Allison Day
Allison - Subscribe RSS Subscribe RSS
Son -

Archive for the ‘reviews’ Category

Waiola Shave Ice – Honolulu, Hawaii

Waiola Shave Ice

One of the places we were told that we must visit in Honolulu was Waiola Shaved Ice. (The other place was Mana Bu’s, but we unfortunately never got to try it – the day we stopped by, they had closed just an hour after opening, so we missed it.) On our very last day, the day where it just happened to pour rain all day, we stopped by after checking out of our hotel.

We decided to get the ice cream bowl and the azuki bowl with mochi balls. Two bowls was a bit much for us to finish, but they were still delicious. We got rainbow flavorings and condensed milk on the ice cream bowl – a few scoops of ice cream, topped with shaved ice. The azuki bowl consisted of shaved ice, topped with azuki beans and condensed milk, and surrounded with pink and white mochi balls.

Ice Cream Bowl

Son loved the ice cream bowl. While I found the flavorings (particularly red – cherry?) reminded me of medicine, Son absolutely loved the varied flavors. It went very well with the ice cream, and the bowl even came with a straw to drink the melted shaved ice! Quite enjoyable.

The flavors sink into the middle, but still yummy!

I, on the other hand, preferred the azuki bowl. I love the flavors of the azuki beans, and although these weren’t quite as sweet as I would have liked, they were still delicious. I especially enjoyed the mochi balls. As we all know, I can never get enough mochi. The only thing I disliked about the bowl was the shaved ice – it was just ice. No flavoring, no nothing. The azuki beans and mochi would have been immensely more enjoyable with ice cream, since that would at least add some sweetness. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the bowl.

Azuki Bowl with Mochi Balls

We were glad to have been able to try Waiola Shave Ice, with one reservation – we wish we had chosen a hotter day to go!

Roy’s – Honolulu, Hawaii


After a day spent relaxing on the beach, we decided to go somewhere nice on our last night in Hawaii. We checked our nifty little list/map of yummy places to eat in Honolulu, and settled on Roy’s.

Roy’s fancy menu cover

After we ordered, the first thing that came out was a bowl of edamame. Normally I adore edamame, and can down a whole bowl by myself. Not this time. They were seasoned with salt, chili pepper flakes, and sesame oil. While Son enjoyed the edamame, I found it to be too oily for my tastes. I prefer my edamame plain, seasoned only with a little salt.

Seasoned Edamame

I love escargot. It’s not often that I visit fancy restaurants that serve the dish, so when I am I always get it. (Which has been about twice in my lifetime.) I love the texture and flavor of the little snails, and heck – who doesn’t love a good butter sauce?


The first time I had escargot was when I was eighteen. The guy I was dating at the time decided to take me to a nice French restaurant for my birthday. We got escargot as an appetizer, and even though at that time I wasn’t fond of trying exotic foods, I loved the snail dish. It was the one bright spot in an otherwise unpleasant birthday.

Scooping one escargot out

As I expected, I loved the escargot. The buttery, cheesy (?) sauce was amazingly delicious, and the little crostini that came with the dish were a perfect accompaniment to the rich snails. While Son wasn’t exactly impressed by the escargot, I absolutely adored them… I ended up eating most of the six that came as our appetizer.

Escargot on a crostini

I ordered a Slow Braised and Charbroiled Short Rib dish that came with a sort of scalloped potato side and grilled vegetables. The short ribs easily yielded to my fork, and were incredibly tender. I loved the buttery potatoes (of course, I love nearly any potato dish), and the grilled vegetables were delicious as well. However, I wouldn’t order this again – if I went back, I would order one of the other delicious-looking dishes on the menu.

My beef short rib dish

Son decided to get the Roy’s Classic Trio of Hibachi Grilled Salmon with Citrus Ponzu Sauce, Roy’s Original Blackened Island Ahi with Spicy Soy Mustard Butter, and Hawaiian Style Misoyaki Butterfish with Sizzling Soy Vinaigrette. As I mentioned in my edit of the Sugoi review, Son will leap for misoyaki butterfish any time he can get it.

Roy’s Classic Trio – 3 fish dishes and a scoop of rice

Son found the salmon to be nothing special. Of the three fish dishes in his meal, this was undoubtedly his least favorite. He found the sauce to be a tiny bit sour for his tastes.

