The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Honolulu, Day 7: KCC Farmers' Market, Chinatown, and Hawaiian Plate Lunch

OH MY GOD, IT'S MY LAST HONOLULU POST! [Cue flock of doves flying through a stream of sunshine.] As awesome as my trip was, I'm glad these posts have finally come to a close since they should've been done...a month ago. At least. Just to remind you, I visited Honolulu with Kathy from May 9-16. AND TOMORROW IS AUGUST, PEOPLE. Last week was busy since I spent a three-day weekend in Virginia, but now I'm back and have little excuse for my lax posting. Here I goooo.

Farmers' Market time
Farmers' market time!

Kathy and I got an early start to our last day in Honolulu (sniffle) at the KCC Farmers' Market, which takes place at Kapi'Olani Community College on Saturday mornings from just 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. It was pretty packed when we got there around 9, although it's probably packed the whole time its open. And for good reason: Besides fresh local produce, there's tons of great prepared food.

ginger sodas selection

First, some drinks from Pacifikool, a drink company that specializes in ginger syrups—Hawaiian, Thai, and agave-sweetened. I tried the Gingercooler ($3) made with Hawaiian ginger syrup, lemon, sweet basil, and carbonated water. A simple and refreshing combination made better with whatever magic goes into Hawaiian ginger. Maybe it's just the vacation talking, but it seemed to taste better than regular ginger.

local pizza! pesto pizza grilling pizza

While I got the drinks, Kathy stood in line for North Shore Farms' neopolitan grilled pizza topped with pesto (made with macadamia nuts—hey, this is Hawaii), fresh slices of Big Wave tomatoes, creamy gobs of mozzarella, and basil slivers. It's my favorite pizza toppings combination, but I rarely eat it—methinks I could count the number of times on one hand—since it's not exactly a staple of pizzerias. (Why don't I just make it at home? Perhaps there's a pizza party in my future.) The crust was medium thick and had an appealing slight chewiness with a crispy bottom. If you don't try this when you visit the market, you fail. Kathy and I showed some restraint by just sharing one slice, but you know we could've eaten much more if we weren't trying to save stomach space.

strawberry mochi!
Strawberry mochi, for meee?

Kathy brought me to the fresh strawberry mochi stand, only to find out that the a woman in front of us had just bought the last box. :( To express my grief, I flung my body to the ground while shaking my fists and wailing, "AAAAAAWWWW SHIIiiiiiITT" and this all took place in my mind.

big bag of kale

Then I saw the BIG BAG OF KALE and all was forgotten. It lived up to the sign: It was a honkin' huge bag of kale.

fried green tomatoes

And then it was time for a snack from the Two Hot Tomatoes stand.


Aside from their namesake fried green tomatoes they also offer fried zucchini and sweet island onion rings.

fried green tomatoes, fried zucchini, onion rings

So I got "all of the above" ($7). The onion rings were my favorite, but they were all good because they were all coated in the same light, crunchy, craggly batter. The creamy wasabi lemon and basil lime dipping sauces made them even better.

barbecured abalone

I regret not trying the barbecued abalone. Two pieces for $6? Why did I skip this? I love abalone, but I've only eaten worthwhile amounts of it in Chile, where it's inexpensive and plentiful.

ShaveDice shaving the ice shave ice with lemongrass

For dessert, I tried a small bowl of Pink Cadillac (lemongrass) shaved ice ($3.50) from Blue Lotus's ShaveDice. If it were served in New York City it'd be worth recommending, but in Honolulu I'd say it was just okay. The ice, while quite fine, wasn't as fine as the other shave ices I've had, and there were some patches of non-syruped ice. The lemongrass flavor was refreshing, though.

taro mochi taro mochi innards
Taro mochi.

For second dessert, I tried taro mochi (5 pieces/$3), fried taro-flavored mochi balls combining chewy and crispy (one of my favorite texture combos) in every bite.

Fort Ruger Market

We left the farmers' market to get a typical Hawaiian plate lunch from the nearby Fort Ruger Market. No, I wasn't diving into another meal—I was saving it for later! PINKY SWEAR. I hadn't had a real Hawaiian plate lunch yet during the trip—not even on the Plate Lunch Tour—so this was my last chance.

The market may not look welcoming from the outside, but there's magic inside! Magic!

Mmm, awesome menu
Deli menu.

They don't make delis like this in New York City. Kalua pig! Pork laulau! Beef stew! Three kinds of poke! Ahi jerky! Haupia! A gabillion other things I want to eat!

