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Tourists new to Hawaii sometimes
wonder, “What is that red powder on the rim of my margarita?” Or, “What are
those big seeds covered in red dust that people are eating like candy?” Let us
enlighten you: It’s li hing mui!

 

Li hing mui translates from
Chinese to mean “traveling plum,” a fitting name for this one-of-a-kind
delicacy that travelled all the way from China to Hawaii during the late 19th
and early 20th centuries. Chinese immigrants brought the idea to the
plantations in Hawaii, where they dried plums and created li hing mui.
Typically, lin hing is made from pickled plum skins flavored with licorice or
prune, salt, and sugar (or a sugar derivative), and then ground into a reddish
powder.

 

The most popular ways to enjoy Li
Hing are in the form of li hing crack seed (a cracked plum seed), or sprinkled
on fresh, pickled, or dried fruits or gummy candy. You can also find li hing on
shave ice, the rim of margaritas, popcorn, malasadas, or even in salad
dressings or meat dishes. While it’s sweet and sour flavor tends to complement
sweet treats, Hawaiians will put li hing on just about anything—it is a dynamic
and unique flavor that pleases the masses! Li hing can even be used as a dye.
Prominent brands are “Enjoy, “Asia Trans” and “Jade.” In Hawaii, li hing-flavored
treats and powder can easily be found at grocery stores and convenience stores,
as well as in most bars (for rimming cocktails). On the mainland some Asian and
Polynesian markets carry li hing powder, but if yours doesn’t, you can always
order it online. Happy snacking!

 

Visit http://www.pineappleandcoconut.com/recipes/li-hing-guava-margaritas/ for a delicious li hing guava margarita recipe.

 

 

For any
questions about Waikiki vacation rentals, please contact Marina Hawaii
Vacations and an agent would be happy to assist you. We can be reached at
808-946-0716 or info@marinahawaiivacations.com

 

Susie Bowman

There is no
shortage of coffee shops and quick breakfast stops in the Honolulu/Waikiki
area, but there are a few spots that truly take breakfast and brunch to the
next level. Read on to find out about a few of our favorite spots you didn’t
know you needed to try:

 

Café Kaila

This quaint
local spot is the perfect place to stop for a hearty breakfast after hiking
Koko Head or Diamondhead. It will make all of your breakfast wishes come true,
but be prepared for a wait on weekend mornings. Our recommendation is the delicious
breakfast blt sandwich.

Visit http://www.cafe-kaila-hawaii.com for
more information

 

Scratch Kitchen
& Bake Shop

This modern
urban eatery located in downtown Honolulu is a unique spot to brunch. Their
menu features funky foods such as “milk n’ cereal pancakes,” “deviled crab cake
& chorizo gumbo” and grits with all the fixings. Their chic layout allows
guests to watch the chefs as they cook, taking in all that this
southern-inspired fresh spot has to offer.

Visit http://www.scratch-hawaii.com/#simple-rustic-approachable
for more information

 

Liliha Bakery

While Liliha is
a local favorite for malasadas, it is also a great spot to sit down for an
old-fashioned diner experience. The location on North Kuakini Street is open
24-hours and features a traditional one-counter diner breakfast. Pull up a seat
and feast, and leave with a box of malasadas or famous liliha coco puffs!

Visit http://lilihabakeryhawaii.com for more
information

 

 

For any
questions about Waikiki vacation rentals, please contact Marina Hawaii
Vacations and an agent would be happy to assist you. We can be reached at
808-946-0716 or info@marinahawaiivacations.com

 

Susie Bowman

What is more refreshing after a long day of vacationing than a crisp beer? Pina Coladas and Mai Tais are a dime a dozen on Oahu, but if a great brew is your drink of choice, peruse our list below to find the best breweries on the island:

 
Honolulu Beer
Works

If you’re
searching for a down-to-earth, local Honolulu brewery, look no further.
Honolulu Beer Works, located in artsy Kakaako, features craft, housemade beers
and pub fare as well as local food. This brewery is highly reviewed, easily
accessible, and open every day of the week except Sundays.

