Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Oahu & Waikiki... Onolicious!


Boarding Flight #16 from Honolulu, west-bound home to San Diego, I finally found my Five-0.  The familiar Hawaiian theme song greeted me as an old friend as a flight attendant directed me to my seat.  Smiling as I sat down, I was ready to head for home.

Relaxed in my seat as we crossed the Pacific, I had a chance to review our photos, smiling as I reminisced with myself about our whirlwind 3 days on the island of Oahu while viewing our travels along with the smiling faces of new friends.  More meals than we needed were still fresh in my mind along with gorgeous panoramic views, endless surf and a true feeling of Aloha.

In the few days before our trip my husband and I both emailed friends and scoured the internet for restaurants suiting our tastes.  Ending up with a special meal that is "just OK" is always so disappointing and even more so while on vacation.  As such, we worked hard to find places that would raise the bar and become memorable.  Fellow food bloggers Felice (All That’s Left are the Crumbs) and  Deb (Kahakai Kitchen) gave similar tips and advice and had us on our way to delicious dining.

As a special treat I actually met with Felice at Roy’s in Waikiki on my first evening in town enjoying an amazing meal of Hawaiian style Misoyaki Glazed Butterfish served over carrots and a tasty black rice.  On her recommendation we shared Roy's Melting Hot Chocolate Souffle for dessert.  Gushing just about as much as the souffle itself, we brought out our spoons savoring each and every bite.  The bittersweet “lava” flowed from this decadent dessert melting into the side of vanilla bean ice cream and the taste of raspberry sauce lining the plate.  I’m so thankful that Felice came to join me, she is truly a delight!  Chatting for hours we felt as thought we had long been friends, discovering we have similar tastes and much in common.  I can’t thank her enough for making my first night in Oahu such a memorable one!
  Roy's on Urbanspoon

Hawaiian Style Misoyaki Glazed Butterfish
Roy has five other locations in Hawaii and numerous others around the country - most exciting for me is the location just 20 minutes down the road in La Jolla, CA!  A meal here is well worth a visit if you are given the opportunity.

My husband and I actually returned to Roy’s the following evening, the waiter, remembering me, brought a complimentary appetizer as a thank you for returning.  Not wanting to duplicate my meal with Felice, I chose the Macadamia Crusted Ono served over new potatoes and asparagus.  While it was good, it didn’t make me gush like the Butterfish of the prior evening.  Luckily my husband had ordered the Butterfish and kindly shared with me!  As an appetizer my husband sampled a sushi roll.  Not being much of a sushi fan I only sampled a piece and while I liked it, he truly loved it.  After a day of me gushing, the Melting Hot Chocolate Souffle was again a must have with my husband in full agreement that the decadent delight is indeed “gush-worthy”!

The Farmers Market at the Kapi`olani Community College (KCC) was also a must visit on my short trip.  Having visited (sans camera!) 4 years ago, this market has remained a vivid memory.  Time changes things however, and while the market was still a treat, filled with Hawaiian delights, local produce and an amazing array of tropical flowers, it is now extraordinarily crowded with busses actually dropping hoards of tourists.  As we entered the market a line of Japanese tourists no less than 60 long waited for Fried Green Tomatoes.

Familiar Dole Pineapples fresh from the fields!

Fresh Hawaiian Papaya

Felice had thoughtfully provided me with a printout of attending vendors which I in turn highlighted so as not to miss any of my favorites.  Meandering the rows of treat-filed stalls we enjoyed chatting with vendors as we stocked up on our local treats.  Whole bean Kona coffee was a must along with Macadamia Blossom honey and a sampling of Oahu grown Mac nuts.  The Malie Kai Hawaiian grown chocolate was also high on my purchase list with the dark espresso earning a spot as my favorite!  Turns out the vendor, Nathan, went to La Jolla High, just down the road from our home.

Mary Liles, of Hawaii's Best Ever Nuts & Brittle, had an amazing assortment of nuts, brittles and confections (the Mac Nut Brittle had me reaching for seconds!).  Nut flavors ranged from Spicy Glazed Almonds to Cinnamon flavored walnuts.  In the true feeling of Aloha Mary kindly allowed me samples of each and every flavor, smiling as she described in detail the processes she used to make them.  Truly a highlight of our visit to the market!

Mary Liles of Hawaii's Best Ever Nuts and Brittles with me!
Just around the corner from Mary's tropical treats we found a table laden with "spoonalicious" Hawaiian Fudge Sauces.  Once again the vendor was already scooping out a sample as I commented on the flavors.  The "plain" original had me swooning, but the Kona coffee fudge sauce put me over the top!  I can only imagine how wonderful this will be atop a frosty bowl of ice cream and topped with Mary's Macadamia Nut Brittle!

