I was lucky enough to spend a few days visiting a friend who now resides in Lanikai Hawaii. Through her, I was able to eat at a few spots she often raved about. First on the list was Over Easy, a renewed breakfast and brunch restaurant, followed by my first experience with Hawaiian shaved ice. After that, it was just an adventure with an old friend filled with quiet moments, a few drinks, and laughs.
Here is a break down of the few places I ate at while visiting Hawaii.
Over Easy in He’eia was my first stop on my eating adventures the day after landing in Hawaii.
I went to Over Easy for breakfast and was pleasantly surprised at the number of people waiting for a table or take-away orders. Coronavirus could not stop the patrons who were visibly excited by the plates in front of them or simply satisfied with waiting an hour or more for the table. This was one of my friend’s favorite places for breakfast, and after my first bite, I understood why.
I started out my dining experience with the calamansi lemonade. The calamansi is also called calamondin, which is native to eastern Asia. It is a citrus hybrid cultivated in the Philippines, China, Taiwan, and other southeast Asian countries. This lemonade had a very tart taste and seemed to have a bit more acid than regular lime.
For my main course, I had the coconut shrimp burger with potatoes.
My friend had the omelets with bread, bacon, avocados, with a bit of vegetables.
Then we were treated to a surprising stack of pancakes with blueberry eyes and a creamy smile. Pancakes and waffles are treats I love, and this pancake stood out to me.
It was 4 layers of pancake with rich cream in the middle that wasn’t too sweet and had a mildly savory flavor that was confusing at first but ultimately delicious and memorable.
Haleiwa Shave Ice
I must say that almost every island I have ever visited had its own version of shaved ice. While visiting Waialua, I got to try this treat which goes perfectly with a hot day. I got the coconut flavor with coconut jelly on top, while my friend has the strawberry flavor. The taste was genuinely refreshing and worth trying at least once. This snack is iconic and comes from the days when Hawaii had many plantations. Apparently, the Japanese immigrants created this to cool off from the heat by crushing up ice and flavoring it with fruit juice.
Nico’s Pier 38
This is one of the busy restaurants in the area, and on the night I visit, it was packed. There is in-door and out-door dining in a very casual atmosphere. While at Nico’s we tried the fish, burger, orange chicken, and wine braised short ribs.
Lightly floured chicken pieces deep fried and tossed in a slightly spicy orange sweet chili sauce.
Fresh Ahi tuna steak coated with Japanese dried seaweed and sesame seeds then cooked to order, from rare to well done. Served with Nico’s ginger garlic cilantro dip.
Two of Nico’s famous burger patties with lettuce, tomato, red onion, house thousand island, and cheddar cheese
Slow-cooked boneless short ribs with mashed potatoes
Rum Fire at the Sheraton Hotel
The day before I departed Hawaii, I dined at the Rum Fire, which had a fantastic view of Waikiki Beach located inside the Sheraton Hotel. Rum Fire has a large dining area with both in-and-outdoor dining, live music performances, and breathtaking views of the beach and sunset. From the look of the beach, I guessed that it was one of the most popular places to visit. From what I gathered, it was a place where you could spot many people surfacing. Apparently, this is where the style of longboard surfing was first popularized. Once the island was given to the Americans, these areas became extremely popular with tourists, and that’s why today Hawaii is synonymous with honeymoon and vacation. When you think of Hawaii, you tend to think of weddings, honeymoons, beaches, leis, lau lau, and fun in the sun. While this is an incredibly positive image for Hawaii, I think many people should visit and see these islands’ reality. Just like the Caribbean, while it’s fun, beautiful, and laid-back, there is a hint of sadness there. I could feel that something was missing there the long I was there.
I had the 8oz beef patty on brioche bun with cheddar cheese, lettuce, onion, tomato, dill pickle, mango BBQ aioli, and Maui potato chips.
Before I left, I purchased some Honolulu cookies to take back home. Before December 2020, I had never heard of this company until I visited a store in Las Vegas. It turned out that Hawaiians love Las Vegas. This company started in 1998 and makes shortbread cookies in the shape of pineapples in island-inspired flavors. There are several flavors of cookies and specialty cookies created for the season. Back in December, they had the Christmas versions of these cookies, and my absolute favorite was the peppermint chocolate cookies.
Hawaii was such an exciting place to visit; it reminded me of home in some ways but was unique and unmistakably special in its own way. My trip to Hawaii was possible because of a good friend who migrated there for work and had extended the invitation my way. While she has been asking me to visit for some time now, I am glad I actually took the chance to see this place for myself.
This is the end of my travel for the food segment in Hawaii. I ate a few other places, but I didn’t take the time to record my findings. Sometimes I am hard on myself when I forget to document my dining experience, but when I neglect to do this, it is only because the food and company were too tantalizing and engaging. Those are the moments when I don’t feel like interrupting a pleasant moment with a camera shutter.