Small in Name, Big in Taste – Garlic Shrimp Food Trucks of the North Shore (Honolulu, HI)

After spending the morning, filling up on sugary treats, it was time to switch gears.  The plan for the afternoon was to leave Honolulu and head up to the North Shore for some road-side food truck fare and some amazing ocean views.  For us this was also an opportunity to sample a few plates of garlic shrimp.

Big Wave Shrimp

To start our extravaganza, we went with the garlic shrimp plate at Big Wave Shrimp.  The plate came with rice, salad and pineapple.  There is a wait from ordering to eating, but that’s because the shrimp is cooked as ordered.  The shrimp were perfectly cooked, but we did want a little more garlic flavor in the dish.  That being said out of the trucks we went to, Big Wave Shrimp was the best in look and balance of flavors.

Big Wave Shrimp - Garlic Shrimp

Big Wave Shrimp is located at 66-521 Kamehameha Highway in Haleiwa.

Giovanni’s

Giovanni's - TruckGiovanni's - Shrimp Scampi

Giovanni’s seems to be the heavy hitter when it comes to the North Shore food trucks.  When asked where we should go, almost all of the locals only had words of praise and strong recommendations for us when it came to Giovanni’s.  Based on the line when we got to the truck, it could be concluded everyone else received the same information as us.

Sonia and I shared the shrimp scampi, which came with rice and a lemon wedge.  The first thing we noticed is that some of the shrimp looked freshly cooked while the rest of it looked like it had been cooked in a previous batch and then reheated.  The shrimp that we thought had been reheated was tough and overcooked, but the rest of the shrimp was much better and easier to eat.  The highlight from Giovanni’s plate for us was the garlic.  We especially loved the added garlic served over the rice.

Givoanni’s has 2 locations, but we went to the truck at 66-472 Kamehameha Highway in Haleiwa.

Shrimp Shack

Our last stop for the day was Shrimp Shack, which we opted for because we found a coupon for it in one of the magazines we picked up at the airport.  The first thing we noticed was that Shrimp Shack had a good selection of items outside of the shrimp, so we added an order of the crab cakes to the pan-fried shrimp.

The shrimp came with rice and some melted butter on the side.  No complaints on the dish, but I would note that Shrimp Shack gave the fewest number of shrimp while the amount of rice that came with it is substantial.

Shrimp Shack is located at 53-360 Kamehameha Highway in Hauula.

Hawaii’s Other Nut: the Do-nut (Honolulu, HI)

With the start of the new year, Sonia and I are going to try something new as part of the blog.  For each destination that we visit, we will do a donut crawl to find local and unique pillowy gems about which to write.  Our first destination for the year – Hawaii.

When one thinks of Hawaii, thoughts of macadamia nuts, pineapples, coconuts, poi and kalua pork are probably more prominent than that of donuts.  To our delight though, we came across some very delicious and diverse eats.

Mr. Donut’s & Bakery

Before getting to the donuts, one thing to note is that Mr. Donut’s & Bakery is located in a downtown area so it does not have a dedicated parking area for the store.  Sonia and I found a few parking options, but all of them were paid lots, and they were not cheap.  We ended up parking at the garage at Bishop Place (1132 Bishop Street), which was about $4 for a half hour and is very close to the store.

When we entered the store, the first thing we noticed was the size of the donuts.  We immediately knew that because this was our first stop for the day, we would either be sharing or saving half for later.  While Mr. Donut’s does make a signature donut that gets rave reviews, we opted for an apple fritter and a banana frosting.

Both were good and full of flavor, but for us, these were reminiscent of Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts back home.  To be very clear, that’s not a bad thing, but when it came to taste and flavors, we were looking for something more unique and local.  If you want a good donut though to satisfy a craving, Mr. Donut’s bakery fits that bill nicely.

Mr. Donut’s & Bakery is located at 134 S. Hotel Street.

Regal Bakery

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The next stop on our donut crawl was Regal Bakery.  While there are multiple locations, we went to the Regal Bakery by the airport.  First comment, get there early.  We arrived around 11:00ish, and by that time, a good number of the donuts were sold out.  However, even with a limited selection, there was still an amazing variety to choose from – Rum and Cola, Green Tea, Strawberry Delight, Muddy, and our donut of choice the Bacon Maple.

