Posts Tagged ‘avocado’

Poke Paradise – Experiencing the Best Poke Around Hawaii – Part IV

April 1, 2010
Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V

Last month’s visit to Brooks Takenaka at the United Fishing Agency Honolulu Fish Auction brought about the name “Rachel Haili”. As part of this ultimate poke quest we’re currently on, Brooks suggested I talk to Rachel to get her perspective on the history of poke in Hawaii. When the boss of the Honolulu Fish Auction speaks, I listen.

Rachel Haili – Haili’s Hawaiian Foods

I visited Haili’s back when they were at the old Farmer’s market, but had not yet made my way out to either of their new locations. Twitterville has been active talking about them too. Ah, better late than never right? Here are some photos of my visit to their Kapahulu location and my interview with Rachel Haili to follow.

Haili's Hawaiian Foods sign
Haili’s Hawaiian Foods sign

Conveniently located on Palani Ave, right off of Kapahulu, the interior at Haili’s is very clean and welcoming.

Interior of Haili's Hawaiian Foods [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Interior of Haili’s Hawaiian Foods [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

Though they have a nice selection of poke…

Limu Ahi Poke [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Limu Ahi Poke [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

Ahi Shoyu Poke [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Ahi Shoyu Poke [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

… their bread and butter is still their traditional Hawaiian fare.

My "custom" plate with Lau Lau and Chicken Long Rice, which included Limu Poke, Haupia and two scoops rice!
My “custom” plate with Lau Lau and Chicken Long Rice, which included Limu Poke, Haupia and two scoops rice!


Rachel Haili of Haili’s Hawaiian Foods

[Edward Sugimoto] Your mom “Rachel Sr.”, if you will, started Haili’s back in 1950. What made her want to do a restaurant?

[Rachel Haili] Well actually we started out in the bar business after the war. They had like a cafe where they served food and liquor, and then, as our family grew, my mother decided that she didn’t want her family to be in the liquor business, so she branched out on her own and started her own Hawaiian food store and fish market. And my parents worked by themselves to build up that business. And it was more of a market type thing, not so much a cafe or restaurant, and that’s where she learned (cause my mother was pure Chinese) she learned to do more of the Hawaiian foods.

[Edward Sugimoto] You began at the old Farmer’s Market. What were those days like?

[Rachel Haili] Yeah, originally, that’s where my parents started, so they were like one of the oldest tenants there. And back then, it was all little stalls of fish markets, meat markets, vegetable skins… and then now it’s more modern of course.

[Edward Sugimoto] And poke, was that pretty big back then?

[Rachel Haili] Back then, I remember when we were kids, there wasn’t poke per se, like how we’re selling it by the pound, pre-made. What you did was you bought the whole fish, and then you asked them to prepare like how you wanted. Back then you bought an aku for like 50 cents, then you tell them, “OK, I want half of it, steak it for me to fry, and then the other half, cut it for me to poke.” So when you sold the fish, you actually had to prepare it for them then. It wasn’t pre-made. And then, it started developing like into a bigger demand for poke, and people were more in a hurry, so, then my parents started pre-cutting the poke. I remember because back then, I had to learn how to clean fish because you know we were so busy. Soon, we had to learn how to cut poke and make the different types of poke. Although when the people bought the fish, you know, then they’d say, “I want to buy a cup of limu and add that into my poke, and put chili pepper (water) for me.” You know, so they kind of dictated what they wanted in their poke. Then, as the demand for poke got bigger, and you pre-made the poke, you had to like make maybe a batch of plain poke, aku or limu aku, and then, at that time, shoyu aku evolved. It wasn’t something like automatic. I remember shoyu aku became popular when I was like in my teens. It wasn’t like, now you go to the supermarket and you see a whole array of pre-made poke. You had to buy the whole fish and then they made it for you. Just like the different types of poke, although we do more traditional poke, where we do awa, and we do like palu, you know, lomi oio, that kind of thing, nowadays it’s evolved into more a modern kind of thing. Where fish now has become similar to chicken or pork, so you do different varieties of it.

Display case at  Haili's Hawaiian Foods [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Display case at Haili’s Hawaiian Foods [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

And then, I think a lot of the sushi bars, because raw fish is so popular, they’ve come up with all kinds of new creations that are pretty to the eye. You know you have fruit in it or masago, all different kind of things. It’s just like how if you order pasta, you have all different things that you put in it. So now, what’s popular is the poke bowls, where you get the poke and you get any kind of topping that you want, sorta like the frozen yogurt. Start out with the basic and then you put whatever, you concoct whatever you want onto it. So you know, that’s what it’s become. But, originally, you bought the whole fish and then they prepared it for you, or you took it home and prepared it yourself.

