Archive for the 'Oahu' Category

Poke Stop Thanksgiving

Monday, November 27th, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving you guys! Hope you all had a good weekend. Bev and I flew over to Oahu for Thanksgiving since most of our family lives there.

Our first meal was at my brother’s house, with a take-out meal prepared by Poke Stop at the Waipahu Town Center. At first, I was a bit disappointed because I love turkey and gravy, but Poke Stop changed my mind at the first bite.

Poke Stop Thanksgiving Instructions

For $75, serving 4-6 people (generous servings) you get:

  • Crab & Corn Chowder
  • Fresh Green Salad w/dressing
  • Fresh Ahi Poke
  • Dinner Rolls
  • Whole Tai Snapper w/black bean sauce
  • Pumpkin Cheesecake

The only preparation needed is to warm up the chowder and bake the snapper! A chef’s hotline # is even listed on the instructions for emergency.

Poke Stop Poke Poke Stop Crab & Corn Chowder Poke Stop Snapper Poke Stop Pumpkin Cheesecake Poke Stop Thanksgiving

Even with five of us, there were a lot of leftovers. Everything tasted so good and fresh. Poke was so fresh that it melts in the mouth. Snapper was tender and moist, with a tasty black bean sauce. Salad was fresh and crisp with a sweet vinaigrette dressing. Crab & Corn chowder was thick and tasty, with fresh crab. Pumpkin cheesecake was fluffy and soooo rich… a small slice is all you need. Even with the rich cheesecake, this has got to be the most healthy Thanksgiving meal I’ve ever had… and a very tasty one!

For a different twist of the traditional Thanksgiving meal, be sure to check out Poke Stop in the Waipahu Town Center!

Also, be sure to check out Reid’s ( Poke Stop visit.

Poke Stop
Waipahu Town Center
94-050 Farrington Highway Space E-4
Waipahu, Hawaii 96797
Telephone: 808.676.8100

Elena’s Filipino Restaurant

Thursday, December 15th, 2005

in Waipahu, Oahu

Elena’s Front

Being born and raised in Waipahu, my family ate here all the time ever since I can remember. It just feels like home everytime I eat here. No wonder I always try to visit here when I fly to Oahu. :D Unfortunately, they moved to a different location in Waipahu recently, but the food and atmosphere here is still the same and very homestyle.

A family enjoying breakfast Ordering

When I was little, I don’t recall many Filipino restaurants around, but now there are many other Filipino restaurants sprouting up in Waiphu and other places (i.e. Golden Coin). But as far as I’m concerned, Elena’s is the best!

My two favorites here are the Sari-Sari (a tasty vegetable & pork soup) and the Kare-Kare (a peanut buttery oxtail soup).

Here’s the Sari-Sari.

Sari-Sari Sari-Sari close-up

Mixed vegetables, egg plant, squash, ongchoi, and very crispy lechon (pork skin). I love having this for breakfast! The hot soup is very rich with a strong fish and pork flavor, the vegetables are nice and fresh, and the crispy lechon is scrumptious.

Here’s the Kare-Kare.

Kare Kare Bagaoong

This is like an oxtail & vegetable stew but with peanut butter. This might sound weird to some at first, but the peanut butter really thickens the stew up and balances out the flavor. The oxtails are fall-off-da-bone soft and the vegetables soak up a lot of flavor. The salty Bagaoong is a perfect compliment to this slightly sweet dish.

Pork, three ways!

Filipinos love pork. Here is pork presented three ways: pork guisantes (pork & peas), pork adobo, and dinuguan (pork blood stew). Elena’s got these traditional dishes down to a science. They all are so tasty and tender. The flavors permeate through all of the pork. My favorite has always been the dinuguan.

I can’t wait to come back to Oahu to eat here again. Hilo just doesn’t have any good Filipino restaurants. :(

Honolulu Coffee Company

Tuesday, December 6th, 2005

Honolulu, Oahu

It smells so good everytime I visit (or pass) here. They make one of the best cups of coffee!

