April 9, 2013
It was a blizzard in Denver today. My plane got out before 500 flights were cancelled…Whew! We were delayed for de-icing but made up all the time in the air! I sat next to a father son pair that had gotten stranded in Denver overnight while trying to make it home from the east coast to the west coast. The older gentleman, who required a wheel chair and hearing aids, saw my Denver library book, Gone Girl, which I recommend, and asked if I skied…HA! I’m all about warm weather, and I’m glad I’m leaving it up to Sean to shovel my sidewalk, while I head to the Pacific (Hawaii, Palau, Japan, and Thailand).
We landed safely in San Francisco. I couldn’t believe my eyes the sky was so clear…not a cloud in it…no fog…no smog. Just sun! San Francisco borrowed Denver’s sunny skies for a day…at least weather couldn’t delay our departure to Honolulu! Evidently adding more cargo to the plane could though. That’s OK, we made it up in the air again. United appears to be excellent at padding its schedule. I sat next to a nice young man who was in the army and stationed in Hawaii. He told me his favorite place to eat in Waikiki. It was a Japanese food restaurant on Beachwalk St. between the Hard Rock and the Trump Hotel. “The name started with a T, and it was the third restaurant on the right”, he said. I guess that depended on my traveling direction, but he narrowed it down to a small area on the block, and it looked like it was a 15 minute walk from my hotel, so I thought I’d give it a try once we landed in Oahu.
I was pleasantly surprised by my hotel. Being in Hawaii a day, I didn’t need anything special, but also didn’t want a dump. Water fountains surrounded the open air lobby…kind of a mini Vegas. It seems the hotel is home to residents and offers long-term stays. There is a market and shops along with two pools. The deck and bar overlook the boat piers that once used to be a delta to a prolific fishing river.
The rooms are nothing to write home about….large, a separate shower and tub, microwave, refrigerator…thus livable. I understand it’s very close to lovely beaches, but I’m only here long enough to go to Pearl Harbor in the morning, so I will have to check out the beach if I ever come back.
As for my meal, well I took my walk through Fort DeRussy Park, named in honor of Brigadier General Rene DeRussy, who served with distinction in the American-British War of 1812. The Fort was built in 1908 for defense though it now serves as a place of recreation. Nice paths weaved through the grassy area that was dimly lit. It seemed quaint despite several other tourists traveling on foot and busy streets wrapping around its edges.
I reached Beachwalk relatively quickly, probably because I was ready to gnaw off my arm. Street lights lit up the street and for a minute I wondered what had I done. I was excited about trying a somewhat local place and felt like I just arrived on 42nd street compared to three blocks ago.
I slowly meandered down the street looking for any Japanese restaurant starting with the letter T. I found it…third one on the right…established in 1927. I would have never picked it based on all the menus outside…written in Japanese with English subtitles and pictures. It looked sort of cheesy. Inside was a different story…all four chefs, the host, hostess, and all patrons spoke Japanese. I was in for authenticity…what a treat. Luckily, army boy (I failed to get his name) suggested the jumbo tiger prawns. He also mentioned the fried chicken and pork belly but there were multiple options with those, so it was prawns for me!
Given my hunger level, two prawns did not seem like it was going to be enough, but they are served on a bed of all you can eat cabbage and with a bowl of all you can eat rice. I also got hot tea with my glass of water and miso soup that I got to drink out of the bowl since silverware is not part of the table setting. That was fun…I always liked drinking the last of the milk in my cereal bowl when my parents weren’t looking…and this time I was expected to drink out of the bowl!
So with the prawns (which were fried in a coconut batter), two other fried items were included. I suppose I thought they were pieces of cut prawns until I bit into them. The first was chicken…the other piece turned out to be pork. After I was looking at it inquisitively, the chef asked if everything was OK. I replied, “Yes, I just didn’t know what I was eating”. That’s when I found out it was pork belly. I didn’t recall these things being in the picture with the prawns, but it satisfied my curiosity about the other items on the menu. Speaking of the menu, I thought it was funny that the local Hawaiian beer cost more than a Sapporo.
The prawns were divine! I was hesitant to order them because the bigger the piece of sea food, generally the more rubbery…ICK. These melted in my mouth with every bite. It was clear I stuck out like a sore thumb…the only tourist in the place full of locals. The host told me to use the sauce at the sushi bar made of vegetables and fruit. It was like a plum sauce. With my next bite, he said add it to the tartar sauce that has been provided. That was the perfect combo. The hostess asked me which of three dressings I would like for the cabbage…French, Japanese, or one other. I started to ask about them, and she said the Japanese is the best and brought it over! I wonder how many eyes were watching me eat?
When I got the check it turned out the waiter ordered me something else, the Ebi Fry Set, instead of the tiger prawns. It was $5 more, and I never saw it on the menu. I didn’t argue with him because I enjoyed every ounce, but I began to wonder if the locals try to take advantage of tourists. The shuttle service from the airport, Roberts.com that was recommended on Trip Advisor, told three Hispanic guys coming to work in Hawaii that they had to pay $5 for their large bags. Really?!? Regardless, the host, hostess, chefs, and food were AWESOME! I’d highly recommend the place, Tonkatsu Ginzu Bairin, and I’d order what the waiter ordered me!
I took a different route back to the hotel which took me past lots of shops. I briefly wandered around the grounds of the hotel, but it was already 10 o’clock, I have a 6:30 tour of Pearl Harbor in the morning. I’m certain I won’t have any trouble waking up…or at least fifteen years ago in Maui I didn’t. I imagine I will be awake by 4am! I wonder what time it gets light. I’m anxious to see the hotel and view in the daylight. The sun was setting as we flew in, but by the time we got to the hotel, it was dark…little did I know Hawaii does not recognize daylight savings. I learned something new today. I knew Indiana and parts of Arizona didn’t, but I was unaware of Hawaii. Until tomorrow…ETB!