Since we missed our flight out of Lihue, we also missed the opportunity to have dinner with Michael. But he sent a few suggestions of places we could catch a decent bite later in the evening. The suggestion we took was Mac 24/7, a restaurant featuring modern American cooking, located in the Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel, a few short blocks away from our less ritzy hotel.
After five days of eating mostly local fare, it was nice to order a cosmo and tuck into somewhat more conventional American food.
The interior was pretty much a modern take on the classic American diner, ESPN playing on the flat screen TVs and just a few customers scattered throughout the place. Service was friendly and the kitchen had our food to us in about fifteen minutes.
Well, despite the more conventional menu, Tawn didn’t order too far off what we had enjoyed the past few days. More seared ahi tuna served with kim chi fried rice.
I decided to go traditional and get a pork chop and mashed potatoes, which were very tasty.
We returned to the Aqua Waikiki Wave, which describes itself as a boutique hotel but which is nothing more than a standard tourist grade hotel. In fact, Waikiki seems to be positively bursting with these three-star (or less) hotels. The place was clean and looked like it had seen a remodel within the past few years, but it was still a pretty standard accommodation.
One thing I’ll give them credit for, though: the hotel is located right on the main boulevard where there is a lot of action well into the night, including a nightclub just outside the hotel’s entrance. In the room was a pack of foam earplugs with a tactfully phrased note explaining that the hotel is located in “an energetic and vibrant neighborhood” and suggesting that “if you are a light sleeper, you may wish to make use of these complimentary earplugs” and helpfully explaining that more are available by calling room service. These were the best earplugs I’ve ever used and they really did muffle the noise from outside.
Above, me horsing around on Waikiki Beach at sunrise. We were up early and walked the block from the hotel to the beach, which had a surprising number of people who were also out to see the sunrise, catch the surf, or secure a primo lounge chair in front of their hotel.
Here’s a short video of the beach during sunrise.
We then stopped for coffee at the branch of Honolulu Coffee located on the ground floor of the Westin Hotel. It was a beautiful morning and we enjoyed a pot of French Press coffee before stopping to buy some boxes of chocolate covered macadamia nuts to bring back to Thailand. Ignore, for a moment, the fact that macadamias are grown in Thailand. It’s what people expect you to bring back from Hawaii, right?
While we had missed the opportunity to dine with Michael the night before, we had thankfully also been pencilled in for breakfast. Braving the commute into town from the west end of the island, Michael then drove us through the tunnel to the east side of the island so we could visit a popular breakfast place called Boots & Kimo’s in Kailua.
Boots & Kimo’s is a kind of random place located in a small strip mall and decorated like a sporting goods store. For whatever reason, it has gained notoriety with Japanese tourists and it seemed like a large portion of the diners were Japanese families. As Michael explained it, it has kind of reached the point where locals don’t come as often because it is too crowded with tourists. I felt a little guilty about contributing to the problem.
We had to wait about a half-hour to be seated, but once inside the service was quick and our food showed up in no time. Tawn enjoyed the eggs benedict, which were done just like the textbook shows. You can tell they poach the eggs in molds, though, and not free-form.
Here we are with our food. That blue Hawaiian shirt got a lot of mileage this trip, didn’t it?
Michael and I ordered the same thing: beef short ribs which they hang above the grill in the kitchen so it picks up the smoky flavor as other orders are being prepared. Then, when your order is placed the necessary ribs are cut off and finished on the flame. These were really tasty with a nice beefy flavor.
The thing Boots & Kimo’s is known for, though, are their macadamia nut cream pancakes. Per Michael’s suggestion, we ordered a stack to share. Good call because while they are really yummy, eating an entire order by yourself would be overwhelming. We discussed how they manage to get so much macadamia nut flavor into the cream sauce. The thing with macadamias is, they don’t give off a lot of flavor once cooked, so the process of extracting the flavor into the sauce must be done with some sort of “low and slow” steeping of the nuts in the cream. Anyhow, they were a really tasty end to our trip!
Finally, before heading out the door, we got a picture of the three of us. Why it didn’t occur to me to have Michael take off his sunglasses, I don’t know. Perhaps it is best he remains somewhat anonymous so as to lend to the air of mystery that surrounds this long-absent Xangan. We’ll see if my subtle needling will be enough to get him to write again.
A gracious host, Michael drove us to the airport, dropping us off just the right amount of time before our flight back to Guam and Hong Kong. Just enough ahead of time so we wouldn’t miss this flight!