Posts Tagged ‘rice’

38 Problems Only People From Hawaii Will Understand

August 21, 2013

Rice Fest countdown = 11 days! 8)

Sorry peeps, no “Where In Hawaii” this week. I figgah I go try and mix things up a bit once in a while. 8)

So some of you may know about this funny piece called “38 Problems Only People From Hawaii Will Understand” that was recently posted on Buzzfeed by Community Contributor Matthew Dekneef. It has gone fairly viral and for good reason. Buggah is funny.

But for those who haven’t seen it yet (and even for those who have), I thought I’d try to see if we can add to the list in the comment area below. First da list…

  1. There are some days where it’s so cold you just have to put on a shirt. – It’s 70ยฐ degrees! I’m gonna get frostbite!!!”
  2. Always forgetting to use your kama`aina discount. – I mean, do places locals really go even take kama`aina discounts?
  3. You don’t know who your cousins are and who your actual cousins are. – Everyone’s your cousin! This, of course, includes all your aunties. Your bus driver. Your bank teller. Your next door neighbor’s neighbor’s neighbor. Everyone’s your aunty!
  4. That overwhelming urge to defend the miracle that is SPAM. – Blasphemy! Spam musubis are a religion.
  5. Giving/getting directions is always an adventure. – “Okay, you wanna go mauka, and when you get to the third mango tree make a left, you’ll see one waterfall on your right hand side, just keep going. When you get to the menehune at the U-turn, he’ll ask you three questions…”
  6. When shipping costs more than the total cost of the item you’re shipping.
  7. Baked vs. steamed (manapua). – You can’t make me decide.
  8. Shave ice vs. your indecisiveness. – SERIOUSLY YOU CAN’T MAKE ME DECIDE.
  9. If it doesn’t have rice, then it’s not a real meal. – These are the rules.
  10. When you haven’t been to the beach since yesterday…
  11. …and then can’t decide which beach to go to. – Okay, fine, take it back… we got 99 problems and a beach ain’t one.
  12. That said, it is kind of hard to enjoy all of Hawaii’s natural breathtaking beauty… – …when you’re trapped in (traffic) all day. Because Honolulu has the second worst traffic in the country, just after L.A. The average driver here wastes 50 hours in gridlock a year. That’s over a week’s worth of surfing.
  13. Not to mention gas already costs an arm and a leg and your first-born keiki.
  14. When you can enter to win a free, 7-day, all expenses paid, VIP, luxury vacation for two to……………………………………………………………..Hawaii.
  15. It can be off the air everywhere else, but here every week is “Shark Week”.
  16. When you have to call Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner for something…
  17. There’s no civilized way to eat a malasada… …or a coco puff. – Don’t even try. It’s physically and emotionally impossible!
  18. Anyone dressed in head-to-toe Jeans Warehouse. – This isn’t just a problem. It’s a fashion emergency!
  19. The name of this product: BotoLift. – So, wait, wait, wait, wait… You put this where?!?!
  20. When one of these melts in your pocket (white rabbit candy).
  21. That one Nicki Minaj verse. Because you can’t be “in the islands of Waikiki,” Nicki.
  22. Your throat will start tightening up and you’ll begin salivating in 3, 2, 1… (lihing mui)
  23. These stairs are safe, right? (stairway to heaven)
  24. That Google Maps doesn’t have an “Avoid Potholes” option. – Because sometimes there’s a road in our potholes.
  25. Your favorite band will NEVER tour here. Ever. – Just accept it.
  26. When Obama won the presidency, you had to force yourself to be happy for someone from Punahou for the first time ever. – It was a struggle.
  27. You’re not sure who to trust: Dan Cooke or Guy Hagi? – Not that it really matters… It’s not like the weather ever really changes anyway.
  28. This thing called “Hawaiian” pizza. – Are we still calling it that? Okay, just checking…
  29. You’ve gotten into serious debates over which Zippy’s is the best Zippy’s. – Foolproof BFF Test: If they don’t know your Zippy’s order by heart, then they are NOT your BFF. No exceptions!
  30. Your legit ID always gets a harder look on the mainland. – Mahalo, “Superbad”.
  31. This question on Yahoo! Answers (Do they have Internet in Hawaii?). And let’s not forget the classics like, “Do you still live in grass shacks?” and “What about electricity?” FUN FACT: ‘Iolani Palace had electricity and telephones before the White House did! Also, yes, you can use U.S. currency here, and no, you don’t need your U.S. passport and power adaptors when you visit.
  32. When someone uses “Hawaiian” the same way they’d use “Californian” or “New Yorker”. – Yeah, that’s not going to work… BECAUSE HAWAIIAN IS A RACE.
  33. When someone corrects the way you pronounce “karaoke” and “karate”. – Sigh, we’re just saying it right.
  34. Or you’re told you pronounce “Hawai`i” funny. – Again, not “funny,” just right. We live here. WE WOULD KNOW.
  35. But wait, honestly, though โ€“ do we really have an accent? – Apparently we do say some words like “button” and “candy” kind of weird or something?
  36. Even though they don’t have laces, leaving anybody’s house is going to take an extra minute. – And for the last time…
  37. THEY’RE CALLED SLIPPERS.
  38. However, the biggest problem is taking it all for granted because… Lucky We Live Hawaii! Chee hoo!

Got any to add? Post it in the comment area below. Here’s mine to start:

* Your idea of an Aloha shirt is much different than mine!

K, what say you?

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Rinka Japanese Restaurant – Go for the Gold!

May 1, 2013

One evening, after helping us watch our daughter for the entire day, I told the parentals that we should go grab dinner, my treat. I suggested Rinka, this new Japanese restaurant I’ve been hearing about through the foodie grapevine. Much like the discovery of Marukame Udon a couple years ago, Pops had already heard about Rinka and has been wanting to eat there as well. Deal!

Rinka Japanese Restaurant sign
Rinka Japanese Restaurant sign

Located on Makaloa (between Walgreen’s and Hawaii USA FCU, on the backside of Heald College and Roger Dunn Golf), Rinka’s sliding door entrance, zen sand/rock garden (cleverly shaped as the Hawaiian Islands) in the foyer, and “Irrashaimase” greeting gave the exact authenticity I was looking for.

Nicely renovated with wood and cement accents, Rinka boasts a sushi bar, and a decent amount of western style seating…

Inside Rinka
Inside Rinka

… But if you want the full-on Nippon experience, see if you can reserve the “tatami” room like we did. Although the ground was not exactly made out of tatami, there is kotatsu style seating (low table with feet in the ground) and you have the luxury of privacy if the other table doesn’t get filled during your meal.

Inside the tatami room
Inside the “tatami” room

The menu is a quite diverse with 14 appetizers, 5 shabu shabus, 3 hot pots, 3 salads, 6 deep fried, 4 boiled, & 5 grilled choices, 11 sashimi offerings, and 8 donburi/udon options. With the exception of a couple items for the bebe (sushi egg & chicken karaage), we played it safe and ordered from the “kou-su” (set course) menu, which included many of their popular items.

Sushi Egg from the Appetizer section ($3.75)
Sushi Egg from the Appetizer section ($3.75)

Chicken Karaage from the Deep Fried section ($7.75)
Chicken Karaage from the Deep Fried section ($7.75)

First up in the kou-su was the Mozuku & Ika Marine (Cladosiphon okamuranus seaweed & squid vinegar concoction).

Ika Marine & Mozuku
Ika Marine & Mozuku

The second item was the Snapper in a Spinach Base Soup, complete with gold flakes on top (hence the “Gold” in the title of this article)! BRAH! This one was probably one of my favorites in the kou-su! Super ono!

Snapper in a Spinach Base Soup
Snapper in a Spinach Base Soup

Next was the Sashimi Tsukuri, a nicely presented offering of ahi and snapper.

Sashimi Tsukuri
Sashimi Tsukuri

The Renkon Manjyu (lotus root manjyu) was one of my other favorites and up next.

Renkon Manjyu
Renkon Manjyu

I’m not a fan of onions and tomatoes, so I had to do some maneuvering when eating the next dish: Crab Tomato Salad.

Crab Tomato Salad
Crab Tomato Salad

Next was the Abalone Croquette, one of the most popular items on their menu. To me, it was just ok.

Abalone Croquette
Abalone Croquette

And then came the “ingrediments” for the Buta (pork) Shabu Shabu.

Buta (pork) strips for the Buta Shabu Shabu
Buta (pork) strips for the Buta Shabu Shabu

Veggies for the Buta Shabu Shabu
Veggies for the Buta Shabu Shabu

Buta Shabu Shabu simmering
Buta Shabu Shabu simmering

Pops showing his shabu shabu skills
Pops showing his shabu shabu skills

As with other shabu shabu or hot pot restaurants, you get the option of making the most of your remaining soup base by ordering noodle or rice options to finish things off. We went with one of each: rice, ramen noodles, and udon!