[Edward Sugimoto] Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, your lease expired and you decided to open up a lunch wagon called Haili’s Backyard Luau. What was the story behind that?

[Rachel Haili] Um, let’s see. Well, you know we’ve been there (at the Farmer’s Market) for 60 years, in fact, this is our 60th year that we’ve been in business. Marukai wanted to expand and they wanted the whole building, so Ward Center decided to convert that whole area into Marukai’s market so we had to move out. One of the options that we came up with in order to keep in contact with our customer base who was primarily in that area, was a lunch wagon. Although we can’t offer everything that we had there, it was a way that we could still keep in contact with them until we found something that was more suitable for us, you know in food offerings that we had. Then we finally came across this area in Kapahulu, and so far, it’s turning into something nice. It’s a little different, in terms of, we shifted from a market to a more deli and restaurant atmosphere. We actually didn’t intend to be a restaurant. You know, it was more of a counter service and you come and sit down, so that’s what we’re hoping to create over here. But you can buy either lunches, and you can take it out or eat it here, or you still can buy our Hawaiian foods by the pint, or the pound as we sold it in the market before.

[Edward Sugimoto] And business is booming. We’re here today and it’s pretty packed.

[Rachel Haili] *modest smile* Well, we always can use more business. We’ve only been open for about 90 days now and, it’s evolving. Customers are learning about us. The location is nice because it’s close to Waikiki. We get more tourists coming in too. Before we used to service primarily local people so now we’re getting a different mixture of people.

[Edward Sugimoto] You folks are big on using social media to market and stay in touch with the community. How did that come about and how are you enjoying it so far?

[Rachel Haili] That was something new for us too. When we did the lunch wagon, our friend suggested that we start using that more. So we’re still learning to use the social media but it’s amazing how fast you can spread the word, or you get more information out by using that. It’s fun, but you gotta keep up with it because once you put information out, you get a lot of feedback right away, so you gotta be on top of it all the time. I hope we’re doing good. *laughs*

[Edward Sugimoto] Yeah, you are! You have two poke items on your menu: Shoyu Ahi and Limu Ahi, and you mentioned that you had more in your display case…

Haili's Menu
Haili’s Menu

[Rachel Haili] Yeah, unfortunately our menu board could only hold like primary items, but our showcase over here also carries our larger selection of poke, which is you know like the poke awa, the aku palu, lomi oio. We specialize more in traditional poke so that’s why we have like the raw crabs and the aku palu.

Aku Palu [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Aku Palu [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

Later we’ll be doing our poke bowls also. But it’s just that because we’re busy getting adjusted in here, we’re like slowly introducing or building up items. Poke bowls seem to be popular because it’s fast and people can pick it up and go right away. And then they get to personalize it too.

[Edward Sugimoto] What are some of your personal favorites types of poke?

[Rachel Haili] My personal favorite type of poke is, well, we’re gonna be creating this, um, sorta like a poke mountain. You know, where it’s like with rice on the bottom, some sliced ahi with avocado, tomato and masago. It’s really nice looking. When we were in Waikiki for a while, we sold those. However, we can’t do everything all at once, so, but we’re going to expand our poke bar and also our food menus. You know, we do catering too, so hopefully we’ll be expanding our catering service.

[Edward Sugimoto] Do you have anything else to add to your current or future customers?

[Rachel Haili] Well I hope all of you have a chance to come in and visit us because we really try to create a spirit of Aloha here, where you’re welcome to come in. We can mix and match whatever you want here and even if you don’t see what you want, you can either pre-order or ask us if we’re able to make it for you because that’s how we started so that’s how we still want to be. Also we make a really good dried aku, and that’s hard to find in town, so come down and check our aku out.

[Edward Sugimoto] OK, thank you very much!

Rachel (right) with her sister Lorraine [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]
Rachel (right) with her sister Lorraine [Photo Credit: Arthur Betts]

For more information on the Haili’s Hawaiian Foods, visit their web site at www.hailis.net or follow them on Twitter at @Hailis808.

