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Oahu 2015 – Day 7: Banan, Ethel’s Grill, Na Ho’ola Spa, Nakamura Ramen and an extra day in Paradise!

This morning we woke up a little sad because it was the last (official) day of our trip – where had the time gone? We still had a full day ahead of us since our flight left in the evening, and so wanted to make the most of it. We spent a leisurely morning in the condo, got everything together and loaded up the car with our luggage, returned the parking pass to the condo, and headed out.

We drove on Monsarrat Ave towards the Banan food truck where we stopped for a light breakfast/snack. Banan is a truck that serves ice-cold whipped bananas – kinda like a banana soft-serve. Some are flavored with acai, or turmeric, and some are plain. They are served in bowls and if you get a deluxe bowl they are served in a papaya! There are different toppings like fruit/granola etc. They were very generous with samples and you could try all the different flavors. We got an acai banana bowl and it came with a bunch of fruit on top. There are cute areas where you can sit next to the truck. We settled on a table with chairs and their brought our Banan bowl to us. It was quite good, with the bananas adding a nice creamy texture to the acai. I’ll come back and try the other flavors. The green one that had spirulina blended in it was pretty good too!

The Banan Food Truck on Monsarrat Ave. I heard rumors of a brick and mortar store coming soon!

Nice seating areas near the food truck. it’s in it’s own lot which is nice.

Our acai-banana bowl

After our breakfast bite, we headed over to Costco to refill our gas and get some last minute gifts for people back home – mac nuts, chocolate, etc. We then headed to Kalihi to eat at a place I had wanted to try for a long time – Ethel’s Grill. An extremely popular hole-in-the-wall type joint mostly frequented by locals (and visiting foodies). The parking is pretty scarce there but there is a very small lot that you can park in. We went right before the lunchtime crowd and managed to get a spot. The place is quite small and it was packed. We got one of the last remaining tables for two. I definitely wanted to try the famous tuna tataki so we got that as an appetizer. For an entrée I tried an Okinawan-American specialty: Taco rice. Steve got a fried fish katsu done in an okonomiyaki style. I think the fish was either wahoo or aku. Prices were extremely reasonable and portions are huge!

Interior of Ethel’s Grill

All entrees come with your choice of fruit punch or ice tea, and a salad.

The famous tuna tataki. Lightly seared fresh tuna on a bed of bean sprouts with a light soy dressing. Delicious!

The tuna tataki was excellent. The fresh tuna is very lightly seared, served sliced in a bed of bean sprouts and topped with crisp fried garlic chips. It’s doused with a light soy-ginger-garlic sauce. It was great and everything that I expected it to be. I was so happy to try this dish. It was very inexpensive too, I think 8 bucks or so.

My taco rice was a bed of rice topped with taco beef, tomatoes, lettuce and a fried egg. It’s like a cross between a loco moco and a burrito without the tortilla. It was actually pretty fun to eat but the portions were huge so I could only eat half.

The very fun to eat Taco Rice. I may just recreate this at home!

Steve’s fish dish was yummy too as the fish was crunchy and the portions large. Sadly I am missing a picture of his entree, probably too busy enjoying mine. I think it mostly resembled a large fried katsu topped with tonkatsu sauce, seaweed, kewpie mayo and bonito flakes. I would definitely return to Ethel’s as it’s a local institution with great food at reasonable prices. It would have to be its own destination as Kalihi is not really on the way to anything, but Kalihi has such a strong local food culture that I want to explore it further on our next trip.

Soon it was time for our afternoon of pampering…at the Na Ho’ola Spa in the Hyatt Regency. I had a couple of Hyatt gift cards that were begging to be used so we booked a couples massage that afternoon before our flight buy lamisil australia back home. I love treating myself to a massage or facial right before we hop on plane so I can hold on to the vacation feeling a little while longer. 🙂

Na Ho’ola Spa at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki

Locker room at Na Ho’ola Spa

Locker room amenities at Na Ho’ola Spa

The Na Hoola is a lovely spa – very serene and luxe. Our massages were amazing. One of the best I’ve had! We relaxed in the lounge area with a view of the pool and Waikiki Beach and we used the saunas for a while before we got ready to leave. I was so sad to leave Hawaii – I just wish we could spend another day here.

Relaxation room before our couples massage with a view of Waikiki Beach

It was like my prayers were answered…as we were paying for our spa treatments, I realized I got an alert on my phone from United Airlines that our flight that evening back to New Jersey was delayed…

…by 17 hours!!

Flight delay means an extra night in Hawaii!

That meant our flight was to leave the next day at 4pm. Normally a delay like this would drive me into a panic, but we were in Hawaii, and I had more important things to do! All in all Valium ( is doing very well, he was always working and was not without a drive or similar. He is quite relaxed. He should take the drug for another 1.5 months and then hopes to no longer need it. A colleague takes it too, she has significantly more side effects, I think everyone has to test it. Best regards. After a quick call to United, it was confirmed that our flight was indeed delayed but it was not due to mechanical or plane issues, it was due to weather/acts of God so that meant we would not be getting compensated for anything. I knew we would have to spend another night in Hawaii but where…I checked rates for the night in Waikiki and everything was bordering on 300-400 dollars even for mediocre hotels. I did not want to pay that much but I would have if there was no other option. I then realized I had a number of points in my IHG (Intercontinental) account so I checked to see if we could book a night at the Holiday Inn Beachcomber which was just down Kalakaua Ave. They had availability so I booked a standard room. Another night in Hawaii…for free, I’ve never been happier about a flight delay before!

As we were leaving the Hyatt (remember to get your parking validated at the spa) we realized they had a farmer’s market in the lobby. They were selling fresh tropical fruit so we got some lychees to eat on the beach. Yes we were going to the beach again!

We went back to the car and drove the short distance to the Holiday Inn. We have never stayed here before but the location is fantastic, in the heart of Waikiki very close to the Royal Hawaiian. We checked in and they had upgraded us to a partial ocean view. The room was pretty basic but it was perfectly fine for one night. We headed out to spend a relaxing evening at Waikiki Beach. We sat and ate our fruit really thankful that everything worked out and that we were able to extend our trip just a little while longer. We caught beautiful red skies during sunset – it was wonderful!

Waikiki beach right before sunset!

An extra night on the beach!

I couldn’t be happier about a flight delay! I guess I wasn’t ready to leave yet.

View of the other end of the beach

We spent the night walking around Waikiki. We went to an old favorite for dinner, Ramen Nakamura, which is very close to the Beachwalk. It’s just counter space on a large U-shaped counter. I ordered my favorite oxtail ramen and Steve got a spicy ramen. Both were really good and hit the spot for a laid-back dinner after an evening at the beach. It was a glorious night!


Oxtail ramen at Ramen Nakamura in Waikiki. Yum!

Spicy ramen at Ramn Nakamura

We continued to stroll back to our hotel and enjoyed the late night sights of Waikiki. It reminds us of New York City, the city that never sleeps, except with a beautiful beach off to the side and a fun tropical vibe. I’ll never get tired of Oahu! There’s just so much energy! We spent our bonus night at the Holiday Inn – we really liked the location as it was so convenient! Coming up, how we spent our bonus morning on Oahu before we (finally) fly back home!
Read more about our November 2015 Oahu vacation!

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February 25, 2016 - 7:51 pm

Julia Z. Tsai - I always secretly wish a delay would happen!

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