Rice simmering
Rice simmering

Ramen noodles simmering
Ramen noodles simmering

Udon dekiagari (pau!)
Udon dekiagari (pau!)

The “kou-su” finishes with a few dessert options. We went with the Mochi Ice Cream and Sakura Cheesecake options.

Mochi Ice Cream
Mochi Ice Cream

Sakura Cheesecake (more golllld!)
Sakura Cheesecake (more golllld!)

The “kou-su” is normally $60, but we got it for their special, grand opening $45 rate. We ordered 3 sets, which was more than enough for 4 of us adults.

Kudos to Executive Chef Kazufumi Sonoda for delivering a medley of memorable dishes. Rinka is a definitely try, with or without gold sprinkles. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Rinka Japanese Restaurant
1500 Kapiolani Blvd
Honolulu, HI 96814 (Street View)
(808) 941-5159
Hours: Tue-Sun 5:30pm-12am
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Spicy Ahi & BBQ – Ono Japanese Eats in Pearl City

May 1, 2012

In part III of my Hawaii Ramen Quest, I paid IchiBen (in the Times Square Shopping Center) a visit. While walking over from my car, I noticed a fairly large crowd gathered around the entrance of another eatery nearby. That place was called Spicy Ahi & BBQ and I took a mental note to return again to give it a try. Here's what I found on that return visit.

Based on the name alone, I was pretty excited. I love me some good BBQ, and, if you've been following my Poke Paradise series at all, you'll know that I am a fanatic when it comes to raw seafood concoctions.

In addition to BBQ, Noodle and Nabemono items, Spicy Ahi & BBQ has a special "Spicy Ahi Bowl or Spicy Ahi over Fresh Vegetable" section on their menu with 14 different combinations incorporating Spicy Ahi.

Spicy Ahi & BBQ Menu
Spicy Ahi & BBQ Menu

I went with a two choice combination meal with, what else? Spicy Ahi and BBQ (Kalbi). Oh yeah!

Spicy Ahi & Kalbi (BBQ Beef Short Rib) Combination Dinner - $14.95
Spicy Ahi & Kalbi (BBQ Beef Short Rib) Combination Dinner – $14.95

Each combination dinner comes with a salad, miso soup, rice & pickles (tsukemono).

Salad and miso soup from Combination Dinner
Salad and miso soup from Combination Dinner

The salad comes "dry", giving you the opportunity to use the dressing of your choice from the selection on each table.

Salad dressings
Salad dressings

Wifey also went with a little combo action, choosing Misoyaki Salmon…

Misoyaki Salmon
Misoyaki Salmon

… and Udon as her two options.

Kake Udon
Kake Udon

Although prices are on the higher side for a casual, sit down dining type of experience, both food quality and quantity are definitely present. Outside of Waikele Center’s Restaurant Kunio, I would go as far to say that Spicy Ahi & BBQ is probably one of the area's best tasting Japanese restaurants. Definitely worth the wait.

Spicy Ahi & BBQ
98-1254 Kaahumanu Street, Suite A-13
Pearl City, HI 96782
(808) 488-4851
Tue-Thu: 11am-2pm (lunch), 5pm-9pm (dinner)
Fri-Sat: 11am-2pm (lunch), 5pm-9:30pm (dinner)

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Ethel’s Grill – Kalihi’s Best Kept Secret

September 1, 2011

Whenever I mention Ethel’s Grill to anyone, the reaction goes one of two ways: sheer excitement, or sheer confusion. Most people either really adore the old school Kalihi eatery or have no idea what I’m talking ’bout (Willis).

Back in the day, when I used to go golfing with my dad and my buddy Reid, we would hit up Ethel’s as our 19th hole. The old school charm and literal "hole-in-the-wall" vibe it gave off was fun and tear-jerkingly nostalgic.

Outside Ethel's Grill in Kalihi
Outside Ethel’s Grill in Kalihi

The food was grindz fo sho, but I never really had that "sheer excitement" sensation that many do… until a recent trip there brought me back to those 19th hole days.

The menu inside Ethel's
The menu inside Ethel’s

A business meeting with a friend Jon, who is ironically, my golfing buddy Reid’s first cousin, brought me back to Ethel’s for the first time in years. I wanted to chat with Jon about some possible synergies between his company and Oceanic Mobile and since Ethel’s is somewhat near his workplace, he suggested we go there. Loves it!

Oceanic Mobile Works at Ethel's Grill
Oceanic Mobile Works at Ethel’s Grill

Jon is a regular there. He knew Ryoko "Ethel" Ishii (owner) and all da oddah uncles and aunties working that day so we were hooked up with all kine stuffs, including a bag of andagi and a complimentary order of their famous tataki sashimi.

Ethel's Famous Tataki Sashimi - fresh tuna lightly seared served on a bed of bean sprouts and drizzled with sesame oil and Ethel's Garlic-Shoyu Sauce ($5)
Ethel’s Famous Tataki Sashimi – fresh tuna lightly seared served on a bed of bean sprouts and drizzled with sesame oil and Ethel’s Garlic-Shoyu Sauce ($5)

Jon ordered the Mochiko Chicken and I ordered the Japanese Hamburger Steak, which are both very popular dishes here.

Mochiko Chicken - Crispy Mochiko fried chicken served with Ethel's Ginger-Ponzu dipping sauce ($7)
Mochiko Chicken – Crispy Mochiko fried chicken served with Ethel’s Ginger-Ponzu dipping sauce ($7)

Japanese Hamburger Steak - Home-style hamburger patty topped with grated daikon, daikon sprouts, and tangy Ponzu sauce ($7.50)
Japanese Hamburger Steak – Home-style hamburger patty topped with grated daikon, daikon sprouts, and tangy Ponzu sauce ($7.50)

Each lunch order includes rice, miso soup, green salad and a choice of punch or iced tea (with one free refill).

Green salad and miso soup
Green salad and miso soup

Here’s a panning video of the salad, miso soup, Tataki Sashimi and my Japanese Hamburger Steak.


Food from Ethel’s Grill

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s my friend Rick. He had never been to or even heard about Ethel’s. So when I suggested we go there after helping him out with his Lanakila Meals on Wheels route one day, it was safe to say that he fell under the "sheer confusion" group I mentioned earlier.

Needless to say, we went and he enjoyed himself. So much so that when I tried to take a picture of him, he wouldn’t sit still as he was too busy stuffing his face.

Rick enjoying his meals at Ethel's
Rick enjoying his meals at Ethel’s

So whether you’re a Jon or a Rick, Ethel’s Grill is a great place to grab some super ono, local, Japanese style eats. Just be prepared for limited parking (small apartment building lot in a busy industrial area) and a long wait (only 20-ish seats max).

Ethel’s Grill
232 Kalihi St
Honolulu, HI 96819
(808) 847-6467
Mon-Sat: 5:30am-2pm

Don’t forget… THIS month…

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Rice Fest
The 2nd Annual Hawaii Rice Festival
Magic Island at Ala Moana Beach Park
Sunday, September 11, 2011 @ 10am-6pm
For more info: Ricefest.com / Twitter / Facebook
To RSVP: Facebook Event / Twtvite
===========================================

Yatai in Hawaii? Try Yajima-Ya or Blue Truck Teppanyaki!

March 1, 2011

Street eats ain’t nothing new to the Japanese. Better known as yatai (food stalls), Japan is just crawling with them, often serving better tasting food than their indoor counterparts. From the Kita no Yatai district up north in Obihiro Hokkaido, all the way down south to Yatai Douri and the surrounding areas in Fukuoka, my peeps really know how to cook… And more importantly, EAT!

And while not exactly a yatai, food trucks have been picking up steam as of late here in Hawaii, so we’re gonna cover two interesting ones that serve Japanese fair: Yajima-Ya (on Sheridan) and Blue Truck Teppanyaki (on University). That should be “yatai-ish” enough right? *grin*

Yajima-Ya

I first heard about this place through the Social Media grapevine. There was a buzz about this new Japanese-themed lunch truck opening up that had some kind of tie to the Yajima Service Station (Cosmo) nearby.

I asked wifey and some friends who work in the area if they’ve ever heard about it and I got the same response. “No, but let me know where it is so I can check it out. Sounds yummy!”

In front of Yajima-Ya's eating area
In front of Yajima-Ya’s eating area

So when they opened in October of last year, I had to check it out. After several visits, I got to know Manager Tomoki Ito a little as I interacted with him in both Japanese and English (he speaks both very well). One of my first questions to him was the association with the Yajima Service Station and how it all got started.

