really good… thought it tasted better than the seafood box.
Next up is a random picture of my dinner from the Luau we went to. We went to Germaine’s Luau and both the entertainment and food were surprisingly really good. It was a dinner buffet that featured many local dishes … I think. Kalua pork (pulled pork) was their main meat feature (they apparently cook it all day in a traditional underground oven and unveiled it to the audience during a ceremony before dinner began) – really good. They also have this local side-dish that is supposedly a staple food in many Hawaiian homes, known as ‘poi’ (think that’s how you spell it). Basically taro root mashed into a paste… tastes bland when eaten alone, but not bad when you use it as a dip for meat (back left container).
Second last day, we drove around the island with Chris’ friend’s and ended up at two local ‘famous’ places: Rainbow Drive-In and Matsumoto’s. I think both have been featured on some food network show… not sure if both were on Diner’s, Drive-in’s, and Dives. Anyhow, I read somewhere that Rainbow Drive-in was a local stop, especially known for their plate lunches. We tried their mixed plate, which had a piece of beef, chicken, and fish, along with 2 scoops of rice, and a scoop of macaroni salad. You actually get a lot of food on each plate, so C and I ended up sharing ours. Really good local food here, fairly inexpensive, but usually packed with people. There was a steady flow of people from the time we sat down, to the time we left, so you know it must be good.
The last food stop we made with C’s friends’ was to a grocery store known for their shaved ice dessert cones – Matsumoto’s. This place seemed really far… we drove for almost an hour, but then again, we got lost at one point. If you have a sweet tooth, go check this place out. When we got there, there was a long line of maybe 20 people? The staff serving customers were really fast/efficient though… guess a line that long is the norm.
Its pretty much a sno-cone with flavors/ toppings, but the ice is much softer like snow, and less icy, compared to the sno-cones you can find in Vancouver. You can choose up to 3 different flavors and whether you want a scoop of vanilla ice cream, azuki beans, or condensed milk. Yeup, pretty much just ice loaded up with a bunch of sugar… But, I gotta say, it was pretty delicious. Made the mistake of ordering my own though…. when we got there, we saw that most people had one of these to themselves, so C and I both agreed to be pigs and get our own cones. Big mistake…. sugar coma or something hit after we downed this thing and we both felt like crap. But it was all good while we were eating them! The three flavors I tried were: mango, guava, and watermelon + ice cream. Chris tried: lychee, mango, and green tea + ice cream + condensed milk… fatty. lol
And last but not least, a stop at McDonald’s on our very last day on the island. Had to try this Haupia Pie they were advertising – basically a coconut filled pie. I think it was deep-fried too, rather than baked. It was interesting, didn’t taste bad, wasn’t super great, just good. Any uniquely ‘local’ food that McDonald’s comes up with is something that you have to try… just cause!
So that was a peek into our island food adventure. Miss that place already…. want to go back… weather/ beaches here suck.