Notes from the Road – Hawaii, November & December 2008
Welcome to December friends! I know that whatever your religious and personal beliefs, this month is a wonderful time of celebration and reflection. I hope that you are all able to relax, enjoy each other’s company and embrace the season. I have just returned from a marvelous break, away in Oahu, Hawaii and it was fantastic. It had been a few years since my last visit to the islands, so I was thrilled to make it over there and enjoy some downtime and sunshine!
Here are some of our experiences below and definite highlights. If you’d like any advice on where to go, what to do or where to stay, feel free to reach out to me.
UH Football Game
I’ve wanted to head to check out a game at Aloha Stadium for many years and finally got the chance our first night on Oahu, heading to the Washington State v. University of Hawaii match up. It was an interesting night weather-wise, with rain throughout the evening, going from mist to a steady downpour and at many points it was raining sideways! One of the coolest things is the amount of local food stands present at the stadium, including one selling Ahi Tuna Poke. Of course I had to try it and it was fantastic.
Dinner at Sansei
One of our favorite sushi restaurants in America, we headed over for a late night bite to Sansei (www.SanseiHawaii.com) located at the Waikiki Marriott, right off the main drag. We secured two seats at the sushi bar and proceeded to have an outstanding meal, highlighted by the Tuna Tataki Salad and the Panko Crusted Ahi Sashimi Sushi Roll. We also had a wonderful Nigori Ginjo Sake, Kamoizumi ‘Summer Snow’ which due to it’s unfiltered style paired extremely well with the modern sushi of Sansei.
North Shore Visit
We headed out extremely early on Sunday morning, driving our Jeep Wrangler (had to have one of those in Hawaii) towards the North Shore to take in Round #2 of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, the Pipeline Masters held at Sunrise Beach. Waves that day were between 8-12’ and we witnessed a pretty impressive collection of surfing.
After cruising the North Shore a little further, we headed to Historical town Haleiwa for a visit to Matsumoto Shave Ice (www.MatsumotoShaveIce.com). This North Shore institution is currently celebrating their 60th Anniversary and continues to provide surfers, locals and tourists a refreshing treat from the warm weather. They make their own flavored syrups and have at least 50 to choose from! Whichever flavor you decide is bound to be good, but you have to get it house-style with Fermented Japanese Red Beans and Vanilla ice cream on the bottom.
Uncle’s Fish market & Grill
Returning from the North Shore, we were feeling a little hungry and I was recommended this little place off the beaten path, so we headed over to Uncle’s (www.UnclesFishMarket.com). Basically, Uncle’s is a division of Fresh Island Fish, who commercially harvests Hawaiian fish and distributes them around the world. They had opened their restaurant as a way to give back to the local community on the same pier where their boats came in. What a pleasant surprise we were able to enjoy, with the best dish being the Ahi Tuna Belly sautéed in a Citrus-Soy Sauce. Being that it was a Sunday, lunch was packed with locals and it got busier each minute we were there.
Dim Sum lunch at Legend Seafood Restaurant
Legend is located in Chinatown in a non-descript faux village with a multitude of Chinese variety shops. It is a classic dim sum hall with over 300 seats and at least 15 carts brimming with food circling the dining room. Our experience this time didn’t disappoint, with favorites being the shrimp and scallion dumpling heated to order, the mushroom, pork and shrimp dumpling and the freshly steamed Chinese Broccoli in oyster sauce.
Dinner at Phuket Thai
We commonly believe this restaurant to be the 3rd best Thai food in the United States, behind two of our other favorites (inquire with me for their identity). We took our good buddy, Nick Floulis of Pushback Wines, who shared a bottle of his Sauvignon Blanc (good call Nick) to start us off. The food was spot on from the Thai Beef Salad with chilies, whole local fish fried with cilantro, chilies and ginger and the calamari served with a sweet/hot chili sauce (www.PhuketThaiHawaii.com).
Dinner at Indigo
For our final meal we couldn’t decide where to eat, so I took a recommendation from a server from one of our previously successful meals who suggested heading to Indigo (www.Indigo-Hawaii.com), located on the edge of Chinatown. Joining us that night for dinner was, again Nick Floulis and this time his mother Rosemaria – great company for an evening out! We walked in feeling a little under whelmed, but were soon shown to a fantastic table in the garden room and discovered a menu with too many outstanding options. We started with the Goat Cheese & Sun-Dried Tomato Wontons, Chicken Shiitake Mushroom Pot stickers and Lumpia-wrapped Shrimp – all great flavors and perfect to start the meal. I moved on to probably my favorite dish of the trip, local Opa, steamed with Sizzling Scallion Oil, Lily Bulbs, Black Mushrooms and fresh Ginger Tapenade on the side. We will definitely be singing the praises of this restaurant for years to come.
All told the trip to Hawaii was a great escape and a fantastic vacation. I truly love visiting the island of Oahu, all of the people there and the local flavors that permeate the different cuisines featured in the restaurants. I look forward to heading back soon to experience more wonderful times and great restaurants.
As December continues and holiday season takes hold, you know you will all get more updates soon, so remember, Keep Eating & Drinking!