Category Archives: Special Meals

Asian Food Trip – Hong Kong – Part 3

Good Hope Noodle

Another way to find out good places to eat is ask the locals. In our case, the local made a suggestion to us without our solicitation. My mother and I were actually getting our laundry done at the nearby laundromat. I love it. We drop our dirty clothes off and they wash, dry and fold our clothes for us! Within walking distances of our hotel, we walked by at least three different laundromats. The price is very reasonable and it’s great when travelling to Hong Kong for long periods of time. You don’t need to pack so much clothes.

Where was I…yes back to food recommendation. The laundromat lady overheard us talking about a place we would like to eat congee. She thought the place we wanted to go wasn’t that great so she gave us her suggestion—Good Hope Noodle (好旺角粥麵專家). We thought why not give this place a try since we’d be here for awhile anyway. In this case, we didn’t think her recommendation was good for our taste. The congee was so so and it was pricey for the mediocre food. Nonetheless, it was “fresh boiled congee” (生滾粥) which means they cook all the ingredients as you order them. Plus I love Chinese breakfast foods so it was ok. We also ordered the wonton and beef brisket soup noodles too. The noodles were great but both the noodles and congee portion were small even in Hong Kong standard.

Good Hope Noodle

Wonton & Beef Brisket Noodles, Minced Beef Congee, Pork Liver Congee

One Sunday, we finally ended up going to the congee place that we meant to go, Sang Kee Congee & Noodle (生記粥麵). Guess what? It was closed! Hong Kong restaurants never close! Even during the typhoon, when they recommend everyone to go home, local restaurant owners just continue to soldier on. The sign says it’s opened on all the public holidays except for Sundays and various Chinese holidays. My mom said they must make a lot of money so they can afford to close on Sundays. Nevertheless, we left that day and came back another day. My mom had been here before and knew there might be lineups. This place was made famous by one of Hong Kong’s famous food writer and eater. Sometimes you never know if these recommended places are good or just a big hype. (We had to line up a bit because we got here a little later than intended. But the line was super quick because people just eat and go.) This time, lining up was worth it. It’s not just a hype. The congee there was amazing. They’re famous for their fish congee and pork liver congee. So we ordered that. Plus they’re also famous for their clear broth beef brisket. It was so tender and delicious that I devoured it and forgot to take a photo. Not the first time I had forgotten to take a picture but it always involved the kids distracting me. This  time, there was no one to blame but myself 😛 .)

Sang Kee Congee & Noodle

Pork Liver Congee at Sang Kee Congee & Noodle

When you get to Hong Kong make sure you find a “fresh boiled congee” place to eat. If you like congee, you won’t be disappointed!

Read in the series:

Asian Food Trip – Hong Kong – Part 1
Asian Food Trip – Hong Kong – Part 2

Asian Food Trip – Hong Kong – Part 2

Aberdeen Fishball & Noodles

One of the best things when travelling with people who know the place is their recommendation on where to eat. Since my mom goes to Hong Kong every year, she has either tried or heard of somewhere good to eat. She doesn’t use computers or any fancy restaurant apps. She just knows from being there and talking to her friends to find out where to go.

I, on the other hand, rely on technology to find places to eat. I actually discovered the Openrice website and app while searching for restaurants in Hong Kong. This app might be better than Yelp because it’s what locals use to search for restaurant recommendations. It’s actually great because it’s in both English and Chinese. So you can match up the Chinese characters from your app to the restaurant if the sign is in Chinese only and you don’t read Chinese 🙂 .

Aberdeen Fishball & Noodles Restaurant (香港仔魚蛋粉) is one of the places that we stumbled upon when travelling around in Mong Kok. There are many locations around and it seems like some locations are better than others. The reason we went in was because my mom knows that it’s one of the popular chain places. This place is famous for their fish ball soup noodles.

Fish Ball Noodles – Don’t remember being spectacular but the fish broth was pretty tasty. The broth is made with water chestnuts and dry bean curd sticks hence the milky white broth. The homemade chili oil goes great with this dish.

Aberdeen Fishball & Noodles

Fish Ball Noodles

Sei Kee Congee (西記粥店) is one of the places we go back to every time we visit Hong Kong. There seems to be three locations but we always go to the one on Prince Edward Road. It’s a hole in the wall and the first place my dad took us to when my husband went to Hong Kong the very first time. This place is famous for their “fresh boiled” congee (生滾粥) which means they cook all the ingredients as you order them. My husband has fond memories of this place especially the minced beef congee—his all-time favourite Memorable Dish. My favourite congee to order in Hong Kong is the Boat Congee (艇仔粥). It has a mix of different ingredients but mostly seafood, hence the name “boat”. This congee is quintessentially Hong Kong and every restaurant makes it slightly different.

Minced Beef and Boat Congee – Just like how I remember them. Standard taste like all other congee places I had but very hot and fresh.

Youtiao (Chinese fried cruller) and Cheung Fun (rice noodle roll) – I don’t remember seeing them making these in-house. They taste ok, nothing spectacular.

Sei Kee Congee

Minced Beef and Boat Congee (right), Youtiao (Chinese fried cruller) and Cheung Fun (rice noodle roll) (left)

When travelling to the same place more than once, we tend to go back to the same restaurants over and over again. The food might not be the best but we tend to go back anyways. I think it’s because it brings back nostalgic travel memories for us. Sometimes it’s not about the food, but it’s about the company.