“I was hired by service station as a manager,” says Ito. “My boss, Mr. Akahane had the idea of making ‘tachigui udon, soba-ya’ which is a small restaurant located at every train station in Japan. They serve noodles very quick and customers eat while standing. Then, we found the truck and looked for good noodles and soup. Actually, I was the only one who had experience with cooking, so I was put in charge of the lunch truck. That’s the very beginning of our lunch truck.”

On a recent trip there, I ordered the Supreme Don (Pork, Beef and Shrimp Tempura over rice)…

Supreme Don - $9
Supreme Don – $9

… while wifey got the soba with sansai (vegetable) topping.

Sansai Soba - $6
Sansai Soba – $6

Our friend Rick Nakama took his own photo of his dish, the Buta Shougayaki Donburi (pork and ginger over rice)

Buta Shougayaki Donburi (pork and ginger over rice) - $6.50
Buta Shougayaki Donburi (pork and ginger over rice) – $6.50 [Photo Credit: Rick Nakama]

According to Ito, one of their best sellers is their $8 Yajima-Ya Bukkake Udon/Soba, which is beef, seaweed, natto and mountain vegetables over cold noodles. Gotta try that next time!

Yajima-Ya Bukkake Udon/Soba (beef, seaweed, natto and mountain vegetables over cold noodles) - $8 [Photo Credit: Tomoki Ito]
Yajima-Ya Bukkake Udon/Soba (beef, seaweed, natto and mountain vegetables over cold noodles) – $8 [Photo Credit: Tomoki Ito]

For those who can’t decide between the udon/soba and donburi choices, you can get a combo of the two (just ask within). You can also try one of their breakfast items (served until 10am), Belgian Waffles, or choose from one of their daily specials, which includes Hayashi Rice on Saturdays!

Daily Specials from Yajima-Ya
Daily Specials from Yajima-Ya

Of course, what’s a visit to a lunch truck without busting out the trusty ol’ Oceanic Mobile Hotspot for some 4G web surfing. Yup, it works here!

Oceanic Mobile works at Yajima-Ya on Sheridan Street
Oceanic Mobile works at Yajima-Ya on Sheridan Street [Photo Credit: AndHere.com]

Parking is a little tight here. There are only two stalls in front and the rest is street parking, which is not that easy in this area during the week. Either way, make your way here, as it’s a winnah.

Yajima-Ya
@yajimayahawaii
Sheridan Street (Behind Hinone Mizunone, between South King & Liona)
Honolulu, HI. 96814 (Street View)
808-497-7991
Mon-Fri: 7:30am-7:30pm
Sat: 7:30am-5pm
Breakfast served until 10am daily.

Blue Truck Teppanyaki

I’ve always seen this bright blue truck parked out in front of the Atherton YMCA on University when I drive by, but never bothered to stop for a looksee. It wasn’t until a glowing review or three from the Brother-In-Law that wifey and I decided to check it out one afternoon (they are at this location from 5pm-8pm daily).

Blue Truck Teppanyaki
Blue Truck Teppanyaki

Teppanyaki is basically a style of cooking in Japanese culture that involves using a flat stove top/griddle (teppan). At Blue Truck, you simply choose your type of meat (juicy steak, garlic teri chicken, hamburger steak, or shrimp) and optional side order items (Portobello mushroom, eggplant, egg, etc.) and they do the rest.

Workers preparing our teppanyaki
Workers preparing our teppanyaki

Basically, that involves them pan-frying/grilling your meat over the teppan range (left), adding their special sauce over it, and finally placing it on a bed of rice, corn and sautรฉed vegetables.

Home-Made Hamburger Steak (Mini) - $5
Home-Made Hamburger Steak (Mini) – $5

Juicy Steak & Garlic Teri Chicken Combo - $8
Juicy Steak & Garlic Teri Chicken Combo – $8

Prices are pretty reasonable here. If you wanted to double the amount of meat in the combo above to make 1 pound, it would only be $11.

Blue Truck Teppanyaki also serves breakfast items and specials like Spicy Tuna ($7), Steak Roll ($8), New York Sirloin Steak ($14), Pork chop ($8), Scallop ($14), Fish ($9) and Vegetable ($8) plates.

If you’re looking for this truck during lunch, they are at various locations throughout the week from 11am-2pm. See sign below.

Blue Truck Teppanyaki locations
Blue Truck Teppanyaki locations

And yes, in case you were wondering, Oceanic Mobile worked at the University Avenue location too! 8)

Oceanic Mobile works at Blue Truck Teppanyaki on University Avenue
Oceanic Mobile works at Blue Truck Teppanyaki on University Avenue [Photo Credit: AndHere.com]

Blue Truck Teppanyaki
University Avenue (in front of Charles H. Atherton House – YMCA)
Honolulu, HI. 96822 (Street View)
808-389-6808
Daily: 5pm-8pm

Yatai? More like Yatta!

Visit Us at the 1st Annual Hawaii Rice Festival!

August 1, 2010

Save the date for September 11th, 2010, a day when rice takes center stage. Diamond G Rice presents the 1st Annual Hawaii Rice Festival which will celebrate with the rest of the country the joy that is rice. This unique, one day event will be held at the Waterfront at Aloha Tower from 12PM to 8PM and will be packed with family fun, entertainment, food booths, educational activities, rice products, and much more!

Diamond G Rice Presents the 1st Annual Hawaii Rice Festival
Diamond G Rice Presents the 1st Annual Hawaii Rice Festival

The Rice Festival will be an opportunity for people from different cultures to come together and celebrate one of the unique elements that unite them. From celebrity chef cooking demonstrations, to entertainment to contests like the “Riceipe” contest and the SPAM Musubi eating contest, this festival will celebrate the world’s melting pot, Hawaii and its diversity. The otherwise ordinary grain that is consumed in Hawaii on a daily basis will be transformed and infused with new and fantastic flavors that will tantalize everyone’s taste buds. This one-day event will explore the many different uses for rice, as well as the cultures who use it, and will provide attendees with a deeper appreciation for rice and its many functions.

Rice Fest

Of course, what would a day of fun be without giving back to those who are less fortunate? Part of the proceeds from the Diamond G Rice presents the 1st Annual Rice Fest will go to Lanakila Pacific, who will also be collecting donations of brown rice at the event.

This 8-hour, one-day event will expect to draw in thousands of people, filled with both appetites and a curiosity of all the different vendors available related to rice and great tasting food in general.

Visit the Oceanic Time Warner Cable booth at the Rice Fest!
Visit the Oceanic Time Warner Cable booth at the Rice Fest!


Watch the Rice Fest Commercial

Road Runner customers, check your August newsletter (or click here) for a link to download a coupon for FREE admission to the event. Don’t forget to also visit the Oceanic Time Warner Cable booth for free giveaways and show only specials! Come on down and join in on what will indeed be a very RICE day!

Download the Rice Fest Poster!
Download the Rice Fest Poster!

Rice Fest

Diamond G Rice presents the 1st Annual Hawaii Rice Festival
Waterfront at Aloha Tower Marketplace
September 11, 2010 from 12PM-8PM
For more info: Ricefest.com / Twitter / Facebook
To RSVP: Twtvite / Facebook Event

The Rice is Right – Mana Bu’s Has the Best Musubis in Hawaii

June 1, 2010

Growing up as a second generation Japanese American, my taste buds have not always lined up with what was being offered here in Hawaii. Sure, I can pound a plate lunch as good as the next fella, but I contend that it is only because of the presence of “two scoops rice”! LOL!

I remember when mama used to pack us little home lunches that featured rice as the staple. Whether it was as a starch to go along with the other items, or as the star of the show in the form of onigiris (musubis/rice balls), you could bet your bottom dollar that we were well fed rice (rice) babies.

In the middle of the onigiris, we would often find a treat when she slid in oshake (salmon), chirimenjako (small anchovies), or any variety of kombu (kelp), and then she would wrap it all up with a tasty slice or two of nori (seaweed). As I grew up and eventually flew the coup, I realized just how spoiled I was when I suddenly had difficulty finding onigiris of the same caliber.

Enter one Mana Bu’s on South King Street.

Mana Bu's on South King Street
Mana Bu’s on South King Street

Self proclaimed as Hawaii’s Musubi Headquarters, Mana Bu’s serves up healthy onigiri – like mama used to make – at very reasonable prices. Here’s an interview I recently had with company president Manabu Asaoka.

[Edward Sugimoto] Please give us a little history about yourself.

