Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Shimazu Shave Ice

One of the best ways to close out a long, hot weekend of basketball? Stop in at Shimazu Shave Ice. Normally, they prohibit photos, but the man himself gave the OK as he carved out another work of art.

That's right. This is not just a business or a beloved community landmark. Art is made here, one bowl at a time. It's one of the best kinds of art. It truly satisfies the soul. The thirsty soul.

Hawaii Nui Brown Ale

Frothy, indeed. This bottle sat for months before I finally chilled it and enjoyed. Hawaii Nui Brown Ale is good as hyped, an award winner that I could drink every night. But I won't. It's heavy and rich and sweet. In other words, I would gain a lot (more) weight on a diet of this fine brew. Moderation, my friends...


Couple nights ago, I opened this $4.99 bottle of Mondavi (Tamura Wine Store). All reds taste the same to me, so I've been bargain hunting sorta lately. This one is a screw top, which means no cork. I like collecting the corks, but in the end, it just has to taste good to make me happy, and this tasted good.

McDonald's sauces

I am hooked on McDonald's McNugget sauces. A torrent of visits to the golden arches recently (our basketball team goes there after games) had me ordering a lot of McDoubles and 20-piece McNuggets. I like the chipotle BBQ sauce best. Really nice. Thick. Sweet and smoky. I also tried this the other day: spicy buffalo. I asked for it to put on my hash browns. It was spicy and yet not too overwhelming.

I got this free, without ordering McNuggets. A later visit — they asked me to pay 26¢. Can't blame them. MCD would lose money giving sauce away to non-McNugget eaters.

Just say Noh?

I like iced tea. But I'm not a snob. One stands out: Lipton. No kidding. Canned or bottled, it's the best, just the right blend of lemon and sugar and teaness. So when I was in Tamura store recently and saw this, I was perplexed and intrigued.

Noh Foods making canned beverages? Wow. Question is why? Or how? Irrelevant questions, of course. All that matters is the taste.

My verdict. It's a nice iced tea, I like locally-made goods. So thumbs up. But it's not as good as Lipton.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Until the past month or so, I had zero interest in wines. I like vineyards. The ones on TV and in movies. But still, what is wine? A slightly zingy version of grape juice? Come on. But it's definitely better than drinking a couple of beers every night if you're trying to avoid gaining (more) weight. So I've been sampling a variety of white and (mostly) red wines lately.

Turns out living in urban Honolulu has its perks. Access to interesting little wine/liquor stores is easy. Tamura's is a 5-minute drive up Kaimuki. Liquor Collection is in the midst of bustling traffic at Ward Warehouse. Less inviting. But still close enough.

All I know is, red wine is red wine. They all taste pretty much the same to me. So while I was on Kauai working recently, I couldn't help noticing the selection at Kmart, where I'd gone to get a snack. There it was in the aisle, standing alone and apart: Barefoot wine. So this is the campy stuff that people make fun of? Cheap wine?

Barefoot has won awards. Says so on the bottles. All kinds of wines, all on sale for $4.79 a bottle. How does an award-winning wine go for that cheap? I don't know. They tricked me. I bought a red (see below). But the problem was, even at that price, it was still a corked bottle. Which is cool. I like the whole cork thing and saving them in a big empty jar that will probably be emptied out into a trash bag in 10 or 20 years.

But I had no choice but to get a waiter's corkscrew ($5) and then go on YouTube to figure out how on earth to use it. Thank God for YouTube. I would never have figured it out myself, being mechanically moronic. (I scored 18 on the mechanical section of the ASVAB test in high school. All the girls I knew scored at least 75.) So there I had it in my hotel room: fake cheese whiz, low-fat Wheat Thins (yeah, a wtf moment — real Wheat Thins are high in fat) and Barefoot wine. It took me longer to find the hotel's ice machine than it did to uncork the bottle.

But I got plenty of video editing done as I enjoyed my night of trailer park goodness. With some of my favorite pupus costing crazy bucketloads of money these days (ahi poke is $15/lb, poi is $6/bag, lomi salmon $5 for a small container), this might be the best way to go.


Sometimes, all I need is the yukkaejang and meat jun at Chodang. Especially after a busy day or night. But did you know Chodang opens at 7 in the morning? I kid not. Who eats Korean food at 7 a.m.? I guess a lot of people do. Might be me sometime soon. Yukkaejang at 7 a.m. is not a bad idea, actually...

June 13, 2012

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tanaka Saimin

Heard a lot about this place, finally went there the other night with old pal Dave Reardon. I liked my saimin special. Didn't have room for the fried ice cream, though. Next time.

Really good. Broth reminded me completely of the one
at Boulevard Saimin, where the roots of this restaurant began.

Dave had the chopped steak. I gotta get this next time!


This went with my saimin. Awesomeness.

Got my sinuses real good.

Starbucks Lihue

Kauai is such an astoundingly beautiful place. So much natural beauty. And yet, I spent much of my free time in the Starbucks at Kukui Grove Shopping Center — each of the three days I was on the island.

Something to be said for free wi-fi and the shop's products. I had my share. Hot tea. Iced mocha latte. Even without a nice couch seat (no couches there), I was content with my power source for the laptop and the nice, friendly vibe both in the store and of the people passing by.

In a weird way, this might be the best people-watching spot on the island, even though I was online touching base with the office and Facebook friends. Next time, though, I'm making a concerted effort to see more of the island and try OTHER coffee shops.

Kalapaki Beach Hut

If it seems like all I did on Kauai was eat food in a 50-foot radius of the Kauai Marriott Resort, well ... there's much truth in that. I was working and the food in the area was very, very good. If you like burgers, shave ice, fish sandwiches...

Kalapaki Beach is an actual place, where the view is awesome and the vibe is relaxed. I was hungry. I stepped my way toward another destination (to watch the Heat-Celtics basketball game) and never made it there. Instead, I had the shave ice and then the mushroom burger and taro fries.

The burger was awesome, big and juicy enough that a fork and knife would've been useful. The Hanalei taro was tasty, but would've been better hot or warm. By the time I ate it, it was cool. Still good though.

Kalapaki Shave Ice

Not cheap, but the vast variety of syrup flavors and the delicate texture of the shaved ice are super good. Super good! I had a mix that included guava. Haven't seen that flavor on Oahu. It was subtle and great.

JJ's Broiler

Final meal on the Garden Island was at JJ's Broiler. Again, I dined in the Kalapaki Beach area, which was convenient because of my work trip. I was ready to go anywhere in the town to have lunch, but my old pal Tyson Alger, sports editor at The Garden Island newspaper, suggested JJ's.

I went light for a change, having gained probably 5 pounds during the trip, and got the ono sandwich. The view is nice from the restaurant, but for me, it's all secondary to the food. The ono sandwich was superb, and the salad with oil/vinegar dressing was awesome. I didn't mind that the dressing soaked into my sandwich bun. Yeah, that good.

Good service, good food, reasonable price, good company. Good way to depart from Kauai!

Ono sandwich was truly ono

Tyson got the BBQ chicken sandwich. Yeah. Bacon!