Hibachi Grilled Salmon with a Citrus Ponzu Sauce

He somewhat enjoyed the blackened Ahi tuna. This dish reminded him of sushi – not incredibly special or out of the ordinary, but still very delicious. Although it came with a wasabi sauce, he found it to be a little bland compared to the other two dishes.

Blackened Island Ahi with a Spicy Soy Mustard Butter

And then there was the misoyaki butterfish. Oh my goodness, the butterfish. This was easily his favorite dish of the entire night, and possibly of the entire trip. If he could do the meal over again, he would order just the butterfish. Really, his only complaint about the dish was that there wasn’t enough of it. The soft flaky fish, the spicy-sweet misoyaki glaze… I think he’s in love. I might just have to be jealous.

Misoyaki Butterfish with a Sizzling Soy Vinaigrette

For dessert, we got Roy’s Melting Hot Chocolate Soufflé – Flourless Chocolate Cake with a Hot, Molten Center; served with Raspberry Coulis and Vanilla Ice Cream. The waitress said this takes 25 minutes to make, so we ordered it when we ordered our meal. This was delicious, yes, but not ohmygod amazing. As with any chocolate cake (which reminded me more of a brownie), we easily finished the dessert and enjoyed it. However, this struck me as something I could make just as well, if not better, at home. From a restaurant such as this, I expected more “amazing” and less “meh, it’s good, but I could do better.”

Roy’s Melting Hot Chocolate Soufflé

Overall, we enjoyed our meal. The food was delicious, and the environment was somewhat elegant. My only real complaint was the service. While our waitress was very professional, knew the answers to every question we could possibly think to ask, and was incredibly polite, there was another waiter who would come and refill our water. Every five minutes. Never mind that the glasses of water were huge and we had barely made a dent in them, he would still come by and top the glasses off. I’m sure he was just doing his job, but my goodness did that get annoying. Otherwise, a great experience!

…served w/ Raspberry Coulis and Vanilla Ice Cream

Boot’s & Kimo’s – Kailua, Hawaii

Boot’s & Kimo’s

I’m the type of girl who’s got to have her breakfast. Without it, I get cranky from hunger and wobbly from lack of energy… I can’t possibly be much fun to deal with. (Poor Son, he has to deal with me every time I don’t get breakfast! Thankfully not often…) Lucky for me, I’ve got a darling boyfriend who will look up places we can go find breakfast while we’re on vacation. I’m such a lucky girl to have him.

On the Tuesday while we were in Hawaii, we had decided to go to the botanical gardens on the east side of the island of Oahu, and then head to the Byodo-In temple afterwards. (We didn’t make it to the temple until later in the week, but only because we managed to miss the turn-off… oops! Found some nice beaches and awesome tide-pools though, so it was a worthwhile mistake.) Since we were going to be in the Kailua area anyways, we decided to head over to Boots & Kimo’s Homestyle Kitchen. They are famous for their pancakes with macadamia sauce, so we figured it would be hard to go wrong there.

We ordered the pancakes with macadamia sauce of course, and also a spam omelet. We had hoped to try their fried rice as well, but they were unfortunately out of it by the time we got there. The pancakes were amazing – it’s not difficult to see why they are known for their pancakes! The flapjacks were sweet, soft, moist… really nothing I could find wrong with these. I believe three or four came stacked on a plate and smothered with the macadamia nut sauce. The sauce… delicious. Sweet but not overpowering, with a definite macadamia nut flavor.

The spam omelet was delicious as well. As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up with spam scrambled with eggs, so this was a pleasant blast to the past. The omelet also contained cheese, which made it just a wee bit too rich. Son and I shared an order of pancakes and the omelet (which came with a side of hash browns), and we were unable to finish all the food. Just a bit too much for us.

If for nothing else, go to Boot’s & Kimo’s for their pancakes… it’s entirely worth the trip.

Pancakes smothered in Macadamia Nut Sauce

Note: To all TWD visitors, so sorry I can’t post the creme brulee quite yet! My local grocery store had a power outage, so the dairy shelves were next to empty. No whole milk or heavy cream means no creme brulee for me. 🙁 I’ll be posting as soon as I can get the ingredients, I promise!

Yotteko-Ya Ramen House – Honolulu, Hawaii

Yotteko-Ya Ramen House

Like many Japanese-Americans, I grew up eating ramen since I was very young. Although we always used the instant ramen, she often made it Japanese-style, accompanying the ramen with a hard-boiled egg or a few slices of cha shu. Of course, like most “starving college students,” I ate a lot of ramen throughout college, and my pantry is never without a few packages of instant ramen. Yet even with all this ramen I ate, I have never been to a ramen house. Never, until now.