As bacon-a-holics, Sonia and I have had more than a few bacon donuts in our time, but this topped them all.  The mix of the salty bacon with the maple glaze in proportion to the size of the donut lends to a perfectly balanced bite.  Visually, the bacon chunks just add to the delight because you can appreciate the bacon crumbles as being real bits of bacon and not something that is just bacon flavored.  In hindsight, our 2 biggest mistakes from this donut crawl were deciding to buy 1 donut to share and not trying some of the other donuts.  Mistakes we are sure not to repeat when we return here.

Regal Bakery has multiple locations in Honolulu, but the location visited can be found at 3040 Ualena Street.

Our last stop for traditional donuts was Kamehameha Bakery.  Unfortunately, we we too late to get any of their specialty donut – the poi glazed, but we made up for it by picking up some of their other baked goods.  We’ll add those pictures to our instagram shortly.  Kamehameha Bakery is located at 1284 Kalani Street.

With the donuts down, it was time to move on to the malasadas.  Malasadas are Portuguese in origin and are essentially a donut in that it is a fried ball of dough.  They come plain with granulated sugar or you can get them filled.  When trying to find the best malasada, it looks like Honolulu is split between Leonard’s and Champion.

Champion Malasadas

Based on our crawl, we hit Champion first.  While ordering, we were told that if we wanted the plain sugar malasada then we could get that one cooked now so it would be hot and fresh.  We ordered one plain as well as a custard filled one.

Champion Malasadas - Plain & HotChampion Malasadas - Plain & Hot 2Champion Malasadas - Plain & Hot 3

The plain malasada came to us right from the fryer, and I can see why they are served this way.  At Champion, the front has an view straight to the kitchen ares, so as soon as we ordered, we could see the malasada from ordering to getting dropped into the fryer to being served to us.  From the first bite, we noticed that the malasada had a nice, crunchy texture on the outside.  The inside was soft and doughy with a hint of egginess.

Champion Malasadas - CustardChampion Malasadas - Custard 2

As for the custard filled malasada, this was served from the case so it wasn’t hot from the fryer.  It was still fresh though and was filled with enough custard so that every bite had some.  While not served hot, we would still recommend trying the filled ones.  The dough is still nice and fresh with the filling being flavorful and abundant.

Champion Malasadas is located at 1926 S. Beretania Street.

Leonard’s Bakery

The other half of the malasada debate involves Leonard’s Bakery.  If you go with history, then Leonard’s holds the advantage of introducing malasadas to Hawaii.  That’s a big statement to live up to, and they do not disappoint.  Like Champion, the plain sugar malasada was served fresh and hot.  We couldn’t see back into the kitchen area, so we couldn’t tell if it was dropped in the fryer from when we ordered or if there is just a continuous flow of fresh malasadas coming out to meet the constant demand.

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Leonards - Original Malasada

Leonard’s Bakery is located at 933 Kapahulu Avenue.

After having both malasadas, we couldn’t pick a favorite, but both had clear highlights over the other.  We liked the outside of the malasadas at Champion and the inside of the ones at Leonard’s.  We can conclude though is everyone should try both and decide on their own.  In the end, you can never have enough malasadas.

Who Wants More Eye Candy

After our last blog post, it hit me that we take a lot more pictures that don’t get shared.  It could be that we just ate at a place which didn’t make it into a post or we limited the pictures used to save space.  Regardless of the reason though, we still want to share all the pictures we can.  So with that, we now have an Instagram account.

We will be using this to post photos that we didn’t get to use from our trips as well as post pictures of places we’ve eaten at that are local.  There are a lot of great places we get to go to right in our area that may not get a write up because we weren’t traveling.  This gives us a good way to share these.  Looking forward to our new step in the social media experience.

You can find us on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/eatswardbound/

East Coast Goes Hollywood (Los Angeles, CA)

When we first planned this trip, it didn’t look like we would be writing a blog post for it, but we were pleasantly surprised by a random find.  It was on our drive from the airport to our hotel that we passed a place with a sign I just happened to see – Fat Sal’s.  The moment I saw it, all I could think of was with a name like that, you know it has to be good.

