I didn't plan on eating mochi for breakfast, but thanks to Reid, I did. At the previous night's dinner he presented each of his guests a variety pack from Happy Hearts Mochi, a custom order-only mochi business in Honolulu.
Is it worth ordering from Happy Hearts when there are so many places in the city that sell mochi? According to Reid and Kathy, yes. And even though I didn't get to try much other mochi during my trip, I'd concur: This mochi was damn delicious and some of the best I've ever had. The glutinous rice skin tasted especially fresh—its soft and smooth texture melded perfectly into the thick block of haupia and chocolate filling. It was like eating the perfect macaron, or the perfect cupcake—when the components of cake/cookie/glutinous rice is paired with just the right amount of frosting/filling, which in turn are flavored to have just the right amount of sweetness and...whatever flavor they're supposed to have. I've had a lot of bad macarons and cupcakes in my life though—I think mochi is more forgiving.
For second breakfast, Kathy brought us to Champion Malasadas, who, aside from malasadas, also offers a variety of mini chiffon cakes and cheap breakfast platters that come with a fresh malasada, if you so desire. And you probably desire it or else you wouldn't be there.
We shared a granulated sugar-dusted plain ($0.60) and a confectioners sugar-dusted custard-filled ($1). I don't remember much about the custard one—it wasn't as good as the plain since it didn't come fresh from the fryer. As for the sugar-dusted plain one, it burned with the heat of an angry sun. An angry sun that bestows deliciousness upon its doughy children. Unlike the malasadas from Leonard's, which were on the light and cakey side, these had a crispier crust and a chewier, denser, not-cake-like center. I couldn't say one is better than the other—I liked both and would happily eat both kinds of malasadas in mass quantities.
We spent some time at Kathy's grandma's house to say hello and, oh, perhaaaps use the Internet. And also to see Buddy, her ailing pomeranian.
His walk is a bit gimpy and he has hairless patches here and there. Kathy says they grow back, but then fall out again. :(
Of course, he's still totally adorable.
And then Kathy dropped me off at Waikiki Beach. Because you can't visit Honolulu without going to the beach. Kathy's not a big fan of the surf and sun, so I walked around by myself for a few hours. It was a good opportunity to relinquish Kathy from the duties of playing host, which during this trip equated to "Driving A Lot (and subsequently memorizing the most popular songs on Top 40 radio) And Eating Too Much Food."
I didn't swim (although I dipped my feet in the water plenty of times). Yeah, yeah, whatever, I fail. Can't really go swimming when you're alone and no one can look after your stuff. I'm not a huge fan of swimming so I can't say my dreams were crushed. I do like looking at pristine blue water though. IT LOOKS MAGICAL ...Or maybe it always looks like that. I don't go to the beach very much.
I walked along the beach until...it ended. Sort of. Then I walked through a hotel. Which was boring. And then I went back on the beach. And around the general beach area.
I passed a lot of beach chairs.
And curvy palm trees.
And grills. (I didn't see any in use.)
And at least one sign warning swimmers about jellyfish. Translated into Japanese for the gabillion Japanese tourists.
Also for the Japanese tourists, a Japan Post-themed mailbox spotted at the Hilton.
I quite liked the offerings in the heated display case at the ABC Mart (local chain of convenience stores): various Spam musubis, and one lonely plastic-wrapped cheeseburger.
And there was this puzzling sign. $300 is a great rate? No, it's a "great" rate!
I didn't go inside the Moana Surfrider, the oldest hotel in Waikiki, but it looks pretty sweet from the outside.
You may have noticed that I didn't eat lunch. There was little temptation in the ways of food while walking along the beach, but when I came across Hank's Haute Dogs in the International Marketplace, my stomach was all like, "EATAHOTDOGNOW."
These aren't just any hot dogs; they're haute dogs. OH, PUNNY. Hank's was started by Henry Adaniya, a restaurateur who switched from opening award-winning fine dining restaurants in the Chicago area to serving Chicago-style dogs in Honolulu, among loads of other classic and creative hot dogs.