Haili’s Hawaiian Foods
760 Palani Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816
(808) 735-8019
Mon-Thu: 9am-7pm
Fri-Sat: 9am-8pm
Sun: 8am-3pm

Guy Tamashiro – Tamashiro Market

Also at the Honolulu Fish Auction, I made contact with Guy Tamashiro of Tamashiro Market. Spontaneously, we did an impromptu interview in preparation for my visit to his shop.


Guy Tamashiro of Tamashiro Market

[Edward Sugimoto] Describe your history with fish.

[Guy Tamashiro] OK, well, I think we first started with fish, actually my dad had a feed store and all that, the first Tamashiro Market, but then he started selling a little bit of fish. I think the story was that he bartered it at that time for some opelu. Then it sold, so he said “ok, that was fun.” So he started going down to the auction across from Aala Park, then he started selling a little bit more, and it started selling well, so he just started expanding it from there. And then, in 1962, he constructed the building that it’s in now, and then from there, it just started seafood as the emphasis.

Seafood selection at Tamashiro Market
Seafood selection at Tamashiro Market

[Edward Sugimoto] And you guys started doing poke after a while?

[Guy Tamashiro] Yeah, yeah, actually, poke was just one/two pans. When I first started working it was only 1 or two pans, and then from there, we, I don’t know, maybe 30 something?

Partial selection of poke at Tamashiro Market
Partial selection of poke at Tamashiro Market

[Edward Sugimoto] Out of that, which one is the most popular one?

[Guy Tamashiro] Ahi is, by far, the MOST popular. And if aku is available, that’s pretty popular too.

[Edward Sugimoto] Ahi limu or any kind of ahi?

[Guy Tamashiro] Ahi limu, ahi shoyu, ahi onion. We’re getting new flavors in too now. As we go on, we want to add to the different tastes that you can get from it, not just the plain type, but also other tastes we want to try out too.

Ahi poke, all wiped out at the end of the day!
Ahi poke, all wiped out at the end of the day!

[Edward Sugimoto] What is your personal favorite?

[Guy Tamashiro] Oh, that’s a hard one. Well, I love aku. Large aku. But for ahi, because they’re coming out with different flavors now, I don’t know. I have a poke lunch maybe 3/4 times a week, and it’s not always the same lunch. Hard to have one favorite, it’s just different flavors.

[Edward Sugimoto] What’s in store for Tamashiro Market?

[Guy Tamashiro] Well, we just hope we do a lot more sales. *laughs*

[Edward Sugimoto] Do you have any words for your customers out there?

[Guy Tamashiro] Sure. You know where to shop. You know where we are. Come down, see us. *smiles*

Located on North King Street in the heart of Kalihi, Tamashiro Market boasts the largest selection of seafood (over 75 varieties) in the state. With their unmistakable pink building and trademark crab statue hanging above, Tamashiro’s was definitely a can’t-miss stop on this Poke in Paradise tour.

Outside Tamashiro Market
Outside Tamashiro Market

Showing their love of the sea (and perhaps an ode to the Japanese boat in the war bearing the same name), a good-sized fishing boat sits atop the center island, overlooking the store.

The Tama Maru boat in Tamashiro Market
The Tama Maru boat in Tamashiro Market

It’s always busy whenever I go, but on this occasion, I just so happen to be there right before closing, so the “getting-stuffs-for-dinner” rush was in full effect.

The evening rush at Tamashiro Market
The evening rush at Tamashiro Market

As Guy suggested, I picked up some Ahi poke. Ahi Onion and Ahi Shoyu to be exact.

Ahi Onion poke
Ahi Onion poke

Ahi Shoyu poke
Ahi Shoyu poke

Sometimes, if I’m in the area for lunch, I’ll pick up some poke from Tamashiro’s and drive over to nearby Boulevard Saimin. The cold poke and hot saimin make for a good marriage (as mentioned before). Here’s a photo at Boulevard Saimin, after I bought some Furikake poke from Tamashiro’s and took it over.

Furikake Poke
Furikake Poke

Tamashiro Market
802 N King St
Honolulu, HI 96817
(808) 841-8047
Mon-Fri: 9am-6pm
Sat 8am-6pm
Sun 8am-4pm

Poke to Your Taste – Hilo, HI

And finally, here’s an interesting find while visiting the east side of the Big Island.

