Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Another Great Night at Alan Wong’s

I recently went to Honolulu for a 3 night mini-vacation, and top of the to-do list was to dine at Alan Wong’s, on King St. I have frequented the restaurant many times before and it is definitely on my list of top 5 restaurants (maybe even top 3!). I wanted to share with you some of the food that I enjoyed over the course of the evening, as well as touch on a slight mishap that happened with my Ginger-Crusted Onaga. The end result was great, and my compliments to our waiter Shawn and Kerry the Restaurant Manager who handled the situation impeccably.

As I mentioned, I would consider myself a ‘regular’ at Alan Wong's when I visit the Islands. So, I have tried almost everything on the menu, as it doesn’t tend to change dramatically, with exception of the specials. I actually ordered ala carte and my mom had the 5-course tasting menu,– hence to say there are a lot of pictures! I plan to do a separate post about the 5 course menu shortly.

My first course was an asparagus dish that was on the specials list, and, I didn’t get a full copy of the menu (I realized this after I had left the restaurant) so I don’t know the name of it. However, the asparagus was lightly cooked, with an amazing dressing that was nutty and salty at the same time. Delicious.

Second course was the Hamakua Springs Tomato, Beet and Avocado Salad, with Hilo hearts of palm and Li Hing Mui Ume Vinaigrette. This has to be my favorite dish on the menu, however they have changed up the presentation of this dish which I don’t particularly like, and the delicate flavors of the ingredients don’t mix as well as they used to. Still delicious though.

Third course was the Ginger Crusted Onaga, (Long-Tail Red Snapper), with miso sesame vinaigrette and organically grown Hamakua mushroom and corn. This fish is always amazing, so when I tried to cut into it and it was like rubber (it was a little overcooked), I was shocked! I told our waiter Shawn about it and the look of alarm on his face was terrible! Kerry, the Restaurant Manager came over to apologize and within minutes the entire kitchen staff (its an open kitchen) was analyzing my piece of fish with horror and dismay. I don’t think things are sent back to the kitchen very often, hence the fuss. So, I got a new piece of fish, and would you believe, the middle was raw. I didn’t want someone to be fired or chefs to start crying so I asked Shawn not to tell anyone, as I didn’t want to create a scene. Minutes later, he showed up with some more wine for us as an apologetic gesture. So, I didn’t get to eat all my fish, but the restaurant staff (including the kitchen) were amazing and I really appreciate that they took the time to try and fix the problem. So, despite my little fish mishap I would go back in a flash, as both the food and the service are always outstanding.

We had a Groth Vineyards 2008 Sauvignon Blanc from the Napa Valley with our meal that was lovely. The whole evening was just great, and my sincere thanks to Shawn, Kerry and their team who made it a memorable night. I will be back for Thanksgiving, and look forward to another enjoyable meal.

To make reservations, visit their website or call (808) 949-2526.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

It's Finally Here - Hawaii!

I had such a great sleep last night - perhaps it was because I knew I didn't have to get up and do anything this morning, because I am finally on vacation! It has been almost 6 months since I really had a vacation, and although that doesn't sound like much, there has been a lot going on behind the scenes lately that would make you understand the importance of taking a break. I managed to take the email function off the menu on my smartphone, so now when I turn it on, I can only make calls and check the internet with ease, and to retrieve my work mail would require some difficulty. So its time to separate for a couple of weeks, and really take time out to reflect on the important things in life - friends and family.

I will be in Hawaii in just over 24 hours and I can't wait to see my mom, and head to the Barefoot Bar and see Rex. Ahhh, the good things in life!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Vacation Deals in Hawaii? Well....

I must be on every email mailing list to get last minute deals and specials to Hawaii (any excuse for a vacation right?) So, an email alert came through from Hawaiian Airlines last week, offering vacation packages to Hawaii (flight, hotel and car). I went to the website to check out the specials, and I was able to find return airfare, 5 nights accommodation at the Outrigger Waikiki and car rental for $900 per person for the Thanksgiving break. Sounds like a good deal right? Well, when you price each part out separately, it turns out that it actually isn't a good deal after all. If there are 2 of you going on the trip at $900 each, its actually rather expensive.

$350 - Return flights from SEA to HNL
$450 - Accommodation
$100 - Rental Car

Plus taxes, gratuity, meals, etc etc.....

I guess this is a good price for Thanksgiving, but when you compare to other travel deals currently available (right now I think of Las Vegas and Mexico) - this seems a little steep. Too bad, as I was almost ready to book!

I do think that better deals to Hawaii are around the corner, so keep looking for specials. One option we thought about was using our Hawaiian air miles for the flights and just paying for the hotel and car, which can help with costs. Other options include staying at hotels that offer special rates and deals e.g. Free breakfast included, stay 4 nights get one free etc. There are many ways to make your vacation a reality, you just need to do your research and be prepared for the occasional compromise! And for me, that means not taking a third trip to Hawaii this year. Oh well...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Time For A New Look

I have been writing and creating this blog for almost one year. It's hard to believe actually, time really gets away from you. I have played around with many ideas in regards to changing the look, feel and overall image of the blog, in order to completely represent me and my thoughts about Hawaii. So, as I embark on vacation starting on Saturday, I plan to play around with the blog, and starting in September, things may look a little different. Its time to step it up a notch, and with the 1 year anniversary around the corner, I think now is a great time to get started!

Friday, August 7, 2009

So Much To Do, So Little Time!

I am heading to O'ahu next Sunday to meet my mom for a quick stay in the sun, before we both head back to Seattle for some vacation time. The problem I am experiencing is....I don't have enough time to do all the things I want to do! I am trying to get an itinerary planned and if I had 30 hours in each day it would work just great. So, I have to squeeze some things out and save them for my next trip. So far, I have the following planned - what should I cut out? Or should I sleep less? Any feedback would be appreciated. I have 3 nights and 3 days to get this done!

Shopping at Ala Moana Center

Shoe Shopping at Nine West in Waikiki

Waikiki Shopping in general (I like to shop)...

Dinner at Alan Wong's on King St (This is the only thing that can't be taken off the list - its a necessity!)

Dinner at Roy's in Waikiki (we could make this a lunch?)

A meal of some sort at the Moana Surfrider and the Cheesecake Factory

Beach/swimming/tanning/cocktail drinking/at least one novel read (this will likely take up most of my time)

Pearl Harbor

Diamond Head

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

When Does an Australian Become an American?

On my Facebook page over the weekend, an old friend from my high school days commented on how he thought I had become 'American'. Was this a compliment? I don't think so, but I will need to confirm. However, he got me thinking about my life since moving to the US and what has changed so drastically that someone would think I was becoming American. Here is my take on the main things that have changed since moving here almost three years ago (on August 19 it will be three years!!):

1. My mum is now called 'MOM'

2. I no longer wear jumpers; I wear sweaters

3. I don't go on holidays any more; I take vacations

4. I would never hang my laundry on the clothesline out the back of my house: 1. Because we don't have a clothesline and 2. that's what a dryer is for

5. I now about 20 pounds heavier (not kilograms) thanks to all the awful fast food on every corner, no matter which direction you look

6. I think President Obama is awesome

7. I say the word 'like' more than I care to admit

8. I have a strange Aussie/American accent; similar to Nicole Kidman in 'Bewitched'

9. Dallas Cowboys are my favorite football team (Canterbury Bulldogs? Who?)

10. 'Bold and the Beautiful' is the new 'Home and Away'

Despite all these changes, I wouldn't have it any other way. I love my new American way of life and all the opportunities it has brought my way. Here's to more strange words, hamburgers and living the American dream!