By Ernest Barteldes
We woke up early on Saturday and made our way to Capital One Café for breakfast, and quickly headed to the beach, where we basically stayed until it was close to 11:00 AM. We had to check out from our room at the Ambassador and move a few blocks down to The Kuhio Banyan Club,where we had reserved the rest of our stay (due to RCI timeshare restrictions, we could only book a resort for a week). During our return, we saw some of the Floral Parade that takes place
during the King Kamehameha weekend – scores of floats and marchers in full
regalia come from downtown Honolulu all the way to Waikiki (it’s really not as
far as it sounds). There were dancers in hula outfits, princes and princesses
from different islands, marching bands and also (from what I saw) both
Democratic senators that represent the 50th state in Congress.
After refreshing with a local brew (at $ 1.25 at the local store, we had plenty of those during our stay – hot weather brings out the beer drinker in me), we checked out and walked the three or so blocks to the next hotel. We took care of the registration and were finally received with the Aloha treatment of the lei greeting. Our room was not yet ready, so we left our stuff in safekeeping and took the bus to the village of Waipahu, which is located some fourteen miles from our location.
The bus ride was long enough – well over one hour past the
airport and Pearl Harbor. Unfortunately Google maps failed and instructed us to get off at the wrong stop in the middle of a highway that seemed to connect nothing to nowhere. I readjusted my phone and realized we were far away, and that waiting for another bus was not really an option, since they only came about every 45 minutes or so. So we were left to walk to the place.
Suburban Oahu does not look much like paradise. Instead, it looks like any American town, with roadside restaurants and strip malls. There were several churches on the way, and we followed the road signs for directions. I checked my Bus app and didn’t see any buses approaching, and we walked and walked until we found our destination, which was a noodle place called Ton Ton Ramen, which is located almost at the end of the road (yes, we found it on Groupon).
The place didn’t look appealing – more like a roadside restaurant,
with the exception it was Pan-Asian cuisine. Exhausted but relieved to be in an air-conditioned environment, we sat down and ordered our food and drinks. It was quite an experience to have the noodles served in a black sauce made with toasted and ground sesame seeds that gave the dish a muddy look. Renata didn’t seem too excited about it, but I gulped it down – it was quite a tasty combination of noodles, vegetables, broth and meats. The dish accompanied a serving of vegetarian gyozas (pan-fried dumplings) that were delicious. The venue does not serve alcohol, so we settled with green tea and water.
We walked back to the bus stop and made our way back to
Waikiki and pretty much stayed there. We were too tired from our trip to Waipahu, so we went to our hotel. When we got in, we were a little disappointed in the room – though it had a nice kitchen (I could finally cook!), the windows didn’t open and we needed to have the AC on at all times. Also, the bed was that kind mounted in a closet, and once it was down it blocked the view to the TV. Also, the place was a bit antiquated and had no Wi-Fi or any modern amenity. The lobby is not open 24/7, so you have to carry a key (yes, a regular key) to let yourself in after hours.
Since plans for a walking tour of downtown Honolulu
ultimately were canceled due to difficulties with the company that offered it, we changed plans for Sunday. We woke up early and I bought two breakfast sandwiches at Subway (it was right near the hotel) and coffee from ABC stores. We kept our ritual of spending our mornings at the beach, and in the afternoon we headed to the Ala Moana Center, where we saw a Japanese Taiko drum concert and later a hula presentation. It was not easy to stand there in the hot midday sun to watch the shows, but since they didn’t take long it wasn’t that hard. We browsed through the shops at the center and bought a few gifts for friends and then headed downtown to grab lunch at Adega Restaurant (the only eatery in Honolulu we actually returned to), where we had fish and chicken sandwiches (moderately priced at $9) and a few glasses of wine. We briefly toured the Chinatown area, but this being a Sunday, most shops were either closed or about to close. We had a home cooked dinner in mind, so we bought a few veggies and took the bus back to our hotel.
As we rode, we realized we were passing by a Don Quijote location
– a local supermarket mini-chain – and hopped off to check it out. It is a
rather large store that caters to the different ethnicities in the city of Honolulu. To my delight, there was a gigantic Asian food section, and I was able to find spices that I travel long and hard to get here in New York. We bought ingredients for dinner, a Chinese marinating sauce, bread, cold cuts and some other items.
Since this is a store where locals shop, we had a chance to finally see with our own eyes Hawaii’s reputed high prices. What we found was that if you shop by buying locally produced vegetables, grains, coffee (Kona ½ lb. coffee: $ 4; Folgers around twice) and meats and go heavy on the Asian products you won’t spend too much. However, if you want to eat “American” and get cereal and especially dairy products you will pay a pretty penny). Rice can be had in pretty much any variety – sushi, jasmine, long grain, basmati – it was almost overwhelming to make a choice.
We returned to Waikiki and stored the food, then went for a late-afternoon walk at the beach, bought some wine at ABC stores and returned to our room, where I cooked arroz con pollo (substituting the chorizo with Portuguese sausage) and made a simple lettuce and tomato salad with olive oil and garlic seasoning. We needed to get a good night’s sleep, since we were getting up really early for a morning hike up to Manoa falls the next day.
Arroz con Pollo
(I know that this is not Hawaiian, but it is what I made that day, substituting the chorizo with Portuguese sausages. Also, I used a Chinese marinade before I cooked. The results were not bad)
Source: Tapas and Spanish: Best Ever Recipes
4 tbsp. olive oil
6 chicken thighs (I use skinless)
1 tsp. paprika
1 large Spanish onion, roughly chopped
1 chorizo sausage, sliced
4 oz. cooked ham, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup long-grain rice
7 oz. can chopped tomatoes
½ cup amontillado sherry
3 cups chicken stock
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 bay leaf
Salt and ground black pepper
15 green olives and chopped parsley, to garnish
the oil in a large, heavy pan. Season the chicken pieces with salt and
paprika. Fry until browned, and reserve on a plate
the onion and garlic to the pan and fry gently until beginning to soften.
Add the chorizo and ham and stir-fry. Add the chopped peppers. Cook
until they begin to soften.
the rice and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, sherry,
chicken stock and dried herbs and season well. Arrange the chicken pieces
deep in the mixture and tuck in bay leaf.
and cook over very low heat for 30-40 minutes, until the chicken and rice
are done. Mixture should be moist. Remove from heat and let stand for
about 10 minutes and serve with garnishes.