I ordered Hawaiian Plate A, which came with kalua pig, pork laulau, pipikaula, lomi salmon, and haupia, and asked for poi instead of rice since I had never tried poi before. I also got a side of ahi poke, which was fan-fuggin-tastic...but more on that later. As Kathy and I had plans to eat second lunch with her family, I saved the plate lunch for later.


I didn't try any of these musubis by the cash register, although I sort of wanted one. A chunk of butter mochi, on the other hand, also conveniently located by the cash register for all my impulsive needs, did find its way into my purchase. The name is rather self-explanatory: It's mochi made with...butter. And other things. Check out this recipe at Ono Kine Grindz. It's like regular mochi, but eggier, milkier, and fattier. And to make things even better, outside of the dense, slightly chewy, smooth mochi is a light, crispy crust. IT'S. SOVERYGOOD. I ought to make a pan for my birthday.


We are officially in Chinatown.

After going back to Kathy's house we joined up with her parents and sister to roam around Chinatown. Kathy told me Chinatown isn't very safe at night, but during the day it's fine.

99 Coffee Shop
99 Coffee Shop.

We popped into Vietnamese restaurant 99 Coffee Shop for noodly goodness. It looked like it hadn't changed much in decades. I'm down with that.

spring rolls
Spring rolls.

But before noodles, crispy spring rolls (chả giò) with noodles, herbs, and lettuce leaves. One of the tastiest members of the "fried things" family ever.

noodle soup and stuff
Bun mang vit.

I ordered the "only available on weekends" bun mang vit, rice vermicelli in a light broth with bamboo shoot slices, and steamed duck and a raw shredded cabbage and onion salad on the side.

duck and cabbage stuff
Mm, cabbagey.

The noodle soup didn't leave much of an impression—the cabbage salad ended up being my favorite part, after being doused in the accompanying fish sauce-y...sauce. (My knowledge of Vietnamese food is pretty crappy, and I'm fully aware that my descriptions will never improve unless I actually start taking notes. HAHA NOTES whatever. My veins fail to pulsate with the blood of journalistic ambition.) I've never had shredded cabbage as part of a Vietnamese meal before, but now I want it at every meal.

fermented fish paste?
Mm, shrimp paste.

I also liked the lil' pot of fermented shrimp paste. It's potent, pungent stuff; add a little dab to your food for a bit of funk.

raw stuff tomato and stuff noodle soup another noodle soup dish some noodle soup dish
More noodle soups.

And here's the other stuff that was on the table. Mountainous assortment of of raw veggies and herbs, tomato broth-based bun rieu, shrimp paste log-filled bun suong, and shrimp cracker-topped hu tieu mi hai vi. You can read much better descriptions of these dishes at Kathy's blog. I do love the veg-and-herb pile component, which allows me to ungracefully shove wads of mint and basil into my mouth. That's my preferred method of eating herbs, ye know: wad shoving.

And now, random scenes in Chinatown.

Chun's Meat Market
Chun's Meat Market.

Devil Pig! Probably delicious.

papaya salad
Papaya salad.

Freshly made papaya salad! Probably also delicious.


Fruits and vegetables! Neither of which I ate enough of during the trip. Oops.

Somewhere in Chinatown

Through Maunakea Market Place we ended up...

more shops n things
More shops n things.


Thang Coffee and Bubble Tea

Okay, this is what we came for: Thang Coffee and Bubble Tea. Kathy says they make the best fruit smoothies in the city and their avocado smoothie is her favorite drink on the island.

avocado shake
Avocado smoothie.

We split an avocado smoothie with tapioca pearls ($3.50)—it'd be hard to finish a full cup on your own. The smoothie was super thick, just a touch sweet, had a light avocado flavor, and lived up to the smoothie name with its baby-butt-smooth texture. A great refreshment on a hot day. Or, you know, any day. I found the tapioca excessive for being in an already thick-as-concrete beverage, although I say that as someone who doesn't particularly enjoy boba tea. (I did when I was younger, but at some point I got tired of chewing gobs of tapioca that would randomly block the flow of the liquid I so craved. Like, dammit, I'm thirsty, balls, get out of the way, ok.)

Back To That Plate Lunch

Hawaiian plate lunch

Shortly before Kathy and I had to go to the airport, I finally tucked into that Hawaiian plate lunch I had been saving all day. Clockwise from top left: lomi-lomi salmon, haupia, pork laulau, poi, and kalua pig. Methinks it was also supposed to come with pipikaula, but maybe the guy at the market left it out since I asked for poi instead of rice. OR MAYBE IT JUST WASN'T MEANT TO BE. Which is fine since I only had enough stomach space to take a few nibbles of everything.

