Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Hawaii 2015: Day 3

Jet lag has really been a problem this trip even though it's only a 3 hour time difference.  I got up at 6am this morning hoping to catch the sunrise, but when I went out to the balcony it was already up!  I've also been waking up at 4am so maybe I should try to get out there and see if the sun is coming up then.  ...Or just check to see when the sun actually comes up instead of guessing.  

For brunch we took my family to Helena's Hawaiian Food, which we had first discovered because of Man vs. Food.  It was so good that it's one of the places we've been talking about since the start of our vacation planning.  My Dad put us in charge of all the food decisions for the trip since they don't care what they eat as long as it's good.  Dad is in charge of the planning, we're in charge of the eating.  I can tell that my Dad is making a conscious effort to let us have our "down days".   With all the eating we do, we need naps.  Lots of naps.  If it were up to him, we would have a scheduled tour or activity for each day.  

I would suggest that if you ever go to Helena's, to go early.  Both times that we've gone there has been very limited parking and the wait has been 30+ minutes.  It is well worth the wait so don't get discouraged, but if you're with someone else, have them jump out of the car to put your name in while you go park.  That was our strategy this time and we still had to wait a while.  They had signs up that they will be remodeling next week.  My Dad says that when places remodel they are never the same.  I think this is partly true because you don't get that same authentic feel.  Right now Helena's is a pretty small hole-in-the, but who knows what it will look like the next time we come back.  Ultimately, Nick and I would like to make O'ahu our family vacation destination when the kids are a little bit older.  We will raise a couple of foodies.  They're already well on their way with the way I can pack food in. 

The menu had four different combination options.  We ordered the largest that came with Kalua pork, their famous Pipikaula spear ribs, Lomi salmon, Luau squid and two scoups of rice.  The salmon was a type of ceviche in tomatoes and the squid was in a green mush that was flavored strongly with coconut milk.  I have to say, it looked like baby poop, but was really good.  They also gave us a dessert coconut jello that was really tasty.  I never used to be a big fan of coconut, but once I discovered that you can get it unsweetened my opinion has changed.  The jello was not very sweet and tasted like the actual coconut fruit. 

Off the regular menu we ordered quite a few things since we knew that the combination order wouldn't be enough for the five of us. Their dishes are served in small portions like tapas.  From the top left: Small poi, tripe stew, sweet onions and dipping salt, more spear ribs, butterfish collar in stew gravy, macaroni salad, three scoops of rice, Kaluah pork and cabbage, and Luau chicken.  We ended up ordering a second serving of macaroni salad and third serving of their ribs.  My Dad really liked their ribs and I think he even contemplated taking an order to go.  I surprisingly really enjoyed the Luau chicken even if it looked unappetizing.  It was really good over the rice.  

The whole shebang.

To make their ribs, they hang the spear ribs over the stove to let them cure before frying them up. 

After lunch we decided to go to see Diamond Head since it was on our way back to the hotel.  We were originally going to go to the Waikiki aquarium so none of us were really prepared to be outdoors for an extended period of time.  I got a little burned, but it's not that bad.  I'm glad that we went though since the last time we were here Nick and I didn't go.  The hike to the summit was only about 0.8 miles, but it was pretty darn hot and some parts rather steep.  Nowadays, I get easily over heated and the babies don't like it.  I can feel them now and when I get too hot from exercise they move around a lot.  Luckily, at the top of the summit there is a little structure that provides shade and had a really nice breeze.  We stayed up there for around 15 minutes just so that I could cool down enough for the babies to stop kicking.  I imagine them arguing like, "You tell her to stop", "No, you tell her to stop, you're bigger".  I am very thankful for the movement now so that I know that they are doing alright.  It felt like a victory for me to get up there even if it's a pretty big step down from Spartan and Tough Mudder runs.  It's hard work carrying two kids.  According to my pregnancy app, they are the size of turnips this week so two of them in my 4'10 frame is a lot of extra work.

Squatting in some shade on the hike up.  (I made him do it since I can't Asian squat anymore.)

First look out. 

Toward the top there is a pretty clausterphobic tunnel, but it was welcomed because it was very cool and had a nice breeze going through. 

We made it to the top!  It was worth the climb to see the view.

I tried to take a panoramic, but there were just so many people up there that it was hard to not get randoms in the picture. 

At the top of the summit you could "donate' $5.00 to the park to get a certificate for climbing Diamond Head.  I thought that my Dad was just getting our brochure stamped, but he came back around with a certificate that I made him hold on the hike down.  My excuse was that if I slip I would crush it.  

Later on in the day after some sun bathing, naps, and afternoon drinks, we got ready for one of the two nice dinners that I had planned.  We went a few blocks away to Orchids at Halekulani for a beach-side dinner.  The view was really nice and the appetizers good, but I wasn't very impressed by the main entrees.  There have been many times on this trip where I say, "Oh, we should go back there" but this wasn't one of the places.  My family thought the food was good, which I'm happy about.  I guess I'm just spoiled now from all the nice places in the Bay Area that touristy restaurants in hotels just aren't that great to me anymore.  Pre-Nick Era I would have thought that this place was amazing.  Nick has definitely spoiled me.

Nick's watermelon mojito.

Orchid's signature Mai Tai.

Sweet pea amuse bouche was pretty tasty.  I could have eaten a whole bowl of this cold soup. 

Since the place was called Orchids they have to have real orchids on the table, right?  

Butters for the bread, but I was mostly intrigued by the pomegranate balsamic vinegar and oil. 

The rolls and flat breads were really good. 

Smoked duck carppacio with baby watercress salad and truffle vinaigrette.

Seared scallops with cauliflower mousseline, caviar, and Gribiche cream. 

Ahi crudo with horseradish, diakon, and sake-lemon dressing.

My Mom got a grilled romaine salad with feta, tomato chutney, cucumber, onion, and lemon-oregano dressing. 

My dad got a lobster bisque.

And the Orchid's Salad which consisted of Hirabara greens, season fruit, and pomegranate vinaigrette. 

Mom got a beef tenderloin. 

I was torn between a veal chop and the ribeye.  I went with the ribeye, but wasn't very impressed.  It tasted fine, but it was very ordinary.  There was nothing for me to say, 'Oh wow, that's good" about it. 

Nick and Christopher got Orchid's signature dish.  The waiter said that of all the things on the menu, this is the one that will always remain the same.  They got the Steamed Onaga, which is a long tailed snapper.  It came with shitake mushrooms and green onions all cooked with a sesame oil and soy sauce. 

My Dad got pan seared sea bass with fennel soubise, olive tapenade and sea asparagus

Wasabi mashed potatoes.

Nick got a coconut cake.

My parents shared three scoops of Kona coffee and coconut ice cream. 

I had two scoops of pineapple sorbet

We're feeling like we're getting fatter by the day.  This morning before writing this post, I've been writing these posts retroactively, I thought about my Mom, Nick and I coming off the plane like bowling balls and Christopher and my Dad looking like the pins.  


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