After the long walks I had yesterday and with an early tour, I decided to skip my morning walk. I was going to skip coffee and breakfast but I was awake at 4:00am. After writing, I decided to grab a coffee and a small pastry at the Bistro around 7 to hold me over until our food tour.
We booked the Hole-In-the-Wall food tour. It is a tour where you get to sample various comfort foods of Hawaii. We had to meet at the Ala Moana Hotel no later than 9:30. Since the first shuttle was not until 9, I decided to take an Uber. Of course we were there early but I’d always rather be early. Around 9:30, I received a phone call saying they would be 10 minutes late. Then, I got a text stating it would be another 10 minutes. Finally, a call saying the were almost there. They arrived at 10:00 because some other guests went to a wrong hotel. Veronica was definitely ready to sample some foods after this wait.
Our first stop was Royal Kitchen for baked manapua. It is a Hawaiian-Chinese fusion based on Bao buns that are steamed with char siu pork. We could chose which filling we wanted. The offerings were char siu pork, kalua pork, chicken, curry chicken, Portuguese sausage, Chinese sausage, purple sweet potato, coconut and Chinese black sugar. Veronica selected kalua pork while I chose sweet potato so we could try two different ones. The manapua are stamped on top with a code so you know which filling is which. They were absolutely delicious, warm, soft baked bread with the best fillings. The pork tasted amazing and the sweet potato I learned has nothing added and it is so sweet it doesn’t need it. I can understand why these buns were a favorite among locals when the Chinese immigrants came to the the island.
After breakfast, we headed to Chinatown. We parked and had a short walk to the Maunakea Marketplace. We went into Ying Leong Look Funn Factory to see how noodles are prepared. We watched the workers oil pans filled with rice noodle batter which are then steamed and folded by hand. It is the oldest family run noodle shop however no one working the kitchen is under 70. Our guide told us that the children and grandchildren have no interest in the business. I found that to be a little sad the tradition might end.
Our guide took us to a small alcove where we set up base camp. The provided folding camping stool to sit on. There his partner on the tour brought two types of noodles to sample. One was mushroom and the other was topped with Korean Soyo chicken. I enjoyed the noodles but not the chicken. It is a dish served cold according to the guide and I found the texture of chicken and the sauce to be congealed.
Next appeared a delicious banana lumpia. So yummy! It is a banana with a spring roll wrapper covered in crunchy fried sugar. After this, we had a break to explore Chinatown.
Upon returning to our camp, we sampled the freshest ahi poke. It was amazing. We then had a dumpling filled with shrimp and pork topped with a mustard sauce. I wan’t a fan of the dumpling’s filling but did like the mustard sauce.
If this didn’t seem like enough, we had a fruit tasting. We tried Maui Gold pineapple plain and also with li hing powder which is made with preserved plum. The pineapple put our grocery store variety to shame. Then, we had longan or dragon eye fruit. Veronica told me it is mentioned in her book she is reading for school this summer called Chinese Cinderella. Pretty cool.
You would think fruit would be the end but we sampled char sui and roast pork next. Both were great! I even enjoyed the roast pork which he called five layers of heaven. It had meat, fat and crunchy fat layers. I could only eat one piece even though extra was offered. Very rich.
Very satisfied, we walked back to the van. We had to drive to the dessert stop at Liliha Bakery for their famous Coco Puffs. A Coco Puff is a cream puff with a chocolate filling that reminded me of pudding. It is topped with a Chantilly frosting made of butter, egg yolks, sugar, evaporated milk and salt. That is what made it truly special. It balanced out the filling with a slightly salty taste perfectly. After one of these you will understand how they sell over 5000 of these treats per day! Heavenly!
We decided to leave the tour and Uber to the Ala Moana Mall. We didn’t want to spend 45+ minutes dropping off the other guests. I wanted to buy a new Fitbit as my charger broke and then I lost the actual Fitbit.
After walking through the huge, multi level Target we decided to keep the food tour going. We tried some Dole Whip and Shave Ice. Both were very refreshing. Veronica had never tried a Dole Whip at Disney so this was a perfect opportunity.
We strolled about the mall and decided we had to try at least one dish in the Shirokiya Japan Village Walk. This is a beautiful area very similar to Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia but with primarily Japanese foods. We bought a chili garlic gyoza to share. Wow. Delicious. I paired it with a Japanese beer that was only two dollars. It is happy hour all day there. As I drank my beer, Veronica went to buy a few tempura to taste. You can purchase each piece separately for about $1.50 each. Stuffed, we made our way back to the shuttle to the Crystal Symphony.
After relaxing from all that eating, I took and shower and Veronica went to work out. While she dressed for dinner, I attended Saturday Vigil Mass. I enjoy Mass on board. We have two priests this sailing.
I went to Avenue Saloon to wait for Veronica and had my standby cocktail, Bombay Sapphire martini. We enjoyed the quiet lounge for longer than usual as we were still full from all that eating.
We went to Waterside and asked once again for Viktor. Tonight, I chose the Wagyu Beef Crudo or as I call it, Beef in a Jar. It was a good as I remembered. Veronica had the luau taco with kalua pork. She wanted to compare it to Chinatown. It wasn’t as good but still tasty. I found it to be pretty spicy but I liked it. For dinner, I had the jalapeño prawns and Veronica had the Opah fish. We both liked our dinners. I am not a big dessert fan so I asked for berries but Viktor convinced me to try some lemon sherbet. It was more like lemonade sorbet and too sweet for my palate. Veronica had the macadamia nut crunch which she said was really good.
We love to travel and experience new places and cultures.