Food Travel America / Hawaii

Snapshots of Honolulu

I’m throwing my hands up in the air. I will never catch up to post on all the places I’ve visited in Miami/Chicago/LA/Honolulu and not yet written about. I do believe I have 1 in the hopper for an amazing coffee experience I had in Oaxaca, but other than that, I can’t keep feeling the stress of pending posts. The difficulty I’ve had with this decision is that I ate at some good places in these places, too good to be forgotten. But I woke last night in the middle of the night with a plan. I will post “snapshots”, photos of the places I’ve visited minus the in-depth stories. It’s not my ideal, because I believe that the thing I enjoy the most about Call Me a Food Lover is sharing the story, but I’m a quarter of the way through year and it’s time to stop looking behind me and start concentrating on what’s ahead.

I had 5 days in Honolulu and posted on 1, but there were some highlights of the remainder of my time on Oahu that I wanted to share.

The Pig and Lady:  I’d read a lot about this food truck turned into a cool restaurant. From all that I read, the Pho French Dip Banh Mi and Pho Tsukemen were the reasons  to make a visit to Chinatown. As The Pig and Lady only serves French Dip at lunch, that’s when I visited. My verdict? The French Dip was delicious, but I was left wanting a bit more from the tsukemen.

"Pig Lady Honolulu Bahn Mi dip"

PHO FRENCH DIP BANH MI – 12 hr brisket, Thai basil chimmichurri, bean sprouts, pho au jus

PHO TSUKEMEN (DIPPING STYLE) - 12hr brisket, salt cured egg yolk, fried shallots, roasted peanuts, garlic chives, pho tsuyu

PHO TSUKEMEN (DIPPING STYLE) – 12hr brisket, salt cured egg yolk, fried shallots, roasted peanuts, garlic chives, pho tsuyu

"Pig lady Honolulu"

La Mariana Sailing Club: I’d seen the Original Tiki Bar on an episode of Bourdain’s “No Reservations” and had it on my list to go for a drink. I never thought I’d end up eating there for dinner but a few drinks in, enjoying the live entertainment and their bar food seemed like it would fit the bill. This place is definitely about their delicious Mai Tai’s but a bad (for you) plate of nachos and fried appies sure helped to sop up the copious amounts of liquor I consumed that evening.

"La Mariana mai tai"

Limited to 1 mai tai per evening because of my intolerance to rum.

"La Mariana Honolulu vodka lava flow"

I switched to a vodka based Lava Flow which was equally as delicious.

"La Mariana Honolulu nacho"

La Mariana Honolulu appie

"La Mariana Honolulu entertainment"

"La Mariana Honolulu inside"

"La Mariana Honolulu"

I woke up each morning to look for sunrise and on a few mornings, I saw some glimpses of colourfulness that reminded me of the beauty of Honolulu.

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Mana Bu’s: This is my hands down favourite place to visit when I’m in Honolulu. It’s a very simple store that sells 1 thing… Onigiri. Rice balls. You may know them as musubi, but in my family they’re’ known as onigiri, so that’s how I’ll refer to them here.

I’m always astounded at how good the onigiri at Mana Bu’s are. You probably will look at the photo and think, “how good can a ball of rice be”? But take it from someone who’s eaten a lot of onigiri in my life and even more rice. These are very good. The rice is great quality and the fillings are delicious.

"Manabu Honolulu"

Hank’s Haute Dogs: Another repeat, but worthy of a return visit. I will forever remember this meal as the one where after 4 years of hard use, my camera finally broke. Lucky for me, my trusty iPhone is always ready to be the stand-in.

"Hanks haute dog Honolulu onion rings"

Crispy onion rings – never my first choice, but I’m always happy when someone else orders them and I get to have 2.

"Hanks haute dog Honolulu fat fries"

Twice fried beef fat fries. I had a taste of these beside the regular and couldn’t really tell the difference.

"Hanks haute dog Honolulu Hawaiian"

Hawaiian dog – Portuguese sausage with mango mustard and pineapple relish.

"Hanks haute dog Honolulu chili"

Chicago Dog with Hank’s homemade chili, raw onion and cheddar cheese.

"Hanks haute dog Honolulu Chicago"

Chicago with a genuine Vienna hot dog and all their famous fixings was very authentic and ultimately my favourite.

"Hanks haute dog Honolulu"

In previous posts, I’ve complained about how much it rained on my trip. I’m not taking back my statements, but looking back at the photos, I see that I saw more than my share of amazing sunsets.