Hawaiian Fudge Sauces - Kona Coffee was my favorite!
Working up at appetite we found a table in the middle of the market with less of a line and chose the plate of garlic shrimp over rice with a side salad.  With the shrimp cooked to perfection smothered in a rich garlic/herb sauce my husband and I found a grassy place to sit.  I smiled as an Asian woman and her friend sat a few feet away from us with the same plate.  They hesitantly opened the plate, both took a shrimp and tasted.  Seconds later both of their eyes grew wide and they literally squealed in delight as they reached for more.  While we didn't squeal, we fully enjoyed our shrimp breakfast with a side of organic blueberry acai juice topped off with a couple of strawberry

Breakfast plates - our onolicious Garlic Shrimp choice is 3rd from the right!
Sufficiently stuffed and loaded down with treats we made our way back to our little rental car and headed to Pearl City!  In all his time in Honolulu, my husband had never visited the Arizona Memorial.  Without knowing it, we chose the perfect time to visit, in between school breaks and before the holiday rush we had no crowds, but were lucky enough to meet a couple of survivors who were in town for the December 7th memorials.  

Chatting with Alan from Pittsburgh, I literally laughed out loud as he emphatically declared that he "greatly dislikes" the Steelers and far prefers to watch Peyton Manning and the Colts.  However, listening to him reminisce about some of his experiences during the war had all in ear shot positively entranced.

What an honor to meet this man and to hear his stories first hand.

Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor
Part of the USS Arizona
Making our way to the Memorial was a moving experience.  Parts of the sunken ship are visible from the surface, and simply knowing the story of Pearl Harbor and standing over the ship made me somewhat emotional.  The Memorial is beautiful, with a wall listing those who perished.  Leis had been draped over the rails providing a lovely tribute.

Tickets to view the memorial are free, and you may purchase an audio tour for a small fee.  While we had no trouble getting our tickets (the boat left a mere 15 minutes after our arrival) I have heard that the wait can be hours long with no more tickets to be had after 11 AM.  We were advised to arrive early in the morning if traveling during busy seasons.  Also be aware that you may not carry anything other than a camera, cell phone or water into the Memorial area, however a bag check is available for $3.

Also in the Memorial area are tours to see the USS Missouri (the last battleship to be decommissioned), the Pacific Aviation Museum and the USS Bowfin submarine.  Not having unlimited time we chose the Missouri for our tour.  Walking the wood plank decks and then descending into the ship we got a peek at what life must have been like for those on the Mighty Mo.  Display cases can be seen throughout the ship with articles donated from past sailors.  Once again, an amazing experience.

The Mighty Mo (USS Missouri)
Signatures on the Instrument of Surrender

Working up an appetite we headed back across the island to one of our favorite restaurants, the Kona Brewing Company.  Some of you may have enjoyed a Longboard Lager or Firerock Pale Ale, but we were treated to a few stellar seasonal brews only available in the islands.  Ordering a sampler we particularly enjoyed a Pipeline Porter which is actually enhanced with 100% pure Kona Coffee.  I can just imagine the chili that I would make with this exceptionally rich and flavorful choice!  Our second favorite was a Ginger infused brew made with Big Island grown ginger root.  Not sure I would like this one I was pleasantly surprised with the warm, somewhat spicy flavors that had me quickly ordering a second!

Kona Brewing Co. sampler - from left to right:  Pipeline Porter, Wailua Wheat, Lavaman Red ale, Holiday Ginger Beer
Along with our samplers we enjoyed a roasted garlic pupu (appetizer) served with hot, fresh bread and a gorgonzola cheese dip.  Absolutely divine!!  The Strawberry Spinach Salad (which I totally forgot to photograph!) is the dish that had me returning to this restaurant.  Having had my first taste 4 years ago on the Big Island, I have long since yearned for another.  Spinach tossed with fresh strawberries and topped with a healthy dose of Gorgonzola, sliced Ewa Onions, chopped Macadamias and served with a side of a Strawberry Vinaigrette combines to provide one wonderful salad.  