Poke to Your Taste building
Poke to Your Taste building

Hidden in an inconspicuous building (with no visible signage to speak of) on Leilani Street near the airport, Poke to Your Taste caters to those who prefer to concoct their own batches of poke. “Mix ’em how you like ’em!” is their motto, which I, along with their logo/signage, was finally able to find under an awning on one of their smaller side windows.

Poke to Your Taste sign
Poke to Your Taste sign

The inside of Poke to Your Taste is just as curious as the outside. Most of the usable space is empty or scattered with random items, while a small display case with just 4 items (Hawaiian Poke, Shoyu Poke, Kim Chee Tako Poke, and Imitation Crab Poke) sits to one side.

Display case at Poke to Your Taste
Display case at Poke to Your Taste

Solomon, or Uncle Sol as many call him, stands behind the counter and scoops out your preferred order. On this occasion my choices were to only be one of their two fish options: “Hawaiian Poke” or “Shoyu Poke”.

Starting with your basic poke (Hawaiian or Shoyu style) as your base
Starting with your basic poke (Hawaiian or Shoyu style) as your base

I went Haaaaawaiian because I wanted there to be as little flavor on there as possible to start. From there, Uncle Sol scooped it into my container…

Uncle Sol serving up my poke
Uncle Sol serving up my poke

… and it was just my creativity between me and poke bliss.

You can add a variety of “spices” like Hawaiian salt, furikake, sesame seeds and chili pepper flakes…

Hawaiian salt, furikake, sesame seeds and chili pepper flakes
Hawaiian salt, furikake, sesame seeds and chili pepper flakes

… and, for lack of a better word, “toppings” like ginger, garlic, inamona, green onions, onions, and hot sauce.

Ginger, garlic, inamona, green onions, onions, and hot sauce
Ginger, garlic, inamona, green onions, onions, and hot sauce

No fo-get da sesame seed oil, shoyu and chili peppah watah! 😉

Sesame seed oil, shoyu and chili pepper water
Sesame seed oil, shoyu and chili pepper water

I went with the super combo of furikake, sesame seeds, chili peppers, garlic, inamona, green onions, sesame seed oil and chili pepper water. She go!

My batch of poke had furikake, sesame seeds, chili peppers, garlic, inamona, green onions, sesame seed oil and chili pepper water - $6
My batch of poke had furikake, sesame seeds, chili peppers, garlic, inamona, green onions, sesame seed oil and chili pepper water – $6

Definitely poke to MY taste.

Poke to Your Taste
790 Leilani St.
Hilo, HI 96720
(808) 989-9962
Mon-Sat: 10am-6pm

So there it is. Part IV is in the books. Honestly speaking though, this Poke Paradise is not even close to being complete. I’m seriously considering making this a 12 part series and carrying it through the entire year. Wanna help? Email me or comment below where you’d like to see me hit up next. I’ve still got many on my hit list (Ruger Market, Fresh Catch, Tamura’s, Masa & Joyce, Da Pokeman, Young’s Fish Market, Alicia’s, etc.), but send me your tips k?

A special mahalo this month to Rachel Haili and the Haili’s Hawaiian Foods `ohana, Guy Tamashiro and the Tamashiro Market `ohana, Uncle Sol at Poke to Your Taste, and Dave Oi for actually finding the hard to find Poke to Your Taste! LOL! See y’all next month gang!

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V

UFC 94 Weekend In Vegas

February 1, 2009

Every so often, there comes a time in a man’s life when the stars just align. The perfect storm of pleasure if you will. The weekend of January 30th was one such time.

You see, The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) – the most popular Mixed Martial Arts promotion – was having their biggest, most highly anticipated fight card in history: UFC 94. The main event featured Hilo’s own BJ Penn against Canada’s Georges St. Pierre, arguably the two best pound for pound fighters in the sport. Superbowl XLIII (43) festivities, which featured the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Arizona Cardinals, was also going on that weekend. Did I mention that this was all going down in Vegas? ‘Nuff said!

It all started with a confirmation of UFC 94 fight tickets, just a couple weeks before the event (Mahalos to Bruddah DJ and the rest of the UFC posse). From there, it was pure pandemonium as I worked some flight, room and car reservation magic for less than $580 per. Not bad, given the current flight prices.

Wifey unfortunately couldn’t take off of work so my friend Dave “took one for the team” and forced himself to come with me on this once in a lifetime, sport-filled weekend.

We caught the red-eye on Thursday the 29th, and enjoyed breakfast at Ruby’s Dinette on our LAX layover.