Read in the series:

Asian Food Trip – Hong Kong – Part 1

Asian Food Trip – Hong Kong – Part 1

Dinner at Tao Heung - Crispy Chicken, Sautéed Pea Shoots in Broth, Steamed Garlic Giant Grouper (龍躉) Slices, Fish Fragrant Eggplant (鱼香茄子)

I can’t say I’ve had bad meals in Hong Kong. Some places might be mediocre but they are never “bad”. I think it’s because Hong Kong eaters have such a discernible taste that you cannot possibly serve bad food and stay afloat.

When I decided to go on a girls trip with my mother and my toddler girl, I researched on Yelp and online for restaurants and food places to check out. I don’t know if I ended up hitting any of the places on my list! Once I was there, we were eating on the go. Food is literally everywhere—big restaurants, little restaurants, fast food, fast but good food. If you’ve been to Hong Kong, you know what I mean. One can never go hungry.

We ended up eating at places we visited and nearby areas. My mother also knew of some places to check out from her previous trips (she pretty much goes once a year). Plus my older brother who works between mainland China and Hong Kong took us to different places to eat. Even people we met gave us recommendations on where to go. I have to say all Hong Kong people are food lovers!

When we think of chain restaurants in North America, we picture cookie cutter places that serve consistent but mediocre food. However in Hong Kong, chain restaurants could sometimes be better than the one off restaurants. They have standards to adhere to and the staff are usually friendlier than other local restaurants. Having said that, we did check out a restaurant that was famous for their roast goose but we were rather disappointed.

We had our first meal in Hong Kong at Tao Heung (稻香) near our hotel. We literally stepped outside of the hotel, looked around and saw their huge sign at a nearby local mall and headed towards it. Since we know it’s a chain restaurant, we were sure it would be decent. We were super hungry so we ate half of the food before I even took the photo.

Crispy Chicken – Standard at Cantonese restaurants. I find North American chickens to be blander. But in Asia, they are so much tastier.

Sautéed Pea Shoots in Broth – Fresh, tender and delicious. Even my 2-year old child could distinguish the taste of fresh vegetables versus not so fresh ones. She was gravitating towards them and couldn’t stop eating these yummy veggies.

Steamed Garlic Giant Grouper (龍躉) Slices – My mom said that you cannot eat it whole because it’s too big to steam on its own. Restaurants usually sell them in pieces instead of whole. They sliced them and steamed them like they would with whole fishes.

Fish Fragrant Eggplant (鱼香茄子) – This dish is a misnomer because there’s no fish in it at all. It is a seasoning mixture in Chinese Sichuan cuisine, and also refers to the resulting sauce in which meat or vegetables are cooked. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuxiang) It was very tasty with a hint of spice. Cantonese adopted this dish and made it not as spicy.

Dinner at Tao Heung - Crispy Chicken, Sautéed Pea Shoots in Broth, Steamed Garlic Giant Grouper (龍躉) Slices, Fish Fragrant Eggplant (鱼香茄子)

Dinner at Tao Heung – Crispy Chicken, Sautéed Pea Shoots in Broth, Steamed Garlic Giant Grouper (龍躉) Slices, Fish Fragrant Eggplant (鱼香茄子)

Below are the photos of the infamous roast goose restaurant. Tourists can actually buy it freshly roasted and the restaurant has a system of packaging it so that you can fly back to your home country with it (providing your flight isn’t that long and your country allows you to bring back meat items.) My brother took us there because we happened to be in the area so we gave it a try. This infamous roast goose restaurant was not as good as expected, and quite expensive for what it is. The roast goose was drowned with this brown sauce. It’s almost as if they were trying to disguise the lack of crunchiness of the goose skin. However, some might like that style of roast goose. But I prefer the crispy skin.

Roast Goose – Drowned with brown sauce. Why would they do that?

Lai Fun (瀨粉) in Broth – Usually people eat lai fun with roast goose. The lai fun’s texture was perfect and the broth was pretty tasty.

Roast Goose and Lai Fun

Roast Goose and Lai Fun

Qilin (麒麟) Tofu – The layers resemble the scales of Qilin (a Chinese mystical, mythical lucky creature). It is made up of tofu, Jinhua ham (金華火腿), and Chinese mushroom. The tofu is very soft and pairs very nicely with the salty ham and mushroom.

Qilin Tofu

Qilin Tofu

Century Eggs (皮蛋) with Pickled Ginger – I have to admit it was one of the best century eggs I had. Apparently it’s their house specialty (soft yolk)—paired nicely with the pickled ginger.

Sautéed Chinese Mustard Greens (芥菜) with Chinese Mushrooms – Tender and tasty cooked in oyster sauce.

Century Eggs and Chinese Mustard Greens

Century Eggs and Chinese Mustard Greens

There are more yummy Memorable Dishes to come as I travel through Hong Kong with my mother and daughter. Every time I come back to visit, there is always something new to discover!

Read in the series:

Asian Food Trip – Hong Kong – Part 2

Summerlicious at Auberge du Pommier

Last summer we came to Auberge du Pommier for Summerlicious lunch. We enjoyed it tremendously but it was bittersweet. We were supposed to be in Paris around that time but had to cancel the trip because of my husband’s new job. Instead, we headed to Auberge so that we could pretend we were in France for just a little bit.