[Manabu Asaoka] After graduating from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, I worked at The Tokio Marine & Fire Insurance as a marine (hull) insurance underwriter for 16 years. At the age of 38, I decided to change my life to be more enthusiastic, independent and happier, so I quit my job. (Since The Tokio Marine is one of the most highest-waging companies in Japan, this decision may’ve sounded reckless or ridiculous to my co-workers and bosses.)

Prior to starting my own business, I believed that I had to “study” at the target place to grasp not only the market size but also its culture and the people’s sense of value. I got into HPU in September 2005 and obtained a Master’s degree in Communication (MA-COM). Throughout the Master’s program, I focused on the intercultural communication and the customer satisfaction models. At the end of 2007, I finished the MA-COM program with “Distinction” and started establishing my own business. Finally, I opened the musubi deli “Mana bu’s” on May 14, 2008.

A Look Inside Mana Bu's
A Look Inside Mana Bu’s

[Edward Sugimoto] Why did you decide to open a musubi place here in Hawaii?

[Manabu Asaoka] Hawaii was the most attractive market to try my own sense of business, because of its diversity of culture. Especially, as a Japanese national, Hawaii’s food culture was quite intriguing. It is clearly affected by Japanese dishes; most of the locals love shoyu and miso. On the other hand, I noticed that the local Japanese food had been somewhat skewed; the Japanese people in Japan would NOT eat tempura, sushi, mochiko-chicken, butterfish, etc. so often. Rather, they are more familiar with variety of veggie foods, even in the drinking situations at Izakaya. When it comes to some foods for “snack”, now in Japan, musubi is very popular. Here in Hawaii, musubi mostly refers to SPAM musubi and some super-dried bland musubi at the okazu shops, despite that the locals’ love of rice dishes. I just wondered why nobody had tried to focus on musubi. So I decided to do this by myself.

Mana Bu's Partial Selection of Musubis
Mana Bu’s Partial Selection of Musubis

[Edward Sugimoto] How important is it to you to keep your prices low?

[Manabu Asaoka] Before recognizing myself as a business owner, I am always a consumer in this local community. As a consumer, under this tough economy, if I can easily buy tasty and healthy foods, that will be fine. I will try to keep the price as cheep as possible using good quality ingredients. At the same time, I must say sorry to some customers who would like to use their check-cards / credit-cards. The “Cash Only” system is very very important for us to save the cost.

The popular Teri SPAM Lite Musubi from Mana Bu's - $1.30
The popular Teri SPAM Lite Musubi from Mana Bu’s – $1.30

[Edward Sugimoto] Did you expect the popularity that you’ve been enjoying thus far?

[Manabu Asaoka] No. But I strongly believed that as far as we make tasty foods and sell them with affordable price, the local customers would, sooner or later, notice our shop and be regular customers. In reality, it was pretty short time, though…

[Edward Sugimoto] Serving healthy food and using only the highest quality ingredients seems to be a focal point for you. Why?

[Manabu Asaoka] One of the core missions of this musubi business is “To provide the locals EASY ACCESS to Japanese healthy foods”. For this mission, we stick to using only familiar ingredients which are available at the local supermarkets. We would like to suggest to the local customers that the healthy Japanese dishes, such as musubi and some veggie kinds, are NOT difficult to make by themselves.

Sign at Mana Bu's
Sign at Mana Bu’s

[Edward Sugimoto] How many different varieties of rice do you use? Which is the most popular?

[Manabu Asaoka] We use:

  • White-rice: TAMANISHIKI
  • Organic White-rice: KOSHIHIKARI
  • Brown-rice: TAMANISHIKI
  • 10-Grain-rice: Our original blend which includes TAMANISHIKI white/brown rice.
  • Mochi-rice: HAKUBAI

Still, White-rice musubi is the most popular kind.

Close up of the Kombu Musubi using 10-Grain Rice - $1.50
Close up of the Kombu Musubi using 10-Grain Rice – $1.50

[Edward Sugimoto] How many different varieties of musubi do you offer? Which are the most popular?

[Manabu Asaoka] 32 varieties on weekdays. 33 on Saturday. Best sellers are…

  1. White-rice Salmon
  2. White-rice Teri SPAM-Lite
  3. White-rice Tuna & Mayo

Tuna & Mayo Musubi from Mana Bu's - $1.30
Tuna & Mayo Musubi from Mana Bu’s – $1.30

[Edward Sugimoto] Any new ones in the works?

[Manabu Asaoka] Another 10-Grain version is under consideration. Also, we would like to try some more fillings with organic white rice. However, it depends on the market’s expectation based on the local economy.

10-Grain Sign at Mana Bu's
10-Grain Sign at Mana Bu’s

[Edward Sugimoto] You just celebrated your 2nd anniversary right? Anything special planned?

[Manabu Asaoka] Precisely, it is on May 14. Although we are thinking to show our appreciation to the customers, we haven’t decided it yet.

[Edward Sugimoto] Anything else to add to your current or future customers?

[Manabu Asaoka] We just want to say utmost Mahalo to the local customers. Their smile always encourages me and my wife Fumiyo. We are very very proud of this business strongly supported by the local customers and the local employees.

Manabu Asaoka Poses In Front of his Musubi Selection at Mana Bu's
Manabu Asaoka Poses In Front of his Musubi Selection at Mana Bu’s

Ed’s Tips for Mana Bu’s:

  • Go early! – Manabu, along with his nutritionist wife Fumiyo, starts at 12AM-1AM every morning to prepare for the day. Mana Bu’s (which, incidentally, is a play on the Hawaiian term Mana, which means strength/energy) opens their doors at 7AM with 8 different kinds of musubis (and organic coffee). At 8AM, they have 16 musubis available and at 9AM, they have 32. They close at 1:30PM but are usually wiped out well before then.
  • They also offer healthy okazu and dessert options after 9AM.
  • If you have any questions at all, feel free to ask Manabu. He is a wealth of knowledge and can explain each ingredient to you.

I think my mama has finally found some competition, as, the Rice is definitely Right here at Mana Bu’s. Cue Bob Barker…

Mana Bu’s
1618 S.King St.
Honolulu, HI 96826 (map)
Phone (808) 358-0287
Mon-Fri: 7AM-1:30PM
Sat: 9:30AM-1:30PM
Sun: Closed

The Best Thing I Ever Ate
UPDATE!
Manabu just informed me that their shop is going to be featured in the nationally televised “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” show (on the “Regional Favorites” episode) on Food Network TV this month on June 14th! Oceanic Cable customers, support Mana Bu’s and tune in to channel 321 or HD channel 1321 on the 14th! Omedetou Manabu-san!

Oahu… A Day In the Life

June 1, 2007

Todd is your typical local boy. Born and raised on big plate lunches, beaches and BBQs, this pseudo-expat will get all emotional on you if he stays away from these for too long. So when he made plans to return to Oahu for a few days from his current/temporary abode on the Big Island (with previous stints in Las Vegas, Maryland and Virginia), I made it a point to take the day off and tag along with this tourist to wherever he wanted to go. Turns out HE showed ME a thing or two about Oahu and its many hidden treasures…

The day started with a scheduled 7:30am arrival time from Kona International Airport at Keahole to Honolulu. As we all know, that means 7:40am by the time they get out of the plane and are ready to be picked up (7:50am if they need to go to baggage claim). So guess who calls me at 7:20am with an excitable voice traceable only by the high-pitched shriekiness? Yep, Tourist Todd. I was already on the way, but still rubbing the sleepiness from my eyes. He felt so guilty for his early morning arrival that breakfast would be on him at our first stop at Toshi’s Delicatessen in Kalihi.

Toshi's Delicatessen Sign
Toshi’s Delicatessen Sign

This tiny, hole-in-the-wall okazu-ya sits inconspicuously on the mauka side of North King Street, just a few blocks from downtown Honolulu. (! – There is a small strip of parking right up front, but be careful if you’re coming from the Wes’side… the turn is dangerous and possibly illegal).

At 7:49AM on a workday Friday, there was already a line of hungry locals forming.

Line at Toshi's Delicatessen
Line at Toshi’s Delicatessen

After tasting their Japanese-style breakfast/lunch lineup, it’s not hard to understand why.

Choices at Toshi's Delicatessen
Choices at Toshi’s Delicatessen

On this occasion, Todd ordered up a hamburger patty, corned beef patty, SPAM, eggs and rice, while I had the hamburger patty, corned beef patty, eggs, tofu and chow fun.