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Rainbow Drive-In: A Honolulu institution known as one of “President Obama’s favorites”, this time I had to check it out. I ended up at Rainbow Drive-In not once, but twice on my trip, not because I thought it was that amazing, but more out of convenience.

After having an amazing loco moco at Aloha Mixed Plate in Lahaina, and a few bad ones after that, I was really craving an excellent loco moco. But Rainbow had just sold out of fried rice the order before mine, so I was left with plain white (I have come to believe that although not traditional, it’s the fried rice that makes a loco moco for me). I wouldn’t come back for the loco moco, or the savory glassy long noodles that Chef Roy Choi had recommended in an article I’d read. But Rainbow Drive-In is an institution, so I understand if you must go and if you do, I think the winner here is the Barbeque (teriyaki) beef. Order a plate of bbq beef, with a side of bbq pork minus the rice and macaroni.

"Rainbow Drive-in"

Ono Seafood: I didn’t get the opportunity to eat much poke while on Oahu, but had a craving the day before I left. Ono Seafood is located a bit hidden from the street underneath a run-down apartment building. It would be easy to miss, but trusty Googlemaps guided me to the door. The poke here is delicious and the ingredients tasted super fresh. I would have to say of all the poke I had in Hawaii, this was my favourite.

"Ono Seafood poke"

Shoyu, tako (octopus), wasabi and limu poke

Taormina: One of the best dinners I had in Honolulu came as a bit of a surprise to me. Selfishly I had chosen Taormina only because I’d read that their uni pasta was decadent, delicious. In my mind, the bar was set high to come close to the best uni pasta I’ve ever had, but I was hoping this would come close with the same high price tag.

I’m saying the quality of the meal came as a surprise because Taormina is located in the heart of the tourist area of Waikiki, where I’ve come to expect “all American” quality and experience, catering to tourists. Taormina is a romantic restaurant with great service and the food was amazing. The uni pasta was delicious, as was the classic Bolognese, but the stunner was the balsamic laced Sicilian Bolognese “Moderna”. The meal was so special that we asked to see the chef at the end of the meal to thank him and to get a glimpse of the chef who was behind our fantastic meal. We learned that  Chef Hiroyuki Mimura trained in an Italian restaurant in Japan and later moved to Italy where he worked refined his techniques and talent. The food at Taormina is reflective of the experiences of the Chef and diners are rewarded with a wonderful meal.