Luckily, the schedule for the trip was pretty open so we were able to head there for lunch the next day.  Before I go any further, I should share a bit of information.  If you’re from Jersey though you probably already know this; but if you aren’t, just a bit on what a fat sandwich is.  I was first introduced to fat sandwiches when I moved to New Jersey many years ago for school.  There was a break in between classes, so I went with some friends to a food truck down the block.  Someone ordered me a “kitchen sink” sandwich, and when I got it, I was stunned by how much filling was stuffed into a hoagie roll.  There was mozzarella sticks, an egg, french fries, melted cheese, and a hamburger patty.  Later on I realized that this was a big thing at Rutgers University with the fat sandwiches at the grease trucks there.  If you want to know more, check out this link – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grease_trucks

Now back to Fat Sal’s.  This is one place I would recommend studying the menu before you go.  It can be overwhelming with the choices, and if you go hungry, I wouldn’t be surprised if you ended up wanting everything.  For us, Sonia and I ordered the Fat Texas (which we split) with a side of onion rings.  There’s a lot going on in the sandwich, and it did not disappoint.  You don’t necessarily get everything in each bite, but the one flavor you do get throughout is the BBQ sauce, which made the sandwich for me.  The one thing we would recommend though is eat it once you get it.  Not sure if we were just taking our time, but the mozzarella sticks had cooled so it wasn’t as gooey as we would have liked.

Fat Texas - Fat Sal's

If you’ve ever wanted to try a Jersey fat sandwich but couldn’t get to the Garden State, Fat Sal’s does the sandwiches justice.  There are multiple locations for the restaurant, which are mainly in California; however, their web site also lists an Austin location.

Not so Chi when it comes to the Food (Chicago, IL)

It would only be natural to start any food post about Chicago with deep dish pizza, so we will.  However, there’s not too much commentary to go along with the pictures of it, and that’s not because we have anything against it, but in all honesty, that wasn’t our focus on this trip.  We knew we would go for one meal since it is a Chicago institution, but maybe on another trip, we’ll dedicate a whole post to a deep dish pizza crawl.

For our lone meal of pizza, we went to Lou Malnati’s River North location.  Our meal was house salads, and then we shared the Classic.  The highlight for us was the flaky, buttery crust.  I’m normally not a crust person, but I couldn’t resist this one.  We left overly-stuffed and thankful that we had a bit of a walk back to the hotel.

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The 2nd day of our trip was our only full day in town so we tried to make the most of it.  Our plan was to start with donuts, but our late start resulted in the place selling out of the one donut we really wanted to try.  It’s all good though as it meant more room for other things.  So with empty stomachs we headed off for our first bites of the day.

Our first stop was Cemitas Puebla in Fulton Market.  Based on our research, the must have menu item is the Cemita Atomica, and it did not disappoint.  For me, this is up there in my top 2 sandwiches that I’ve ever had.  The sandwich comes with a grilled pork loin, a breaded pork loin and ham, so I nicknamed it the “Pig Did Not Die in Vain” sandwich.  Each of the 3 meats have a distinct flavor, that when combined in a single bite lead to an amazing amalgamation of flavor.  No single one outshines the other as they just blend together nicely.

The sandwich comes with cheese and a sauce as well that help enhance the flavors of the meat.  As for the bun, it’s homemade and the perfect casing for the filling.  It’s got a nice crunchy outside and soft inside that holds everything in place so that every bite is how a sandwich is meant to be – bread plus meat plus cheese and sauce.

Cemitas Puebla is located at 817 West Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607.  They also have another location at 3129 West Armitage, Chicago, IL 60647.

Right next to Cemitas Puebla is Publican Quality Meats.  At several restaurants in the area, you will see meats with a PQM before it.  This is what the PQM stands for.  They are a butcher, bakery, cafe, and gourmet market.  When we passed it on our way to Cemitas Puebla, Sonia’s eyes lit up when we looked in the window, so we knew we would be stopping in on our way back.  Even if you don’t need to get anything from there or aren’t hungry, you should still stop in.  You’ll see why several restaurants use them.

For us, we did order from the cafe.  The line for seating was and being short on time, we opted to order a sandwich to go.  We went with The Big Dipper, which was wagyu beef with a sweet and spicy sauce.  If you can’t take too much spice, then the sandwich will come off with a lot of heat.  Sonia, who can do spicy better than me, thought it had a good spice to it, but it was not too spicy.

