Pacifikool Ginger Drinks

If you go to the KCC Farmers Market, or some of the other farmers markets or food events, you may stumble across the wonderful folks from Pacifikool. The stand will look something like this –

packool1

They have quite a few different drinks that they make with their absolutely stunning Ginger syrup.

pk1

On this occasion Bigaln2 chose the Berries and Ginger, while I went for the Pineapple and Ginger. What you get is the Pacifikool Ginger Syrup with various additions (e.g. mint, lime, lemon, berries) and then mineral/soda water on top. They give it a good stir with the special spoon.

packool2

As with all times when you are in a group and you choose different things from the menu, one person has to be the winner and get the best, most awesome tasting item. On this occasion it was sadly not me. We tried each others drinks and the Berries and Ginger was far and away the most awesome.

packool3

We actually had two each of these while at KCC – we grabbed the first one while we walked around and looked at everything, and a second cup when it was time to sit down and eat. Unfortunately when we went to grab the second cup they had sold out of the Berries and Ginger, so we had to both get the Island Ginger Ale. It was still awesome! It is just the Berries option took this drink to a different and much higher level..

You can find out where you can buy the syrups to make your own drinks and where Pacifikool will be while you are on island by visiting this page. You can also order the syrups online but they ship to US only at this stage. The syrup needs to be refrigerated and has absolutely zero preservatives, or artificial flavouring and colouring.

If you like ginger beer you have to try this – it is seriously awesome.

Note from bigaln2: We did buy a bottle of the syrup while at the KCC, but we did not have an opportunity to give it a try while in Oahu. Because of that, I did take it home with me. I have only made the basic island ginger ale so far, but they do include with every bottle a recipe card that tells you how to do different drinks. You can also get the recipes online here.

At one point in time I will have to get the Thai ginger to give some of the other options a go, but I am also curious to try out maybe some different citrus juices in the drinks like lime in the pineapple ginger ale. ๐Ÿ™‚

Hula Grill Tasting Menu

Before coming out to Hawaii, there were many things that I had not experienced. Among them was the concept that you can find Monday to Friday at the Hula Grill – the chef’s tasting menu. What’s so awesome about this meal is that, for a set (and very reasonable) price, you choose your meal from a set list, one starter, one entree, one dessert, building to a fantastic three-course meal.

To start, as with most of the other food posts here, the pictures are split between my Canon PowerShot and Beedoo’s Panasonic Lumix. However, we do have to start with one taken with my iPhone, as it is of the actual menu. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s not the best photo, but it gives you an idea of the choices we faced for our courses. You can also view the tasting menu online here.

menu

Two things I will like to note about the tasting menu –

  1. A portion of the proceeds from the purchase of the menu goes to local organizations whose goals are to further awareness and protect the natural resources on the islands.
  2. The portions that you are presented with are actually half of the size of the normal serve that you would get if you purchase the regular item off of the menu

Before the main meal began, we got our drinks. Both Beedoo and I had the Lava Flow, which is just an awesome drink to enjoy, and one that is something that is a great refreshment to enjoy and, in my experience, doesn’t have much of an effect on me. For me, the best part is just to be able to take my time and enjoy all of the flavors that are in the drink – coconut, strawberry, pineapple and banana.

lavaflow

Beedoo’s other half had the Blue Hawaiian, which he reported as being strong.

bluehawaiian

Shortly after the drinks were served, the waiter brought us a bread basket, which was at the perfect temperature. What was even better was that the bread was served alongside two containers of oil – one with plain olive oil, and the other containing a chili oil. What we did was mix the two oils and it was a perfectly spicy. For me, I did put a little more chili oil than olive oil on my plate as I do like my foods a bit spicier ๐Ÿ™‚

bread

Due to the fact that we had set ourselves a 5:30 reservation (as the tasting menu is only available from 4:45-5:45 PM), it was just the perfect time for us to catch a sunset over Waikiki. Since you’re on the second floor of the Outrigger Waikiki, you have an unobstructed view of the sunset over the ocean (well, other than a few palm trees that you have in front of you, but that’s hardly an obstruction :))

hulasunset

However, that’s enough of the beauty, as it was time for us to begin the main portion of the meal, which were the starters. Both Beedoo and I had the Potsticker Duo, which was a surf and turf combo – Kalua pig with Ponzu plus Lobster & scallop with guava-plum sauce.

pots1 pots2 pots3

Both potstickers were delightfully crunchy on the outside, the fillings were awesome, but the best part was the sauce, as you do not really expect to have a sweet sauce along with the savoury fillings that you’re presented with on the plate. What made this even better to me was that there was a small collection of greens next to each potsticker, which helped to collect the sauce on the plate.