 

Kona Brewing Company

Kona Brewing is
one of the most well-known Hawaiian breweries, and for good reason. From their
house-brewed beers that are shipped all over the world, to their live music and
relaxing lanai, it’s about as good as it gets! They’re open seven days a week
and conveniently located in Waikiki.

 

Beer Lab HI

Another local
Honolulu favorite, Beer Lab HI serves up a rotating selection of craft beers
Tuesday -Saturday. Owners and management are local, and encourage guests to
BYOF (bring your own food). If you’re looking for something fun and different,
this is the spot for you!

 

Waikiki Brewing
Company

Open seven days
a week and adjacent to Cheeseburger Waikiki, this is a great place to stop for
a yummy burger and brew. Enjoy a sports game on TV, or sit on the patio and
enjoy the breeze.

 

Lanikai Brewing
Company

Located in
Kailua, Lanikai Brewing features beer tasting and growler refills. Their selection
is limited to a few brews on tap at a time, and they are only open
Thursday-Sunday, but they are worth the visit if you’re on the Windward side!

 

For any
questions about Waikiki vacation rentals, please contact Marina Hawaii
Vacations and an agent would be happy to assist you. We can be reached at
808-946-0716 or info@marinahawaiivacations.com

 

Susie Bowman

Best Ahi Poke on the Island

 

 
Here on Oahu, we love our ahi poke. “Ahi” is tuna, and “poke” refers to a cubed cut of meat or fish. High grade ahi poke is enjoyed raw with various sauces and seasonings all over Hawaii. In recent years it has become a popular menu item in many American or Asian fusion restaurants across the country. It can serve as an appetizer, or a meal, either by itself or atop a bowl of rice (a “poke bowl”). While there are many amazing places for fresh fish all over the island, here is our list of the must-try ahi poke spots on Oahu:

 

Kahuku Superette

Of all the poke on the island, this is the one that will stand out in your memory for years to come, and the next time you visit Oahu you’ll find yourself saying, “What was that little hole-in-the-wall up on the North Shore called?” Kahuku Superette. Easy to access, right on Kamehameha Highway, this little market boasts the best poke on the North Shore, and perhaps on the whole island. The shoyu poke sauce is a generations-old recipe owned by the superette’s owner. Apparently the recipe originally came from her Grandmother in Korea. Homemade in large batches and left to ferment, this sauce is top-secret and top-notch. Take a drive up the North Shore, and make sure to stop here along the way. You can’t skip the shoyu poke, but try another flavor as well, and take your containers to go as you enjoy the beautiful scenery of the North Shore, or head over to the nearby Keana Farms or beautiful beaches. 

56-505 Kamehameha Hwy

808-293-9878

Ono’s Seafood

In Hawaiian, “ono” means delicious. And the ahi poke lives up to its name at Ono’s Seafood! Centrally located, though easy to miss (another hole-in-the-wall), this is a beloved spot for locals and tourists to grub on the best poke in town. Come for the famous poke bowls, and stay for the tako (octopus).  This is a one-stop-shop, complete with Hawaiian sun juices and other snacks and local foods in the refrigerator. The shop is small, and parking can be tight. Take your food to go, or enjoy it outside at the picnic tables before you go back in for a second helping!

747 Kapahulu Ave Apt 4

808-732-4806

Maguro Brothers

As the name suggests, two brothers founded this fine eating establishment. Hailing from the Tsukiji Fish Market in Japan, these two know how to pick the best fish daily at the Honolulu fish auction. From maguro to uni to salmon, there is something to try here each day of the week! Conveniently located in Chinatown in downtown Honolulu, this is a great stop for lunch after touring the royal palace or strolling through Chinatown. 