The wagyu beef itself was nice and tender.  Each bite came apart nicely so that you weren’t forced to yank the sandwich apart with each bite.  It comes with a pea shoot and carrot slaw that accentuates the spiciness of the sandwich.

Publican Quality Meats is located at 825 West Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607.

There are plenty of restaurants in the area, but after having split 2 sandwiches, we couldn’t eat anymore.  Would definitely like to go back though and try some of the other places that we missed this trip.

For dinner that night, we chose a restaurant closer to the area where we were staying since we had tickets for the Alton Brown show that night.  Dinner was at Prime & Provisions, which we picked based on some of the write-ups naming it a top new restaurant for 2015.

When we got to the restaurant, it was already fairly busy, so glad that we made a reservation.  We were seated and greeted promptly with water and our waiter, Garin.  Before I get into the food itself, I want to note the service.  Garin was attentive and helpful in navigating the menu.  He was quick to tell us any house recommendations as well as explain how they cook and serve certain steaks.  One thing I really liked about him though, was that on certain questions where he wasn’t sure of the answer, he was quick to get us the answer.  Definitely helps when going to a place for the first time.  When ordering, he was quick with pairing suggestions and even made sure Sonia’s wine order would complement the food.

As soon as we received our starter, the manager, Rai also came by our table to introduce himself.  He was just as knowledgeable as the servers when it came to the food and came to speak with us after each plate was brought.  I don’t know if I’ve ever had a manager be so attentive, and it was appreciated.  Thanks to Garin and Rai this was some of the best service we’ve had in a long time.

Now to the food.  We started with the House- Flared Thick-Cut Bacon.  If you haven’t figured out from our blog yet, we are bacon-aholics.  So there was never any doubt which starter we were going with.  The bacon here is served with a dark chocolate and maple syrup which balances out the pepper on the bacon.  It looked like a big enough potion for 2 people, but I was wanting some more of it once we finished.

Prime & Provisions - House Flared Thick Cut Bacon

For our entrees, we both went with steaks, but I was eyeing the Boar Chop as well.  Sonia went with the Petit-Cut Filet Mignon, and I had the N.Y. Strip.  When the steaks came, our first impressions were that they looked overcooked.  When we cut into them though, they were as ordered all the way through.  The steaks come with a roasted head of garlic on the plate as well as a small container of seasonings that you can add to your steak as desired.  I am a fan of steakhouses that let the meat speak for itself.  Core to any meal is the cooking itself, and if you can’t get that right, then no amount of seasoning or sauce can help.

Prime & Provisions - Petite Cut Filet MignonPrime & Provisions - NY Strip

We ordered a couple of sides as well – Sautéed Wild Mushrooms and Potatoes Au Gratin.  While the potatoes were okay, we highly recommend the sautéed mushrooms.

Prime & Provisions - Sauteed Wild Mushrooms

Prime & Provisions is located at 222 N. LaSalle Street, Chicago, IL 60610.

For our last day, we went to Little Goat Diner, which for me was the one must for this trip.  I have been a fan of Stephanie Izard since I saw her on Top Chef.  There’s a reason she won Fan Favorite for her season.  So for this trip, I knew I wanted to go to one of her restaurants.  Luckily for us, we got a reservation for 10:00 am.

By the time we got to the restaurant, it was packed, a we were starving.  We both ordered mochas and split an Ooey Gooey Cinnabun.  The mochas were good, but the cinnabun came to our table a little cooler than we expected.  It was still good, but we were expecting the cinnabun to be served warm.  Not sure if the volume of people played into this since it was Mother’s Day, but we were wondering if the time frame from kitchen to table was off that day.

Little Goat Diner - Ooey Gooey Cinnabun

As for the meals, I ordered the Bull’s Eye French Toast and loved it.  The french toast had a nice crisp to the outside with the bread itself thick enough to absorb the syrup but not too thick so that you don’t taste all bread.  The chicken itself was cooked perfectly.  The inside wasn’t dry at all and the breading stayed nice and crispy with the syrup.  The surprise for me was that it comes with eggs in the center of the toast.

Little Goat Diner - BULL'S EYE FRENCH TOAST

Sonia ordered the Breakfast Spaghetti ‘N Clams ‘N Crab.  Unfortunately, when it came to the table, she noticed that the egg whites were still runny.  It’s a personal preference for her to have her egg whites less runny so she spoke with our server, who let her order another dish.