A taste of Taormina A taste of Taormina Il Migliore Appetizers Gli Antipasti caldi (Hot Appetizer) Pasta Pasta Fresca (Fresh Pasta) I Pesci (Fish) Le Carni (Meat) Le Verdure (Vegetables) Le Zuppe (Soup) I Risotti (Risotto) I dolci della casa Back to top *Menu items and prices are subject to change. A taste of Taormina 70 A taste of Taormina Antipasto: Hamakua cocktail tomato & mozzarella Caprese, Prosciutto & local papaya Squid & Octopus, Salmon Marine with Salmon Roe. Zuppa: Chilled green pea potage soup.  Primo Piatto: (Please select one pasta from below.)  "Fresh Pasta Nero Frutti di Mare" Squid Ink pasta with chopped shrimp, clams, fresh tomato, dry tomato, garlic, chili and oil.  Granchio Fresh tagliatelle pasta with crab meat in lightly spiced tomato cream sauce topped with crab`s claw "Sea Urchin Ricci di Mare" Fresh tagliatelle pasta with fresh sea urchin and garlic. Secondo Piatto: Please select one pasta from below.  "Hawaiian Big Eye" Grilled Hawaiian tuna with herb dressing served with beets and feta cheese.  "Filetto di Manzo" Grilled prime beef tenderloin with balsamic reduction served with grilled vegetable.  "Pan Roasted Duck Breast" Thinly sliced duck breast topped with an orange balsamic reduction sauce. Dolce: Homemade tiramisu with vanilla gelato. A taste of Taormina Il Migliore 100 A taste of Taormina Il Migliore Inizia: Sweet shrimp & sea urchin served with a shot of green pea soup. Antipasto: Sautéed Kona Abalone with herb butter sauce Primo Piatto: (Please select one pasta from below.)  ・Squid ink linguine sautéed with shrimp, clams, fresh tomato, garlic and olive oil.  ・Fresh tagliatelle pasta with lightly spiced lobster and crab bisque sauce topped with sautéed lobster and fresh sour cream  ・Funghi Porcini Risotto with Foie Gras  ・Fresh tagliatelle pasta with fresh sea urchin and garlic ”Ricci di mare”(Additional$10) Entree: (Please select one pasta from below.)  ・Pesce del giorno al acqua pazza in tegame Catch of the day braised w/porcini mushroom, potato, tomato, sundried tomato, zucchini, bell pepper and fish stock  ・ Grilled Prime Tenderloin,Vegetables and sautéed foie gras with an orange balsamic sauce.  ・ Grilled Colorado Lamb alla Siciliana served with grilled vegetables  Dolce: Panna cotta al Marsala `Memoria della Sicilia`topped with lemon-cinamon jelly, berruies and fruits  Souvenier: Taormina Chocolate Box Molokai sea salt and macadamia nuts, Kona coffe Dark chocolate and White chocolate, Macadamia nuts & crispy rice Appetizers 21 Gli Antipasti Misti Your choice of 4 kinds of chilled appetizers: Mozzarella and Hamakua Cocktail Tomato “Caprese” /Palermo Style “Caponata” /Prosciutto & Local papaya /Salami toscana & Calabrese with pecorino romano /Italian cheese(Tareggio & Gorgonzola dolce with honey clover) /Hamakua tomato&Mozzarella Bruschetta /Marinated Squid & Octopus Gli Antipasti caldi (Hot Appetizer) 18 Seafood Bruschetta Chopped prawns and scallops sautéed with white wine, mascarpone cheese and sundried tomatoes on crispy toast. 19 Steamed Clams with Basil Fresh Washington clams simmered in white wine, garlic, basil and olive oil. 16 Squid alla Siciliana Japanese squid seared and seasoned with herb oil on a bed of white bean. 21 Gamberoni Grigliati Grilled head on shrimps with herb dressing. Pasta 18 Linguine e Sgombro Linguine with sautéed mackerel, garlic, saffron, pine nuts, almond, onion, anchovy, raisin and bread crumbs tossed lightly in olive oil. 19 Norma alla Taormina Spaghetti with lightly spiced tomato sauce, chopped pancetta, eggplant and parmesan cheese topped with basil. 20 Bolognese alla “Moderna” Spaghetti sautéed in meat sauce with balsamic vinegar. 21 Tuna and Bottarga “Peperoncino” Spaghetti with fresh tuna, bottarga, garlic and red chili peppers sautéed lightly in olive oil. 22 Spaghetti alle “Vongole” Spaghetti with fresh clams and garlic tossed in clam broth, white wine and olive oil. 24 Seafood Pasta “Pescatore” Spaghetti sautéed with clams, mussels, shrimps, scallops and Squid in lightly spiced tomato sauce. 18 Spaghetti al Pomodoro Spaghetti tossed with 100% Hamakua tomato sauce with basil  Bolognese alla “Classica” Fresh pappardelle pasta in meat sauce (beef, pork, chicken and foie grass) in a red wine sauce.


Bolognese alla “Classica” – Fresh pappardelle pasta in meat sauce (beef, pork, chicken and foie grass) in a red wine sauce.

ea Urchin Pasta “Ricci di mare” Fresh tagliatelle pasta sautéed with fresh sea urchin

Sea Urchin Pasta “Ricci di mare” – Fresh tagliatelle pasta sautéed with fresh sea urchin

Bolognese alla “Moderna” Spaghetti sautéed in meat sauce with balsamic vinegar.

Bolognese alla “Moderna” – Spaghetti sautéed in meat sauce with balsamic vinegar.

My one and only trip to the beach while I was in Honolulu, happened to be on my last day in Hawaii. I definitely made the most of lying in the sun and enjoying a great Hawaiian beach treat.

Beach visit enjoyed with another Mana bu onigiri. This time spam and egg!

Beach visit enjoyed with another Mana Bu’s onigiri. This time spam and egg!

That in a nutshell are the snapshots of my dining in Honolulu for 5 days. All that’s left is one last sunset drink to celebrate Hawaii.

"Honolulu Sheraton view bar"

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The Pig and Lady: 83 N King St, Honolulu, HI

La Mariana Sailing Club Tiki Bar: 50 Sand Island Access Rd, Honolulu, HI

Mana Bu’s: 1618 S King St, Honolulu, HI   

Hanks Haute Dogs:  324 Coral St, Honolulu, HI

Rainbow Drive-In: 3308 Kanaina Ave, Honolulu, HI

Ono Seafood:  747 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI

Taormina: 227 Lewers St, Honolulu, HI 

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