Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hole in the Wall Food Tour

The lovely Goldfish at the Oahu airport after a grueling flight from Anchorage.  Okay, it wasn't actually all that grueling.  Five and a half hours in first class (use your Alaska Airlines companion ticket, and first class almost makes financial sense with all the free perks), and we gained 65 degrees (11 degrees in Anchorage, 76 degrees in Honolulu).   Goldfish had arranged a lei greeting and shuttle to our hotel in Waikiki, where we spent two nights in the big city before relocating to the North Shore.
One of the things we wanted to try during the city portion of our stay was the Hole in the Wall Food Tour .  Goldfish's sister caught wind of this and graciously pre-paid the tour as a Christmas gift, and we had a great time!  You can see, as we waited outside our hotel to be picked up for the tour, we may very well be the palest white couple in the Hawaiian islands . . . .
I'm not going to get into a lot of detail on the foods we sampled as this is mostly an on-line photo album for us to look back on later.  These were our tour guides, Sahara and Greg, at the first stop on the tour.  They both had great personalities, and truly were focused during the entire time on making the experience first rate.  After the tour, Sahara sent us a long, detailed email including all the information from each stop so you didn't have to worry about taking notes, you could just relax and enjoy the experience.

 This was one of my favorites - there were maybe eight different fillings you could choose, and they tasted amazing - Hawaiian sweetbread filled with Chinese sweet roast pork (Char Siu) was Goldish's choice, and I had mine filled with smoked kaluha pork.
This is a view of one of the many lei shops where the leis are handmade and sell for just 5 or 6 dollars.  The leis we got at the airport gave our hotel room a wonderful aroma for the duration of our stay.
A view down the courtyard in China Town.
Inside the Ying Leony Look Funn Factory where owner Fu Ying Chee has been making traditional rice noodles for over 50 years.  The only concession to modern times is the conversion of the wood fired steamers to natural gas.
The entrance to the noodle factory.
Greg fed us plate after plate of food that Sahara sourced from all over the market.
Coming from an Alaskan island, we were blown away by the abundance, variety, freshness and low prices on the produce all over China Town.  It is no wonder the best restaurants head there to stock up.
A look inside one of the many markets in China Town where you could buy anything from exotic fruits from all over the world to live bullfrogs.  There were animal parts in that market that I can not identify to this day . . . . .
I took a picture of the strange fruits in the middle so we could try to figure out later what they were, not knowing we were moments away from Greg serving us some, along with how to get them peeled.
Rambutan, or "big red hairy balls" were some of the more interesting fruits found in the market with a taste all their own.
Hawaii is the number one per capita consumer of Spam, and Spam Musubi is daily fare for many living on the Hawaiian islands.  Greg rather defensively explained that Spam is made from 100% pork shoulder, not from random pig parts.  What REALLY surprised me was this was one of Goldfish's favorites on the whole tour . . . .
Pineapple two ways - fresh cut and sprinkled with li hing powder - YUM!  We bought several packages of li hing to bring home.
Smoothie time with a little island cheer from Greg's hip flask . . .
This was my favorite stop - it was a tiny hole in the wall store that we all crammed into while Sahara taught us about the origins of "crack seed".  We did some shopping there, taking advantage of flowering tea balls for a buck, packets of li hing powder, smoked and dried scallops, dried lychee, and some fruit flavored hard candies.  What a treasure!
Greg rocking the Hawaiian Food Tour logo (also the license plate from the shuttle bus) as he led us to the next stop in China Town.

We stopped at Bubbie's for mochi ice cream!  Mochi is a pounded rice paste that they wrap around homemade ice cream, so you can eat the ice cream without a spoon or cone!  Great way to practice portion control as well - we all got to try two different flavors, I went for one traditional (adzuki bean) and one holiday (candy cane) - both were delicious!
Our last stop was Leonard's for malasadas, a Portuguese donut which they make to order so they are still warm.  Great way to end five hours of food tasting!
This was the view from our hotel room in Waikiki.  After the food tour we freshened up and puttered around a bit before heading across town to a restaurant that Sahara recommended we try for dinner.

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