I tried the Hot'O Doggu ($4.25) the Japanese-themed hot dog topped with zigzags of miso-ginger mayo and hoisin ginger mustard, slivers of takuan (pickled daikon), and a light sprinkling of furikake, named after how you would say "hot dog" in Japanese (ホットドッグ; okay, more like "hottodoggu"). Overall, I thought it was...alright. More interesting than a regular hot dog and it made a good snack, but after looking at the photo on the menu, I wanted more stuff on top. And mayo. I love mayo on hot dogs.
After I got my fill of cavorting around Waikiki, Kathy and I met up with Kathy's friend Noelle to eat at Curry House. This excited me greatly because I love Japanese curry about as much as I love sleeping. And watching cats do funny things on YouTube. I've been eating Japanese curry ever since I was a kid, and while I once feared that eating too much would give me palate fatigue, MY LOVE FOR THE THICK BROWN GOOP RAGES ON. (For an intro to the brown goop of deliciousness, read this post by Aya Tanaka on Serious Eats. She describes it better than I could!)
The menu is huge. I don't mean in length—I mean its physical dimensions notably exceed those of your average menu. How could anyone not be excited after reading the copy on the cover?
YOU CAN SELECT!
DEAR MENU: I WILL SO SELECT THOSE THREE THINGS YOU MENTIONED.
We played it safe by splitting two plates between the three of us. Unless you're on the verge of eating a baby, this is the way the go. The standard plates are quite large, and they fill the plates to the brim.
First off: pork katsu and kimchi. It was the first time I tried kimchi in curry, and...I think...probably the last. It didn't really go together in my mind, at least not when the kimchi is coated in curry sauce. I think I'd be fine eating kimchi on the side. I do like pickles with Japanese curry (each table came with a container of crunchy pickle bits, what kind of pickle I'm not sure), but not so much when they're large flaccid cabbage chunks.
Second was chicken katsu with corn and cheese. You think Japanese curry looks bad in its unadorned form? Wait till you see it mixed it with gooey cheese strands and corn nubs. But you don't have to wait, because it's right up there.
I've never had cheese or that much corn in Japanese curry before, but it's quite good. I liked the corn more than the cheese—the cheese would take me some getting used to. The chicken katsu was better than the pork. ...Or vice versa. I know one was more moist and meaty than the other. It's been two months since I ate this; memory is poopin' out. :(
If there were a Curry House in New York City I'd eat there way too often. CURRY HOUSE, PLEASE COME HERE.
Before I move on to the dessert portion of the night, look at this awesome Japanese egg carton, seen at the neighboring Japanese grocery store, Nijiya. That hen is giving you the green light to eat her unborn babies. Hen of Approval + a rainbow backdrop = you know those eggs are going to blow your mind.
Another pre-dessert photo: BLAZIN' STEAKS. I like the name. Makes me think of steaks encircled in flames, flames that propel the steaks at high speeds to nowhere in particular, accompanied by some rock guitar riff and sunglasses-wearing (the flames are really bright, ye know) dude screeching, "BLAAAZIN' STEAAAAKS!!" while waving the sign of the horns with both fists. You see it too? Yeah.
SOOOO back to dessert. Remember how I visited Bubbies on my second day in Honolulu (which in blogging days was over a month ago), but was too full to eat anything? We made up for that by getting this:
EAT MY BALLS ($17.50), the suggestively named bowl of 16 fetal dip-sized ice cream scoops, which covers every flavor on their current menu. One and a half pounds of ice cream, all for us.
I'm not sure which was the best flavor. They all kinda...melded. It was fun to each because we didn't know what we were eating half the time. Or they melted together to create new flavors like banana-coconut-green tea.
After 20 minutes of becoming increasingly tired of ice cream (I mean, the first five minutes were awesome, but you'd get tired of eating any gross amount of ice cream no matter how good it is), we gave up. Not that we were trying to finish the bowl. I think we did a pretty good job considering that we were already sort of full. (There's also room to cram in ice cream. It's just liquid! Frozen, churned liquid.)
And to cap off the day, here are some Spam cookbooks spotted at Longs Drugs (where we went after Bubbies so I could buy lots of snacks and gift-y things).
Only one more Honolulu post awaits! THE END, IT IS NEAR.
1010 University Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96826 (map)