Honolulu Coffee Company The coffee roaster

That big contraption in the middle of the store is a coffee roaster. I see them actually using it sometimes, so this might be why the coffee tastes so fresh.

I was lucky on my visit because their coffee of the day was the Kona Peaberry, a special type of coffee berry that less than 5% of the entire crop yields.

Kona peaberry coffee

The flavor is much more intense and a bit sweeter than regular Kona coffee. It’s just hard to describe how happy this made me!

Also ordered was a Cafe Mocha.

Cafe Mocha

Not too sweet with the espresso flavor still dominating, this was an excellent mocha!

Honolulu Coffee Company
Ala Moana Shopping Center, Upper Level
1450 Ala Moana Blvd., Space #3066
Honolulu, HI 96814
Phone: (808) 949-1500

The Chowder House

Thursday, December 1st, 2005

Honolulu, Oahu

Late night chowder cravings brought us here. Our last visit was quite awhile ago and we recalled some decent chowder. Chowder House is located in Ward Warehouse. There were about 7 other tables occupied at around 9pm.

The Chowder House outside Inside the Chowder House

We were promptly served some water and given our menus. Service was very friendly.

They have a bar with some beers on tap. I tried a Keoki Gold Draft brewed in Kauai ($3.25) for the first time.

Keoki Gold Draft from Kauai

This was a very refreshing, somewhat fruity, medium-bodied beer. It kept a nice head too.

We both ordered chowders: one New England Clam Chowder and one Corn Chowder ($4.75 each).

New England Clam Chowder Corn Chowder

The chowders filled our chowder cravings, but they didn’t taste like what we remember them. Both of the chowders tasted a bit watery. The clam chowder, to me, tasted too starchy and not creamy enough. I think the corn chowder actually tasted better. What made it even worse was that the clam chowder was served warm, not hot!

We also halved a hamburger deluxe w/fries ($7.25) to go with our chowders.

Burger Deluxe and Fries Burger close-up

This burger was hit and miss. The burger patty was fresh tasting, flame grilled, tender and not over cooked. The bun crumbled as eating it. Toasting the bun might’ve helped it. The fries were the worst! Many of them were chewy, soggy and oily. If you zoom in on the fries you can see what I mean. We ended up not finishing the fries, and rarely do I waste french fries.

This “Ginger Fire” sauce was sitting with the other condiments and it caught my attention.

Ginger Fire Sauce

I sampled it on the burger, and it tasted yummy. Then I sampled it in the chowder and it was… yummy but kind of weird. This sauce had a hot ginger kick, sort of like the heat that comes with eating raw ginger. The heat hits sharp and hard but did not linger too long. Interesting stuff.

Although our chowder cravings were fulfilled, I’m sure there are better places for chowder in Hawaii. Maybe we came here on a bad day?

The Chowder House
1050 Ala Moana Blvd
Honolulu, HI 96814
(808) 596-7944

Pho Viet

Wednesday, November 30th, 2005

in Aiea, Oahu

Well, It seems like I’m posting more places in Oahu than in Hilo recently. During the holidays, I visit Oahu more since a lot of my family is there. So I’m sorry that I’ve been slacking with the Big Island places!

Pho Viet Restaurant Outside Pho Viet inside

According to Pho Viet’s sign, they claim have the “best soup in town”. A strong statement considering the amount of Pho places on Oahu, although I’m not sure how many there are in Aiea.

The restaurant is a very small, but inviting place. There was only one other family there at the time we went (which was quite late).

We started with the spring rolls (I forgot the prices, but it was ~$5).

Pho Viet Spring Rolls

Along with the spring rolls came a nice vinegary sauce, lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, mint and some thin rice noodles. I guess you eat it like this?

Spring Roll

Eating these were a real pleasure. The spring rolls were very light and crisp with a delicate flavor. There was not much meat filling, but it was still tasty. When eaten with everything else, it was great because of the contrast of textures and flavors.

I also ordered a large Beef & Meatball Pho (~$6). There was also a small for about $5.