She opted for the Kimchee & Bacon & Eggs & Pancakes Asian Style Breakfast Tasty Thing.  This dish is definitely not something you’ll find at other places.  It is an interesting and creative mix of flavors that result in a unique breakfast dish.  Sonia was much happier with this choice.

Little Goat Diner - KIMCHEE & BACON & EGGS & PANCAKES ASIAN STYLE BREAKFAST TASTY THING

While we stuck with the breakfast items this time, we plan to go back and try some of the non-breakfast foods.  Little Goat is located at 820 W. Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60607.

The biggest surprise though for this trip may have been the Spent Grain Brownie at the Lagunitas Brewery Tap Room.  Definitely recommend heading out there if you can for this dessert.

Lagunitas - Spent Grain Brownie

The Lagunitas Brewery Tap Room is located at 2607 W. 17th Street, Chicago, IL 60608.

When We Sea Food, We Eat It (Boston, MA)

For our first food trip of 2016, Sonia and I made the quick drive to Boston for some fresh seafood.  Top of our list of must haves were lobster anything and clam chowder.  While Sonia did plenty of research for the trip, she also got some recommendations from locals once we got there.

Our first stop once we got in was Bostonia Public House.  The restaurant was within walking distance but because of traffic on the drive up, we missed our original reservation time.  There were no issues moving it to later, and when we got there, we were seated quickly.  The staff was very attentive and quick to help with comments and recommendations as to both food and drinks.  Overall, the environment was friendly with everyone, both staff and patrons, having an enjoyable time.

In hindsight, I think we could have ordered more food items, but I think we were trying to stay light because we had a full day of eats the next day.  For our meal, we pretty much shared the Spice Rubbed Pork Ribs and the Lobster Mac and Cheese.

BostoniaBostonia 2

The ribs were nice and tender, and I would suggest using the sauce provided when eating them.  The sauce added a nice dimension and helped make the flavor of the ribs pop.

As for the lobster mac and cheese, it was good as well, but not what I was expecting.  When I think mac and cheese, I think of the baked kind where the cheese is not too saucy and the top is a nice oven-baked crunchy and cheesy blend.  The mac and cheese here seemed more like a pasta dish cooked on a stove top with breadcrumbs then added on top.  The dish was still good, and for me, the lobster was perfect.  It was cooked so that it was tender and the amount and size of each piece was just right so that each bite was the perfect ratio of cheese sauce, pasta, and lobster.

Unfortunately, we missed out on some other items that were highly recommended, but all that means is that we will have to go back.  Bostonia Public House is located at 131 State Street, Boston, MA 02110.

Now to the real purpose of the trip – Lobster Rolls and Seafood Soups.

For lobster rolls, our 2 top choices were James Hook & Co. and Yankee Lobster Co.  At both places we ordered the large roll, and both came stuffed with an overflowing amount of perfectly tender lobster.  There’s a reason they give you a fork with it.  That’s pretty much where the similarities end.

As for the differences, James Hook & Co. serves their roll in a hot dog bun and the lobster comes with more dressing on it.  The nice thing about their roll is the size of it.  With each bite, there was the perfect proportion of bread to lobster.  While Yankee Lobster Co. used what seemed more like a thick piece of bread versus a roll.  With Yankee Lobster Co.’s roll you also got fries and cole slaw, so that was nice.

Both places have menu items in addition to the lobster rolls, but we didn’t get a chance to try anything else at James Hook; however, the oysters seemed very popular and the clam chowder looked like a good mix of chunky and creamy.

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James Hook & Co. is located at 15-17 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA, 02210, while Yankee Lobster Co. is located at 300 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA 02210.

Now for the soups!  While we went in February, the weather was surprisingly warm, which made eating a lot of soup tougher.  But we were able to get some.

Our first soup stop was based on recommendations Sonia received from a few locals she chatted with while at Bostonia the night before.  The restaurant is Boston Sail Loft, and she was told that this was the best spot for clam chowder in Boston.  Since we had missed getting the chowder at James Hook & Co., we made sure to head here during the trip.  The restaurant is definitely not a place we would have discovered if not for the recommendation.