I forget the name of this...
Lomi-lomi salmon.

Lomi-lomi salmon is like a diced tomato salsa with salmon bits mixed in. Can't say I've ever had that combination before. This version tasted mostly like tomato since it didn't have much salmon in it. It was a refreshing accompaniment to...

pork close up

POOORK! LOTS OF PORK. (Okay, two kinds of pork.) Salty pork. The pork wasn't succulent, but I was happy enough with it.


I thought I'd like poi since it's a staple food made of mashed taro and water, and hey, I like taro-flavored things (mostly in the form of ice cream and chips)—but no. No. Now I know what unflavored mucoidal taro tastes like: sort of sour and bitter, like something past its prime, and nothing that instills a desire to eat more than a forkful of it. I seem to be hypersensitive to bitter foods though, so you might think differently.


All was forgotten when I ate the ahi poke. Oh sweet jebus. Chunks of raw poke mixed with chopped raw onion, green onion, seaweed, sesame oil, and salt. Rarely have I ever eaten raw fish with such abandon. I don't think I could ever enjoy delicate pieces of sashimi as much as chopped tuna infused with salt and sesame oil. The poke was mighty refreshing until my mouth was overcome with raw onion taint, which made everything in my mouth taste oniony for a few hours. But it was totally worth it.

haupia mochi peanut butter mochi strawberry mochi
Happy Heart Mochi, we meet again.

I tried the other flavors of Happy Heart Mochi I didn't mention in my previous post: haupia, peanut butter red bean, and strawberry red bean. The chocolate haupia mochi I ate first was my favorite, but these were all great.

Goodbye, House


Kathy's fridge was custom made to seamlessly fit in with the rest of the kitchen. Ain't it sweet? I think there's more freezer space on the side.

Kathy's house
Living room.

Here's one last look inside the house, designed by Kathy's dad. It's damn lovely, even while still under construction (mostly the outside); I hope to visit again when everything's finished.

cool trees

And one last look outside the house. Lush forest galore. Wiggly branches tree, come to meee.


...I hope you enjoyed reading about my trip, even as I fumblingly grasped for descriptions of stuff I could barely remember. Many thanks to Kathy and her family for taking such good care of me and giving me the best introduction to Honolulu a food lover could ask for. And megathanks to Kathy for driving us everywhere (I'm pretty sure she doesn't enjoy driving) and putting up with me being totally lazy and lolling around in the passenger seat.

Next, I'll try to quickly recap the best things I ate over the past two and a half months of not writing about New York City.


Honolulu, Day 6: Happy Hearts Mochi, Champion Malasadas, Waikiki Beach, Curry House, and Bubbies Ice Cream
Honolulu Day 5, Part 2: Dinner at Town, Dessert at Nobu
Honolulu Day 5, Part 1: Sconee's, Zippy's, and W & M Bar-B-Q Burger
Honolulu, Day 4: Korean, Cakeworks, Diamond Head, and Grandma's Chicken Curry
Honolulu, Day 3: Five-Location Plate Lunch Tour, Plus Desserts
Honolulu, Day 2, Part 2: Shave Ice at Waiola, Icee at Uncle Clay's, Food Coma at Kats Sushi
Honolulu, Day 2, Part 1: Malasadas from Leonard's, Japanese Snacks from Shirokiya, and Hokkaido Bread from Panya
Honolulu, Night 1: Dinner at Grandma's House


KCC Farmers' Market
Parking Lot C, Kapiolani Community College
4303 Diamond Head Road, Honolulu, HI 96816 (map)

Fort Ruger Market
3585 Alohea Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816 (map)

99 Coffee Shop
174 North King Street, Honolulu, HI 96817 (map)

Thang Coffee and Bubble Tea
1120 Maunakea Street, Honolulu, HI 96817 (map)


Nicholas / July 31, 2010 3:24 AM

I'm not sure whether to be sad your Hawaii posts are over, or relieved haha.

That said, those hot dog musubis look like miniature butts stuck on balls of rice. :)

Marsha Calhoun / July 31, 2010 1:25 PM

I think "cragly" is one of the best words I've seen lately. Well done!

gtrine / July 31, 2010 4:04 PM

Robin! I am so sad to see the honolulu posts end! I am planning our first ever trip to hawaii in september and you were totally one of my top resources. =(

Thanks for sharing.

Angeline / July 31, 2010 10:20 PM

Hey Robyn,

Don't you think those masubis by the cash register kind of looked like that fake plastic food you see in Asian food courts? I think it must be because they're wrapped in plastic wrap which makes them shiny.

