Sunday, March 22, 2009

Shabu Shabu & Sukiyaki at Suntory

For Melanie's birthday, we went to Suntory Japanese in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center in Waikiki. This is the most authentic Japanese restaurant for Shabu Shabu and Sukiyaki that I have been to in the US. Actually, one side of the restaurant is a teppanyaki grill with the playful chefs who cook your meal to order in front of you on the flat grill. The other side is a much quieter restaurant that serves sushi, sashimi, shabu shabu, and sukiyaki.

It is so authentic, if you wanted the service staff will even only speak to you in japanese. :D

The meat was just melt in your mouth delicious, and the vegetables made it seem like you were in Japan with several varieties of mushrooms normally not seen in the US.

We tried both the shabu shabu and sukiyaki this evening and neither dish disappointed. The meat was freshly cut and well marbled. The veggies were perfectly cut and plentiful. And the sauces were for dipping were nicely spiced. Also for the sukiyaki, a raw egg was provided for dipping. Not too many places do this, but it made it very authentic japanese.

The service was first class as was the overall experience.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Diamond Head

The view from the top of Diamond Head crater is spectacular. You can see all of Honolulu which spans from the beaches of Waikiki into the basin of the mountains separating the east and west sides of the island.

This was my second trip up to the top of Diamond Head. And unfortunately, I ran into an overcast sky. But the view from the top was still tremendous. As well the adventure to get to the top is quite exhilarating. The path to the top is only about 3/4 of a mile with a change of 550 feet but the elavation changes come quickly in the form of steep concrete steps and spiralling staircases. But once you make it to the top, you are rewarded with the best view of the island.

Arriving in Paradise and Rushing to Find Tuna

As we were approaching for landing, I could already feel the excitement of being on vacation. Seeing the deep blue sky and the sparkling clean water helped quite a bit also.

This is a shot of Diamond Head Crater. The peak on the right side can be seen predominately from Waikiki.
More about Diamond Head on Tuesday's post when I plan on hiking to the peak.

After quickly getting our bags and jumping into our rental car (we got upgraded to a larger car, YES!!!. Upgrade #1, this vacation is off to great start.), we are headed to our favorite sushi place in Oahu, Genki Sushi in Ala Moana Center just outside of Waikiki. Ala Moana is a huge shopping center where you spend days just trying to find your car in the parking structures after a long day of shopping. :D

Genki is known for its spicy tuna. Their spicy tuna is different from most spicy tuna in that it is not mashed and not just bits of trimmed tuna parts. There are actual cubes of ahi tuna mixed in a spicy Japanese mayonnaise instead of a spice red chili paste. The fish was exquisitely fresh and just melted in your mouth. The spicy mayo added that just right amount of kick to compliment the fresh fish. We mush have cleared a half dozen dishes each of just the spicy tuna.

The selection of sushi is rather extensive in this sushi bar, but we really just concentrated on the spicy tuna, and at just $2.20 per order we could enjoy to our hearts delight. After a leisurely lunch at Genki we had satisfied our craving for spicy tuna which had been building since our last visit to Oahu in May of 2007.

Some of the other notable contraptions I say at Genki is that they have an automated nigiri sushi maker. All they do is put the rice into this machine, and it packs perfect logs of rice to which the sushi assembly will top with varying delicious morsals of seafood.

Genki is getting quite popular because in addition to the Ala Moana location, there is also a location near the zoo in Waikiki and at the outlet malls in Wakalele.

Aloha from Oahu, Hawaii

I am sorry for not posting for the past couple of days. I was able to find enough time this morning to write about some of our adventures in Oahu this week.

So hopefully, I can complete a couple of posts today.

Also, I am uploading photos when I can at:


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pictures from Seattle

I just got the pictures up from our trip to Seattle in early March.

We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at the Crab Pot on Pier 57 just down the street from Pike Market Place.

After arriving on an early flight from San Jose that got us to our hotel in downtown Seattle at 9:30am on a Tuesday morning. We were quick to find out not many shops or restaurants (with a few exceptions) were open this early. Wow....we could have caught a later flight. My fault for being over eager to explore the town.

However, we did enjoy a great white chocolate mocha at Tully's Coffee. The mocha was unusual in that it was spiced differently than white mocha's that you would commonly get at Starbuck's or Pete's Coffee. Besides being rich and creamy, the spice (maybe it was nutmeg) took it to another dimension and made it especially easy to drink.

After surfing the web briefly at the cafe, we located the Crab Pot nearby within a 10 minute walk down the wharf. We were some of the first patrons of the day but we were soon enveloped in the wonderful seafood menu that included several types of seafood feasts with crab, clams, oysters, shrimp, fish, and mussels. The service was prompt, very attentive, and good humored.

The seafood feasts are served on the table on top of large pieces of white paper. Be ready to use your hands and take the bibs when they are offered. It could get messy. Included in our feast was dungeness and snow crab, large prawns, clams, mussels, salmon, halibut, corn on the cob, and anduille sausage. They were all nicely spiced with an "old bay" type of red powder which gave it just the right amount of flavor. All the shellfish was perfectly steamed. Even the fish was not over done which could easily happen in this type of smorgasbord. I not sure how we did it, but we did manage to eat all of our generous portion.

After that, we were ready for a nice nap back at the hotel.

I hope you will take a glance at the pictures as we also ventured to the space needle in the afternoon.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Fine Day for Outdoor Dining

Welcome to my first blog. Here I will try to document in words and pictures places that I have visited and dined.

Please enjoy!!!



Today was a typical late winter day in Northern California. It was bright and sunny with temperatures in the low to mid 60's. Perfect weather to enjoy a quick bite for lunch outdoors.

Just happens that today, we had chosen to go to the Falafel Drive-In in Santa Clara where the food is tasty and relatively cheap. This Drive-In was featured some time ago in Food Networks' "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives", and it is living up to its reputation. When we arrived a little before noon, the ordering line was already half way to the street with all the picnic tables taken. However, the line moves quickly so we did not have to wait for more than 10 minutes. And since it was such a nice day, the minutes past by without much care.

When it was my turn to come the window and order, the tough decisions have to be resolved quickly because the ordering line was moving and they didn't like waiting. Would it be the falafel or the shish-ka-bab? Would the banana shake do or should I try the pineapple today? Decisions, decisions, decisions...

Since we had not been to "the drive-in" in so long since the winter weather here in NorCal is so "brutal" (I think it did not get up past 55 on a couple of days this year.) :-P, I ordered the tried and true, falafel pita with a banana shake. And boy, was I not disappointed.

The banana shake was silky rich and buttery tasting with the strong suggestion of banana. The falafel pita was overflowing with falafel, lettuce, and flavorful white and red spicy sauces. The falafel was perfectly cooked, crispy brown on the outside and vibrantly green and moist on the inside. Combined with the cool lettuce and sauces, this was a perfect meal for an outdoor setting.