Beef & Meatball Pho Pho Close-up

I should admit now that I’m not a Pho expert (I’ve even been misprounouncing it for some time!), so it is quite hard to gauge what a good pho should taste like. With that said, I can tell you that I did enjoy this pho. Everything tasted fresh. The soup was very flavorful and had a distinct anise flavor… stronger than what I had at 1 Plus 1 Cafe or Hilo Rice Noodle Shop back in Hilo, but I liked it. The beef was served nice and rare, and the meatballs were very tender and had a good flavor. The garnishes were given very generously and the basil was very fresh.

Later, I went condiment hunting and found this:
Condiments Some spicy sauce

Not sure what it is, but I think I put too much in mine. Very spicy and garlicky! Good, though. :P

Overall, this place was very good. The service was also friendly and attentive.

Pho Viet
99-163 Moanalua Rd Aiea
Aiea Hawaii 96701
Ph: (808) 486-7688

Halekulani: House Without A Key

Thursday, November 17th, 2005

in Waikiki

My Mom wanted to treat Bev and her family out for a nice dinner. She suggested to go to House Without A Key at the Halekulani Hotel, saying that it was a great place to go to during sunset, with live music and hula right next to the beach.

Halekulani is a beautiful hotel. While walking through the hotel, I noticed some beautiful flower arrangements and lush green grass everywhere… it reminded me of Hilo since they had a lot of anthuriums.

Here’s one of their arrangements (huge flowers!) and the entrance to House Without A Key.

One of the Anthurium arrangements Entrance

We were asked if we were here for cocktails or dinner, then led to our seats. It was a beautiful location.

Beautiful location by the beach Inside House Without A Key

Beneath a huge kiawe tree, musicians were just setting up to play. Directly behind them was Waikiki beach. There were a lot of people already enjoying their drinks and food. It was very pretty.

One thing I noticed is that the vibe here is very easy-going. The waiters gave an impression that we were welcome to stay here all night long to just “chill”, yet still, they were very attentive.

I resisted ordering an alcoholic beverage since Bev’s parents or my Mom don’t drink, so I got their signature Halekulani Iced Tea.

Halekulani Iced Tea

This iced tea looked great and also tasted great too. They used a piece of cane as a swizzle stick. Pretty cool, huh?

Bread and lavosh was brought to our table.

Bread and Lavosh with butter

The bread was yummy! Crusty and soft in the middle. The lavosh was also excellent.

Here’s the menu:

Menu inside: Click to Zoom

The selection here was very limited, but sometimes that’s good. There were seafood appetizers, salads, and familiar American-type dishes. The prices were also very reasonable considering the view and free entertainment.

I ended up ordering the Spaghetti with Meat Sauce ($13.50) since I felt like eating spaghetti.

Spaghetti with meat sauce

I was skeptical about ordering this since it seemed odd having just spaghetti in this beautiful setting by the beach, but it was actually pretty good. The sauce was fresh and homemade tasting, and the meat was very flavorful. The garlic bread was very crusty and slightly chewy (good), with a great buttery/garlic flavor. The only bad thing about this dish were the noodles, which were a little overcooked.

Bev ordered the Fresh Island Catch of the Day ($16.50), which was Salmon. So, umm, where do they catch Salmon in Hawaii? :P

Salmon with dill sauce and steamed vegetables

I should’ve ordered this. The salmon tasted so good! The inside was moist, and the outside had a great flavorful crust. There was a creamy dill sauce over it too which complimented the salmon perfectly. The vegetables tasted super fresh and were all cooked just right. One of the best pieces of salmon I had in recent memory.

We were all too full for dessert, so some of us just ordered coffee.


Coffee was just ok, but it was served in a nice pot. :)

We all stayed until near closing time, enjoying the music from a guitar, steel guitar, and ukulele. There was also a lovely hula dancer.


I would highly recommend this place to anyone who wants to have a leisurely dinner or cocktails with a beautiful view and entertainment.

Hey, check out this Lamborghini parked right outside of the hotel!


House Without A Key
2199 Kalia Rd (At the ocean end of Lewers St, Mid-Waikiki/Makai)
Phone: 800-367-2343
Web Site