1039 Kekaulike St #113, Honolulu, HI 96817

808-259-7100

If you’re in the mood for affordable poke that retains a high quality, our grocery store recommendation is Foodland. Not only are these located all over the island, but the quality and flavor of their poke is right up there with the best of the restaurants. This is a great option for grab-and-go while you’re doing your grocery shopping. 

For any questions about Waikiki vacation rentals, please contact Marina Hawaii Vacations and an agent would be happy to assist you. We can be reached at 808-946-0716 or info@marinahawaiivacations.com

Susie Bowman

Best Bakeries on Oahu

Here on Oahu the sun is shining, the water is warm, and our biggest worry some days is which bakery has the best malasadas (in case you haven’t tried this delightful pastry, it is a Portuguese donut without a hole, beloved by Hawaiians). Many locals are loyal to just one bakery—we have strong feelings on all things pastry!

I ate way too many malasadas in order to give you a comprehensive review of the three best bakeries on the island. Give these bakeries a try and let us know which one is your favorite:
Leonard’s Bakery: Perhaps the most famous Hawaiian Bakery, this one is a tourist magnet. Once you taste their legendary, fresh, hot malasadas you’ll understand why. Head over to Kapahulu Ave and try the original, haupia, or dobash (chocolate) filled malasadas. They come coated in regular sugar, cinnamon-sugar, or the local-style Li-Hing Mui powder. Look out for their flavors of the month, such as lilikoi or pineapple. Don’t blame us when you go in for one and leave with a dozen! Visit http://www.leonardshawaii.com/ for more information.

Liliha Bakery: With the original location on Liliha Street, and a second location on Nimitz Highway, this bakery has been keeping Honolulu happy for over 60 years. This cozy spot is open 24 hours (closed Monday) and has a breakfast bar where you can enjoy delicious diner-style and local foods. While their malasadas and butter rolls, chiffon cakes and pies are enjoyed by many, they are most famous for their coco puffs. These are large cream puffs filled with chocolate pudding and topped with their signature chantilly frosting. They come in several flavors (like green tea), and are definitely worth a try! Visit http://lilihabakeryhawaii.com/ for more information.

Kamehameha Bakery: Lesser-known to tourists but famous among locals, Kamehameha Bakery is tucked away in Dillingham Square in Kalihi. Fan favorites are the poi malasadas and the strawberry malasadas. When I first moved to the island and joined my sister and her family, she informed me that “we are a Kamehameha Bakery family.” My nephew likes nothing better than their custard-filled long john, covered in chocolate. Go early for the hot poi malasadas- they’re best fresh, and they sell out fast. Kam Bakery is too cool and old fashioned to have a website, but you can check out their reviews on Facebook and Yelp.

Happy Eating!

Susie Bowman
Reservations Agent

Restaurant Epic - A Culinary Delight
 
Restaurant Epic is located in the heart of downtown Honolulu, and offers the best of local and Japanese-influenced dishes, as well as New American style food. The staff is friendly, and the owner can often be seen concocting one-of-a-kind cocktails for his guests at the bar—regulars and first-timers. The warm, inviting atmosphere will make you feel right at home while you try both exotic and familiar flavors. You really can’t go wrong ordering anything off the menu at Epic, but in case you don’t have a chance to try the whole menu, we’ve listed some of our favorites below:

 

Favorite pupus:

·         Escargot poppers—Not your typical pupu found in Hawaii, and not the typical way that escargot is served. Escargot is cooked in a delicious garlic sauce, and served atop a warm, light puff pastry.

·         Apple, walnut, and brie quesadilla—A great option for vegetarians, or anyone who enjoys gourmet flavors. The thyme infused honey drizzle on top will have you reaching for more!

·         Braised beef sliders—Deliciously melty little sliders served on King’s Hawaiian rolls (these are a happy hour special, not always on the menu)

 

Favorite entrees:

·        The Caprese Salad—light, refreshing, and packed with fresh basil, mozzarella, tomatoes, and a fantastic balsamic reduction.

