Spammity SPAM

No, I’m not talking about spam of the “I’m a Nigerian financier who has this fund stuck in a bank somewhere” variety, but ratherย the Hormel precooked meat product better known as SPAM (and yes, even Hormel capitalizes it), which is very popular in Hawaii thanks to all of the GIs eating it while stationed there during the War.

Nowadays, there are more varieties of SPAM than you can shake a stick at, and if you’re in Hawaii, you can get all of them. Here on the mainland, I’ve only seen SPAM, SPAM Lite and low sodium. The good news is that you can order all of the varieties online here for $3 each (plus shipping)

SPAM, Garlic SPAM, SPAM with Bacon, Teriyaki SPAM, Jalapeรฑo SPAM, SPAM Lite, Baked Beans (are off), Black Pepper SPAM, Hot & Spicy SPAM, Low Sodium SPAM (sold out!) and SPAM

SPAM, Garlic SPAM, SPAM with Bacon, Teriyaki SPAM, Jalapeรฑo SPAM, SPAM Lite, Baked Beans (are off), Black Pepper SPAM, Hot & Spicy SPAM, Low Sodium SPAM (sold out!) and SPAM

These were the variations available at Foodland inside Ala Moana. Also seen is the Libby’s Vienna Sausage, which is another item that I assume is popular in Hawaii ๐Ÿ˜‰

Finally, any discussion of SPAM would not be complete without this –

– the classic Monty Python Sketch ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 –

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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™‚

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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 :))

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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™‚

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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!).
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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.
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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.

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

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Sashimi menu

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More menu.

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And more menu.

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And yet more menu.

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

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Sushi Roll Menu

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Nigiri Sushi menu.

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At least it is not Spite. ๐Ÿ™‚

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We decided to try the Mai Tai.

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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The other half ordered Teriyaki Chicken Set.

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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.

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Some more closeups of the Rainbow Roll.

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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.

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Vegetable Tempura

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Vegetable Roll

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Philadephia Roll

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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.

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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

Round Table Pizza

It is finally time for some more food reviews to appear here on the blog. Yays! I hope you are hungry for Pizza today. ๐Ÿ™‚
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We visited the Hilton Hawaiian Village location of Round Table Pizza. There are a couple of tables outside and quite a few inside where it is air-conditioned – I personally find it extremely cold in there and lovely outside – so we were lucky we were able to find a seat outside.

I have eaten at Round Table Pizza on my last 3 trips to Oahu and I love the pizza here. We also had lunch here on one occasion in 2010 where we had salads and they were awesome too.

On this occasion we ordered three pizzas to share knowing there would likely be leftovers to take back to the condo. We ordered small pizzas, but when you get there, you’ll see sizes on the wall that let you know what size each pizza is.

You’re going to get two photos of each pizza – first up one from me with the Panasonic Lumix, then one from Bigaln2 with his Canon PowerShot ๐Ÿ™‚ His photos are the better ones, this time. Yes, each time, one person must win, lol.

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Hearty Bacon Supreme – creamy garlic sauce, three cheeses, bacon, ham, Italian sausage, tomatoes, green onions, chopped garlic – this normally comes with mushrooms but the other half does not like them, so we took them off. This was quite awesome.

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Kalua Pig Supreme – red sauce, three cheeses, Kalua pig, pepperoni, Italian sausage, Portuguese sausage, tomatoes, white and green onions, chopped garlic. This was pretty awesome.

But now, for my very favourite – this is the pizza I always have ordered, and the one I most love.

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King Arthur Supreme – Pepperoni, Italian sausage, salami, linguica, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, black olives on zesty red sauce – We added anchovies and also asked for extra mushroom. This pizza is supremely awesome.

What I most love about this pizza is there is not too much cheese and masses of awesome toppings. If you get pizza to take away, they give you packets of parmesan and you can ask for parmesan if you are eating in – I recommend adding it, it is da bomb. ๐Ÿ™‚

This will always be a place that we visit when on Oahu. There are other locations as well, if you are not down this end of Waikiki there are a few others you can visit – browse locations here.

Round Table Pizza on Urbanspoon

Waikiki eats 1 – Kimo Bean

Or: Must. Have. Coffee. (And breakfast :))

On Saturday morning, as we were heading to the KCC Farmers Market, Beedoo took us on a side trip on the way to the bus stop, heading past the Hilton Hawaiian Village to see where the Starbucks was located at.

Our intention was to get coffee there in the morning because it is something that is necessary to get the day off and running, even though at home I am not a big coffee drinker. As it turns out, we never actually got coffee there once, because of what happened on Sunday morning.

Since we had hired a car overnight, I had to return it (as the place was closed at night and they had no night drop box available) on Sunday morning. Before I left the condo, I mentioned to Beedoo that there was a coffee place that I had seen called Kimo Bean across the street while we were getting the car at Discovery Bay Center.

I took their orders and headed out, driving through Waikiki, ultimately finding my way back to the parking ramp for Discovery Bay. I then returned the car, and walked over to Kimo Bean.

The order that was placed was for three coffees, all hot: Caramel Mocha Cappuccino (which was made in the style of a latte), Kahala (vanilla) latte and, for me, Koko (Coconut) Mocha Latte.

The coffees that we got were simply awesome – as the more experienced coffee drinkers in Beedoo and her other half both said, Sam had made the coffees all at the perfect drinking temperature, meaning that it is not so hot that it burns your tongue, and it hasn’t cooled off too much either.

I will also add here that their iced offerings (either plain iced coffee or a Frappucino-style freeze) were awesome as well, because they just do the same thing as with the hot coffees and either stick it in the blender for the freeze or add ice for the iced varieties.

Since the coffee was so perfect, the decision was made to continue going there for coffees every morning (except for Tuesday and Saturday since we were out of the condo too early for our fixes), and then we made the discovery during our trips there that they also did breakfast, thanks to a sign that proclaimed to try their delicious breakfast sandwich.

On Wednesday, we decided to give the breakfast a go. Their options include some pastries, but they also had some awesome sandwiches available. Both times that we did have breakfast there, all three of us ordered the same things each time –

I had the Breakfast wrap, which is a tortilla filled with a fried egg (a proper egg, as you could see the white and the yolk), cheese and mango salsa, and added bacon to the combination.

Breakfast wrap with bacon

Beedoo had the same thing, substituting turkey for the bacon –

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Meanwhile, her other half opted for the breakfast croissant, which is simply a croissant with egg, cheese, and your choice of meat. He chose ham for his sandwich both times –

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On your trip to Waikiki, you certainly can visit some of the different coffee shops out there, but make sure that you do make a stop at the Kimo Bean in Discovery Bay Center. They have other locations around the area, but only the Discovery Bay location has Sam, the world’s awesomest barista who has the knack of making the coffee at the right temperature ๐Ÿ™‚

I also want to give a shout out to Jennifer, who was there with Sam most times we were in there, helping out on the till and with making the coffees and breakfasts.

One last pro tip – check your receipt. They have free wifi, and the password is on the receipt ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hawaii Eats

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I wanted to point you to an excellent post made by Pomai from The Tasty Island a little while back.

Pomai – with some help from his readers & friends – put together a list of Oahu eateries which are 50 years old, or older.

Click here forย Oahu Eateries 50+ Club

Will you like to visit any of those on your trip? There are two on my list for certain – I won’t mention which two in case it doesn’t work out and we don’t make it there!

The good thing is though they might be established over 50 years ago, many of them have embraced the internet and have websites where you can read the menu ahead of time while sitting at home in Australia or wherever else you might be, and consider whether you will enjoy eating there and what you might choose from the menu.