Day 3: Tantalus, Pineapples and Fireworks,
We woke up – and surprise surprise, I felt 10x better. Hubs was still a bit sick, but not as bad as he was before. Woohoo the medicine cocktail worked! We stopped at Starbucks so I could get an iced coffee – did you know you can order any coffee “Thai Style” and it basically means they add condensed milk to your drink – so that’s what I did. Oops, forgot about the calories in condensed milk but what the heck, I’m on vacation anyways…
Today’s plan was to take a leisurely drive at Round Top and Tantalus Drives, enjoy the view at the top, and then head to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (aka Punch Bowl) on the way back down. Then we would enjoy brunch at Alan Wong’s Pineapple Room. Yum. But first, in order to get some fuel for the drive, we walked a few blocks over to Iyasume Musubi, which is a small little take out place in a hidden alley off of Koa Ave in Waikiki. We initially thought there was one closer and a yelp search resulted in us walking into the lobby of another hotel which just happens to serve musubi for breakfast – but we were mistaken so we went to the other address listed, which was the correct one. There were quite a few Japanese tourists there and it seemed like one of those hidden gem places, which the musubi are made fresh throughout the day (they close at 3 pm I think). I just got a spam and egg musubi, and another rice ball for later, hubs got a mini miso soup and a curry rice. There are only a few very small tables there so most of the business is take-out. However, we managed to get a table for two so we ate there. The musubi are pretty good since they were made fresh. My spam was on the well-done side (which is how I prefer it anyways), and prices are cheap. They had many different musubi which you can order and they are packaged in plastic wrap so keep well throughout the day.
We walked back to the condo and picked up the hulk/jeep and made our way towards Round Top drive. It didn’t take much time to get to the base of the drive, and pretty soon we were on the winding route up to the top of Mount Tantalus. It’s pretty windy but not crazy, nothing like Haleakala or Road to Hana. It’s very peaceful and the views got better and better the higher you got. There are plenty of houses up there too. Some of them had the steepest driveways ever, I wondered how difficult it was to get in and out. After stopping at a few lookouts for some pictures, we parked at Puu Ualakaa Park for some of the best views of Honolulu. It was quite amazing, and we could see Punch Bowl, Diamond Head, Waikiki and the rest of Honolulu.
Round Top drive soon turns into Tantalus drive as you make you way down. Click here for a short guide as to what you can expect with this drive.
On the way down, the road leads past Punch Bowl so we stopped there to view the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. It was our first time here. It was quite interesting and I recommend visiting. In fact, I highly recommend this drive in general. First of all, it’s free, it doesn’t take that much time unless you want to stop and have a picnic at the park and then visit Punch Bowl, and the views are amazing! If you stop at Punch Bowl, it doesn’t require strenuous walking either. I’m all for easy and free!
We spent about an hour at the memorial before we headed back down towards Ala Moana. The Pineapple Room is located in the Macy’s dept store on the top floor. This was our first time here, as we usually frequent the more expensive and fancier Alan Wong’s over on S. King buy lamisil generic Street. Since we wanted to try new restaurants on this trip, we settled for Pineapple Room because we knew we enjoy his food. We checked in and were seated quickly. I ordered a plantation iced tea that tasted like a pineapple-infused iced tea – very refreshing and sweet.
We started off with a watermelon and tomato salad with a li hing dressing. The dressing was delicious! I never knew what li hing vinaigrette would be like, but it’s good. I do however enjoy li hing powder on my fruit. The watermelon and tomatoes were so juicy, I am not a huge fan of raw tomatoes and even I ate them because they were sweet, and they came in both the yellow and red variety. I ordered the Pineapple Room’s locomoco which had a fresh island beef patty served over fried rice and topped with 2 over easy eggs and doused with a light brown gravy. The husband ordered the Pineapple Room burger – it had avocado and a battered onion ring in it. Both were tasty and filling. We definitely had to take leftovers back with us.
We walked around the mall a bit, did a little bit of shopping – and then went back to the condo to change and headed back to Waikiki beach. There was a Honolulu festival parade going on so we got to enjoy a bit of it. It’s funny because I don’t plan my vacation around festivals and events, but as luck would have it, it kind of just happens. In 2010, we went to the Big Island the week of the Kona Coffee festival, and last year, we were in Oahu for the King Kamehameha day festivities. This Honolulu festival was pretty cool because there would be fireworks on the beach, viewable from almost any spot on Waikiki. We were definitely checking this out tonight.
After sun time, we went back to the condo and rested up for the evening – so we could be awake at 8:30pm for the fireworks. I wanted to check out a few places for dinner that evening – specifically Japanese Italian food, so I called up Arancino at Beachwalk to see if they had any spots open. They did not but mentioned that they do take walk-ins. They were also open late which means we’d be able to eat there after the fireworks. We both weren’t hungry at that point because of our huge lunch! We decided to take a chance and go there post-fireworks. We made our way down to the area of beach in front of the Outrigger Beachwalk. I do like that hotel, it’s very Hawaiian – and the people are so friendly. They did however stop us this time to try and pitch us their Wyndham timeshare. We politely declined then proceeded to have a nice chat with the fellow who thought we were locals (then why try to sell us a timeshare!?!)
15 minutes before the fireworks and the beach was packed. We managed to get a good vantage point by the Shorebird bar and grill. The fireworks were great, a nice treat! Would be better if they had piped in some music, but hey, this isn’t Disney World..
They were over in about 20 minutes so we headed out to Arancino which was only a few blocks away. Luckily they were not crowded at that point so we were able to be seated immediately. The reason I wanted to come here was to try the uni pasta – titled “spaghetti ai ricci di mare”. Hubs got the “spaghetti al nero di seppie” a squid ink pasta with garlicky squid. They brought us some hot focaccia to start – nice. Our entrees came after, piping hot and perfectly al dente. The uni pasta was great, very subtle uni flavor, with undertones of garlic and white wime. There were some chunks of uni on top which I appreciated. Hubs dish was equally as tasty. Their other items sound great too, and we saw other people ordering the pizza and that looked good as well. I’d return.
By the end of the night, it was way beyond our bedtime so we made the long stroll back to the condo. It actually wasn’t very long but considering it was the equivalent of 3 am for us…it felt like forever.