·         The Epic Classic Burger—everything you’ve ever wanted in a burger, served on brioche with an avocado bacon spread. Enough said.

·         Miso Butter Fish—melt-in-your-mouth perfection, delicately flavored.

·         Braised Beef Short Ribs—The dish that made me like short ribs, these are even better than the short ribs offered at the bigger steakhouses, and they’re priced more reasonably. Enjoy these incredibly tender short ribs with mashed potatoes and fresh veggies!

 

Favorite desserts:

·         Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies—bacon, it’s not just for breakfast anymore.

·         Blueberry Bread Pudding—a fun spin on traditional bread pudding, this is true comfort food.

·         Chocolate & Peanut Butter Molten Cake—the only way a chocolate molten lava cake could get any better? Freshly baked with peanut butter added!

 

We recommend starting at the cozy bar for an affordable and delicious happy hour from 4:30-6:00 pm Monday-Friday. Happy Hour includes creative cocktails and delectable pupus at reduced prices. Then, choose a table near the window if you like to people-watch, or a table in the main dining area of the restaurant for a more formal dinner. There is also a private room you can rent out if you wish, for parties. Don’t forget to ask your server about chef’s specials and the daily catch! Call 808-587-7787 or visit http://restaurantepichawaii.com/index.html to make a reservation or view their menus.

 
 
Susie Bowman
Reservations Agent 
The perfect way to end the day!

You can’t miss this Japanese Restaurant on Piikoi street with a big red koi jumping out of a blue stream painted on the roof. With the bright roof, colorful wall paintings, gyotaku prints and red paper lanterns you know you are in a working class izakaya/pupu style where you can fill your stomach with food that pairs with delicious drinks.

Everything I tried was perfectly executed and priced. The tempura, fried chicken wings, shrimp with mayonnaise, sushi, kushikatsu, karaage, miso hot-pot, yakitori and pork belly simmered in soy sauce. The chicken karaage was dressed with sweet chili and soy sauce. Kushikatsu was four pieces covered with a sweet, salty, red miso paste. The pork belly was deliciously braised in a salty and sweet sauce that made it melt-in-your-mouth.

The service is really good as I never have a problem with slow service or inconsiderate staff. They are very warm, and you know it must be a good place to work for because many of the workers are the same from when they first opened. Prompt removal of finished dishes, new plates, and water are always refilled. No complaints.

This place also attracts a lot of non-Japanese tourists and families. If you are looking for good Izakaya style Japanese food of great value, this is a great place to go. They offer a 20% discount on early bird dining – 5:00 to 6:30pm – so worth a try next time you are here!!

Kotoe Morisaki

Japanese Reservation Agent

Dining at the best in Honolulu

Honolulu offers an irresistible menu of dining options sure to satisfy every taste. Best of all, you can enjoy a fantastic selection of restaurants right at our resorts.

If you plan on venturing out on the town for a romantic dinner or grabbing a quick lunch between your vacation adventures, Honolulu has plenty eateries to choose from, including:

Downtown Honolulu Restaurant

Honolulu is a cosmopolitan American city, and its downtown district is home to a variety of restaurants serving just about every cuisine under the sun including Indian and Thai. Naturally, visitors to Hawaii will want to sample the famous local fare like a shrimp plate lunch, poi, and Spam musubi. Diners will also find good old-fashioned burgers and fries, Italian pasta, and of course Starbucks Coffee. For up-market Hawaiian and Asian cuisine, try Chai’s Island Bistro at 1 Aloha Tower Drive, which fuses Pacific Rim flavors with a beautiful setting for an unforgettable dining experience. Soul de Cuba Café on Bethel Street is a popular downtown destination for spicy tapas and drinks. Across from the Hawaii Theater is Brasserie du Vin, with dishes inspired by the South of France and impeccable service. Want some familiar comfort food? There are also major chain restaurants including Red Lobster and Outback Steakhouse located in Ilikai Marina.