Todd's order of hamburger patty, corned beef patty, SPAM, eggs, rice and a snuck in peace sign
Todd’s order of hamburger patty, corned beef patty, SPAM, eggs, rice and a snuck in peace sign

My hamburger patty, corned beef patty, eggs, tofu and chow fun order
My hamburger patty, corned beef patty, eggs, tofu and chow fun order

Toshi’s Delicatessen
1226 N. King Street
Honolulu, HI 96817 (map)
(808) 841-6634

With food in our bellies, we headed just up the road to Chi-town, aka Chinatown. We were having a local-style barbeque that evening and wanted to pick up some goodies ahead of time. We ended up getting just three items: charsiu, roast pork and Okinawan sweet potatoes, but the photos I captured throughout provide for some interesting sights if I do say so myself. ๐Ÿ™‚

Vegetable stand in Chinatown
Vegetable stand in Chinatown

Crab selection in Chinatown
Crab selection in Chinatown

More veggies in Chinatown
More veggies in Chinatown

Crossing the street in Chinatown
Crossing the street in Chinatown

Roast duck hanging in Chinatown
Roast duck hanging in Chinatown

Frozen Ox Tails
Frozen Ox Tails

Veggies in Chinatown
Veggies in Chinatown

Fruits and veggies in Chinatown
Fruits and veggies in Chinatown

Seafood and poultry selection in Chinatown
Seafood and poultry selection in Chinatown

Okinawa Sweet Potato
Okinawa Sweet Potato

Shrimp selection at the Maunakea Marketplace in Chinatown
Shrimp selection at the Maunakea Marketplace in Chinatown

Poor piggy who went to the market
Poor piggy who went to the market

Following Chi-town, we went to another “C-town” (Costco town) to pick up the rest of our eats for the BBQ: Tri-tips, shrimp, bacon & scallops, and other miscellaneous goods. We then headed for the crib to prep and drop off the food for that night. Our other friend Kelvin picked us up from here and we headed to the beach.

Didn’t take too many beach shots (or at least ones they would let me show you), so below is just one taken after our day in the sun, walking back to the car. Side note: When I told Todd I was writing a “day in the life” piece of his time here and asked him what he wanted to include in it, rather than mentioning anything about food, Hawaii or otherwise, he wanted to mention that he’s single and available. Kelvin is as well FYI, so for all y’all single ladies out there, feast your eyes on this! *grin*

Kelvin and Todd, Hawaii's most eligible bachelors
Kelvin and Todd, Hawaii’s most eligible bachelors

Nothing tastes better than a plate lunch after the beach, so the three of us stooges headed to local favorite Rainbow Drive-In in Kapahulu.

Rainbow Drive-In
Rainbow Drive-In

Kelvin and Todd – both monster eaters – ordered the Mixed Plate, which consists of teri steak, grilled mahi, and chicken. Todd was so much in heaven that he wouldn’t even move his hand to let me take a picture!

Rainbow Drive-In's Mixed Plate (teri steak, grilled mahi, and chicken)
Rainbow Drive-In’s Mixed Plate (teri steak, grilled mahi, and chicken)

As for me, I took the practical approach and got just a burger and fries to save my appetite for the eats to come that night.

Rainbow Drive-In's Hamburger and fries
Rainbow Drive-In’s Hamburger and fries

Kelvin made a joke that Rainbows was so fast that as soon as you placed your order and walked over to the next window, your food would be ready! He wasn’t too far from the truth! For future reference, Rainbows is fast kine!

Rainbow Drive-In
3308 Kanaina Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815 (map)
(808) 737-0177

With more than 12 hours past since that girly voice greeted me on the phone this morning, it was time for the barbeque! Let me put on my bbq hat and attempt to recipe this buggah out:

First up on the grill was the beef tri-tips.

Seasoned Beef Tri-Tip
Garlic Salt (to taste)
Seasoned Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Olive Oil (to taste)

Season the beef with garlic salt, seasoned salt and pepper just before cooking (will dry out meat if done too far in advance). Pour enough olive oil over each piece to moisten. Cook over grill, rotating regularly, to desired wellness.

Beef Tri-tip on the grill
Beef Tri-tip on the grill

Next was the Italian-style shrimp:

Italian-style Shrimp
2 pound bag of frozen 21-25 shrimp (shell off, tail-on and de-veined)
1 bottle of Italian Dressing (your choice)
Salt
Pepper

Defrost the shrimp and lightly salt and pepper them (shrimp is naturally salty and will also get ample flavoring from the dressing). Throw shrimp in a Ziploc bag, empty dressing into the bag and zip up. Do your best impression of “Shake Yo’ Money Maker” or “The Twist” (depending on what generation you’re from) and shake the bag until your shrimp is well coated. Place in fridge and let sit/marinate for at least a couple of hours.

When they’re ready, throw ’em on the grill and cook to taste, rotating regularly. (Note: Shrimps cook very fast so keep them off of the hot part of the grill and keep an eye on them or they will burn/char.).

Italian-Style Shrimp joins the party
Italian-Style Shrimp joins the party

Lastly, the Bacon-Wrapped Scallops

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops
1 bag frozen scallops
1 pack bacon
Skewers or thick toothpicks

Defrost frozen scallops and remove hard connective tissue (optional). Wrap bacon around scallop and secure in place with skewer. No flavoring necessary as the oil and saltiness from the bacon will be sufficient. Grill, rotating regularly, to taste and serve.

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops round out the bunch
Bacon-Wrapped Scallops round out the bunch

Big plate lunches, beaches and BBQs… All in a day’s work. But let’s not forgot to mention one of the most important Bs that makes living in the islands so unique: bonding with your buddies. You can’t put a price tag on that.
Good food, with great friends… Lucky we live Hawaii.

Kau Kau Kauai – Part 3

March 1, 2007

Part I | Part II | Part III

Well, we’ve finally made it gang. The 3rd and final part in our Kau Kau Kauai series. Please! Hold back your tears!

In part 1, we spanned the Garden Isle for favorites such as Tip Top Motel & Cafe, Waimea Brewing Company, and Jo Jo’s Shave Ice. The 2nd part of our series took us to Ono’s Family Restaurant, Hamura’s Saimin and Duke’s, among others! Now, we’ll round it all out with stops at such hotspots like the Cafe Hanalei Sunday Brunch, Brick Oven Pizza and Polynesia Cafe.

Those previous Kau Kau Kauai adventures were written under the pretense that you were visiting these places all in a day’s work, when in actuality, each and every one of the Kauai restaurants were visited over the course of many, many visits there. The mishmash was then somehow puzzled together to create a single piece supposedly taking place over the course of one day. If you were fooled, please accept my humble apology. If you were not, but played along anyway, please accept my humble gratitude.

In this final piece, there ain’t no hidin’ it. It’s going to be a feeble attempt at throwing in the best of the rest, if you will, so prepare yourself for multiple breakfasts, numerous lunches, many dinners and miscellaneous treats in between for good measure. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Conveniently located in the Coconut Marketplace in Kapa`a, Eggbert’s is not hard to find.

Eggbert's Sign
Eggbert’s Sign

Out front, they have a sign that boasts about their Loco Moco so guess what dis buggah just haaad to get.

Loco Moco from Eggbert's
Loco Moco from Eggbert’s

Out Honestly, the details are a bit fuzzy (I last visited there in October of 2005), but I do know that it wasn’t bad. As I’m sure with most of you, I only remember bad food experiences very vividly.

Eggbert’s Kauai Family Specialty Restaurant
Coconut Marketplace
4-484 Kuhio Highway
Kapa`a, Kauai, HI 96746 (map)
(808) 822-3787

There were no plans on eating at this next stop really, but after many visitor requests about this place in my previous column, I just had to check things out at Dani’s for myself.

Dani's Sign
Dani’s Sign

I had the $6 Corn Beef Hash with 2 eggs and rice special. The other options for this special were Rego’s Portuguese Sausage (instead of the corned beef hash) and toast or hash brown (instead of rice).

Now because momma always taught me that if I have nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all, I’ll just say that I enjoyed my other Kauai breakfast stops a lot more. I know this is a local favorite, but to me, the portions were quite small and tasted “canned”.

Corned Beef Hash with Two Eggs & Rice
Corned Beef Hash with Two Eggs & Rice

On the other hand, my eating partner Art enjoyed his $6.20 hamburger steak with scrambled eggs & rice combo.

Hamburger Steak with Scrambled Eggs & Rice
Hamburger Steak with Scrambled Eggs & Rice

Dani’s Restaurant
4201 Rice Street
Lihue, Kauai, HI 96766 (map)
(808) 245-4991

Full yet? I’m just getting started my dears. Let’s drive on up to the the Princeville Resort where, every Sunday, they have the popular Cafe Hanalei Sunday Brunch.

