Hello, my friends! Summer has unofficially begun! After returning from Hawaii, I find myself in two operas this summer (including my first opera role!!), and have been busy preparing for that, as well as doing the usual photography and blogging! Everything I am doing now is so rewarding, but I could use a few extra hours each day!
This week, I wanted to share with you the first half of my Hawaii trip! The main reason for our visit was #misscheesemongersbrother’s graduation from the University of Hawaii, so when the ceremony day rolled around, we were ready with many, many leis.
Next, we ate. I admit, I’m not a big fan of Honolulu and Waikiki because of the crowds, so I didn’t feel much like swimming in the saturated beaches. We DID find some great food, though! Here were my favorite spots:
2586 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815, 7 days a week, 6am-10:30am, 11am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-10:30pm, (808) 926-5616
We wanted to take Mama Cheesemonger out to dinner for Mother’s Day, and although service was less than perfect, the whole dining experience was nonetheless charming. The restaurant is located inside the Park Shore Waikiki Hotel at the end of the strip, and was filled with Japanese diners. The evening’s three elderly servers, two of whom looked ready to topple at any moment, managed to keep the restaurant afloat despite the Mother’s Day rush. We did have to wait a bit for everything, but no one was in a rush, and our dishes were so copious and delicious, it didn’t matter. We each ordered from a different set menu, so I was sure to get some uni (sea urchin) in mine. Mama ordered from a special Mother’s Day menu, which included sashimi, salted mackerel, exquisite house made fresh tofu, savory egg custard, and more. Hers in particular was the never-ending menu. There is a tatami area if you are inclined to go that route, too. The food was outstanding. I would go again!
South Shore Grill
3114 Montserrat Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815, Mon-Sat 10:30am-9pm, Sun 12pm-9pm, 808-734-0229
For our first meal in Hawaii, my brother took us to one of his regular spots, South Shore Grill, where you’ll find fish tacos, plate lunches, and burgers. I got some ono fish tacos with macaroni salad, slaw, and rice. M. Cheesemonger the sandwich, which was served with aioli. Everything was fresh, well-seasoned, great quality, which I came to appreciate as our trip wore on. The macaroni salad here is especially tasty, and if you’re a mac salad fan, you may want to order some extra!
933 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816, Sun-Thurs 5:30am-10pm, Fri-Sat 5:30am-11pm, (808) 737-5591
In San Francisco, we have doughnuts to satisfy our fried dough cravings. In SoCal, there are churros (and doughnuts). In Honolulu, there are malasadas—round, Portuguese-style fluffs of dough that have been fried so that they are golden on the skin and airy on the inside. They come coated in cinnamon, sugar, or li hing mui (salted dried plum) powder, and can even have fillings. It was late, and we’d just had dinner, so we just got a half dozen cinnamon and sugar-coated ones. The bakery was busy, even past 9pm. I guess it’s always time for malasadas. Leonard’s Bakery is the first one on Oahu to serve this decadent treat, starting in 1953 when it first began making them for Shrove Tuesday/Pancake Day.
2310 Kuhio Ave #124, Honolulu, HI 96815, 7 days a week 7am-10pm, (808) 931-6000
The casual eatery Marukame specializes in udon, thick, pillowy noodles that come with a wide array of fresh soup and accompaniment choices. They import wheat flour from Japan to make fresh noodles for hungry diners every day. This place is popular—be prepared to wait before ordering, but it is worth it. I ordered the Niku udon, which comes in a traditional (marvelous) broth and topped with sweet beef and caramelized onions. My brother and I love squash, so we both loaded up on squash tempura, among other tempura pieces, before settling down to eat. Strong attention to detail in both soup and broth result in delicate, complex flavors and textures.
2141 Kalakaua Ave, Ste 1, Honolulu, HI 96815, 7 days a week 11am-11:30pm, (808) 922-7960
Get ready to rub elbows with your neighbors, because this place is tiny. The three of us sat around a single counter that snakes around the restaurant in a long “U” shape. M. Cheesemonger ordered the oxtail ramen, which was flavorful and rich; Mama Cheesemonger ordered the miso ramen set, which came with some lovely fried rice and gyoza; but I enjoyed my spicy ramen the best, which was rich, flavorful, garlicky, and filling. Ahhh, so satisfying. Just a quick bite to eat, and a good one.
Made in Hawaii Foods
Multiple locations, various hours. Check their website.
While wandering around the neighborhoods surrounding the University of Hawaii campus, we happened across Made in Hawaii Foods, a small family-run food producer and seller that offers a mix of local foods including honeys, cookies, taro chips, jams, coffee, and more. What drew me in, though, was the strawberry mochi, fluffy rice flour balls surrounding chocolate-covered local strawberries (why did we only get one box??? :( ). If you don’t love strawberries, that’s ok, because you will find many other flavors of mochi in the case, too!
We didn’t have a ton of time for other activities, since we had a lot of family to see during this trip. M. Cheesemonger and I did, however, manage to hike up Diamond Head! It was pretty, but SO CROWDED. It didn’t bother me per se, but it’s always weird to do a hike and know that you can reach out and touch about 10 people at any given moment.
Oh, we did also manage to fit in a little senior photo session with my little brother!
Next week, I’ll share with you some of the more quiet moments of our trip.
It’s my work to create great content for you. Do you love you see? Let’s work together!
PHOTOGRAPHY! Let me bring your food projects, business, and products to life. Let’s create something beautiful together! See my food photography portfolio. Or see my portrait portfolio for portrait work. Contact me to start brainstorming!
PARTNER! Let’s chat and see if we can make something together! Contact me!
BUY through my affiliate account links at Amazon.com (where you can get nearly anything under the sun) and the French Farm (where you can find delicious and beautiful French products for the kitchen, and get free shipping for orders over $75). Bookmark these links for later! You can purchase anything through them, not just what I recommend to you, and I will receive a small percentage of those sales at no extra cost to you! Everybody wins!