Beedoo’s other half opted for the tomato soup, which was presented with a finger sandwich of Big Island goat’s cheese and garnished with basil oil. Note: In the current version of the tasting menu, the soup option has been changed to be a chef’s choice.

soup

One thing to know about him is that he can be a bit of a picky eater at times. One of the things that I’ve been told that can be a bit of an issue is tomatoes. Being tomato soup, it might be surprising that he did finish the whole bowl and enjoyed it thoroughly! ๐Ÿ™‚

Soon after that, our waiter presented us with our entrees, of which we all had something different. I chose the Shrimp Chow Fun which featured locally-made rice noodles and truffle kabayaki. Note from Beedoo – this appears to not be on the menu anymore! It has been replaced by Shrimp Scampi with garlic butter, tomatoes and capers.

shrimps1

The shrimp that they put in the dish were certainly not shrimps, they wereย jumbo shrimp (or prawns if you would prefer :)). Now, I have no idea what a kabayaki is, but the dish had an excellent Asian flavor to it, and the noodles were perfectly cooked, making this a fabulous dish! ๐Ÿ™‚

Beedoo chose the fresh-caught fish, which was crusted in macadamia nuts and served with rice, pineapple coleslaw, along with a chilli beurre blanc tying it all together.

freshfish

I do not remember what the fish was, but it appears to be a whitefish, so possibly opah. The particulars of the flavours are not coming to me as a surprise, but I do remember it being quite decent from the taste that I had of it.

Her other half had the lemon ginger roasted chicken, which came with asparagus, mashed potatoes and a Maui Onion and roasted red pepper (capsicum) sauce.

chicken

As far as the entrees go, I felt that the shrimp was the best of the lot, but really, all three of the dishes were spectacular.

Ah, but this is a three course dinner, so we had desserts left over, and with the portion sizes being perfect, we all had room for dessert!

For the starters and mains, there were more selections than people. For dessert, the ratio was perfect, so we each had one of the choices. I opted for the Island bread pudding, featuring fruits of the island up to the discretion of the chef.

breadpuddingIt was sided with some fresh vanilla ice cream. If you make the picture full-size, you’ll see the vanilla bean specks in the ice cream, and that was definitely a great addition to the dessert. The bread pudding itself was alright, but not the best of the three desserts ๐Ÿ˜‰

Beedoo opted to have the Tropical Dreams Sorbet (which does have a sub choice of mango lychee or raspberry guava). I think you can tell which one she took by the photo ๐Ÿ™‚

sorbet

The raspberry guava sorbet would be the correct guess :). It was served on a fried wonton wrapper and tasted fairly decent, but again wasn’t the best…

The definite winner of the dessert round was her other half who got the ice cream sandwich (labeled on the menu as petite, but I would disagree!).
chocolate

Just looking at this ice cream sandwich now is making me crave one just like it – filled with awesome ice cream and surrounded on three sides by chocolate or chocolate syrup, with a raspberry coulis as a garnish, this was by far the best of the three desserts that we were presented with, and the one that, if you do take this meal, you should be having every single time ๐Ÿ˜‰

Overall, the tasting menu gave us all full stomachs without being overstuffed. It was amazing to think that all of these three courses were just half of the size of the regular portions if you ordered these items a la carte.

On a normal night, had we ordered a la carte, I know that I would not have had dessert, as the potstickers and shrimp would have been more than enough to fill me right up to the brim.

Note from Beedoo –

Out of all the places I most wanted to eat, this one was really high on the list of must-dos for me.

I would rank this 3rd of the top 5 meals we had on Oahu. The whole meal was seriously amazing – we each tried a bite of all the options you see above.

Starters – The soup was amazingly flavourful, the Kalua Pork potsticker was packed so full of pork and it tasted incredible, I could eat those all day long. The lobster and scallop version was great too.

Entrees – All 3 options we tried were wonderful but there is no doubt the winner serving size wise was the Other Half with the chicken, this seemed like it must be a full size serve unless you get a half chicken for the regular serving!

Dessert – again the winner was the Other Half who chose the ice-cream sandwich – if you are not going to have the tasting menu I strongly recommend you drop by the Hula Grill for one of these at some point during your stay.

The service was fantastic, we had a wonderful time here, great atmosphere, and the food was amazing. Would return for both this menu and some of the other options there. Possibly even breakfast.

Let me add this – if you can’t get into Dukes downstairs, go upstairs and see if you can get a table at the Hula Grill, you won’t regret it for a second. Both Dukes and Hula Grill are part of the same chain called TS Restaurants. You may even find some of the menu items you wanted to order at Dukes are also available at the Hula Grill.

Hula Grill Waikiki on Urbanspoon

Magokoro – Totally Awesome.

This post will be long and contain a lot of photos of the menu, and then some photos of the sushi which will likely make you very hungry. I make no apologies for this. Just go here, and eat here, if you like sushi and even if you do not, try one of their “sets” like Teriyaki Chicken.
mk1

If we had to list a top five of meals we had on Oahu, the dinner we ate at Magokoro would be 2nd on the list for me. The sushi here was more like art on a plate, absolutely delicious and the best sushi I have eaten in.. well.. this might be the best sushi I have ever eaten.