This year we returned to Auberge du Pommier for Summerlicious to celebrate my husband’s new job and hopefully this work won’t make us cancel any family trips again! When I visit during the warmer months I enjoy sitting outside. With its floral terraces and water fountain, it reminds me of when we visited Aix-en-Provence pre-kids ten years ago. Now that we’re après three kids later, we really enjoy these little escapes without the kids once in awhile. (However, I know our kids would really enjoy the food here. Bringing them would not be so relaxing for us 😉 ) .

With French music playing in the background, the setting and atmosphere of the restaurant transport you to the French countryside. (I’m really missing Aix now 🙁 ). So let’s get to all the food so I can stop daydreaming of being in France again. To really immerse ourselves in the French way of life, we decided to do the wine tasting along with our meals. I love that the waitress commented on how it would be more fun. Yes, it was more fun! Without the kids tugging at me, enjoying a fine meal with wine is truly one of life’s greatest pleasures.

I ordered the Terrine and my husband followed suit. For whatever reason, they gave him the salad instead. It was meant to be because I knew he wouldn’t enjoy the terrine as much as I would. All the flavours worked so well together. The slightly pickled vegetables balanced the meaty terrine perfectly. I was busy soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying my eating moment without the kids that I forgot to record the wine the waitress paired our meals with. But I do remember the wines were from France and also from Prince Edward County.

Terrine at Auberge du Pommier

Terrine: chicken & leek terrine, market vegetables à la Grecque, truffled artichoke emulsion

Salade at Auberge du Pommier

Salade: Tamarack Farms heirloom tomatoes, black olive petals, Ontario feta, 100km greens

For the main course I ordered the boeuf. I wasn’t familiar with the cut of the coulotte steak and the waitress said that it wasn’t like a tenderloin but with lots of flavour. I agree with her assessment because it was a mighty tasty piece of meat. Again, all the sides and the steak worked perfectly together. I still remember the taste in my mouth. It was truly an umami experience. My husband ordered the ravioles and of course I had to taste them. They were divine! I love my meat but I could’ve easily traded my steak for that vegetarian dish.

Boeuf at Auberge du Pommier

Boeuf: coulotte steak, lemon thyme vegetable fricassée, horseradish, fried shallots

Ravioles at Auberge du Pommier

Ravioles: lemon ricotta ravioli, summer legumes, watercress, pine nuts, olive oil

For dessert, I picked the chocolat plate. I am a chocolate lover but I was very impressed with the mint white chocolate ice cream. I was expecting the strong mint taste that I was used to from store-bought or even ice-cream shop ice cream. But the minty taste of Auberge’s ice cream was subtle and complimented the rest of the chocolate dish. My husband picked the panna cotta and I had a taste of his dessert, of course. But I was still baffled by the yummy minty ice cream that I had.

Chocolat at Auberge du Pommier

Chocolat: chocolate crémeux, coffee crumble, cacao tuile, mint white chocolate ice cream

Panna Cotta at Auberge du Pommier

Panna Cotta: pineapple panna cotta, coconut streusel, lime meringue, mango gelée

Everything at Auberge du Pommier was impeccable. From the moment you walk through the door, everyone makes you feel special. Not only is the food phenomenal, the attention from all the staff and servers truly make this a Memorable Place to eat. Eating all these Memorable Dishes at such a cozy and romantic atmosphere was a great escape from the hustle and bustle of our busy lives. Auberge is truly a “refined retreat from the city” as stated on their website, and it honestly is.

St. Lawrence Market Lunch & Goodies

Proscuitto & Cheese Plate

Our family doesn’t live in the city so we don’t frequent the St. Lawrence Market in downtown Toronto to buy their fresh meats and produce. We actually go there to eat lunch and buy some yummy goodies to take home. My main goal of heading down there every time is to buy some good cheeses. But along the way, we always end up buying a lot more than we planned for.

Alex Farm Products

I call Alex Farm Products cheese pushers because my aim is to buy one or two types of cheese but I always end up with five 😉 . I usually ask for strong cheeses because that’s what I like. The cheesemonger shaves off the different variety of cheeses and lets us sample them. This time he even gave us samples of soft cheeses, which I normally don’t get, and I ended up loving them! It’s like he can read my mind and knows what I like. I brought the cheeses home hoping the boys would try them. Of course they didn’t even try any of them. It was my toddler girl who ate every piece of cheese I gave her, even the stinky ones – she even asked for more! Maybe girls have a more sophisticated palette 😉 .

St. Lawrence Market - Alex Farm Products and Scheffler's Delicatessen & Cheese

Alex Farm Products and Scheffler’s Delicatessen & Cheese

Scheffler’s Delicatessen & Cheese

I remember having homemade prosciutto at a friend’s house and it was so delicious that I was tempted to make my own. Since I am not planning to cure a pork leg to make prosciutto anytime soon, I have to get my prosciutto fix at Scheffler’s Delicatessen & Cheese. I’m not sure if it’s the best place to get prosciutto at the Market but it’s definitely the most visible. They were super friendly and helpful and I ended up buying some pancetta and olives as well.

