Hawaii. When N first requested HI for our honeymoon destination, I was excited. Even though I wanted a unique destination where not many people go to on their honeymoon, I was excited because I hadn’t been there and after watching LOST believed in a fantasy that I could turn into a reality. As I prepared for this vacation, I watched a lot of Anthony Bourdain and was sure that I would experience Hawaii exactly as Bourdain would…
Alas, I don’t have camera women and men, a team of writers, producers, etc. to help me find all that he can find. Oh, and no popular T.V. show that people are willing to be interviewed on. All this didn’t matter, I thought to myself. If Bourdain were travelling on his own, he wouldn’t be sad; No! he would be looking for the next best meal! So that is what I set out to do on this trip. Although I didn’t have the best meal of my life at every location, I did find a few great finds that I will truly miss when I board that flight tomorrow night.
First: Helena’s Hawaiian Food
Helena’s is a small retro place. The tables are all different as are the chairs both from the 70’s era. It’s like sitting down at your grandma’s. N and I had the Kalua pig, short ribs, luau chicken and lomi lomi salmon. It also comes with rice and coconut pudding. The Kalua pig was my favorite: super tender, juicy and surprisingly flavorful. My second favorite has to be the coconut pudding. It was light, cold, and the perfect ending to a rich meal. The ribs were the best I’ve had since Birmingham! Tender, full of spicy flavor, and inspiring.
Second: Fatty’s Chinese Kitchen
We went here jet-lagged and hungry. Thank you yelp for directing me to this haven. Fatty’s is a tiny place where you sit at a bar and watch the chef’s prepare your meal right in front of you. You will cough when that chili hits the wok and drool when the fried rice gets plated. Fatty’s reminded me of the Chinese food that I was so used to in India. (Why is it so damn hard to find authentic chinese food anywhere else?!) I ordered fried pork chops over white rice and N ordered his fav.-pork fried rice. I have never had a more flavorful pork chop in my life-Thank you EBS for giving me a guilt-inducing look that time at Rendevous and getting me to try pork ribs; I am a pork-eating-convert ever since. The chops were thin, fried with garlic, chilies, scallions, and a mix of powerful spices that linger like a good first kiss. N’s fried rice, which I stole plenty of, was the most fresh fried rice I have ever had and fresh is not a word I usually use to describe fried rice. It was simply done without being drenched by soy sauce. The pork, scallions, light sauces, carrots, and peas were able to shine for once instead of the over-powering soy sauce. I gotta say that I have been back to Fatty’s twice since our first visit just because I know I won’t find a Fatty’s back in Alexandria.
Third: Alan Wong’s
Alan Wong’s is the opposite of Fatty’s in every way. It is totally shi-shi, upscale: N and I were referred to as “sir” and “ma’am” throughout the dinner. I still think Mr. Bourdain would approve however, because the food was on point! I had the macadamia and coconut crusted lamb chops with asian ratatouille and garlic parmesan mashed potatoes. First the lamb was perfectly cooked medium with flavor that continues to layer your tongue as you chew. The ratatouille was coming together of vegetables cooked just right and asian/french flavor which incidently aren’t as far apart as I once thought. I never thought I would find mashed potatoes as light and creamy as these. I usually get this heavy, gassy feeling after I eat mashed potatoes (I have slight lactose intolerance issue…), but with these I walked away relaxed, satisfied, and inspired to attempt that dinner at home which is a sign of a good meal in my book.
Hawaii. A blissful indulgence that will keep me craving seconds.