I had the best vacation this summer. I hit the beach, drank Mai Tais and went sightseeing at some amazing places. Of course, I'm talking about the one and only Hawaii!
Apart from being excited to finally work on my tan and ignore my email for a while (which is a vacation within itself!), I was stoked to try new flavors and dishes in the Aloha state.
Early on in my trip, I tried the iconic Hawaiian poke - a dish normally made with fresh, Ahi tuna, scallions, cilantro, onions, soy sauce, sesame oil and a little chili pepper for a kick. Poke actually means "to slice or cut" in Hawaiian and this dish is reminiscent of an insanely fresh ceviche.
Being in Hawaii, I just had to eat one of my favorites Asian delicacies - mochi ice cream. Mochi, which is basically a flavored rice paste, is actually what covers the ice cream ball. Usually, both the covering and the ice cream are the same flavor but they can differ. Some of my favorites include strawberry, chocolate, guava and black sesame. Coincidentally, Bubbies, the company that makes the mochi ice cream I eat at home, is based in Hawaii. Although people can't visit the factory, they have a small ice cream shop where you can buy individual mochi. (PS - I wasn't even aware of this until I saw that the Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream Shop was close to a beach I was visiting!)
Then, of course, my family and I stopped to check out the local Whole Foods to see what Asian-inspired foods they carried. Thanks to my jet lag, I always ended up having lunch for breakfast (which, actually, isn't rare for me on a daily basis). So my meals would consist of some sort of rice and protein bowl and dim sum BBQ pork buns. But, what really amazed me was this craft fruit drink from the Wild Poppy company. It was a combination of water and just a few organic ingredients: peach puree, agave nectar and Madagascar bourbon vanilla.
One fine morning, we feasted like champions in Waikiki. We ordered the Mac Daddy blueberry pancakes at the MAC 24/7 restaurant. To call these pancakes ginormous is absolutely an understatement, as they were a featured challenge on one of my favorite TV shows, "Man vs. Food." We received three, pizza-sized pancakes with wild blueberries peeking out from within the batter. Drizzled on top was a delicious, warm vanilla glaze that tasted just like the glaze used for Krispy Kreme donuts (OH SO GOOD!). The pancakes were brought to our table on their own trolley and served with a steak knife! Of course, all four of us couldn't finish them all but we made a pretty nice dent in the stack.
After spending our days at the beach, we wanted something light but yummy in the afternoon. While cruising through Kahuku, located in the northern part of Honolulu, we found trucks that served shrimp platters on the side of the road. The shrimp they used came directly from shrimp farms that were literally behind the trucks. People just order from the truck and eat outside on picnic-style tables under a large tent. Our favorites were the butter garlic shrimp - about eight large shrimp bathed in a buttery garlic sauce, all served on top of a bed of garlic rice. The platter was served with a small fresh salad and a slice of super sweet pineapple because, you know, you're in Hawaii. And, to finish off, I drank some guava juice to enhance the tropical feel of this meal.
All throughout this trip, I was dying to try some authentic ramen dishes but, unfortunately, all the restaurants we went to were full at all times. Luckily for me, I was able to score my long-overdue ramen at no other place but the lounge in the airport! Yes, this was freeze-dried ramen that came in a bag and was rehydrated with warm water but, you know what? It was pretty tasty and I got my ramen while still in Hawaii.
And here are some beautiful, panoramic shots I took while in Hawaii: