When we got to Waikiki and checked in at the Ambassador Hotel, we decided we needed to get something to eat. Using an app I had downloaded with the trip in mind, I was able to locate a place a few blocks away called Da Big Kahuna , which is a medium sized tiki-themed place that specializes in local fare and a variety of appetizers and sandwiches. The restaurant has small tables, a large bar at the front and live music performed by a local musician who mixed pop and Hawaiian music.
We sat and ordered two Mai Tais, but were
dissatisfied with the cocktail’s sweet, citrus taste, so we decided to follow (or chase) that with a pint of Longboard Lager, a local brew made on the Big Island. We quickly perused the menu, and settled for grilled chicken sandwiches. The beer was a bit stronger than most mass-produced varieties, and it was pleasant to the palate.
We waited for our food for about 20 minutes, but we cannot say we were impressed. They didn’t taste bad or anything (and we were hungry!), but let’s just say it was a less than memorable experience. Following our meal, we strolled around for a while and stumbled into the Royal Hawaiian Center, a large shopping mall close to the shore, and from there we walked around until we found an entrance to the beach. It was already dark by then (the sun sets at around 7 there), so we strolled a bit in the sand and returned to our hotel.
Renata was jet lagged and exhausted, but I felt a bit restless and decided to venture out on my own and have a nightcap at a nearby bar where they had a late-night happy hour. We woke up early and found an affordable place to eat breakfast and headed to Waikiki Beach to soak up the sun a bit. The beach was everything that we expected and
then some – clean white sand, warm water and this great vibe that made us
immediately feel at home. I actually felt like I was in my Brazilian town of Fortaleza, except that there were no crab restaurants or the ever-present vendors who annoy the crap out of you there.
The beach is in a pretty urban area, so there are plenty of stores across the street where you can get supplies like water and suntan lotion.
In the afternoon, we took the bus to the Ala Moana Center, which is dubbed the “largest outdoor shopping mall in the world.” We originally headed there to get an unlimited bus pass (little did we know we could have gotten it right in Waikiki) but were delighted to stumble into a live hula show featuring native singers and dancers. It was a short
presentation clearly aimed for visiting tourists, but it was quite an enjoyable experience. We later found out that they have these shows every single day at noon – probably the time that most visitors head there to grab a bite in the mall’s huge food court, which features everything from Nathan’s hot dogs to sushi and Japanese noodles.
We returned to Waikiki and stayed at the beach a little longer, and ended the night by having dinner at Pagoda
“Floating” Restaurant, one of our Groupon choices and also the first place we dined in outside of the tourist-y Waikiki zone. It was not really far away from our hotel (about a 15-min. walk), but we were shocked by how the area changed once we crossed the ‘border’ into the more residential area of Makiki. It was much quieter there, but it was the first time we’d noticed the presence of homeless people in the area (more on that later)
Pagoda is not really floating – it was built over an artificial waterfall, and is suspended over its waters. It turned out to be the sole location we dined in to offer local fare.
After perusing the menu, Renata went for locally caught fish served with shiitake mushrooms and stir-fried vegetables, while I went with Misoyaki butterfish, a delightful Asian-inspired dish that was lightly sautéed and served with vegetables and rice. The fish tasted very fresh, and the spices were not at all overpowering – you could almost taste the sea in it.
After taking another stroll near the shore, we retired for the night – we were still in New York time, and our bodies were screaming that we were up at around 4 AM on a weeknight.
Next week: Pearl Harbor
Recipe: Hawaiian Shoyu Chicken
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger root
1-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground
1/2 teaspoon ground paprika (optional)
2-1/2 pounds skinless chicken thighs
Whisk together the soy sauce,
Preheat an outdoor grill for
Remove the chicken thighs from the