Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Taste of Hawaii . . . sans pineapple

Hello sweet friends,

I am pausing from my cottage duties for another saunter through the Hawaiian memories I stored up as souvenirs to share with you. Many of your comments reveal that you have never visited this Island Paradise, and I would encourage you to put it on your list of "Musts" should the opportunity arrive. Gary and I cruised the Islands about 5 years ago and caught a glimpse of each. He favored the Big Island and I chose Kauai as my special place to dream of returning to. This trip I only visited Oahu, but Lily and her family opened my eyes to sights I never new existed.

For starters, the food that I typically gravitated to came served up with muu-muued waitresses sporting plumeria behind an ear as the gentle strains of a slack key filled the air. Tropical fruits spilled from every plate, nestled next to fresh fish and steamed veggies. This was NOT the food that I would be eating on this trip. Instead, Lily's family swept me up into the world of Chinese cuisine and Island food the "Locals" lap up.

Are you ready? Hang on because you may be as surprised as I at what we ate . . .

For starters Charles picked us up at the airport, wreathed us in leis and hugs, and then transported us with luggage to the hotel. Later he returned with two of his children, in their early twenties -- delightful, fun young folks with i-phone in hand and "Yelp" reviews galore to guide us away from a "boring" trip through Hawaii.

The first meal of our trip came after a loooong plane ride of poor food choices. Lily and I passed on the breakfast burrito (is that what that was?) and opted out of paying $10 for a "Sushi box lunch" offered by an airline cutting costs EVERYWHERE -- truly a scary thought. Thus, we arrived in a famished state. Charles whisked us away to a red silk palace for Dim Sum. These enchanting dumplings and parcels of deliciousness made me feel in a fairytale. I downed at least one of everything that trundled by on the bamboo-box laden trolleys that rounded each table, even partaking of chicken feet and rice porridge with thousand-year-old eggs (I don't even want to know how they make these goodies). I kept my chopsticks moving and emerged from the restaurant with a very satisfied smile. (Sorry, no pics -- too hungry to use chopsticks and camera at the same time. Also, as the ONLY Caucasian in the restaurant I already stuck out, no need to complicate that by flashing away at the food.)

Later that evening we met some other Chinese friends at a "Family" style Chinese restaurant. Once again, I served as the lone Caucasian diner, but these warm and friendly people included me like we were old friends. Orders of oysters, lobsters, shrimp and candied walnuts, chicken crisped-just-so, and so many other new delights filled my plate, that once again I couldn't manage a single picture. By now jet lag had overtaken me and I drowsed through the conversation as it drifted mostly to Chinese . . . and I couldn't understand a word of it. I learned to tap the table to signify "Thank you" in reference to a legend wherein a Chinese Emperor liked to disguise himself as a peasant and eat among the subjects, who knew him to be the Emperor and tapped the table in reference to his offers of tea as a way to "bow" without blowing his cover. I tapped the table often that night and made it through to bedtime on the sheer force of the caffeinated tea.

Next day dawned with promise of seeing a "Local" side of Hawaiian dining. First off: Obama's favorite hang-out -- The Rainbow Drive In.

I would have breezed right past this place in a rental car, for certain. (Probably will the next time I visit . . . )

We seated ourselves in the "retro" decor after lining up at the window to order from the gravy-laden menu. I "chickened out" and ordered shoyu chicken with rice and macaroni salad (standard sides with all orders). I did sample the house specialty (Obama's reported favorite) of a cup of meat (mysterious nature), rice, gravy (greasy brown stuff), topped by a fried egg. It was "different" . . . enough said. I will say, however, that the macaroni salad was absolutely creamy-delicious. Worth the price of the "meal."

After that special lunch we walked down the street to find the purported BEST shave ice on the Island.

Lily scoffed at the ice shaved by "machines" now, recounting the days when the shaving happened by hand crank. Regardless of the method, these ice shaving fell like snow into a delicate mound that melted as soon as it hit the tongue. Amazingly soft!

Opting to try a Chinese treat, I enjoyed Hawaiian shave ice with Adzuki Bean sauce. It was SCRUMPTIOUS with it's chewy beans and sweetened condensed milk sauce. This I would order again! Yum!