Proscuitto & Cheese Plate

Prosciutto & Cheese Plate

Buster’s Sea Cove

Every time we head down to St. Lawrence Market, we always head to Buster’s Sea Cove for lunch because the boys love seafood. We sat by the bar area while waiting for our food. I told the boys to watch the chef cook and learn some tips because they say they want to open a food truck when they grow up. The chef was super friendly and was chatting with the boys and he ended up adding some sauteed olives and red pepper topping to our grilled halibut. How nice!

Grilled Calamari with Fries – The boys’ favourite! Fresh and flavourful calamari. Perfectly cooked.

Grilled Halibut with Salad –  Big pieces of grilled halibut also cooked perfectly. The salad and coleslaw were equally as good.

Clam Chowder – My favourite! Creamy with chunks of clam – delicious! Even the boys loved it. (They usually don’t have clam chowder. They must’ve been really hungry!

Buster's Sea Cove - Grilled Calamari, Grilled Halibut, Clam Chowder

Buster’s Sea Cove – Grilled Calamari, Grilled Halibut, Clam Chowder

Uno Mustachio

Another eatery that we never miss is Uno Mustachio for their famous Italian sandwiches. I didn’t know the place was called Uno Mustachio. We always refer it as the big Italian sandwich place downstairs. Even if we are too full to eat there, we usually buy one or two sandwiches to take home. You can never go wrong with the Veal Eggplant Parmagiano sandwich. If you can’t decide, check out their menu first before heading there because it can get overwhelming with so many options.

Uno Mustachio - Italian Sandwich

Uno Mustachio – Italian Sandwich

Stonemill Bakery

Another must-go-to place while we are at the MarketStonemill Bakery. Get there early because they sell out by late afternoon.

Italian Roasted Garlic Bread – The best bread ever! This bread makes the best croutons if you end up having any leftovers.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookie and Chocolate Cookie with White Chocolate Chips – Chewy and soft.

Double Chocolate Croissant and Almond Croissant – Flaky with the perfect amount of filling.

Stonemill Bakery - Baked Goods

Stonemill Bakery – Baked Goods

Eve’s Temptations

If you know my husband, you know he’s a dessert lover. I thought the cookies and croissants were enough but he had to buy more to take home. We saw some delicious treats at Eve’s Temptations and of course we had to buy some. Here are the five desserts we got: Key Lime Chocolate Pie, Chocolate Peanut Butter Square, Lemon Square, Rum Ball, German Brownie and Peanut Butter Brownie.

Eve's Temptations - Desserts

Eve’s Temptations – Desserts

St. Lawrence Market is definitely a Memorable Place to visit for us. I remember going with just my husband before we had kids. Now bring the kids with us to these outings. They enjoy sampling the food as much as we do.

This concludes our outing to the St. Lawrence Market. We didn’t even hit the other food places we normally go to like the peameal bacon sandwich place and the Portuguese tart place. We’ll have to go back to the Market again soon to eat and explore some more!

Hawaiian Food Trip: Food-venirs and Other Foods

Cans of Spam (front)

In every country I’ve visited, I’ve been fascinated by the food. Even before I started writing this food blog, I’ve visited countries and brought food home (items that are allowed 🙂 .) as souvenirs.

I believe Hawaii is the land of Spam. I’ve never seen so many flavours and varieties anywhere I’ve been to. In my Hawaiian Food Trip: Aloha!, I posted a photo of the “Spam Wall” from the grocery store. I wanted to buy every single flavour to taste them but alas, I couldn’t. It would’ve cost more for the overweight baggage fees to bring cans of Spam back to Canada. So I only got one Turkey and one Hickory to try out. It was a hard decision to make. Now looking at the photo, I should’ve gotten the Teriyaki one too! Darn it! I guess I’ll have to go back to Hawaii again soon 😉

Cans of Spam (front)

Cans of Spam (front)

Cans of Spam (back)

Cans of Spam (back) – Love the recipe ideas!

It was so cool to see the different flavours of syrup being sold at the grocery store. Out of all the tropical flavoured syrups that were sold, I decided to buy the guava syrup. I love guava! Again, I was tempted to buy all the other flavours as well—coconut and lilikoi (passion fruit) syrup but didn’t due to the luggage weight restriction.

Guava Syrup

Guava Syrup

Furikake—bought one bottle, ate it there and brought the rest home. I know we can get it from Asian grocery stores here but I never thought of buying it until eating it in Hawaii. (I actually bought two extra bottles when I got back home to test out other flavours 😛 .) Now, I’m obsessed with these rice seasonings! My plain white rice now yearns for a sprinkle of furikake to make it more exciting! Plain rice will never be the same again!

Furikake

Furikake

McDonald’s

Every time we visit different countries, we have to visit a McDonald’s. It’s funny that when I’m at home, I don’t even crave for McDonald’s. But when I’m abroad I think about it more. Maybe it’s because we’re out all the time and McDonald’s is everywhere. I love discovering specialty items that are available only at the local McDonald’s at a particular place or country.

Local Deluxe Breakfast – Eggs, Portuguese Sausage, Spam, of course, and Rice. Even when I had McDonald’s in Hong Kong and China, they didn’t serve rice for breakfast!

McDonald's Local Hawaiian Deluxe Breakfast

McDonald’s Local Hawaiian Deluxe Breakfast

Taro Pie – Your typical McDonald’s pie but with taro inside. Very interesting and delicious!

