Vacation Mastication: Oahu, Hawaii
My husband and I took a trip to Oahu and instantly fell deeply and madly in love with the island. The air smelled fresh. The people were warm and attentive. The food and drink were unforgettable.
My parents lived there for a time and my big brother was born there so I'd always wanted to tour the area and see what they saw and be where they were. In between reconnecting with pieces of my family's past we enjoyed lots of wonderful food and drink.
It's important to know that there is a lot of not-so-great food on the island just like any other tourist destination. If you really want to eat well you must do your research. In preparation for our trip I read countless reviews on TripAdvisor and in travel guides. I got recommendations from people who do now or have lived there in the past. I collected as much data as possible before embarking on what would become a extravagant eating tour! Enjoy a small sampling of the fruits of my labor.
GIOVANNI'S SHRIMP TRUCK - North Shore
If you do nothing else while you're in Oahu go to this shrimp truck. That's an outright order. Get a plate of Shrimp Scampi with Rice ($12) and get the hot sauce on the side... it's actually hot. Find a nice picnic table to sit down at and then totally disregard the people and activity around you. Focus on the fresh shrimp, copious amounts of chopped garlic and stick of butter that make your platter glisten. Try to remember every last bite because nothing will ever taste this good again.
http://www.giovannisshrimptruck.com/ -- Website coming soon.
SHERATON OUTRIGGER WAIKIKI, BEACH BAR - Waikiki Beach
When spending time in a tropical locale drinks are almost as important as food. When done properly they add to the ambiance and magic without being hokey. Heck, sometimes they are hokey and that's alright too! Enter the Lanai Iced Tea ($10.75). It's a tropical feast for the eyes and the taste buds. Two kinds of vodka, pineapple juice and iced tea makes for a wondrous punch.
I'm really glad it was such a treat because not too longer after my cocktail got delivered a pigeon, also enjoying a leisurely afternoon on the beach, made a special delivery right on the back of my head. Ah, paradise.
GOLDEN SEAFOOD PALACE RESTAURANT - Chinatown
The name certainly doesn't do the place any favors, but once inside you will be entranced by the decor and staff. In an instant you feel transported overseas, to another world. This is not the Chinese food you order on a weeknight when you don't feel like cooking. Going here is an event, an occasion. They're known for communal tables and dim sum during the lunch hour. When we went for dinner we were one of 20 people in the gigantic dining room.
Steamed Chicken with Ginger and Green Onion ($11.50)
Had I known what the Steamed Chicken looked like I would have reconsidered my choice. I'm so thankful I didn't see it first. I would have missed out on the most intense, unique and amazing flavor combinations. My salivary glands are in overdrive just thinking about it! The chicken was steamed but served cold and not at all what I expected on my first bite. Not that I cared one bit because the sauce, oh the sauce, tasted like it was made of unicorn horns and rainbows... otherworldly good. I would have eaten anything covered in the ginger and green onion concoction.
My husband ordered a seafood surprise on a bed of noodles that turned out to be surprisingly amazing. Again, the sauce was to die for. I'm not entirely sure what happens in that kitchen but I condone it.
KONA COFFEE - Everywhere...
If you like the flavor of flowers mixed with lava and sea water you will love Kona coffee. I can't say I'm a huge fan of Kona (or Starbucks, the other mainstay on the island), but a morning cup of coffee is such a integral and enjoyable part of my daily routine so I make do. I also start to get less picky as the morning progresses and my caffeine headache creeps up on me.
While touring the island in a rented Jeep our coffee selection was limited. Driving along the shore, on our way to the Bonzai Pipeline, we found a charming little stand that sold Kona drinks. We stopped for our fix and watched dozens of surfers bike by with their arms clamped down on their boards, eager to get their chance to take on the big waves. Instantly, I understood why everyone was able to drink the stuff. Who cares what kind of coffee you're drinking when you're in paradise!
ISLAND SNOW - Kailua
After kayaking all afternoon we stopped here for some shave (not shaved!) ice ($3). I went totally tropical with a mixture of pineapple, mango and orange syrups. Make sure to get the ice cream on the bottom and a creamy snow cap (condensed milk poured over top of your fruity masterpiece). You may go into sugar shock mid cone. So be it!
My dad still says they have the best syrup and ice at Matsumoto's but if Island Snow is good enough for President Obama it's good enough for me.