When we walked in, the place was pretty packed, but we were able to get a table in the bar area immediately.  Service was prompt and our server was courteous and attentive to our needs.  After a lot of debate, we both ended up ordering a bowl of the clam chowder, but in hindsight, I think we could have shared a bowl.  The serving, like just about everything we had in Boston was overflowing.  The soup itself was the perfect creaminess, but one thing that surprised us was the dill.  It’s like no other clam chowder that either of have ever had, but the dill does take some getting used to.  Definitely, the most unique clam chowder we found in Boston, well really anywhere.

Boston Sail Loft

Boston Sail Loft is located at 80 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, MA 02110.

For me though, the surprise delight from the trip was the Lobster Bisque at Yankee Lobster Co.  I consider myself lucky, if I can see and taste the chunks of lobster when I order this soup, so what I got here was a surprise.  The soup is flavorful and the amount of lobster is beyond expectations.  The soup is so good, that not only would I come back to Boston just to have it, but I would consider moving there for it.

While we were fortunate enough to try a number of places this trip, I can’t wait until our next trip back there.  There was so much we missed at the places we went to as well as the places we didn’t get to.

Au Revoir 2015 & Bonjour 2016 (Montreal, Canada)

Out of all of our 2015 trips, I think Montreal may have been my least favorite.  I don’t blame the city for this, but I will say that I do not recommend going to Montreal on New Years Day.  Most of the city is closed on that day so what you’re left with is crowded restaurants that don’t necessarily handle the volume of people too well.

Despite that, Sonia was able to find an amazing restaurant for our final meal of that trip.  The restaurant was Bonaparte, and it is located at 443 Rue Saint-Francois-Xavier, Montreal, QC H2X 2T1.  It’s located inside the Hotel Bonaparte, so enter the hotel and just walk through the lobby to get to the restaurant.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have reservations, but we were able to get a couple of seats at the bar.  The bar serves the restaurant menu, so it’s not a bad option if that’s all they have.  We both went with the prix fixe menu, which was a nice multi-course option that left us filled and satisfied with good eats.

1st Course – we both went with the lobster bisque


2nd Course – Smoked Salmon (me); Fois Gras Brûlée (Sonia)


3rd Course – Mushroom Ravioli (me); Escargot Tart (Sonia)


4th Course – this was a nice palate cleanser of pear sorbet and prosecco

5th Course – Filet Mignon (me); Rack of Lamb (Sonia)


6th Course – was supposed to be a symphony of desserts but the restaurant let us go off-menu and order their Chocolate Grand Marnier Soufflé


Every dish we had was cooked perfectly and tasted amazing.  We both highly recommend Bonaparte, and if you are ok with the price, definitely do the tasting menu.  It’s well worth it.

Aloha Appetite (Honolulu, HI)

While we are already well into 2016, there are still a few open items to take care of to close out 2015, namely our 2 end of year food trips – Hawaii & Montreal.  One good thing about posting this months later, is that it lets me take a gastronomic walk down memory lane.  So here we go with Hawaii.  Montreal soon to follow.

Where to start with Hawaii!  While we were there for only 6 days, I feel like we ate enough to last us a lifetime.  There were all you can eat options for our luau and our different tours that allowed us to sample some of the more traditional foods, but the highlights for me were our brunches and dinners where we went out on our own.

Brunch on our first full day was at Aloha Kitchen.  We found this through Yelp and were not disappointed.  Sonia went with the Loco Moco, and I had the Kalua Pork Eggs Benedict.  Both were nice traditional meaty starts for our Hawaiian food adventure.  One thing we did not try though was the souffle pancakes, which are some of the more popular items for Aloha Kitchen.  Will definitely go back to try one of those as they looked amazing as other customers were eating them.

Aloha Kitchen is located at 432 Ena Road, Honolulu, HI 96815.

Aloha Kitchen - Loco MocoAloha Kitchen - Pork Benedict

Out of all of our finds, the one that I was probably most excited about was the food trucks, which we discovered thanks to one of the free tourist magazines Sonia picked up at while at the airport.  I didn’t understand why she was picking so many of them up, but I’m glad she did.

So the area where the food trucks park is called Pau Hana Market, and it’s within walking distance from most of the hotels on Waikiki Beach.  There are about 7 trucks each with different food options.

Our first stop was Five Star Shrimp, where we had the Garlic Shrimp Plate.  Shrimp were nicely cooked and well seasoned.  In addition to the shrimp, the plate came with rice, pasta salad, and salad greens.