McDonald's Taro Pie

McDonald’s Taro Pie

My oldest son was the one who saw the Hawaiian Food Dictionary at the ABC store. He is so sweet and knows how much I love food and cooking. So he insisted that I buy the book for myself 🙂 . These ABC stores are everywhere. Don’t forget to save the receipts! You can claim prizes if you spend over $100 at any island on Hawaii.

Hawaii's Food Dictionary

Hawaii’s Food Dictionary

I would have bought more food items from Hawaii. But our luggage was full and it went over our 50 pound limit (I had to transfer some of my loot to my daughter’s portable crib bag 😛 )! Alas, this is the last post from my Hawaiian Food Trip. Our family had a really fun time exploring the islands and tasting all the Memorable Dishes. To quote the lady from the luau when the show was about to end, “Aloha is not a real goodbye because I know you will return…” Yes! I will return! Aloha for now!Aloha

Hawaiian Food Trip: Maui: Part 3

Crab BLT

On our last day in Maui, we had to check out of our condo at 11:00 AM. However, our flight didn’t leave until 11:00 PM. So we had to hang out ALL day, hence we called the last day of our trip, “Hobo Day”. After eating all the leftovers as breakfast in the condo, we headed out for some fun.

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary

I found Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary really close to where we stayed to kill some time. It’s free and the kids got to learn about humpback whales. The volunteers at the sanctuary were very helpful in answering any questions we had. There’s also a small play area for the kids and they spent at least a good half hour playing there.

Nalu’s South Shore Grill

Nalu’s South Shore Grill was also very close to where we stayed. Read good reviews about the place and decided to check it out. It was packed during lunch time because the food was so good! We almost didn’t get a table sitting our family of five together if it weren’t for a nice couple who gave us their table and moved to the high stools instead. We ordered at the counter and they brought us the food to our table. This casual joint is decorated nicely and has a lively vibe. Another thing I love about this place is that they have two huge self serve water dispensers full of flavoured water—cucumber mint and pineapple lemon. How refreshing!

Flavoured Water: Cucumber Mint & Pineapple Lemon

Flavoured Water: Cucumber Mint & Pineapple Lemon

CBLT – Crab cake sandwich with bacon, lettuce and tomatoes with a side order of chips. So flavourful!

Crab BLT

Crab BLT

Fried Chicken Waffle – Large pieces of seasoned chicken strips on top of a big fluffy waffle, top with bacon with the right amount of syrup.

Fried Chicken Waffle

Fried Chicken Waffle

Straight Up Burger – Comes with greens and chips. Straight to the tummies of the boys.

Straight Up Burger

Straight Up Burger

Next stop, Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice! When we got there, there was a huge line up. My husband almost didn’t want to line up. I said to him, “We have ALL day! We don’t get on the plane until 11:00 PM tonight so I think we can wait for 15-20 minutes!” It was well worth the wait. As their motto says, “All shave ice is not created equal.” Tis too true! We had some shaved ice at one of the tourist attractions in Honolulu and it wasn’t as good as Ululani’s. The ice texture is perfect and the syrup tastes like real fruits! The other place’s syrup was too sweet and tasted artificial. The kids got a large one to share and the adults did the same.

Ululani's Hawaiian Shave Ice

Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice

We could only eat so much food for the day. So we snuck back into our condo pool and swam for a bit before driving to Paia to walk around and have dinner. There are lots of cool shops at Paia but with our stroller, it was sometimes a bit tough since the shops are quite small. I heard that parking was tough but we lucked out and got a spot on the street because we got there around 4ish-5pm.

Café Mambo

As always, I found a few restaurants in the area to check out and we decided on Café Mambo. I’m so glad we did. I really loved the atmosphere there. We got to sit by the window bench and it was nice to absorb the ambiance. The staff at the restaurant was friendly and accommodating. Please note there is only one bathroom for men, and one for women and no change tables.

Pinchos Tapas Platter – Organic Maui Cattle Co. Steak, Grilled Chicken Breasts and Jumbo Shrimp. Served with Tortilla Chips, Curry Dip, Chipotle Salsa and Mixed Green Salad. The whole family went crazy over this platter—great for sharing. I have to say, the steak was so tender and delicious that I had to fight over it with my oldest son.

Pinchos Tapas Platter

Pinchos Tapas Platter

Island Fish of the Day Burger – I know. Another fish burger. I can’t get over it because they are so fresh and delicious in Hawaii. But this time, my husband ordered it.

Island Fish of the Day Burger

Island Fish of the Day Burger

Fish and Chips – Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Comes with tons of fries.

Fish and Chips

Fish and Chips

Jumbo Shrimp in Garlic Butter – So garlicky and delicious.

Jumbo Shrimp in Garlic Butter

Jumbo Shrimp in Garlic Butter

Paia Gelato

When you see a gelato place, you have to go to it even if you are super full from your main meal. So when we saw Paia Gelato, we were like zombies drawn to human flesh—must eat gelato. The place was busy which is a good sign because you know it’s always fresh. I’ve been to less busy gelato places and their gelatos weren’t really good. Even in Italy, home of gelato, I’ve had not so good gelatos because the locale didn’t have enough traffic.