Cafe Hanalei Sunday Brunch

The menu and prices are noted as subject to change without notice, but on this occasion, it boasted the following:

Salads:

  • Kilauea Baby Greens with Assorted Dressings
  • Crisp Romaine Caesar Style
  • Chicken Pad Thai Noodle Salad
  • Hawaiian Sweet Potato Salad
  • Kailani Spinach and Chinese Duck Salad
  • Spicy Crab and Kimchee with Cucumber
  • Marinated Heart of Palm and Artichoke
  • Spicy Thai Beef Salad
  • Local Potato Macaroni Salad
  • Thai Style Ahi Tuna Poke

Miscellaneous Salad Items
Miscellaneous Salad Items

Chilled Seafood and Specialty Items:

  • Iced Seafood Display
  • Peel & Eat Shrimp, New Zealand Mussels and Dungeness Crab Legs
  • Horseradish Spiked Cocktail Sauce
  • Fresh Lemons
  • California Rolls with Wasabi and Pickled Ginger
  • Imported and Domestic Cheese Display
  • Assorted Water Crackers and Breads
  • Crisp Vegetable Crudite with Selection of Dips
  • Atlantic Smoked Salmon Display
  • Bagels and Cream Cheese with Red Onion and Capers
  • Grilled Marinated Vegetable Display

Dungeness Crab Legs
Dungeness Crab Legs

Entrรฉe:

  • Fresh Island Catch of the Day
  • Tossed Pasta of the Day
  • Eggs Benedict
  • Chef’s Brunch Potato
  • Carved Slow Roasted Beef
  • Wok Seared Kauai Prawns
  • Moloaa Tomato Bisque
  • Chinese Style Fried Rice
  • Crisp Bacon, Link and Portuguese Sausage
  • Stuffed Roasted Loin of Pork
  • Pancit Noodles with Crispy Asian Duck
  • Seasonal Local Vegetables
  • Chef’s Omelette Station

Chef's Omelette Station
Chef’s Omelette Station

Desserts:

  • Pastry Chef’s Dessert Display
  • Fresh Crepes with a Variety of Fillings
  • Sliced Island Fruits

Fresh Crepes with Cherries and Vanilla Ice Cream
Fresh Crepes with Cherries and Vanilla Ice Cream

As made obvious by my packed plate, I was a fan…

Just part of the damage I was doing to the buffet....
Just part of the damage I was doing to the buffet….

Though the food is good, the highlight of the Sunday Brunch is actually the view. (! – If you come at the right time and request to sit outside, you may be able to get a table with an amazing view…)

Your view from Cafe Hanalei
Your view from Cafe Hanalei

Cafe Hanalei
Sunday Brunch: 10AM-2PM
Princeville Resort
5520 Ka Haku Road
Princeville, Kauai, HI 96722 (map)
(808) 826-9644 – TEL
(808) 826-1166 – FAX

For the next two stops in our never ending day of gluttony, I have to apologize… Thumbing through my photo archives didn’t turn up many results in terms of usable pics. The Deli & Bread Connection, Inc. and Brick Oven Pizza are however, two stops that cannot go unmentioned.

Located in the Kukui Grove Shopping Center, this sandwich joint is always crowded during the lunch hour. They also sell fresh baked bread and, according to their business card, gourmet kitchenware as well.

Two different sandwiches from the Deli & Bread Connection, Inc.
Two different sandwiches from the Deli & Bread Connection, Inc.

Deli & Bread Connection, Inc.
Kukui Grove Shopping Center
3-2600 Kaumualii Highway #1005
Lihue, Kauai, HI. 96766 (map)
(808) 245-7115
(808) 245-3492 – FAX

Long revered as the best pizza on Kauai, Brick Oven Pizza sits conveniently off Kaumualii Highway in Kalaheo. These pizzas are hella fresh and homemade in their brick hearth.

Pepperoni and mushroom pizza from Brick Oven Pizza
Pepperoni and mushroom pizza from Brick Oven Pizza

Brick Oven Pizza
2-2555 Kaumualii Hwy
Kalaheo, Kauai, HI 96741 (map)
(808) 332-8561
Tues-Sunday 11AM-10PM
Closed on Mondays

While we’re here, we might as well cross the street and continue our foodfest at the Kalaheo Cafe & Coffee Co.

Kalaheo Cafe & Coffee Co. Sign
Kalaheo Cafe & Coffee Co. Sign

Not only do they serve delicious coffee from the wee hours of the morning, they also offer fresh baked breads and serve up a healthy menu for lunch and dinner. On this occasion, I ordered up their special of the day: Eggs scrambled with roasted veggies & a tiger shrimp seafood mix, topped with hollandaise sauce & served with hash browns & toast for $10.25.

Eggs scrambled with roasted veggies & a tiger shrimp seafood mix, topped with hollandaise sauce & served with hash browns & toast for $10.25.
Eggs scrambled with roasted veggies & a tiger shrimp seafood mix, topped with hollandaise sauce & served with hash browns & toast for $10.25.

Kalaheo Cafe & Coffee Co.
2-2560 Kaumualii Hwy
Kalaheo, HI. 96741 (map)
(808) 332-5858
(808) 332-5868 FAX
(800) 255-0137 Toll Free
Email: javatalk@kalaheo.com
Open daily from 6:30AM-2:30PM
Dinners are Wed-Sat from 5:30 PM

We’ve finally reached the end of the road gang. Our last stop in this journey of Kauai Kau Kau takes us back north to the city of Hanalei. Located just inside the main entrance of the Ching Young Village Shopping Center, Polynesia Cafe is one of those pleasant surprises you won’t find very often. Billing themselves as gourmet food on paper plates, this little surfer’s-style cafe delivers on that mantra.

Entrance to Polynesia Cafe
Entrance to Polynesia Cafe

Their menu is chock-full of gourmet entrees like Mac-Nut Herb Crusted Ahi or Thai Tofu & Veggie, salads, sandwiches and a variety of Mexican dishes. They even had a dessert case filled with tasty looking delights.

Dessert case at Polynesia Cafe
Dessert case at Polynesia Cafe

On this occasion, we ordered up Sesame Chicken and Chicken Quesadilla and a Lemon Bar for good measure for dessert.

On the menu, the Sesame Chicken was defined as “orange ginger glaze with curry batter” and went for $9.95. It came with mixed veggies and was served over a bed of rice.

Sesame Chicken - orange ginger glaze with curry batter for $9.95
Sesame Chicken – orange ginger glaze with curry batter for $9.95

The Chicken Quesadilla went for $8.95 and came with rice, beans and condiments for the quesadilla.

Chicken Quesadilla from Polynesia Cafe for $8.95
Chicken Quesadilla from Polynesia Cafe for $8.95

I don’t quite recall how much the lemon bar was, but lemme tell ya, it was worth every fattening bite!

Lemon Bar from Polynesia Cafe
Lemon Bar from Polynesia Cafe

Polynesia Cafe
Ching Young Village Shopping Center
5300 Ka Haku Road
Hanalei, HI 96714 (map)
(808) 826-1999

…Annnnd I’m spent!

So there you have it! The season finale, the fairytale ending, the photo finish… You won’t ever have to hear the words “Kau Kau Kauai” and “World Wide Ed” in the same sentence anymore… Well, at least until I work on the prequels. *grin*

Much love for hanging in there with me gang. It was fun! Now… to work on “Munchy Maui” and “Broke Da Mout’ Big Island!” ๐Ÿ˜‰

Part I | Part II | Part III

Honolulu Marathon Shmonolulu Shmarathon – If You Can Walk, You Can Roll

January 1, 2007

xxx

“Wow!”

“Impressive!”

“You’re crazy!”

Yep, these are just a few of the statements people yell at me on a daily basis. The first two statements: “Very Nihhce!”… The third one: “Not so mahch!”

This time, however, all three statements were being shrieked at me for an entirely different reason. The reason: I survived 26.2 miles that is the Honolulu Marathon.

Now before you start complimenting or cursing me – depending on your level of anger management – I’m here today to tell you that “running” (and I use that term loosely) a marathon is nothing really you yourself can’t accomplish.

Just send me 4 easy installments of $19.95 and follow my plan of attack, step-by-step, and you’ll be on your way to millions. Woops, wrong infomercial. Follow my blueprint for success below and you’ll be right on pace to compete in the December 9, 2007 Honolulu Marathon.

Before I set you on your 12 month regime, let’s give you a little background on my physical condition prior to the 2006 marathon to help you gauge where you’re at.

I am a *cough* 30 *cough* something year old male in fairly decent condition. Not too skinny, not too heavy. I’m your typical office employee at an 8+ hour a day sit-down job, being fed birthday cakes every once in a while. I play sports regularly, but keep in mind that this conditioning is a lot different from long distance running conditioning. If you don’t play team sports or move your body out of your recliner at least every once in a while, then I would definitely recommend getting out and being more active. There’s no need to become the next Olympic champion, but definitely jog or walk a few miles here and there. At the bare minimum, you’ll live a longer, healthier life. Now, on with the 12 months of madness!