Outside Ruby's Dinette
Outside Ruby’s Dinette

I’ve been by this place numerous times before, but never had the chance or the time to eat there. With our hunger, and a couple of hours to spare, Dave and I checked it out. It’s a good thing we did because it was surprisingly good.

Ruby's Breakfast Burrito: "A flour tortilla filled with fluffy scrambled eggs, salsa and shredded cheese. Topped with sour cream, black olives and chopped green onions. Served with black beans. It's our "South of the Border" specialty!"
Ruby’s Breakfast Burrito: “A flour tortilla filled with fluffy scrambled eggs, salsa and shredded cheese. Topped with sour cream, black olives and chopped green onions. Served with black beans. It’s our “South of the Border” specialty!”

Skillet Potatoes
Skillet Potatoes

Ruby’s Dinette – LAX
201 World Way – Terminal 6
Los Angeles, CA 90045
(310) 646-2480

We arrived in Sin City at about 10AM on Friday, the 30th, but by the time we got our luggage, stood in line to pick up our rental car, and took my mobile phone in for service (it stopped working for some reason), it was almost time for the first two events of the trip: the exclusive Q&A session with (fighter) Rashad Evans and the official UFC 94 weigh-ins.

UFC 94 Schedule of Events poster
UFC 94 Schedule of Events poster

Thanks to Bruddah DJ, we were able to get early access into the event and sit decently close.

Nate Diaz flexes at 156 as announcer Joe Rogan, brother Nick Diaz, ring girls Logan Stanton and Arianny Celeste, his opponent's brother Jason Guida, UFC President Dana White, and ring announcer Bruce Buffer look on.
Nate Diaz flexes at 156 as announcer Joe Rogan, brother Nick Diaz, ring girls Logan Stanton and Arianny Celeste, his opponent’s brother Jason Guida, UFC President Dana White, and ring announcer Bruce Buffer look on.

Lyoto Machida comes in at 206 as ring girls Logan Stanton and Arianny Celeste, and UFC President Dana White look on.
Lyoto Machida comes in at 206 as ring girls Logan Stanton and Arianny Celeste, and UFC President Dana White look on.

BJ Penn does his King Kamehameha pose while coming in at 168, as ring girls Logan Stanton and Arianny Celeste look on.
BJ Penn does his King Kamehameha pose while coming in at 168, as ring girls Logan Stanton and Arianny Celeste look on.

The much anticipated BJ Penn-Georges St Pierre stare down, as St.-Pierre's head trainer Firas Zahabi, an unknown male, UFC President Dana White, ring announcer Bruce Buffer, Penn's head trainer Rudy Valentino and fight matchmaker Joe Silva look on.
The much anticipated BJ PennGeorges St Pierre stare down, as St.-Pierre’s head trainer Firas Zahabi, an unknown male, UFC President Dana White, ring announcer Bruce Buffer, Penn’s head trainer Rudy Valentino and fight matchmaker Joe Silva look on.

Following the weigh-ins, I decided to check my voicemail from my friend’s phone and was surprised to hear that my Las Vegas (Hawaii transplant) friend Jen left a couple of messages. She wanted us to meet up for dinner with her and her boyfriend Brandon at an all you can eat sushi spot called Sushi-Mon. Since Dave and I were practically starving, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect!

Sushi-Mon sign
Sushi-Mon sign

For $26.95 ($21.95 for lunch), you can pick from a large array of sushi/nigiri, rolls, and side dishes, and go to town on them for one hour. And go to town I did!

2 orders of ikura (salmon roe) and 2 orders of masago (smelt egg) (one order already eaten... couldn't wait! *grin*)
2 orders of ikura (salmon roe) and 2 orders of masago (smelt egg) (one order already eaten… couldn’t wait! *grin*)

2 orders of hokkigai (surf clam) and 2 orders of hamachi (yellowtail tuna)
2 orders of hokkigai (surf clam) and 2 orders of hamachi (yellowtail tuna)

Dave's Moon Roll order (Freshwater eel, yum yum scallop & avocado served on a bed of tempura crumbs topped with eel sauce).
Dave’s Moon Roll order (Freshwater eel, yum yum scallop & avocado served on a bed of tempura crumbs topped with eel sauce).