Big Island Macadamia Nut Coffee Crunch – Of course I had to try the local flavour! Unless you’re eating gelato everyday comparing from place to place (like when we were in Italy), there’s really no bad gelato if you’re having a one-off. Plus if there’s a lot of people eating there, it’s a good sign because it means the gelato is always made fresh.

Big Island Macadamia Nut Coffee Crunch Gelato

Big Island Macadamia Nut Coffee Crunch Gelato

It’s not goodbye yet! I still have one more post to share from our Hawaiian adventures—Hawaii Food Trip: Food-venirs and Other Foods!

Hawaiian Food Trip: Maui: Part 1

Korean BBQ Beef Plate

We landed at Kahului Airport, Maui in the afternoon flying in from Honolulu. Our first day consisted of grocery shopping and getting ourselves organized for the next few days of adventure. My friends who had been here told me to pack lunches during our outings because the places we visited often didn’t have any restaurants or food nearby. The condo we rented had all the amenities including a cooler, beach towels, beach chairs, and boogie board. I still packed myself a foldable cooler bag just in case.

Haleakala National Park

In researching Haleakala National Park, I found many people recommend to come either for sunrise or sunset. But as we were traveling with small children we just headed out at a time which was convenient for us; after breakfast. We set our GPS to the Haleakala National Park Visitor Centre. I suggest researching as much as you can if you plan on doing some hiking.

It was a rainy and foggy day. My husband and I didn’t think it was scary driving up the narrow winding road but that’s because we couldn’t see down. When we paid for parking, the lady at the gate said, “Don’t worry, it’s sunny up there.” I thought to myself, “How did she know?” Duh, if you’re above the clouds, of course it’s sunny. It was a beautiful sight once we got up there. I kicked myself for not dressing a little warmer. Even with our spring jackets, it wasn’t enough. I saw people with winter jackets! I couldn’t have stayed long anyways because I got altitude sickness. On the drive down, I felt so tired that I fell asleep. Luckily, my husband didn’t get sick and drove on. Our tire pressure indicator lit up as we were driving down. I did a quick search on my phone and realized that it was normal for the tire pressure to go down when driving up high altitudes.

Haleakala National Park

Haleakala National Park

Glass Bottom Boat Tour

We originally wanted to do a submarine tour with the kids but you have to be at least 36 inches tall and our toddler girl was 2 inches too short. I found another tour in one of the guidebooks I picked up at the airport. Also, if you stroll on the main streets in Lahaina, you can find different tours there too. We found a glass bottom boat company called Reef Dancer and it was even better. I know it would be cool to be in a submarine but the prices are so much cheaper taking the glass bottom boat. The service was friendly and helpful and we even got snacks and drinks while on the boat!

Glass Bottom Boat Tour

Glass Bottom Boat Tour

Lahaina Luna Cafe

Since we were in Lahaina for the glass bottom boat tour, I researched a few places to eat beforehand. We decided to come to Lahaina Luna Cafe because it was a perfect day to sit at this outdoor cafe. Around this stationary food truck there was also a shaved ice place and a few vendors selling trinkets and souvenirs. There were a few tables near the food area and also more seating at the back. The clean bathroom at the back was a bonus. The food was fresh and delicious and it was great sitting outside at this casual outdoor cafe.

Korean BBQ Beef Plate – Beef was tender and delicious. Of course it comes with macaroni and rice because that’s how the Hawaiians do their plate lunch.

Korean BBQ Beef Plate

Korean BBQ Beef Plate

Chicken Katsu Plate – Crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. You can never go wrong with katsu.

Chicken Katsu Plate

Chicken Katsu Plate

Chicken Bites with Sweet Chilli Sauce – Crunchy chicken nuggets—who wouldn’t love it? I asked them to put the sweet chili sauce on the side in case the kids found it too spicy. Surprisingly, the kids liked them with the sauce too.

Chicken Bites with Sweet Chilli Sauce

Chicken Bites with Sweet Chilli Sauce

Crazy Fries – Topped with spicy kochu aioli (have no idea what kochu is but very delicious) sprinkled with furikake. The kids went crazy over the crazy fries.

Crazy Fries

Crazy Fries

Taco Combo (1 mahi mahi and 1 Korean beef) – I love the mango salsa with the mahi mahi and the Korean beef was the same as the Korean BBQ Beef Plate.

Taco Combo (Mahi Mahi & Korean Beef)

Taco Combo (Mahi Mahi & Korean Beef)

Kale & Brussel Sprouts Salad – OMG! The salad was the best! The dressing was amazing and I can’t believe I’m saying that about kale and brussel sprouts 😛 .

Kale & Brussel Sprouts Salad

Kale & Brussel Sprouts Salad

Stay tuned for Hawaiian Food Trip: Maui: Part 2 in my next post!

Hawaiian Food Trip: Oahu: Part 3

Jidori Chicken Enchilada

Our plan for the last day in Oahu was to visit Sea Life Park. Since we couldn’t spend the whole day there, we headed to Halona Blowhole Lookout first. It was super busy when we arrived but luckily we managed to find a parking spot. After we finished admiring the view, tons of tour buses blocked us in and we had to wait a bit before driving out of the lot. I wasn’t sure what to look for because I didn’t see any major water sprouting out of the blowholes. Another lady who was visiting asked me if I had seen any. We both concurred there wasn’t much action going on with these blowholes that day.

