Day 6: Crabby avocados, a buggy hike, and a groupon gone bad
Today we woke up to yet another bright and sunny day. Wow, we were really lucky with the weather on this trip. No rain in sight yet (knock on wood). It was going to prove hard to leave Hawaii when we had to. But we had another mini-trip to look forward to the next day: our 3 days on the North Shore! That’s why I kinda like doing a split stay – it gives us something else to look forward to towards the end of our trip instead of just dreading the end of vacation. We decided that we’d continue being “active” and hike Diamond Head again. Our first trip together back in 2003, before we were married or even engaged, we took a trip to Oahu and climbed Diamond Head for the first time. We enjoyed it so back up we go! First stop though….needed to fuel up with a hearty breakfast…and we selected Bogart’s because it was near Diamond Head. Now this place gets mixed reviews. First off, it’s one of those order-at-the-counter-and-find-your-seat places, where there is no table service. Plus, the place seems always packed so there are times when it’s hard to find a seat at all, especially for groups. But the food always gets rave reviews we took everyone’s advice and went early. When we arrived there was a short line at the counter and the tables were slowly filling up. We looked at the menu, decided what to eat, and then I went to grab one of the few available table while Steve stayed in line to order. We decided to split orders of the garlic shrimp fried rice, and the avocado and crab omelet. An iced coffee (thai-style for me!) and regular coffee rounded out our breakfast. After ordering you wait for your coffee drinks which you can then take with you. It’s cute how if you’re dining in, they serve their drinks in large cartoon-y mugs. My mug had a Star Wars theme, and hubs had the Batman symbol.
Our name was called in about 15 minutes and hubs went to go pick up our food. The fried rice was great. It was very simple, with the only ingredients being rice, shrimp, eggs, garlic, salt and a smattering of fresh spinach leaves. It was really quite delicious, and the shrimp were really plump and tender and perfectly cooked. The omelet was really good too. The eggs were so light and fluffy, and in true omelet perfection didn’t have an ounce of brown on it, no charred edges at all. The inside of the omelet had a creamy crab concoction topped with slices of the ripe buttery avocado. More Hawaiian AVOCADO!! YUM.
Never thought I’d like my avocado warm, but it worked. I would return and get both entrees! Unfortunately, as we were leaving, we could see how there were a few negative reviews for this place because some people got extremely catty about finding and reserving tables for their parties. It seemed to make breakfast an unpleasant experience for some and an added hassle. However, it can a good experience for the most part if you are prepared to wait. Or perhaps get take out and eat it outside. I have to try one of their famous acai bowls one day too. Cash Only. I didn’t finish my coffee so I took it with me in a to-go cup which they kindly provided. We drove into Diamond Head and after a quick stop at the bathroom we started on the hike up. I am not much of a hiker and I have a bad right knee, although I did scale most of Koko Head last year, so this wasn’t so bad in comparison. I was probably the only fool climbing up with an iced coffee in one hand though. But hey, I think everyone else was jealous.
Views were amazing, and as we got close to the top, I decided to take the long scenic way up instead of climbing the claustrophobic staircase to the summit which the hubs chose. That may not have been the best idea because everyone who walked the long way were attacked by these crazy silver bugs. They were everywhere! Not a huge swarm or anything – but everyone seemed to have a few of them scattered on their bodies. I think I got bit by one, but it wasn’t bothering me like a traditional mosquito bite would. They seemed harmless but just annoying. I know I probably had a handful of them on my back too so when I met up with my husband at the summit we spent a good deal of time just swatting each other. This would probably have been a strange sight on a regular day but everyone else seemed to be doing it too. Since the bugs would just come back no matter what we did, we just took our requisite summit pictures and then headed back down. I didn’t bother with the tiny tunnel staircase since there were more people climbing up, so just took the longer way down again and walked a little quicker. About half way down, the bugs seemed to be gone, so no more swatting. I guess the people climbing up must have thought we were affectionately play–fighting each other…but little did they know, they would be doing it too…hahaha.
After our hike, the hubs dropped me off at the condo while he went to get his hair cut. His hair grows very quickly and he likes it short otherwise he gets annoyed. When he’s in town, he always goes to Aloha Barber in Kaimuki. He likes them, they are friendly, do a good job, quick, and most of all, cheap! After shower and changing, we decided to go to Ala Moana to grab a quick bite. I had wanted to go to Yuzu, which is located in the Ala Moana hotel, but upon entering, we realized their sushi bar was only open at dinner. They specialize in ball-shaped sushi, which I thought was really cute, so I wanted to try it but unfortunately we’ll have to dine there another time.
We walked back through the Ala Moana mall for a stroll and decided to grab a bite at Shirokiya, where they have a wonderful Japanese food court – with countless options including bento, ramen, sushi, musubi, katsu, local eats, and more. I can never decide what to eat here because there are too many choices and I feel like a kid in a candy store – I want to eat everything! Since I was more in a sushi mood though, I selected a set from the sushi place – a bowl of uni over purchase propecia rice and a bowl of ikura over rice served on a tray with Japanese pickles and miso soup.