After the shrimp, we decided to go for ramen at Kamitoku Ramen.  Since we were wanting to try things from multiple trucks, we opted to go for an order of gyoza and one of the kid-sized ramens.  Gyoza was ok, but we were very disappointed with the ramen.  Based on the picture, we thought the kid-sized ramen was just a smaller portion compared to the similar full portion.  We ordered the beefy wild, but it had little to nothing in it, and no beef at all.

We also grabbed a burger at Ohana Burger, but were disappointed that they had run out of the tornado potato (this was the only reason we ordered the burger plate).  They didn’t mention it until after they had cooked the burger and given us fries.  Had we known, we wouldn’t have ordered there.  Sadly, don’t really remember anything about the burger, but that may have been because of the missing tornado potato.

Like with any meal, we ended the night with some shaved ice from Hau Nani Shave Ice .  Sonia went for the mango, and I got the lychee.  This was a nice way to close out the day, and would be a reason alone to go to the food trucks.  Not only was there the flavored syrup over the ice, but they added a good amount of fruit to help sweeten it up.  Highly recommend it.

Pau Hana Market is located at 234 Beach Walk, Honolulu, HI 96815.

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Our last day in Hawaii was probably one of our better food days on the trip.  We started our day with brunch at Goofy Cafe + Dine, which was a short walk from the hotel.  I finally got my loco moco, which did not disappoint.  Sonia went a little healthier than I did and had a farmer’s omelette that came with a taro English muffin.  If you are staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village or close by to it, I would highly recommend Goofy.

Goofy Cafe + Dine is located at 1831 Ala Moana Boulevard, Suite 201, Honolulu, HI 96815.

Our last meal of the trip was at Blue Water Shrimp & Seafood Market, which was convenient since it was in the food court in the resort. They have a nice selection of traditional options, meats and of course seafood.  We had a tough time deciding what to get because of all of the options, so in the end we created our own combos.  Sonia had the ahi poke and the giant prawns while I got the garlic shrimp and the steak.  We couldn’t find one thing wrong with either of our meals, and actually regretted not trying this place sooner.  Definitely, the perfect way to end the trip.

Blue Water Shrimp & Seafood Market is located in the Hilton Hawaiian Village at 2005 Kalia Road, Honolulu, HI 96815.

One last thing to note though about Hawaii.  If you get a chance, go to McDonald’s and get a haupia pie.  Looks like Hawaii may be the one state left where they still fry the pies.

McDonald's - Haupia Pie

Sonia’s 2015 Top Pick (Atlantic City, NJ)

My Top Pick of the year was a random find in Atlantic City during Jen’s birthday weekend trip in May: Kelsey’s Soul Food. A nod to Yelpers for this jewel!

We we found parking right outside despite it being just a couple of blocks from Caesar’s. We were greeted by warm hugs from Kelsey herself when she found out it was our first time.

For $20/pp, we were about to have a true foodie experience with the weekend buffet brunch. There were stations for made-to-order waffles and pancakes. We also had an endless supply of fresh fried whiting and red velvet waffles from the kitchen.

Most brunch buffet participants would have been more than satisfied with these treats, but we also had an amazing hot buffet with shrimp & grits, breakfast meats, French toast, Chicken fried steak & gravy, jambalaya, Cajun catfish, pork loin, fried chicken, biscuits w/honey, collard greens, mac&cheese, peach cobbler, bread pudding with a maple sauce, fresh fruit, and so much more! Everything was prepared with love and skill that you could taste with every succulent, well seasoned morsel!

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The red velvet waffles were light and fluffy, with just the right crunch and steamy softness. The fried whiting was the best I have ever had, with a perfect, not-too-thick cornmeal crust, and amazingly non-greasy.

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The place was clean and well serviced, with our beverages refilled and empty plated cleared away promptly.

During our visit, a few large after-church group showed up and we enjoyed soulful gospel singing.

This was definitely an unexpected gem in the tourist trap filled city and we look forward to going back! Even Jen, with her Southerner Palate was grinning ear to ear between bites.

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We both highly recommend Kelsey’s Soul Food. It is located at 1545 Pacific Ave, Atlantic City, NJ 08401; (609) 344-2200. Weekend Brunch served Saturdays & Sundays from 10am to 3pm