We planned to head to a beach before Sea Life Park and we could’ve gone to Sandy Beach Park right next to the blowhole. However, after reading reviews and seeing how high the waves were, I decided not to because I have young kids. But it’s plenty of fun for experienced surfers and people who love watching the waves. Of course, I planned ahead and found a beach nearby, closer to the Sea Life Park, called Waimanalo Beach. We spent the morning at the beach and I packed sandwiches for our beach picnic lunch. Sometimes, you’ll see garlic shrimp trucks around the beach areas. In our case, I didn’t see any. So it’s best to pack lunches ahead of time, especially if travelling with kids.

Halona Blowhole Lookout & Sandy Beach Park

Halona Blowhole Lookout & Sandy Beach Park

Tip: If you have small children, I suggest you research a few beaches in the areas you are planning to visit. We love to spontaneously visit beaches during our travels. But it’s a good idea to check out what types of beaches you are heading to because some may be too wavy or others might have too much coral or lava rock. Also, don’t take any lava rock or sand off the island as it’s considered bad luck.

Sea Life Park Hawaii

We left the beach and arrived at the Sea Life Park later in the afternoon. There were lots of shows to watch. Again the staff at the information counter was very informative and marked down all the shows that were available to see. Besides watching shows, there were lots of areas to explore such as the Aloha Touch Pool and Sea Bird Sanctuary where you have close encounters with the animals. With our Go Oahu® 4-day Card, we booked a Dolphin Encounter package for our family. There are also other sea animal experiences you can pay extra for if you wish.

Sea Life Park Hawaii

Sea Life Park Hawaii

Búho Cocina y Cantina

Our last dinner in Oahu. My Canadian friend who is living in Honolulu with her family at the moment recommended us to check out this Mexican restaurant called Búho Cocina y Cantina near Waikiki. On Friday nights, you are able to see the fireworks outside if you book a table at the rooftop patio. So that’s exactly what we did. We happened to go on a “Cinco de Búho” night, where every fifth of the month they have live music, interactive food stations and drink specials. We had no idea it was a special night and it might’ve been more appropriate if we didn’t bring the kids. However, the wait staff was extremely friendly and accommodating. With three kids in tow, we got to experience a little bit of the nightlife in Honolulu. I ordered the Ginger Lilikoi Margarita to start off my night. It was interesting but delicious. The restaurant usually doesn’t blend their margaritas but I like my blended. I have to say everything was very delicious and the prices are not bad for the location and ambience. Tip: Enter through the elevators next to Victoria’s Secret.

Búho Menu and Ginger Lilikoi Margarita

Búho Menu and Ginger Lilikoi Margarita

Homemade Guacamole & Chips – A bit spicy which I love and my toddler girl kept eating it. She must’ve been hungry!

Homemade Guacamole & Chips

Homemade Guacamole & Chips

Jidori Chicken Enchilada – Never heard of the term Jidori Chicken before and did a quick online research and found out it’s like Kobe beef—basically fancy chicken. Read more about it here.

Jidori Chicken Enchilada

Jidori Chicken Enchilada

Jidori Chicken & Rajas Quesadilla and Kauai Shrimp Quesadilla – Ordered these for the kids to share. You can never go wrong ordering quesadillas for kids in Mexican restaurants.

Jidori Chicken & Rajas Quesadilla and Kauai Shrimp Quesadilla

Jidori Chicken & Rajas Quesadilla and Kauai Shrimp Quesadilla

Smoked Brisket Tacos – The waitress recommended this dish. The flavours of the brisket, cabbage slaw, avocados and jalepenos work amazing together.

Smoked Brisket Tacos

Smoked Brisket Tacos

We ended the night by walking around the streets near the restaurant. Walking around there reminds me of spending my evenings at Asian countries I visited such as Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo and Kyoto. The streets are filled with Western and Asian restaurants and there are so many people walking around at night time. We also really enjoyed watching the street performers in the area. It was a perfect night—tasting Memorable Dishes and walking around on the lively streets in Honolulu. Our next stop—Hawaiian Food Trip: Maui!

Hawaiian Food Trip: Oahu: Part 2

Chicken Katsu Curry Saimin

Here we continue our Hawaiian food journey in Oahu from my previous post—Hawaiian Food Trip: Oahu: Part 1 (Pearl Harbor). The major plan for this day was to visit the Polynesian Cultural Center. However it didn’t open until 12:00 pm. So we decided to check out the Dole Plantation which was on our way to the Polynesian Center.

Dole Plantation

The grounds of the Dole plantation is free to visit but if you want to do different activities, you have to pay extra. When entering the premises you pretty much have to go through their giant store (Very sneaky to get you to buy stuff! I fell for it and bought some souvenirs and a lei apron 🙂 . Even if you don’t end up paying for the extra activities, the grounds are very nice for kids to run around in. We took a ride on the Pineapple Express train (Nothing to do with the movie—this is a family place after all!) and went through the World’s Largest Maze. From an aerial view, the middle of the maze is the shape of a pineapple—which I thought was pretty cool. They make the maze fun by having secret stations for people to hunt for. One thing to note is that the maze isn’t stroller friendly because it’s narrow and paved with gravel. After the maze, we rewarded ourselves to some Dole Whip (pineapple soft serve). They’re famous for this refreshing treat so it’s a must-try.