Hubs decided on a unique item – Kimukatsu. Katsu is Japanese fried pork or chicken cutlets. They have a layer of panko breadcrumb and are fried to a golden crisp. Kimukatsu is slightly different in that instead of using thick cuts of meat, they use “layers” of thinly sliced pork wrapped around each other to form a cutlet, then the whole thing is breaded and deep fried. It’s a pretty new concept in Honolulu although hails from Japan where it’s popular. I was surprised Shirokiya had an outpost of this as I thought they only had a restaurant in Waikiki. We got the pork kimukatsu “curry style”, which is served over rice and has a delicious rich Japanese curry sauce all over. The kimukatsu was very tender, as expected. It’s different than regular katsu for sure and I’m glad I tried it but part of me prefers the nice bite of a thicker chunk of meat rather than the thin slices. If you’re a fan of katsu or fried things in general, it’s worth a trip. (The actual restaurant is in the Aqua Waikiki Joy Hotel. Shirokiya just has a stall serving their katsu)
We walked around the mall a bit more before heading over to Ward so I could finish shopping. I went to the Crazy Shirts outlet which has great prices on their clothes which are discontinued or from previous seasons. If you’ve been to their store, they usually sell t shirts for more than 30 bucks, but here you can find them for 14 bucks, maybe a little more. And their pima cotton stuff is so soft and often sold at a premium. You can find them for 20 bucks here.
After Ward we drove over to Hilo Hattie’s so I could find some gifts. I always collect those shell necklaces that they give to you when you first enter. I save them for my friend’s kids and they love them. After some souvenir purchases for friends and family we headed to Costco to fill up on gas. Costco was nearby, and we definitely needed gas before our drive up to the North Shore. Costco has the cheapest gas on the island but it’s still far from the prices we pay on the east coast. Since we were near Kalihi, I wanted to check out a spot which I had wanted to go to for a while, the Hawaiian Chip company factory store. If you’ve seen those bags of taro chips at the ABC store – this is where they make them. They make fresh taro, sweet potato, and purple yam chips and you can get a fresh bag at their factory. We pull up into their storefront which is just a counter in front of their factory. The lady selling was super nice, and explained how we could get a bag of any of the chips, taro, sweet potato, etc or a combination. They fry them to order and give them to you in a large paper bag which you can then season with a variety of seasonings they have set out including spicy toragashi (Japanese red pepper powder), garlic, furikake (seasoned seaweed flakes), bbq seasoning, even cinnamon-sugar (I assume for the sweet potato) etc. Oooh how exciting, I couldn’t wait to make my own!
We ordered a bag of taro chips to go, and then got one of their large prepackaged chip bags to take home with us (this was my sister’s only request I bring back from the islands). In about 10 minutes we received a huge paper bag of taro chips waiting to be seasoned. They were hot and crispy so the seasonings would stick to them like glue. I used a combination of garlic and spicy toragashi and added a little at a time, shaking the bag to incorporate everything. Another fellow who bought a bag told me to add the furikake to the mix as it makes it super ono. So I did just that and wow…super ono indeed! This was one of the best un-touristy food-centric finds I’ve discovered on Oahu! Yum!! Each bag to go was about 12 dollars – but it is large (although it may not last!)
After munching away happily we realized we were scheduled for dinner that night at Indigo. Indigo is a fusion lounge-y restaurant located in Chinatown. It got some decent reviews on yelp and so when a Groupon became available for it, I thought it may be worth checking out. How wrong we were. Usually I have no issues with using Groupon, I do my research, and only buy Groupons for places I would normally go to anyways. It has always worked for us and we use them in New York City quite often. This is one of those times Groupon (and maybe even yelp) has let me down. We show up to pretty much an empty restaurant. I thought, well, it is a Wednesday night, so not really the most happening of nights to be out, but still. There were a few people at the lounge seats around the bar, but no one in the dining room. Except for us.
We placed our orders – I got a steamed monchong fish with ginger and served with jasmine rice, and the hubs got something called thousand-times spicy chicken. Yeah right. The interior was quite nicely decorated though, in an old world blend of Asian and early plantation year charm. Our food comes, and it is pretty dismal. Everything tastes bland, cold, and just, well, soggy. My jasmine rice was both gooey and undercooked (if that is even possible). My fish was ok – at least it tasted fresh, but it was lukewarm, and I bit into something that set my mouth on fire…it looked like some sort of Szechuan dried chili. My husband’s spicy chicken however, was NOT spicy in the least bit. It actually lacked any sort of flavor. I don’t know if there was a management or chef change but the earlier yelp reviews did not reflect what we had that night. It was just awful. 0 stars!! It was a good thing I had a bag of delicious taro chips waiting in the car because we couldn’t finish our dinners. Oh well. Our first disappointing meal in Hawaii! I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later. Our server was really super sweet though and I felt bad for her because she could do so much better! Sorry no pics…the restaurants was nice but dark, and I didn’t take pictures of the food because I was disappointed in it. (Update: the restaurant is now closed)
Not letting the meal bring us down, we returned to the condo where I devoured yet another yummy papaya. Good thing I bought these! We packed up as we were leaving Waikiki the next day – we were going to the North Shore!! Woot!! Day 7 here.
Read the rest of our Oahu Trip Report