I flew over to Oahu last week to teach a weekend workshop at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. I took some extra time over there to turn the trip into a vacation and to visit my cousin on the Big Island. Somehow, the trip ended up as an eating orgy and with myself packing in an extra 3 pounds on the way back.
First stop, of course, was Leonard’s Bakery for malasadas—the big, fluffy Portuguese holeless doughnuts are a must on every visit to Oahu. As usual, the line was out the door here, but definitely worth the wait.
Next, we decided to check out our inflight magazine’s recommendation for lau lau at the Highway Inn in Waipahu. The lau lau plate lunch was unassumingly served on cafeteria trays with lomi salmon and haupia on the side. You can have poi with it too, if you are so inclined. Unwrapping the taro leaves was like opening a present on Christmas day. But, I have to admit, the big globs of fat with a little bit of pork meat might be more appealing to locals. I think I prefer a greater ratio of meat to fat. I could feel the cholesterol meter rising.
While I was stuck in class, my husband got himself some Wailoa shaved ice with azuki beans. This is another must on Oahu visits. I don’t know how they manage to get the ice to be so fine, but the consistency is like cream. I’m still cursing him for going without me.
But at least he managed to save me some cream puffs and coco puffs from Liliha Bakery. I thought I was full from lunch, but somehow the puffs disappeared. I have to admit that Liliha outdoes Beard Papa’s.
I believe I can say I have had the best buffet ever, after my husband’s relative, Auntie Dora, took us to Hakone Restaurant at the Hawaii Prince Hotel. This is a far cry from Todai. The fresh sushi is top notch and includes the high-end stuff like amaebi, ikura, uni and crab. There were also stations for sukiyaki, oden, shabu shabu, crab legs and a separate dessert section to die for. Now this may be a small thing, but I noticed that even the hiyayakko (cold tofu) was homemade – a rarity and real treat for a tofu lover like me. We were less than halfway into our trip, and I was already getting too fat for my pants.
After a student brought a bag of delicious baked manapuas (cha siu baos) from Island Manapua to share, I decided to pick up a few more the next day for our airport ride to the Big Island. I read somewhere that Libby Manapua is the place to go, but of course, it was closed that day, so we settled for Chun Wah Kam Noodle Factory just across the street. Their baked manapua with pulled pork was ono.
Our food odyssey continued on into the Big Island. My cuz, being a local there, directed us to some good eats.
Hawaiian Style Café in Waimea is known for their giant-sized pancakes. The kalua pork hash and the Portuguese sausage omelet were delicious and the portions were big enough to spread over three meals.
By the way, on our way to Waimea, we drove through the tiny town of Honokaa with a population of about 2000. “Fast Five” was playing on Tuesday and Wednesday at the People’s Theatre. Unfortunately, we had to be in Hilo by nightfall, so we couldn’t catch the screening.
We rolled ourselves over into Hilo, where we found a fish market (Suisan Market) with something like 20 varieties of poke. The Farmer’s Market in Hilo is also chock full of delicious tropical fruits and island-style snacks. I couldn’t walk out of there without picking up some spam musubi and Filipino suman (rice cakes) for the road.
On the drive back to Kona we stopped at Hana Hou restaurant, “the southernmost restaurant in the U.S.” for some loco moco.
By now, we were well on our way to a massive coronary. And still, we had to go for the raspberry malasadas at Punalu’u Bakery, (“the southernmost bakery in the U.S,” wouldn’t you know).
If you want to have the best pork chop eva, you can find it at a low key restaurant at the Manago Hotel in the town of Captain Cook near Kona. The miso butter fish ain’t bad either. This was our last meal before flying back to the mainland.
Back in L.A., I am now trying to detox and work off that Hawaiian goodness with extra workouts and hiking. If my trip was any longer, I’d have signed up to be a contestant on the “Biggest Loser”.