To add some greens for dinner, my only option left at closing time was the Oishii Salad from Hibachi San. It was a bed of romaine lettuce with corn, edamame, tofu, tomatoes, and candied walnuts. It was National Bean Day so the edamame and tofu were fitting. The side of soy vinaigrette was quite generic. It was a small portion for $6.49 plus tax but how many salads are actually worth their price these days? The tomatoes were not very tart and the other vegetables were simple. There were three cubes of soft tofu that was also bland. Only the candied walnuts tasted good and that is because in addition to the crunch, they had a thick sugary honey-based coating. Sweet flavors are always welcome, well… most of the time.
January 6, 2013
Mama’s Spaghetti House, Honolulu HI
Having arrived once again minutes from closing time at Ala Moana Center for dinner, Mom and I almost ran to get food. Luckily, we got in before they completely closed the doors. Lesson learned from before, we got made to order items to ensure quality. Mom once again settled for an order of Kim Chee Ramen from Naniwa-ya Ramen. I went next door to Mama’s Spaghetti House.
The Shrimp Marinara was absolutely delicious. I wanted some kind of fresh seafood in the sweet and tart marinara sauce. Luckily, this came with mushrooms as well. The shrimp were juicy with such a bouncy bite to them. There were quite a few of them as well. The spaghetti was perfectly al dente and the sauce was nicely seasoned. It was not too thick and very flavorful from the tartness of the tomatoes. For $10.59 plus tax, this was such a steal.
We opted for a quick lunch at McDonald’s after visiting Kualoa Ranch and before heading to the Byodo-in Temple. Mom and I seriously needed some ice cold diet soda.
The Angus Mushroom & Swiss has remained one of my favorites, simply because I prefer the mushroom and Swiss version of any burger or wrap at McDonald’s. The mushrooms were soft yet chewy and stuck to the savory, melted slice of Swiss cheese. The beef patty was slightly overdone this time but still decent. The mayonnaise was a little on the heavy side, slightly masking the aromas of the mushroom and the Swiss. The bun was the regular sesame seed bun that came with a nice, sweet char on the edges. Overall, the flavors went well together to make a cohesive burger.
January 5, 2013
Ted’s Bakery, Haleiwa HI
Mom had read from a magazine that a popular bakery existed on the north shore – Ted’s Bakery. We dropped by and it was small but with many visitors, all purchasing coffee and pies. Despite their famous pie being the Chocolate Haupia Cream Pie, I knew Mom was not into chocolate or haupia cream.
Therefore, we got a slice of the Pineapple Pie. The pineapple preserve-like filling was sweet, a little tart, and very delicious. The chunks of pineapple were fresh and really good. The piecrust was thin and crumbly, which I was glad of. Nothing is worse in a dessert than a thick, bland piecrust. The sugar on top was also a nice addition but the freshness of the pineapples was what made the pie great.
January 5, 2013
Famous Kahuku Shrimp Truck, Wahiawa HI
Garlic Butter Shrimp
Despite the storm, we managed to find the Famous Kahuku Shrimp Truck. Coming from Philly, where food trucks are the most popular, I really love and appreciate an old, run-down truck serving up the best fast food around. The concierge at Ilikai told us specifically to go to this truck and not any others. After passing by a few, we finally found it, and boy was it ugly! The truck was old and had heavy graffiti. The tarp overhead at the dining area with picnic benches was also cheap and had definitely seen better days. There were so many customers, though, because the food was amazing.
We ordered the most traditional – the Garlic Butter Shrimp. For $11, you get ten large, fresh shrimp. It was pan-fried in a lot of aromatic and greasy garlic butter. The shrimp was so flavourful and tender inside. I was not a fan of the macaroni salad as it was kind of bland. It also came with some rice, the two sides very typical of Hawaiian cuisine. The shrimp alone were outstanding, though. A north shore classic, do not miss your chance to indulge in fresh shrimp!
On our second to last day in the happiest state, we explored the western half of Oahu, driving to the north shore and the west shore. It was a beautiful day and we spotted rainbows. Every time we got back in the car to drive a couple of miles to the next destination, it would start pouring. The thundershowers passed quickly though. On our journey north, we stopped first at the Dole Plantation. Thinking we did not have much time, we did not go on the train or garden tours, opting to just explore the small garden open to everyone and sample some pineapple treats at the Plantation Grille.
The Dole Whip Cup with Topping was the best and freshest pineapple ice cream any of us ever had. It was aromatic, lightly sweetened, tart, creamy, and very smooth. It was just so refreshing and good. The topping was chopped up pineapple chunks that were also very fresh and delicious. Literally everyone in the plantation was eating ice cream in some form.
I also tried the Pineapple Strudel and loved it. It was fresh but with pineapple in a sticky jam-like base, it was quite sweet. The flaky strudel was freshly baked and not too creasy. It was a delicious and flaky bite of pineapple pastry.
Lunch here looks decent enough but it is also quite pricey. I would definitely suggest getting some pineapple treat, though!
January 4, 2013
Mama’s Spaghetti House, Honolulu HI
The Seafood Supreme was quite good. It had fresh shrimp, squid, and fried fish fillet pieces in a creamy white Alfredo sauce over al dente spaghetti. The sauce was rich and flavourful. The shrimp and squid were awesome and succulent. The fish was good on the inside but I would have preferred it not to be fried first. Just chunks of fillet would have worked for me. Overall, though, a plate of pasta this good at a food court is amazing that no one should complain.
After returning to Honolulu, we went to Costco for food for the next two days but headed to Ala Moana… yet again… for dinner. This time, I decided to try some traditional Hawaiian cuisine besides the poke I had last time. Thus, I found myself in front of Poi Bowl. I was not excited by the already made food kept warm rather than being freshly made to order. However, it was the only option for Hawaiian cuisine around.
I settled for the Local Boy Special that included the signature Poi, Lau Lau, Kalua Pig, Chicken Long Rice, Lomi Salmon, and Haupia. Let me just say none of us liked the poi, the mashed up version of the taro’s corm. It tasted off to us and was rather disgusting. Perhaps we are just not used to it but the texture was like wet mashed potatoes, which was not the most textural in any way. The Lau Lau was my favourite. The pork inside was nicely steamed and simple, soaking up the taro leaves flavour. The leaves were cooked until they were completely limp and I loved the fresh aroma. The Kalua Pig was okay, with decently tender pork. It was flavourful but a bit salty for my liking. The Chicken Long Rice did not have much distinct taste apart from roasted shredded chicken. The Lomi Salmon was very salty and fishy but okay in small amounts. Finally, the Haupia was not bad. It was a coconut pudding that was bouncy and sweet.
Overall, all of us found Hawaiian food very disappointing. I think I will stick with poke from now on and maybe a serving of lau lau just so I can eat some delicious taro leaves!
Without luck on Oahu around Waikiki, I was pleased to see Saimin on the menu at McDonald’s on Maui. I believe the name came from Japanese, which sounds similar to the Mandarin version of “individually packed noodles” otherwise known as instant noodles. It is clearly still a Hawaiian specialty. Even the plastic bowl specifically said ‘Hawaii!’ The noodles were a little too al dente but that’s the way I like them to be, so chewy with such a nice bite. The two slices of Asian BBQ pork were tough and salty. There were also a piece of nori and some shredded egg omelet, as well as a slice of traditional fish cake that did not add to the flavor. Overall, it was not anything special but definitely an interesting regional item.