Jen's recommended Cajun Albacore sushi
Jen’s recommended Cajun Albacore sushi

Snow crab meat sushi (you're only allowed one order)
Snow crab meat sushi (you’re only allowed one order)

Baked Scallop Shell side dish
Baked Scallop Shell side dish

Ika (squid) sushi
Ika (squid) sushi

Sushi-Mon (on Sahara)
8320 W Sahara Ave #180,
Las Vegas, NV 89117
(702) 304-0044
Open 7 Days a week, 11:30AM-2:00AM

And den, it was fight day! After fueling up on the $7.99 Garden Court Buffet Lunch at the Main Street Station Hotel in downtown…

My $7.99 buffet lunch (breakfast actually) at the Main Street Station Hotel in downtown (heart don't fail me now!)
My $7.99 buffet lunch (breakfast actually) at the Main Street Station Hotel in downtown (heart don’t fail me now!)

… we headed towards the Mirage to place some fight bets, as, according to my friend Kippy who messaged me on Facebook, they had Penn at +180, some of the best lines in town! By the time we got there though, the line had moved to +135, but that was still good enough for me to back our local hero. While there, I also dropped a bit on the Super Bowl for good measure (‘Zona with the 7 point spread). What the heck right?

Following that, we went back to our hotel to get a quick R&R before the big day ahead. Then it was time! We started by roaming the MGM casino area an hour before the gates were to open. We saw a cool photo opp set up for fight fans, and, after asking a girl to take our photo there, her friends thought it was a good idea to tell her to jump in the photo with us! Um, yeah, thanks!

Dave and I posing with some random girl.
Dave and I posing with some random girl.

At 4:15PM we started to slowly make our way to the gates. The heart started a racin’ and the adrenaline started a pumpin’! I couldn’t believe we were actually there son!

Shuffling in before showtime
Shuffling in before showtime

Here are the results with some personal observations sprinkled in between.

Dan Cramer defeats Matt Arroyo by Split Decision
– I thought Matt Arroyo, The Ultimate Fighter 7 alum, would take this one, but was surprised with Cramer’s perseverance.

Jake O’Brien defeats Christian Wellisch by Split Decision
– Another surprise as I picked Wellisch to come out on top for this one. As you can tell by now, my fantasy UFC picking is pretty horrible. Good to see O’Brien back from his injury and looking strong though.

John Howard defeats Chris Wilson by Split Decision
– This was too close to call, but both men gave it their all.

Thiago Tavares defeats Manny Gamburyan by Unanimous Decision
– Tavares was too big and too strong (and too quick) for Gamburyan, as expected.

Jon Fitch defeats Akihiro Gono by Unanimous Decision
– Gono impressed me by taking Fitch the distance. His entrance performance (where he dressed up in drag with two of his cornermen) had me in stitches!

Akihiro Gono's hilarious drag queen entrance
Akihiro Gono’s hilarious drag queen entrance

Clay Guida defeats Nate Diaz by Split Decision
– Not a huge fan of Diaz, but knew Guida couldn’t finish him. Picked Guida, just based on his energy and spirit. Gotta love someone who is passionate about what they do. Got hooked to his entrance song (Foo Fighter’s “My Hero“).

Karo Parisyan defeats Dong Hyun Kim by Split Decision
– From my vantage point, I thought Kim got robbed on this one. He impressed me. Looking forward to more from him.

Jon Jones defeats Stephan Bonnar by Unanimous Decision
– Woah! Where’d this guy come from? Jones was very unorthodox, but impressive at the same time. Bonnar must’ve been confused with the strikes coming from all ova tha place!

Lyoto Machida defeats Thiago Silva by Knock Out at 4:49 in the 1st round

Lyoto Machida and Thiago Silva stare down each other as they get instructions from referee Yves Lavigne
Lyoto Machida and Thiago Silva stare down each other as they get instructions from referee Yves Lavigne

– ALAS!!! A finish!!! Machida must’ve heard all of our groans from a card filled with decisions. And he made sure to bring it. Silva was completely out for a good minute or so. It was the first time I jumped out of my seat (other that to use the potty! *grin*). Mahalos Lyoto!

Silva still on the ground after a vicious Machida punch
Silva still on the ground after a vicious Machida punch

Georges St-Pierre defeats BJ Penn by TKO Stoppage at 5:00 in the 4th round


BJ’s Entrance Video

Animation of opening sequence
Animation of opening sequence

– D’oh! What a disappointment. But soooo worth being there in person. I was there when they first met at UFC 58 in March of ’06 so it was inevitable that I be there at this one. Unfortunately, the results didn’t reflect my (and probably most of Hawaii’s) wishes. That’s ok, BJ is still the man in my eyes! He showed great courage by not giving up.