Pizza, though, is the main fare at the Kona Brewing Company.  Selections are so wide that it is simply difficult to choose!  Luckily our server told us we could order 1/2 and 1/2.  With my husband choosing the Pepperoni Ali'I and the Pahoehoe Spicy Chicken (house-made ranch dressing base, whole milk mozzarella, diced chicken breast tossed in Frank’s RedHot sauce and Ewa onions. Topped with crumbled blue cheese and finished with a drizzle of Frank’s RedHot sauce) and I ordering the BBQ Chicken and the Kohala (garlic infused olive oil base, mozzarella, gorgonzola, roasted red peppers, fresh spinach, fresh garlic, parmesan sausage, macadamia nuts) we sampled 4 different pizzas!  The Kohala was our agreed upon resounding favorite. Kona Brewing Company (Hawaii Kai) on Urbanspoon

Kona Brewing Company BBQ Chicken and Kohala
Staying at the Outrigger Reef on the Beach, we enjoyed a final breakfast at the Ocean House, located beachfront in the hotel.  Daniel, our delightful server, expertly reviewed the menu items and explained an exceptional special of Prime Rib Hash topped with eggs and fried onions.  Taking him up on his recommendation my husband smiled with pleasure at his first bite and had no trouble cleaning his plate.  My granola with fruit was an exceptional last meal, with Daniel kindly bringing me a slice of my beloved papaya in addition to the bananas, berries, melons and exotic Big Island grown Poha Berries.  The staff at this restaurant were a true delight, very attentive and exceptionally friendly.  Beachfront, the ocean breezes kept us pleasantly cool while we enjoyed the view of early morning surfers enjoying the waves of Waikiki beach.  Definitely worth a stop if you are in the area!

Prime Rib Hash topped with fried onions and eggs of your choice

Granola topped with fresh fruit
In our travels to all of the islands we highly recommend what we lovingly call the "Blue Bible".  Oahu Revealed was the volume we used this trip, but we have also used the volumes for the Big Island and find the author's reviews to be about 95% spot on!  Clear, easy to follow directions along with maps and sections on hotels, dining, attractions, beaches etc are invaluable.

Hawaii will always have a special place in our hearts... from the beaches to the soaring cliffs, and the reefs and the crashing waves, we love it all. Hopefully some of these reviews will be of help to those planning a trip to the island of Oahu and to Waikiki.  My prior post also highlights North Shore beaches as well as Haleiwa and Kailua with Matsumoto's colorful shave ice and Boots and Kimo's amazing Banana Pancakes with their secret Macamamia sauce.

May your visit to the island be filled with peace and Aloha!



  1. Boy Kim, you guys really packed everything in! I've had that souffle before and I must say, it was memorable! You are making me want to pack my bags and book a flight.

  2. What you are one lucky girl! Looks like you had a fabulous experience! Beautiful photos. I've never been to Hawaii but through your posts I sort of feel like I have :-) Thanks for sharing your amazing trip!

  3. Beautiful couple you two are!!

    SOoo the photos didnt load initially, bu your descriptions still made my mouth water. Great writing!! And they finally did load- wow. I want everything. What a lovely trip!

  4. Hawaii looks beautiful. It was 7 degrees when I went to work this morning. I'm having some major sunshine envy.

  5. Jealous! That looks like so much fun! Glad you had a good time.

    Oh, and GREAT pictures :)

  6. MMM you had some good times! I'm jealous. But I'm not mad at you. :) I've never had the macadamia nut pancakes but people rave about them all the time whenever they come back from Hawaii. I have a craving for pineapple upside down biscuits! I just want to reach out and get that pineapple! There's so much fruit I have to take your word for it on the granola! It looks like you had a blast! I can't wait until it's my turn!

  7. Awesome run down of your visit. This is an aside, but when you mentioned the line of Japanese tourists outside of the fried tomato stall it reminded me of a book I read called The Billionaire Who Wasn't. It's about a philanthropist who made billions on the Duty Free shops (which started in Alaska/Hawaii) and spent his life travelling the world to find causes worth giving it away to. ALL. and in secrecy. It's one of the best books I've ever read only because the philanthropist Chuck Feeney is one of the most interesting people on earth.

  8. It sounds like you had tons of fun in Hawaii! Beautiful photos!

  9. What a fun trip! Lots of delicious eats! And visiting the Memorial must of tugged at your heart.

  10. Hi Kim! Thanks to your recommendation, my husband and I discovered a treasure of a farmer's market just down the road from us (we live in Waipio). As regulars at the Kona Brewing Company, too, I second your recommendations and enthusiasm for the place - and making your Pipeline Porter brownies is now close to the top of my to-do list! So glad I discovered your blog!

    1. Thanks Kristin!! Ahhh... I'm missing Kona Brewing! My husband travels to Hawaii on occasion and always texts me numerous photos of his lunch, his beer, etc. I'm so envious! Keep me posted on your thoughs on the Pipeline Porter Brownies... they are pretty darn popular in our neighborhood. Hope you enjoy too!


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