Dole Whip, Dole Whip Sundae, Dole Plantation Grounds

Dole Whip, Dole Whip Sundae, Dole Plantation Grounds

Zippy’s

Almost lunch time! I pre-found a restaurant that was a short drive from the Dole Plantation and also didn’t stray too far from our way to the Polynesian Cultural Center. When we got there, the place was permanently closed! Yikes! I saw some restaurant nearby that looked interesting so we walked there instead. However, there were no bathrooms that we were allowed to use and no high chairs. I’m usually OK with no high chairs because we make do when travelling but I really needed to use the washroom! So I did a quick Yelp check and yippee, we found Zippy’s! Of course, we’d never heard of this chain restaurant before because it’s only found in Hawaii. I wanted to order everything on the menu because I’ve never seen anything like it. You could order a beef stroganoff and a Korean chicken all at the same place! It’s like an American-Asian diner!

Zippy's Menu

Zippy’s Menu

Chicken Katsu Curry Saimin – I’ve never heard of saimin before and I believe it’s a Hawaiian term. Tastes good and I wish they put the katsu on the side so it wouldn’t get soggy. The broth has a hint of curry taste but not very strong. Soup noodles are always very satisfying!

Chicken Katsu Curry Saimin

Chicken Katsu Curry Saimin

Minced Pork and Tofu Rice – Almost like Mapo Tofu but the sauce is not as spicy and almost has a chili-like consistency. (It’s like the chili you get when you order chili dogs.) The kids ate it all up because I’m sure it reminded them of the foods I made at home.

Minced Pork and Tofu Rice

Minced Pork and Tofu Rice

Loco Moco – Of course we had to try this famous Hawaiian dish! It’s rice topped with beef hamburger and fried egg with gravy on top.

Loco Moco

Loco Moco

Fried Wuntun (We usually spell it like “Wonton”.) – It came with a dish of hot mustard and my husband just dipped it and complained that it was too spicy. The waiter told us to add soy sauce and mix it. I guess he couldn’t tell we weren’t locals 😛 .

Fried Wuntun

Fried Wuntun

Polynesian Cultural Center

After lunch, we continued our journey and finally arrived at the Polynesian Cultural Center. We got there later than expected and by the time we parked and got to the ticket booth, it was around 3:00 pm. The village grounds were open from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm. If you end up staying for the luau and evening show, that part of the center stays open until the show ends.

If you’re short on time, go to the information booth and ask them to highlight all the village shows and places to check out. We were lucky we were talking to a couple who was also short on time. The information booth staff wrote all the times and shows for them to check out the different villages. So we followed their itinerary and checked out a few shows from their list. Otherwise, we would’ve missed the shows and wandered around aimlessly not knowing where to go.

Polynesian Cultural Center Map

Polynesian Cultural Center Map

The kids, my husband and I really enjoyed the live shows and exploring different areas of the villages. The boys even got inspired by their environment and started to pretend they were villagers roaming around the land. Since we got there late, by the time we were done watching the different shows, everyone was gone. No one came to kick us out—I wonder if we could’ve roamed around the village area a little longer? But we decided to head back to the front gate before the actors/villagers came rounding us up. We ended our visit with a short film called “Hawaiian Journey” at their theatre. This is something you could do last if you end up coming late because I believe the last show starts at 6:00 or 6:30 pm. You could explore the rest of the village first before catching the film.

Tita’s Grill

Tita's Grill Sign

Tita’s Grill Sign

By the time the movie ended, the kids were starving. We didn’t book the luau and evening show because we already pre-booked a luau in Maui. The reviews of the restaurant on the premise looked promising so we were planning to check it out. But instead we got sidetracked when we saw a couple of food trucks near the front entrance. I beelined to the Tita’s Grill food truck after seeing the yummy foods people were eating at the nearby tables. I believe they have another more permanent location north-west of the Polynesian Cultural Center (about a 10 minute drive away). I ordered the garlic shrimp and kalbi (Korean beef ribs) plate for myself. My husband ordered the Tita’s burger. I ordered the fish burger for my toddler girl and the boys had the regular hamburgers and fries (the boys ate their burgers before I had a chance to take photos.)

Garlic Shrimp and Kalbi Plate – The most delicious garlic shrimp ever! I like that the shrimp comes in the shell because I find it more flavourful. The kalbi was tender and delicious. It also comes with rice and macaroni salad (standard Hawaiian plate). I’m usually not too crazy about macaroni salad but it’s super tasty and I couldn’t stop eating it.

Garlic Shrimp and Kalbi Plate

Garlic Shrimp and Kalbi Plate

Tita’s Burger – It’s essentially a banquet burger. By the look on my husband’s face and the speed he was eating it, I assumed it was mighty tasty.

Tita's Burger

Tita’s Burger

Fish Burger – This was shared amongst us because, of course, my toddler girl couldn’t finish the whole thing. I found the toasted buttered bread too oily. However, I really liked the fish. It was lightly breaded so you get a good chunk of fish. My girl loved it and asked for more. I limited the amount of buttered bread I gave her afraid that she might get a tummy ache.

Fish Burger

Fish Burger

I hope I whet your appetite with all these delicious Memorable Dishes from Hawaii so far! Stay tuned for Hawaiian Food Trip: Oahu: Part 3 where we continue our culinary journey on our last day in Oahu.

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