January 2007

With the holiday season in the rear view mirror, it’s time to get off your lazy behinds and shed some of that holiday weight.

Start off slow. If this is your first exposure to moving your legs in a quick moving motion, you definitely want to get your heart and legs accustomed to the coming year of BonBon-less training. Walk for a mile or 10 minutes at your local gym or around your neighborhood. Set goals. Don’t be too hasty and attempt 10 miles on your first day. We’ve got 11 more months of this torture yo.

January or February-ish is also about the time they announce the early bird registration for us locals so keep your ears open for that. It usually requires a visit to the Niketown store in Waikiki and about $15. The great thing about this early bird registration, aside from the large break in the entry fee and free T-shirt, is that you’re officially committed to run. There’s no more excuses from that point on. Circle the Sunday, December 9th date on your calendar and cross off the days until then…

For more information about the early bird registration, contact:
Honolulu Marathon Office
3435 Waialae Ave., #208, Honolulu, HI 96816
TEL: 808-734-7200 / FAX: 808-732-7057
E-MAIL: info@honolulumarathon.org
URL: http://www.honolulumarathon.org/

February 2007

Continue your slow, but sure training. Work on getting your cardio up to par. We should still be in baby steps phase. One mile here, 2 miles there, 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there. Nothing crazy just yet. If you’re starting from scratch, we should still be walking and not jogging full time yet.

Again, either January or February is when they’ll announce the early bird registration so if they have not announced it yet, listen up for that in February.

March 2007

Alright troops, we’re three months into the new year and less than 9 months away from the 35th Annual Honolulu Marathon. Nervous? Don’t be. Still get choke time! The main thing is that we’re active and moving and not being lazy sloths. Going cold turkey with good physical conditioning is one thing, but going cold turkey with no work is an invitation for disaster.

April-May 2007

You should be up to at least 5-10 miles now… Running, walking, or otherwise and it should be non-stop. If you’re struggling with the distance, then make goals for time. Remember, you’ll be running/walking/crawling for about 5-12+ hours throughout the day on 9th of December, so you’ll want your body to be ready.

June 2007

Midway point check. You should be up past 13.1 miles now, as we’re half way there (half of 26.2 is 13.1 for those of you who missed math class in elementary school). Continue to work towards attaining your personal goals, while making sure that you’re on pace for your December debut.

July-August, 2007

This might be a good time to get outside and do a bit of your training in the sun. July & August is traditionally the hot/humid part of year so if you can handle a touch of these conditions, the weather in December should be a piece of cake.

September-October 2007

Hopefully you’ve already done this by now, but if not, be sure that your equipment is ready, set and good to go. Don’t make the mistake of buying a new pair of shoes late in the game and expecting to break them in in time for the big dance. Be sure that you’ve got the shoes and clothes that you’ll be running in, set and broken into. You might want to jog with your fancy threads a few times beforehand to make sure that there is no unnecessary chafing going on.

November 2007

Now let’s be honest. How many of you actually followed my schedule and trained for the last 10 months? I’m really hoping that you printed this article out in January and pinned it on your wall for inspiration (cue Eye of the Tiger music)… But if you’re anything like me, you probably waited until now to start training, or at least think about training. If you’re just rolling out of your recliner now, then I would recommend shooting for the 2008 (Sunday, December 14th) or 2009 (Sunday, December 13th) marathons. I personally know two guys who attempted the run cold turkey last year and could not make it. I don’t want to embarrass them so I won’t mention their names, but in Pig Latin, they were Randonbay and Ysontay. *grin*

All kidding aside, don’t be crazy. Twenty-six point two miles in hot, Hawaii weather is no joke and should not be taken lightly. If you are not in any kind of condition to at least run/walk 10 miles with ease, don’t push it.

I was probably right at the cusp of readiness. Though I was physically ok with the sports conditioning (with the exception of a bothersome ankle injury), I was coming off two weeks of travel where I did nothing but stuff my face. On top of that, I lacked true, long distance conditioning. I was lucky if I got 5 miles of non-stop jogging. Don’t make the mistake I did… TRAIN!

December 2007

It’s showtime! You’ve (supposedly) trained all year for this. You must be excited. A few housekeeping items to be sure to take care of:

Your race packets (including bib number and timing chip) will NOT be mailed to you. You will have to physically pick it up at the Hawaii Convention Center the week leading up to the marathon. Check your mail in late November for the details on the dates and times and be sure to bring in the confirmation card that comes in the mail.

While you’re picking up your packet, why not check out the Honolulu Marathon Expo that is running concurrently with the packet pickup? You can view and purchase various products and marathon related memorabilia as well as get information about the race itself. This past year, Hollywood actress Kelly Hu was in attendance signing autographs for her fans. She seemed really genuine and “real”, and is apparently an avid runner herself, as she completed the marathon with an incredible chip time of 4:56:19!

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Kelly Hu

If being a part of the weeklong festivities is your bag, you can buy tickets to the concert/luau that they have the Friday before the race. Last year, it was held at the Waikiki Shell and included an All-You-Can-Eat Carbo loading party, with music from Gavin DeGraw and Jake Shimabukuro.

Checklist for Race Day (Sunday, December 9, 2007):

  • Pound Da Carbs: As they say, load up on carbohydrates. Pasta, rice, bread, etc. During the race, you won’t have any time to eat. Power bars and gels at best, so eating right the night before is key.
  • Be a Sleeping Beauty: I can’t stress how important a good night’s rest is the night before the race. The gun goes off at 5AM so you’ll be waking up at least 3:30AM to get ready. Sacrifice the Clubbing, Internet browsing and/or DVR watching for just one night… Your body will thank you for it.
  • Ring the Alarm: You’ve trained all year for this so you definitely don’t want to oversleep! Set your loudest alarm or two or three and make sure that it’s far away so you have to physically get up to turn it off.
  • Break Fast: Fill up a bit in the morning as well, but not too much as you don’t want to get side pain during the race.
  • O2 Clothing: As the day progresses, the sun will make its presence known so you want to be sure that you don’t overheat. Wear cool clothing that breathes.
  • Comfy Kicks: Wear comfortable shoes that are pre-broken into. Blisters are your worst enemy.
  • Lather Up: You’ll be out in the sun for a good 4+ hours. Be sure to cover your exposed areas with suntan lotion with a minimum of SPF 35.
  • Lube Up: Vaseline the areas that you think may chafe with your clothing.
  • Bum a Ride: Parking will be a nightmare near the starting and finishing lines. If you can get dropped off and picked up, that would be ideal. (! – Get dropped off as far south on Pensacola Street as possible. You’ll have to walk a bit towards the staring line near Borders and IBM and P.F. Chang’s near Ward Center on Queen Street, but you’ll be at the front of the line, right up there with the speedsters from Africa!)
  • Make Like a Limo and…: Stretch! You will undoubtedly cramp up at some point during your run, but with proper stretching, you’ll save yourself a bit of agony.
  • Know your role: As long as you go in with the mindset that you are not in it to win it, you’ll be ok. The second you start to compete with the children and senior citizens whizzing by you, you’re in trouble. Just take your time and don’t overwork yourself. If you’re tired, rest. If you’re exhausted rest some more. Know and recognize your limits and stay within those boundaries. There is no rush. The Honolulu Marathon is one of the few marathons that waits for every single participant to finish, no matter how long, so take your time.
  • The Mr. Burns Factor: Prepare yourself to morph into a geriatric overnight. Immediately following your finish, your legs will feel like jelly and your posture and walk will be very Burns-like. Don’t expect to take on activities for at least a week.

Things to pack with you while running:

  • Band-Aids: Pack more than a few of these fo’ sho. This will save you. I used 4 Band-Aids and had to pick up 2 more from the aid station (which are few and far between). Don’t let the blisters get the best of you.
  • External Analgesics: Cramps are a part of the fun. You should’ve stretched by now, but you will still cramp. Applying products like Satohap pads, or soothing lotions or sprays will help tremendously. (! – You may want to consider the sprays or lotions as the pads do not stick to your suntan lotion skin very well.)
  • Gels: Light, portable, convenient and easy. These are some of the advantages of carrying products like PowerBar’s Gel. The only chance you have to eat during the day is your light snack in the morning. Having these handy treats in your pocket or fanny pack will save you when you get hungry in the middle of the day.
  • Fluids: This is a matter of personal preference. I, personally would not carry my own bottle(s) as there are drinking stations every 2-3 miles. Do, however, make sure you take in enough fluids to replenish those you lose (blood, sweat & tears) during your run. I drank at least one cup of water or energy drink at every single liquid station. You should do the same.
  • Shades: The hot, Hawaiian sun will be blazin’ by early afternoon, so you would want a pair of your ultra-violet (preferably polarized) spectacles on to save your peepers.
  • Mental Toughness: I tell everyone that finishing the marathon is mostly mental. Once you get past the slight aches and pains of your physical being, mental toughness takes over and will help you cross that finish line.
  • Camera: I would not recommend this to most, but if you’re a picture nut like me and are running for the experience of the event as much as for running itself, then the digicam is a must-have. I opted not to carry a fanny pack because the up and down bouncing action on my bum became annoying in a practice run. So, like an imbecile, I carried my camera in my hand throughout the entire 26.2 miles… And not a single drop! ๐Ÿ™‚

Now that you’re all prepped and ready to go now, all that’s left is for the race to start. It’s a madhouse. The streets are lined with racers ready to go and you can just taste the anticipation in the air.

