Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Honeymoon eating: the food in Hawaii

Food for honeymooners. One of the best parts about our trip to Hawaii was the opportunity to eat a radically different cuisine for two whole weeks. No one's body is really meant to eat take out or restaurant food for that many meals in a row, but it definitely helped that there was so much fresh food in Hawaii.

Here are some of our highlights:

Poke from Side Street Inn -- we went here on a recommendation from friends (they all recommended the pork chop, but neither of us are huge pork chop people). This was easily the best poke we had in Hawaii. Rich, buttery, and super delicious.

The spicy fried chicken at Side Street in was also awesome. The menu warns you you'll wait a little longer for it, but the extra 10 or so minutes were worth it. It was crispy and juicy, and almost tasted like it had been marinated in sweet spicy may ploy sauce.

Kalua-style pig sliders - these were awesome. I'm a huge fan of any kind of pork bun (especially char siu bao or Momofuku pork buns) and these were such a nice combination of salty pork with the sweet grilled pineapple.

This was our first experience with roadside fruit stands. We bough cold coconuts from a nice lady on the North Shore. She also let us sample lilikoi (passionfruit), which were incredibly delicious. Sweet but tart, and with seeds somewhat similar in texture to pomegranates.

The North Shore is also home to more food trucks than I have ever seen in Minnesota. Most of them specialized in shrimp. We stopped at one at the ruins of an old sugar mill and got garlic shrimp and mahi mahi. I love how many of the lunch plates come served with rice and/or macaroni salad.

Spam musubi are everywhere. Perfectly wrapped little bundles of white rice, spam, usually at least one other ingredient (egg, cheese, furikake seasoning are common). They're a nice snack, and even the ones in the convenience stores are not bad. I even picked up my own musubi press to make them at home.

Eggs N Things was another place that came highly recommended by our friends. We stopped there one night for breakfast for dinner. This is definitely the way to go, as we drove by another morning and the line was out the door.

The spread at Ono Hawaiian foods. This was on Anthony Bourdain's list of places to go in Honolulu. He stopped here for authentic Hawaiian plates, and we had the same. Poi, a kind of beef jerky, lomi lomi, purple sweet potatoes, coconut gelatin and of course, spam, all came alongside our meal.

In the windward side of the island, we stopped in a town called Kailua (the subject of a recent NYT Travel story) for lunch and went to Agnes' portuguese diner for malassadas for dessert. These were great. We also had more malassadas the night we were at Aloha stadium -- after the game, the vendor was apparently trying to get rid of the excess dough. We got a huge bag of freshly fried malassadas for $5.

Our big night out in Honolulu was at Alan Wong's. We had gotten recommendations to come here but also warned that it was expensive. We bit the bullet anyway, and had a really incredible night out. Above, the bread. It's incredible. Warm, light and fluffy on the inside. I was tempted to ask for more of these instead of ordering dessert.

Jake's tomato salad - a whole blanched tomato, then sliced crosswise, and served with cucumbers and li-hing (sour plum) dressing. He liked it so much he almost ordered a second.

And, because we were honeymooning, the staff not only brought us a complimentary dessert (after we had ordered separate desserts!) but we got to take home custom menus from the night with our name (they spelled it wrong, but oh well!) and signed by the staff.

On Kauai we went to a fun tapas place for dinner the second night. Our waiter talked us through the menu, which led us to things like this dish: poke served with avocado foam. The appetizers leaned more toward the style of being sort of couture food, eclectic but not too weird.

This was some kind of char siu dim sum ball. They were awesome.

And our final stop on the "Anthony Bourdain went there" tour was Puka Dog (he went to the one on Waikiki, but we went to the one in Kauai). I was hesitant to try this at first, as I'm not a huge eater of hotdogs, but I was sold when I heard they offered a spicy lilikoi mustard. I had mine with pineapple sauce.


  1. Lilikoi mustard! LOVE the idea of that! So glad you enjoyed Honolulu -- and your honeymoon -- so much, dear! Congrats again....xox

  2. Thanks Cheryl!! And thanks for being our own personal Yelp/Urbanspoon :)

  3. So... I'm not sure if I started following you on Twitter because you also were a digital producer/reporter or because you worked at the Star Tribune (my dream job), but that was a while ago, and I just now stumbled across your blog and realized you also are a foodie and got married this summer, too! This all looks so good, now I want to visit Hawaii! We honeymooned in Seattle, which also is a city of good eats. Most of my honeymoon pictures also are of food. :P Anyway, I'll definitely be skulking around your blog now! Congratulations!