On a side note, was it just me or did BJ not look all there from the very beginning? Even from where I was sitting, I could tell that something was just not right. He didn’t come out with the tenacity and that fire in his eye like he usually does. Something was just off. When I watched it back on my DVR at home, I noticed that his eyes were glassy and puffy and he had a look of stress/worry. Was it mental? Was it physical? Only BJ knows I guess, but the results from the fight seemed to confirm my spidey senses.

Following the fight, the rumors started to fly. My Google Reader started blowin’ up! I heard everything from BJ having a fever, to a stomach flu, to a nervous breakdown. I can’t imagine the pressure of having an entire state (and country) on your shoulders. And I know that BJ has that mental toughness a fighter needs to succeed, but something just wasn’t right.

And then there was the Vaseline(-gate) incident, but we won’t go there.

For you Canadian/GSP fans/readers out there, I’m not making any excuses. GSP followed a perfect game plan and fought a flawless fight, and truly was the better man that night. However, if, indeed, the Vaseline and stomach flu rumors were true, and BJ was able to fight at full strength (mentally and physically) against a fair, Vaseline-less body, I’m absolutely positive that the fight would’ve been A LOT closer than it was. If it turns out that those rumors were false, GSP is undeniably the better man at Welterweight.

Leaving the arena took a ridiculously long time as there was just one exit for all 14,885 of us fans in the Grand Garden Arena (I really hope the folks at MGM do something about this potentially dangerous situation). It did give us some time however, to observe some interesting things like the proud/happy Canadians singing their national anthem aloud and the local mokes trying to call them out fo’ beef. I really wish that that fight broke out to give us some entertainment. Not that I was upset at the Canadians. Heck, they deserved to be proud. I think it was more that my thirst for excitement was not quite quenched, with just two stoppages the whole night.

I got some consolation when I saw Pride fighting legend Takanori Gomi waiting in line for his car outside, and took a picture with him. He seemed intense, but gave me a proper, Japanese bow as I bowed and thanked him with “Arigatou gozaimasu.”

Takanori Gomi and I
Takanori Gomi and I

Wifey also called me later to tell me that my goal of getting on the historic DVD with my cheesy fluorescent green shirt had been fulfilled, albeit the back of our heads. LOL! So it was not all a disappointing night yo. 😛

Dave and I forever a part of UFC 94 history. LOL!
Dave and I forever a part of UFC 94 history. LOL!

We thought about going to the Official UFC afterparty at LAX (http://www.laxthenightclub.com/ ) at the Luxor, but decided to grab a bite instead. We called my high school buddy Jeff (another Hawaii transplant) to see if he and his wife Yvonne wanted to join us, but he instead, invited us over to his house to eat leftovers from their UFC 94 party. ‘Twas nice to see them and just chill after a long night.

The next day was Superbowl Sunday, but with our bets already placed, we said “Superbowl Shmuperbowl” and hit the slopes at the Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort for a lil’ boardin’.

Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort Sign
Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort Sign

It was a gorgeous day with decent conditions (mostly smooth with some powder and icey patches), but the best part was that the Blackjack, High Roller, and Keno paths (blue square) and Jacks, Slot Alley and Grandma’s (black diamond) were relatively empty (see trail PDF here). I pretty much had half the mountain to myself! Awwwww yeah!

Empty path... Loves it!
Empty path… Loves it!

Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort
End of Highway 1506 in Lee Canyon
(702) 385-2754
Lift Hours: 9am to 4pm
Lodge Hours: 8:30am to 4:30pm

After a mandatory Trader Joe’s omiyage run following our boarding sesh, and a quick bite to eat at Panda Express (yes, we had the urge!), we got back to our hotel just in time to catch the most exciting 4th quarter in Super Bowl history.

Kurt Warner's look of disgust as his Cardinals allow Pittsburgh to move the ball closer and close to the end zone
Kurt Warner’s look of disgust as his Cardinals allow Pittsburgh to move the ball closer and close to the end zone

All in all, it was a quickie, but exciting 3 days of 3 breathtaking sporting events: MMA, football and snowboarding. The perfect storm of pleasure.