We visited Magokoro on the night of Friday the 8th of November, after our twilight tour at the zoo and then dropping back the rental car. I do not remember whether we had already eaten or when we last ate but we were pretty hungry by the time we got here.

mk2

Todays special list. This will be presented to you with your menu.

mk3

Sashimi menu

mk4

More menu.

mk5

And more menu.

mk6

And yet more menu.

mk7

I like the sound of Ginger Pork Set, but we were here for sushi!

mk8

Sushi Roll Menu

mk9

Nigiri Sushi menu.

mk16

At least it is not Spite. ๐Ÿ™‚

mk17

We decided to try the Mai Tai.

mk19

And here it is, looks almost exactly like on the menu!

mk18

The sushi chefs were extremely busy making sushi for everyone. I took a few photos but did not get a single one in which the chefs were not blurry! Speedy sushi makers!

mk96

And speaking of speedy, here arrived our first sushi. California Roll. Bigaln2 and I were sharing, so we each got 3 each of these serves.

mk20

California Roll and Spicy Tuna Roll. One thing I liked about the sushi was that it is bite sized, not too large like sometimes sushi can be.

mkset

The other half ordered Teriyaki Chicken Set.

mk10

Rainbow Roll – this is so gorgeous we did not think we should eat it, if you can believe it, this tasted even better than it looked.

mk94

Some more closeups of the Rainbow Roll.

mk95

So at this time we had everything we had ordered – we also ordered Gyoza but none of us took a photo of that – small brain fail. We were still hungry, so we ordered up some more sushi and some tempura.

mk14

Vegetable Tempura

mk13 mk12

Vegetable Roll

mk11

Philadephia Roll

mk15

We did not order.. whatever this was. But it sounded very interesting – I am still not sure if they were trying to say this is low class liquor or if it was very high class rare distilled liquor. Then again if the low class liquor means love is good.. well, who knows what the heck this is all about..

The Mai Tai was more than enough for me and it was packed full of booze, whether low class or high class, it was the equivalent of 3 drinks for me. We walked out of here full of food, and quite drunk to boot, after only one drink! And the cooking was made to feel very tastily!

I did not feel any oil or fat component. But I did feel a need to stop in at the ABC store very near to Magokoro on the way back to the Ilikai and pick up some more lip balm, and there I watched a man much more drunk than me trying to pay and epically failing. Even with one very strong drink in me, I navigated the US Dollars with talent and skill.

And here you see the bill, which is extremely reasonable for the huge amount of food we ate.

magceet

We tipped generously but I forget exactly how much. I know it was in accordance with the feeling of that day, which was a very happy one. (Bigaln2 will note here that the tip was 25%, or about $23 :))

We truly loved this place, and would have returned over and over, if not for the fact that we had very few days left. Next visit I predict at least 3 meals being eaten here, and one time I might get the ginger pork set.

If you like what you saw in the photos here, I strongly recommend a visit. See Magokoro on YelpSee Magokoro on Tripadvisor (with a review from our much loved Harleynut)

Magokoro is atย 1831 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu – you will find it between the Ilikai and the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

The wonderful Amberloo on the TripAdvisor Oahu forums recommended this place in the Amberloo and Food thread on Tripadvisor, which you should read in full before visiting Oahu. So we and our stomachs would like to say a huge thank you to Amberloo for this recommendation, we *loved* Magokoro.

Magokoro on Urbanspoon

Salad Dressing From Dole Plantation

There will be many, multiple, lengthy, photo packed posts re the gift store at the Dole Plantation coming to you as a surprise in your future. I mean, the place is just epic. There are really no words that can describe it, photos cannot really do it justice, it will not be until you go there that you understand how truly epic and enormous it is..

dole3

One question I had after reading this post from The Hopeful Traveller – Dole Plantation in Wahiawa, Hawaii – was about the salad dressing bottles – were they plastic or glass? So you better believe the first thing I did when I saw these babies live and in person was walk up and tap them. And happy moments – they are plastic. So there was no doubt in my mind they were coming home with me.

dole1

And here they are packed in a Ziploc bag when they arrived at my home in Australia.

That they are packed in plastic rather than glass does not surprise me having been to the Dole Plantation gift store, because I am telling you, these people have thought of *every* single *thing*. As in, everything they can do to make it easier for you the tourist to get your Dole Plantation purchases home to your house, wherever in the world your house might be. Plus they usually ship these internationally – though at the moment they have suspended international shipping, sadly.

dole2

I bought the 3 pack of salad dressing for $24.95 plus tax – and so did Bigaln2. I can’t wait to try them – I bet they taste amazing. I am a big salad person though I do not like lettuce at all – I will usually use baby spinach instead. My favourite salad is incredibly simple – rinsed baby spinach, chopped strawberries, salad dressing usually Balsamic Vinegar as that goes well with strawberries – but I bet these will go great with them too.

I will also often just cut up an avocado and eat that with salad dressing as a snack.

The only question is, which dressing to try first?

Foots In The Water

foots2

One thing I strongly recommend doing before you leave for Hawaii is to get a good pedicure.

You’ve been saving your pennies and working hard for this trip, so treat your feet to their own spa holiday before you leave. This way, your toes will be painted beautifully for your flip-flops, slipper wearing, or bare feet time.

Pick a colour you like and go with it. I chose a shade of green. ๐Ÿ™‚

(photo taken with my Panasonic Lumix which is able to go underwater)