Friday, October 1, 2021
Tuesday, September 7, 2021
The great thing about having foodie kids is that they can take you to great restaurants that you never would think of going to yourself. This was doubly so if you go with them on a food eating vacation like we did with my daughter and her husband a few years ago on an eating trip to Hong Kong. This time we tagged along as they went to Honolulu on a six day eating expedition. Due to COVID issues and the rush for mainlanders to visit Hawaii, many restaurants were reservation only. Upon landing on a Tuesday, and after battling our way through Honolulu Airport's COVID clearance process, we arrived late for lunch at our first destination, The Surfing Pig in the Waielae-Kahala area east of Waikiki. It was in an interesting neighborhood with a nice mix of Asian ethnic restaurants. Before they seated us, they took our temperatures and had us fill out what turned out to be a contact tracing form, which turned out to be a routine part of most of our restaurant visits, though this one was the most elaborate. The Surfing Pig is part of the Kono Group, a small chain of restaurants in Hawaii which also has a location in Las Vegas.
The loco moco was terrific, as was the bed of fried rice.
The chicken waffles were also very good.
Tuesday dinner was on King St. at Sushi Izakaya Gaku, set at 5pm like most of our dinners because of baby Jemma's schedule. Given that lunch ended after 2pm because of our airport delay, plus slow service at lunch, that left a small gap until dinnertime. Nevertheless the dinner was great starting with the kanpachi.
Don't remember ever eating sushi better than what was served here.
Equally tasty was the miso butterfish. Of course this wasn't ordinary food but the $65 per person was well worth it.
Wednesday's lunch was at Wagaya Ramen, one of the few unreserved meals on the trip. We arrived at the restaurant early to sign in, then waited until the restaurant opened, at which time there were almost enough patrons to fill the small restaurant. This was the best of the best as far as trip meals were concerned. The Wagaya ramen shiro was out of the world, even better than Tsujita in Los Angeles.
And the tempera corn appetizer was certainly something we've never seen.
At dinner time we drove to the nearby Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin, which was reserved two months in advance, for their signature Kurobota pork tonkatsu. They only prepare only 10 portions of this dish every day, so it pays to reserve an early table. Frankly, the tonkatsu was great, but the Kurobota pork loin was too fatty for its own good.
The regular pork tonkatsu platter was actually much better.
After dinner we headed to Ice Monster, the only US branch of the Taiwanese shaved ice chain, which we had been dreaming of since our November, 2019 trip to Taiwan, and in my pre-trip scouting had discovered was only 250 feet away from the Hyatt Centric where we were staying. Ice Monster's shaved ice is unique since it is made from a block of ice that already has the flavoring infused. Better than Matsumoto's north shore ice. The mango and strawberry ices were a hit with everybody.
Thursday's lunch was a short drive away at Jade Dynasty in the Ala Moana Shopping Center, my designated Chinese restaurant for the trip. We started off with their crispy baked bbq pork buns, which were hot out of the even and as good as anybody's.
The rest of the dim sum was passable by San Gabriel Valley standards, with the deep fried green shrimp chive balls being the most interesting.
The seldom seen scallop cheung fun were just ordinary.
Another seldom seem variety, deep fried fish balls, were quite good.
Jade Dynasty may have overdone it with the deep frying, as I did not expect the tiger shrimp bean curd rolls to be deep fried. Not that they were bad.
Likewise Jade Dynasty's Seafood Corn Pancakes were deep fried.
This was the pork belly confit.
Surprisingly the best entree was the unassuming looking seaweed salmon.
But the real highlight was corn on the cub which really wasn't, but rather corn ice cream made with a mold that looked like corn on the cob.
For dinner we headed back to Chinatown and Lucky Belly, literally around the corner from O'Kim. Lucky Belly had an interesting complement of appetizers with the signature dish being the oxtail dumplings.
Personally I was more partial to the crispy duck tacos
The pork belly buns were a decent version of gua bao.
Here's the lobster siu mai.
I thought all the appetizers were better than their signature monster ramen bowl with brisket and oxtail won ton, which was pretty good though.
Sunday lunch was at a Vietnamese restaurant, Piggie Smalls, the second branch of the acclaimed Vietnamese restaurant in Chinatown, The Pig and The Lady. The main attraction as Piggy Smalls was the french dip pho, a brisket on a french roll, with the dipping sauce being a flavorful pho broth with optional pho. Certainly an innovative and delicious dish.
The giant chicken wings looked better than they tasted.
Since this was our last full day in Honolulu, I wanted to find a li hing/crackseed store before going home, if I could. As it turns out, the only one anywhere close to the hotel turned out just a block away from Piggy Smalls. So after lunch it was a quick walk to Lin’s Hawaiian Snacks which was full of products like li hing gummy bears, powdered li hing, mui, ginger and other dried snacks.
And just a half block away was It's Tea, which had some interesting flavored drinks including lilikoi green tea and pineapple Earl Gray.
Dinner was at Roy’s, which was much better than the Mainland branches. Dinner started with an absolutely fabulous appetizer, particularly the ahi poke tuna, shown here with the Hong Kong crab cakes.
The salmon, and macadamia crusted catch of the day were quite good. But by far the star of the show was the signature misoyaki butterfish. The most delicious fish dish I have ever eaten.
However the recommended mochi crusted catch of the day was entirely ordinary. A real disappointment and it's hard to figure out why it was recommended so highly by the waiter.
Since it was my birthday earlier in the month I was rewarded with this birthday dessert.
All in all a great meal at Roy's, though probably not worth the almost $100 per person.
Last food in Honolulu before flying out Monday was ahi poke from the Coco Cove store on Kalakaua Ave. First, spicy.
Then non spicy, much better.
And don't forget snacks on the plane from the imaginary Pau Hana Cafe, the brand name used by Hawaiian Airlines for their onboard food. Hey, any free airline food on a domestic flight is appreciated.