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Annual Meeting
From Exotic to Familiar, a Taste for Every Bud
Psychiatric News
Volume 46 Number 6 page 10-31

In the March 4 issue I described some of my favorite restaurants that are close to the Hawaii Convention Center and the Waikiki shore. I also let you know of local directions: Mauka (toward the mountains), Makai (towards the ocean), Koko Head (east), or Waianae (west). In this article I'll give you a few more tasty options.

Hawaii is the melting pot of the Pacific, a land where sailors on voyaging canoes from the South Pacific became the original Hawaiian people. Later, arriving from Europe, America, China, Japan, Korea, the Phillipines, Thailand, and Viet Nam brought their cultures and foods with them. There are innumerable excellent international restaurants in Hawaii to try.

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This dessert is one of many that puts coconut to creative and delicious use.

Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / John DeMello

First of all, when in Hawaii try Hawaiian food. A luau meal will typically include laulau (pork and butterfish wrapped in luau and ti leaves), poi (pureed taro root), kalua pig (shredded pork), lomi salmon (with onion and tomato), sweet potato, pineapple, and haupia (coconut-based dessert). Sometimes there will be squid or chicken luau, a dish of octopus or chicken cooked in luau leaves. I grew up on these, and all are delicious to me. Two dinner-show luaus can be booked through the annual meeting Web site. Go to <www.activitysaleshawaii.com/apa2011/catalog.aspx> scroll down until you see the Luau tours.

For Hawaiian food without the show, try Ono Hawaiian Foods (808-737-2275) at 726 Kapahulu Avenue. They have BIG laulau and lomi salmon. It is cash only, but inexpensive. Nearby is Haili's Hawaiian Foods (808-735-8019) at 760 Palani Avenue, where you can get hard-to-find pickled limu (seaweed) and opihi (a now-rare limpet mollusk picked from rocks pounded by rough surf). For more upscale dining, try The Willows (808-952-9200) at 901 Hausten Street, a charming restaurant landscaped in tropical plants and koi ponds, with old-style Hawaiian buffets at lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch.

A favorite local treat with no exclusive cultural claim is shave ice. Like fruit-flavored snow, perfect for hot afternoons, this treat consists of shavings from an ice block spinning on a turntable, shaped by hand into a round mound over a paper cone. From Waikiki to the neighbor islands, there's hardly a hamlet that doesn't have a shave-ice stand. Many locals favor Waiola's at 2135 Waiola Street in Moiliili (808-949-2269). Use your navigator, but once on the right street, shaded benches crowded with happily slurping families make it easy to spot. A little easier to find is Waiola Bakery and Shave Ice II at 525 Kapahulu Avenue, about a half mile Mauka of the zoo. A relative newcomer giving Waiola's some stiff competition is Ailana Shave Ice at 1430 Kona Street (808-955-8881), located immediately Mauka of the Ala Moana Shopping Center, with its own parking lot. Ailana is one of the few that makes its own homemade exotic flavors such as haupia (coconut), guava, and lilikoi (passion fruit).

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Poke is one of many traditional Hawaiian preparations of ahi, also known as yellowln tuna.

Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / John DeMello

A favorite quick meal is called a "plate lunch" and is found at drive-ins where folks line up for food cooked to order within minutes, served on a paper plate with plastic fork and knife. Barbecue steak hamburger steak, boneless chicken, chili with hot dog, and mahi-mahi are popular favorites, usually served with two scoops of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad—€”a carbo loaders heaven! A favorite of mine for decades, and winner of the Best Plate Lunch award from the Honolulu Advertiser 2006-2010, is Rainbow Drive-In (808-737-0177) just off Kapahulu Avenue, at 3308 Kanaina Avenue, where the above will cost you only $6 to $8 per plate.

Looking for the hole-in-the-wall restaurant that serves great Japanese dishes? My favorite such restaurant is Irifune (808-737-1141) at 563 Kapahulu Avenue. Featuring tasty Japanese-American food, the restaurant does a good miso soup, sashimi, and garlic ahi dinner for about $16.

If your taste buds are calling out for Indian food, I would steer you to Cafe Maharani (808-951-7447) at 2509 King Street. There is ususally a wait for a table, but the food is well worth it. My personal favorites are the shrimp samosa, vegetable biryani (similar to a vegetable fried rice), and the excellent lamb vindaloo, whose heat is made to order from moderate (5) to a volcanic 10. An 8.5 can get surely activate the sweat glands, but anything beyond that and you better have plenty of raita (yogurt-mint sauce) and cold soda on the side to avoid a 911 call to the fire department. Also excellent, and much milder, are their tandoori dishes. Another option for excellent Indian food is Himalayan Kitchen (808-735-1122) at 1137 11th Avenue, Suite 205. This is a charming restaurant with balcony tables overlooking 11th Avenue, (and a party room available for groups) in Honolulu's Kaimuki section less than two miles from the Koko Head side of Waikiki. Finding it can be tricky, so line up directions before you start out.

There are a couple of best bets when you are looking for a top-notch family dinner. One good option is Zippy's. My mother for years gathered up to 20 of our extended family for lunch after church on Sundays at the Zippy's in Moiliili, one of 25 now in this local chain, some open 24 hours a day. The restaurant serves good American and local comfort food from club sandwiches and deluxe hamburgers of different styles, to mahi-mahi, wonton min, vegetarian chili, and its signature Zip Pac, which has beef, chicken, and fish with seaweed-flecked rice, and for dessert, excellent hot-fudge sundaes.

Another family favorite, just across the street from the Hilton, is Wailana Coffee House (808-955-1764) at 1860 Ala Moana Blvd., a favorite for their large portions and inexpensive prices. Here you can get Belgian waffles and other breakfast treats 24 hours a day.

As for fine dining, I want to take you to the Big Island of Hawaii. My wife and I were recently in Kona, and our best dining experience there was at the Canoe House, at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows (808-885-6622). In the spirit of full disclosure, my cousin Danny Akaka Jr., is director of cultural affairs at the Mauna Lani and is well worth seeking out to learn of the legends, spiritual values, and culture of the Hawaiian people and to see the ancient aquaculture fish ponds and cave dwellings near the hotel's shore. The restaurant has both indoor and outdoor tables, the latter with beautiful ocean vistas. From appetizer to dessert, from a tremendously prepared opakapaka (a local fish) and lobster to the rack of lamb to the local varieties of mushrooms and greens from the island, everything was fresh from the harvest and superb.

A few miles from Kona is the town of Waikoloa, right next to the huge Parker Ranch, where beef lovers can indulge their passion. Try to get a table at Merriman's Waimea (808-885-6822), at 65-1227 Opelo Road in Kamuela. Merriman's believes in harmony between the farmer, the season, and the chef, such that the restaurant purchases farm-fresh produce daily. Every dish we sampled, whether from land or sea, was exquisite.

I hope a memorable part of your visit to Hawaii will be the time you spent experiencing the explosion of flavors that makes dining here unique. Happy eating. Aloha. 10_1.inline-graphic-1.gif

Footnotes

Jeffrey Akaka, M.D., is president of the Hawaii Psychiatric Medical Association and a past speaker of the APA Assembly.

Anchor for JumpAnchor for Jump

This dessert is one of many that puts coconut to creative and delicious use.

Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / John DeMello
Anchor for JumpAnchor for Jump

Poke is one of many traditional Hawaiian preparations of ahi, also known as yellowln tuna.

Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / John DeMello

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