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We’re close now, so let’s listen in to what Mayor Mufi Hanneman has to say to us runners right before the gun goes off.

http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=-5484422444500283998&hl=en
Mufi Hanneman

And we’re off!

It’ll probably be difficult, but try to remember to pace yourself. In both of my experiences, I bolted out of the gates like a mad man because of the adrenaline I had coursing through my veins. From the starting gun to the fireworks to just the whole experience of it all, it’s just plain exciting. By mile 3 though, I was spent, which, thankfully, provided a good time to break for a photo opp.

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Remember what the Carpenters preached…
Before the rising sun we fly,
So many roads to choose
We start our walking and learn to run.
And yes, we’ve just begun.

Mile 5 races through the streets of Waiks. Admiring the beauty of the Christmas lights and sounds of the ocean crashing the shore take your mind off of the race itself.

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By now, you’ve probably noticed, and appreciated those who are lined up along the streets to cheer you on. They probably had to get up just as early as you in order to root for you. As the sound of your heavy breathing takes over your eardrums, you hang onto every positive morsel they send your way.

“Go get ’em!”

“Way to go!”

“We’re proud of you!”

Before you know it, you’ve racked up miles 6, 7, and 8 and are passing mile 9 near Diamond Head.

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(! – A little note about miles 6-8-ish… Most of the Honolulu Marathon is flat, but at about this time is when you’ll hit one of the two uphill climbs of the entire course. On this occasion, you’re going up on Diamond Head Road – from Kapiolani Park towards the Kahala area – so save your energy for this one. Also along this path is where they start to narrow the running area with ropes. This is so that the finishers coming in the other direction have some room to run, but this also means less room for you. With thousands of people trying to cram into one lane of the road, things will slow down and get quite cramped. Be aware of this situation and don’t get frustrated. Claustrophobians – you’ve been warned.)

Once you pass the mile 9 marker, you’ll quickly approach the downhill slope of 18th Ave. If you brought your camera, this is the time to bust da buggah out because of the picturesque photo opps here.

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Depending on your timing, turning right onto Kilauea Ave may be a good shot too, as you could catch the morning sunrise.

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And before you know it, you’ll be passing mile 10. I passed this mark at 2:07:33, just a tad before the time when Ethiopia’s Ambesse Tolossa crossed the finish line. D’oh!

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Miles 10-11 is a brisk stroll through Kahala and as you turn onto Kalanianaole Highway, you’ll see the sign for mile 11. Kalanianaole Highway is, in my opinion, probably the most grueling on the course. It’s long and seemingly endless and you’ll constantly find yourself getting frustrated at seeing the runners (who actually trained for this stinkin’ marathon) making the return path home on the same highway. Try to refrain from cursing at them or cheating by jumping into their lane. Remain calm and maintain your own leisure pace and you’ll be just fine.

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If you’re built like me, this is about the time when the wheels start to fall off as far as running is concerned. We’re at about the midway point and everything is starting to cramp up. Take stretching breaks and fluid breaks (both in and out) and keep on a truckin’. Your cramps will eventually go away (at least in your mind) and your brisk walk will come back to form.

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Before you know it, you’ll be passing mile 15 and hitting Hawaii Kai with style. Eastsiiiide!

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From a mental standpoint, this is huge. You’re more than halfway done and you know that once you get through Hawaii Kai, you’ll be past the “turnaround point” and heading back on Kalanianaole Highway towards the goal! You’ll actually take the time to appreciate things, including the many characters you’ll find along the way.

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Between miles 16 & 17 is when I started to get hungry. I was seriously considering stopping by Safeway or Longs or Costco to grab a bite. I chose not to and decided instead, to take a breather at beautiful Maunalua Bay Beach Park near Roy’s Restaurant (on the corner of Keahole Street and Kalanianaole Highway past mile 17). This is also where they conveniently had another liquid station, so I grabbed a drink, leaned up against a breezy palm tree, pulled out a PowerBar gel from my pocket and rested my weary bones. In the distance, you could hear the band playing beautiful music on stage. Much love, Honolulu Marathon organizers… Much love!

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My view from the palm tree at Maunalua Bay Beach Park

Back on Kalanianaole Highway going west. Woo hoo! Try to refrain from mocking or doing a wop-yo-jaw at those slow-pokes going in the opposite direction. Them bums are doing their best. *evil grin*

Sure, miles 18 near Kuliouou and 19 near Halemaumau street are great accomplishments, but you really have your breakthrough when you hit the 20s in mile marker sightings. You’ll pass this blessed event right next to Aina Haina Shoppnig Center. Feel free to do a little dance, make a little love and get down tonight.

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Much of the torture continues through mile 21, but when you make that turn past Waialae Country Club onto Kealaolu Avenue and pass mile 22, you’re well on your way.

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Those sneaky buggahs from MarathoFoto will be along this road, so if you’re vain, you might want to fix your hair and come up with a pose before they capture you for eternity. Or, you can make like me and find someone you know to have a “prepared” shot taken. Here’s my ugly, exhausted mug at mile 23.

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Miles 23-24 continues on Kahala Ave as you head towards the treacherous Diamond Head Road hill. You’ll continue to get greeted by those cheering you on, spraying you with their lawn hoses, or, if you’re lucky enough, live slack key from the likes of Makana.

http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=-6080700019174488137&hl=en
Makana at the Honolulu Marathon

Miles 24-25 is sheer madness, but you’re so excited that you’re almost pau that you forget that it’s a crazy uphill climb. Once you’re in the 20s, you’re looking and praying for anything that resembles the next mile marker. No such luck here.

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Another character along the course was this dude on Diamond Head Road. He made me laugh, and, get inspired all at the same time. Not sure who he was with or what he was doing there, but he held a sign that said, “Mou sugu gooru da, Ganbare!”, which essentially means, the goal is pretty soon, keep it up! Thanks for the inspiration weird man!

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Once you start going downhill, you’ll hit the real 25 mile marker. Pay no attention to the time. I, uh, actually got this photo from a little girl who, uh, took this long to get to mile 25. Yeah, that’s it!

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This is when you really start getting excited. Passing Kapiolani Park down Kalakaua Ave is the most beautiful sight these eyes have ever seen… that day. The crowd is roaring and your adrenaline is pumping. Your legs are mush, but you “make like” and start jogging like you’ve been doing it for the past 26 miles with ease.

But don’t get too ahead of yourself. There is still a 0.2 to go after the 26 mile marker. And lemme tell you, that 0.2 is not easy in your dilapidated condition.

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But then you see it. The goal you’ve been begging for since mile 1. What a sight to behold. I think I’m in love…

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Again, pay no attention to the time. Damn, that girl was slow…

My results for the day?
Finish: 7:19:31
Clock: 7:19:35
10K: 1:11:23
Half: 3:05:04
Hawaii Kai: 4:05:39
Diamond Head: 6:52:45
Place Overall: 20372
Place Men: 11292
Place Men 30 – 34: 1492

Just 20,371 places behind the winner… Don’t hate.

The results of the runners you are actually interested in?

Male Leaderboard:
Ambesse Tolossa 02:13:42
Jimmy Muindi 02:14:39
Eric Wainana 02:16:08
Araya Haregot 02:16:59
Eric Nzoiki 02:17:10

Female Leaderboard:
Lyubov Denisova 02:27:19
Alevtina Biktimirova 02:29:42
Eri Hayakawa 02:32:31
Olesya Nurgalieva 02:36:02
Albina Ivanova 02:39:44

So you see, running a marathon ain’t no thang but a chicken wang. With a clean bill of health and decent physical conditioning, combined with proper training, even YOU can prevent forest fires, er finish a marathon. And before long, your friends and family members will be calling you “impressive” and “crazy”…

“High Five!”

For all of my pics from the day, go to my gallery.

Mahalos to Chris and his boys for editing this video from the day’s events!
Too funny!