Cleone / August 1, 2010 5:12 AM

For the poi, if you mix the lomi lomi salmon into it, it tastes a whole lot better! This was a trick that my boyfriend's sister taught me to ease me into eating poi.

If you come back to Hawaii again, take a side trip to Hilo on the Big Island and you will find ginormous strawberry mochi from Two Ladies Kitchen. I did a post about it:

roboppy / August 1, 2010 12:06 PM


Marsha: Hehe, glad you like it. :) I love me some craaags.

gtrine: You're welcome! I hope the trip planning goes well!

Angeline: The plastic wrap does make them look...plastic-y. But under the plastic DELICIOUSNESS. Or tiny butts.

Cleone: Damn, those mochi look awesome. ;_; I will get my giant strawberry mochi someday!

Sue: I'd also love to get me some Malaysian food besides the shave ice. :) I went to Malaysia once when I was little; unfortunately I don't remember much. When you go places with a Chinese tour group, all you eat is Chinese food. Waaah.

brooke / August 1, 2010 10:03 PM

Ginger you know I have never thought of it like this .. I mean ginger ale sure but as a cooler.. make a martini tooo.. hmmm wheels turning.

Julie / August 2, 2010 4:33 AM

Mmmm, there's a Filipino dish that's fried mochi and taro, like donuts, called bitso bitso (aka bitsu bitsu). One of my aunts makes it with so much taro that it's a vibrant purple color. I love pork laulau, too. Now I'm craving some. And it's 1:30 in the morning.

A Hawaiian hot dog place just opened up here in Phoenix, and it's pretty good, but I wonder how it compares to authentic Hawaiian dogs. They serve Hawaiian ice, too--had the wedding cake flavor (really vanilla-y), and it was awesome. Some of the ice was a tad bit gritty, but it was mostly awesome. I also wonder how that compares.

Kristina / August 2, 2010 4:12 PM

It's funny. I also got sick of maneuvering my straw around bobas in my drink. I realized that once I started sucking bobas up to shoot them at things... brick walls, other cars... I was done with bobas.

adelyn / August 3, 2010 6:22 AM

I love the seamless fridge trend. I think it'd work especially well in small spaces.

The pizza looks delicious! I would totally eat that, but without the cheese of course.

Oh and fermented shrimp paste....ah, such an Asian delicacy! Definitely an acquired taste. I remember my grandparents would put a dab in their rice porridge and have that as breakfast. No wonder the Westerners think we're weird.

Judy / August 3, 2010 1:17 PM

Oh just made me totally regret...not going to Hawaii...I mean there is still time - I'm planning a month long sojourn to Australia for next September...maybe I can work in a short stopover in Hawaii for food. Short...ha...might end up moving there instead. :)

I love Malay shaved ices...and boba tea...but I just had a marshmallow treat from Starbucks for lunch and their caramel light frapp and now I need some protein.

Eileen / August 3, 2010 1:35 PM

omg your pics of the mochi make me want to freaking cry!! So does that close-up on the pork!!

The pizza looks like it's drowning in funky toppings. I guess that's Hawaii for ya that ingeniously invented pineapple pizza!

Looks like you had a wonderful eating trip. If I ever go to Hawaii (hopefully in the near future), I will consult your blog and may possibly Email you and Kathy xD

roboppy / August 4, 2010 12:51 AM

Julie: I've never had bitso bitso before, but I'll keep my eyes out for it. I'm also due to eat a Filipino's been a while since the last one!

I don't think I had an "authentic" Hawaiian hot dog, more like a hot dog that was in Hawaii. So I googled hawaiian hot dogs and found Hot dog in a bun-sized loaf?

Kristina: Haha, I avoid the boba too, after a while. And then I realized I should've gotten the drink without...the boba.

adelyn: The kitchen is so slick. Everything blends in together. My kitchen will never look that cool!

Mm, I'd make fermented shrimp paste part of my balanced breakfast, except I don't eat breakfast.

Sewon: It's totes delicious, and it has...RAINBOWS.

Judy: If you can stop in Hawaii, I definitely recommend it. Wish I could go to Australia!

Eileen: I wouldn't characterize the pizza as Hawaiian, besides that it used Hawaiian ingredients. :) Pesto, mozz, basil, and tomato--all very Italian-friendly! And yesss you should go to Hawaii!

Yuzuman83 / August 5, 2010 9:34 AM

Next time you visit Chinatown, you should check out Hong Kong Noodle House. Yumminess.

And I'm somewhat sad that you didn't like poi, although it took me a long time to appreciate it's poi-ness. It usually isn't bitter though...maybe it was old?

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