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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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 😛 .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.