I-phone in hand, the kids bid us follow around the Island to the "Best Rated" shrimp truck according to Yelp, an internet sounding board for opinions on just about everything. We journeyed to the top of the Island . . .

. . . to find THIS!

We ordered at the truck's window and then seated ourselves in another "informal" dining room (quite a change from that red-silk Dim Sum palace) to await the shrimp.

When the goodies arrived drenched in garlic (Scampi style) or lemon butter, we dove in.

In no time we had satisfied our shrimp daily requirement with a sigh.

Though it was good, I would venture to site that the shrimp may have been a tad overcooked and over flavored. Lily, promised to treat me to REAL fresh shrimp later in the week. (You won't want to miss that post . . . I'm salivating as I download those pics -- truly YUMMY!)

BUT . . . I need to stay on topic here, as I must conclude this post swiftly and be off to Costco for our monthly stock-up trip.

So I will leave you off with another lovely sunset on the shores of Hawaii. This time being on the North side with waves most frightful, unless of course you have a surfboard in hand and a strong pair of legs. The legendary Pipeline crashes onto these shores.

As for me, I waived the surfboard and opted for another pedicure -- beach style.

Once again I flopped to bed that night with a satisfied grin, having had a local taste of Hawaii that I shall always remember.

But where, I wondered, do the locals go to shop for food on a regular basis? Lily was only to happy to show me later in the week.

As I hear the car starting in the drive downstairs, I must wrap up this post and invite you back again as I continue downloading and sharing of my grand adventure in Hawaii with Lily. I'll be back with even more unusual sites. ; D


Laura {{* *}} said...

ono kau kau!
The mysterious meat dish is called "Loco Moco" :)

{{* *}}

Kat said...

I am seriously drooling right now. No joke. Must go to Hawaii. Soon.

sukipoet said...

an amazing number of feasting treats! Sounds heavenly and fun. And no, i for one have never been to Hawaii.

Linda said...

I think I gained 10# just reading this yummy post!

I was in Hawaii when I was in 6th grade. We were headed home from Guam, where my step-dad had been stationed. We landed in Hawaii because of engine trouble. We had to stay in the hotel room and be 'on call' for the plane. It was ready to leave 4 hours later. Someday, maybe I'll get a chance to go back, for a real trip!

Guam was fun, though. We were there 18mo, and I was still a little girl, but I still have fond memories.

FancyHorse said...

Sounds wonderful! I'm looking forward even more to getting to visit Hawaii some day!

Judith said...

Sounds lovely - never been there - but I have spent time on Bali and Lombok and Java - all tropical islands. Now that November is looming on the horizon, anywhere south is looking good. I envy the geese flying overhead.

imbeingheldhostage said...
My husband will not be happy I visited your site today ;-)

Kathy said...

Debbie, thanks for the great tour; as a tourist a few years ago, I missed all of the wonderful places you are sharing. And I had no Chinese food there, at all. Lots of fish, shrimp and fruit. The shaved ice with Bean Sauce sounds very interesting.... You are certainly brave and adventurous!

Karen Deborah said...

humm, I wasn't hungry when I started reading and now well, there seems to an excess of saliva....dim sum...oh yes; but not in Hawaii but our very own San Francisco.

Scrappy quilter said...

Wow, yummie!!

Daisy Daddy said...

AW loves Hawaii. Not in the cards for us this year! Nice Blog!

kylie said...

deb, this post reminds me of the days when i was introduced to chinese food as the chinese eat it!
here in oz we call dim sum yum cha and i love it to death. many times i have been the only white in a restaurant but these days as australians of all ethnicities discover yum cha i blend into a palette of all colours.
i never have had the shaved ice with beans, it just seems wrong but i know it well as "ais kacang"

to see a place through the specialist eyes of a local is a vey special thing. i'm glad you got that opportunity


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing!! I will be happy to read the rest of what your trip entailed. Hubby and I were living there from 1972-1975 while he was in the Navy. We have not made it back since...but we would enjoy that someday if the opportunity arises!! It is a special unique place!!