Garlic Chahan

Yotteko-Ya is known for their cha shu ramen, so I knew we would have to try that here in Hawaii. Son and I decided to visit on Monday night, after a day of visiting the tiny aquarium and walking along the beach near our hotel. The restaurant is very quaint. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought we were walking into a little ramen house in Japan’s countryside. From the moment you see the door, the place looks very traditional. Inside, the illusion is only marred by the view of a Taco Bell right outside the window.


When Son and I go to restaurants, more often than not we eat family-style. (Actually, I can’t think of the last time we didn’t eat family-style.) We always order two or three dishes, and then share everything so we get to try more types of food. At Yotteko-Ya, we decided to get the Garlic Chahan (pork fried rice with minced garlic, topped with garlic chips), Gyoza, and the Kakuni Paitan Ramen (ramen in a rich broth, topped with a block of chashu).

The gyoza… *shrugs*… nothing special. The garlic chahan was good… Son, who adores anything garlic, loved it. I liked the pork scattered throughout and the fried garlic chips on the top, but while I enjoyed it, the rice wasn’t anywhere close to my favorite meal of the night.

Kakuni Paitan Ramen

But the ramen… oh my gosh the ramen! Thick, rich broth in which just al dente noodles floated, pieces of chashu so tender they would fall apart in your mouth. Oh. My. God. I don’t know what I’ve been thinking all my life, but I must find a ramen house this delicious back home. I’m considering going out for ramen every day for the next year to make up for the years of the instant stuff. I’m kidding of course, no way could my budget afford going out for ramen every day. But seriously people, instant ramen? Doesn’t even compare.

Amazingly delicious ramen

Coco Ichibanya Curry House – Honolulu, Hawaii

The line outside the curry house. Can you spot me?

Until several years ago, I had never eaten curry. No Indian curry, no Vietnamese curry, no Japanese curry. To me, curry was a scary food – too spicy, weird flavors. Or at least, that’s what I thought… I hadn’t ever had a taste, so how could I know?

The outside of the curry house

One weekend, Son and his friends decided to go to a Japanese curry house. I reluctantly went along and shared a plate of curry with him. Unfortunately, I wasn’t yet convinced that curry was a food I could love. It wasn’t until several years later, when my tastes had widened considerably, that I fell in love with the food. Now I’ll go out of my way to eat or make curry – whether it be Vietnamese curry, Indian curry, or especially Japanese curry.

Spicy clam and wakame curry

When I looked up restaurants to try over here in Hawaii, the Coco Ichibanya Curry House was one that jumped out at me. It is a small Japanese curry house, which got rave reviews on Yelp. After spending the morning at Pearl Harbor (where it rained on us! Bah. It’s not supposed to rain in Hawaii!), we decided curry was in order. Oh man, we are not regretting that decision one bit.

Fried chicken and gyoza curry

We went to the Ala Moana Center to find the curry house. It’s at the edge of a food court, so at first you’re not sure if it’s the right place. Very small, it does have a tiny counter to eat at – I recommend trying to get a seat at the counter, because the rest of the food court was packed the entire time we were there. The counter was not crowded at all, and you got to watch the cooks preparing the food right in front of you.

Busy making our curry!

Son got the spicy clam and wakame curry, while I got the fried chicken and gyoza curry. Son adored his spicy, savory, flavorful curry – he got very close to licking the plate clean. For seafood lovers, he highly recommends this curry.

Son loved the clam and wakame curry

Unfortunately, I don’t have nearly the stomach capacity that he has. I barely managed to down half of my plate before declaring the rest would be tomorrow’s breakfast. The gyoza was amazingly good – curry goes extremely well with crispy foods. I easily finished all of the gyoza. The fried chicken… not something I’d get again. It seemed bland… the curry was still delicious, but I definitely preferred the gyoza.

The crispy gyoza were delicious with the curry

There is only one thing I can’t stand about the curry house. They only have restaurants in Hawaii! That means that back in California… no Coco Ichibanya Curry House for me. Sad indeed.

I couldn’t wait until after the pictures before I dug in

After lunch: a nap, a walk along the beach, and then an amazing dinner! Want to read about our dinner? See my post on Sushi Day.