Monday, January 25, 2010

Oahu Eats - Part One

Oh gosh, Blue Mondays are terrible. I must remember that one of my 2010 resolutions is to "Be happy. Have fun. Laugh. Bring others laughter." I haven't been laughing on the inside very much lately so I must do better.

So, I'm going to think about good things and I'm going to write about my trip to Oahu last weekend. I had so much fun meeting up with my cousin and her husband. Stephanie and Andrew are from Sydney so Oahu was the perfect meeting point in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

While Andrew worked all day at a conference, Stephanie and I got to play all day :) It was such a relaxing vacation even though it lasted only 4.5 days for me. We didn't schedule anything and we just woke up each day and did what our hearts desired. Of course for us girls that really meant eating, shopping, bikini-hunting, sunbathing and swimming at the beach, crashing cocktail parties at the conference and more eating.

Oahu is a paradise for everything. If you don't like Waikiki, rent a car and escape to Kailua, Lanikai or other beautiful beaches on the island. If you like shopping, you can find bargains at theAloha Stadium Swap Meet or hit the Ala Moana Center for more upscale (window) shopping. Oahu has a pretty diverse population so finding good food from around the world is not hard at all. I didn't do a crazy "foodie" list this time since it was my second time visiting Oahu and I wanted to be completely relaxed. This time, I chose to just go with the flow and checked Google or Yelp on my phone whenever I happened to be for local eats.

The Wailana Coffee House was right next to my hotel. It's awesome. It's open 24 hours a day and serves honest, cheap diner food. I was amazed by the variety of condiments at our breakfast table. Only in Hawaii do you get soy sauce, ketchup, tabasco, 3 kinds of jam, coconut syrup and maple syrup at breakfast; it just goes to show you how diverse the people and food culture is in Hawaii.

$5.95 Breakfast that came with 2 eggs and Portuguese sausages. There's an IHOP next to Wailana but IHOP is almost always empty while the Wailana has lines snaking out the door for breakfast every day and it's got a good size crowd for lunch and dinner too.

The breakfast also came with all-you-can-eat buttermilk pancakes. The pancakes were amazingly buttery and rich (without me having to put any butter on it). I couldn't really take advantage of the AYCE pancakes though because I got full after one pancake.

Steph and I were starving after hitting the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet. The pho at Pho Minh Thu was pretty good. I was just happy that the joint was near my hotel (Aqua Palms). The rare beef was perfect and the soup was good though not as strong and rich as the ones I'm used to in El Monte or SGV. My only gripe was that they don't use thin rice noodles; their rice noodles are slightly wider in width so it wasn't as springy/chewy.

We tried to go to Ono Hawaiian Foods for dinner because we had such a memorable meal there last year but they close at 8:00pm! Fortunately, we walked up the street and found Pyramids - a Mediterranean restaurant - and we had a delicious meal there. This rice-stuffed grape leaves appetizer was a hit with us.

I had this lamb chop entree and I pretty much ate EVERYTHING on the plate. I was true to my Hungry Kat name. Andrew and Steph also cleaned their plates. :)

Andrew introduced me to this crazy wonderful fruit called Rambutan in Oahu last year so we went hunting for it in Chinatown this time. Of course, a trip to Chinatown must include a meal. We ended up having dim sum at Happy Garden - a small, simple, almost hole-in-the-wall place. We were surprised that the dim sum was actually pretty good. The fresh Har Gau (shrimp dumpling) and Beef Meatballs were highlights.

Yes! Rambutan jackpot! This tropical fruit bursts with citrusy sweet juices and the meat is similar to the longan fruit. I'd say if you crossed a longan with a lychee, a rambutan is what you'll get except the rambutan is about 2-3 times bigger than a longan or lychee. And I just can't get over that eye-popping red color; it just makes you want to crack that hairy peel and devour that juicy fruit inside right away. By the way, rambutans are grown in Hawaii which makes it even more delicious because I find the ones that are shipped to Los Angeles a little lackluster. Fruits are always best fresh-picked. And at $4.99/lb, it's a bargain especially considering that Stephanie says they sell for almost $20/lb in Sydney.

Part Two forthcoming...

Wailana Coffee House
1860 Ala Moana Blvd Lbby
Honolulu, HI 96815
(808) 955-1764

Pho Minh Thu
478 Ena Rd
Honolulu, HI 96805
(808) 946-2299

Happy Garden
1113 Maunakea St
Honolulu, HI 96817
(808) 538-1088

758 Kapahulu Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816
(808) 737-2900

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