With LA down and my travel legs well and truly loosened up, my next stop was Hawaii. My friend Nic moved to Hawaii about the same time as I moved to Manchester. Nic and I used to work together at a hostel called Lucky Lake just outside of Amsterdam – I love that place! It’s been just over four years since I’d seen Nic and I was really looking forward to staying at his place and checking out what Hawaii had to offer.
In all honesty, I had no game plan for Hawaii. I’d looked up a couple of places to eat but was not overly excited about try them out, and I was pretty sure Nic had put little to no thought into any type of plan for my stay, so I was kinda just looking forward to mooching around, smoking some weed with Nic and simply catching up.
Nic was house-sitting in a really nice condo in the middle of Waikiki, and I took no time at all in making myself feel comfortable – feet on the couch, laid back, blunt hangin’ out my mouth – ahhhh. But soon enough my stomach began to rumble and we made our way towards a place recommended by Anthony Bourdain called Ono Hawaiian Food. By the time we got there the damn place was closed which sucked ass ‘cos it looked pretty decent – home style feel with simple decor and a solid feel for tasty food as opposed to good looks.
It’s a shame it was closed but as one door closes, another always opens and we found our way to a road-side drive in diner called the Rainbow Drive-in. It was a first for both of us and we took a liking for the Mix Plate with a side order of Loco Moco. The Mix Plate was a weird looking mixed bag of beef, chicken, fish, rice and some pasta salad, which tasted nice enough and definitely hit the spot. The Loco Moco was a bit more interesting; a bowl of rice with a curry-sauce layer (kinda like a Japanese curry flavour) crowned with a gooey fried egg which oozed as it was broken. My preference was for the Loco Moco but I couldn’t finish either as the rice filled me up – not bad for a first night, and nicely capped off after a walk and an M&M Ice-Cream Sandwich.
Woke up with the shits the next day. After I’d put last nights Loco Moco “back in a bowl”, we headed off to host Nic’s radio show on his university campus from 9-12 where we basically talked shit and played music – good fun. We then made our way out to the North side of Hawaii to Haleiwa where Nic had to do some work, but along the way we tried to grab a couple of coffee cakes from Otto Cake in Chinatown. Unfortunately they had run out of coffee cakes which was a bummer as Nic says they’re great, but instead I picked up a piece of the home-made lemon and coconut cheesecake staring at me through the glass – really nice and kept me satisfied throughout the ensuing bus journey to Haleiwa.
Haleiwa was really different to Waikiki. Far less touristy and seemed more of a favourite for locals, a better option for surfers as well as it boasts the famous Pipeline. I didn’t get to see much of the beach but Nic introduced me to a local guy named Sammy – Nic and Sammy are cooking up a scheme to sell sugar cane juice at local markets. Have you ever tried this stuff? It was delicious! They spilt the sugar cane in two, then individually push it through a press to squeeze all the juice out – what you get is a brown cup of sweet sweet goodness that is crying out for some ice cubes and maybe a shot of rum – good luck with the business boys.
That night I had probably my best meal whilst in Hawaii at a place called Marukame. We’d seen it a couple of times whilst walking past or on the bus and it was always packed with a line outside. There’s a huge influence from Japan in Hawaii and this was clearly evident in the quick-serving udon joint where they usher you in almost like a manufacturing line, offering you a choice of noodles, broth and vegetable and meat tempura. So simple, so good. We didn’t say a word whilst eating – always a good sign.
Woke up with the shits again…. wtf?
There’s a couple more places worth mentioning. We ate breakfast at a place called Bogart’s where I got a breakfast burrito and Nic picked up a bagel. Both were really good and well priced too – apparently the yoghurt with granola and fruit is supposed to be awesome but at the time I felt like some meat, hence the Portuguese sausage in my burrito. As well as Bogart’s another definite was a bakery called Leonard’s where we picked up a few Malasadas. I’ve had similar things in Amsterdam. It’s kinda like a donut ball rolled in sugar – so tasty, no wonder Hawaiians are quite large people 😉
In terms of Hawaiian touristy stuff, sure, I went to the beach and walked around the main strip, but to be completely honest I wasn’t blown away by Hawaii. Don’t get me wrong, I’d go back, definitely to see Nic again and most likely to check out some of the other islands. Apparently Big Island boasts 13 out of a possible 15 different types of landscapes to explore, with hiking and deserts, snow topped peaks and scuba diving too. I’ll be back some day, and I’ll definitely be picking up a few Malasadas whilst I’m there.
Next episode – Sydney.