Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Rainy Day in Waikiki

It's been sprinkling all morning long. It's crazy busy this morning in Waikiki because of the Aloha Parade. And later this afternoon, the Air Force Thunderbirds will be performing at Fort DeRussy. This all kind of shot our plans for today because traffic will be pure hell getting in and out of Waikiki. So the Mister and I have decided to just stay put. Watch a bit of the parade and walk Kalakaua a bit. I will post pics later.

Yesterday, we popped over to Mark's Drive Inn for some plate lunch. Unfortunately, the camera was packed and I forgot to bring it. (lame excuse) The Mister had his usual Mixed Plate Lunch: beef patty, tery chicken, chicken katsu, 2 scoops of rice, kim chee. I tried something a little different this time. Instead of having the large BBQ rib plate , I opted for a mini BBQ ribs and a mini chicken katsu. The reason why I did this because the Mister said the chicken katsu has been extra good this past week (he's been here since Sunday for work). So I had to get the katsu. Normally I would just take a couple of the Mister's but we were both really hungry so I just ordered my own. Price really wasn't an issue since the 2 minis were only $9 total. Yum, yum, yum. I couldn't finish it all. You know when you're just starving that when you finally eat, you get really full, fast?

Since we ate lunch kind of late, we didn't go out for dinner until 7:30 pm. We walked down a side street, Ena Road, off Ala Moana Blvd. to look for this little Japanese restaurant. We were in Waikiki last year in October when that earthquake hit and all of Oahu was dark until late into the night. No hot meals, no light, people lined up outside of ABCs and other sundry type stores trying to get some food and some blackout necessities. We stumbled across the restaurant, who was serving up meatball bentos. We were lucky enough to get the last bento box. Between that and a cold turkey sandwich from another deli shop, we ate by candlelight that evening.

So we decided to go back and actually eat in it this time. Not to our surprise, it was gone. In its place, is a new Pho restaurant. You see, for the past 7-8 years, restaurants on Ena Road has suffered a lot of turnover. For many years, there were just a few small mom-pop restaurants, one of them was Spaghetti Hale. But in that time, many of the older buildings have been bought out, torn down, and made into huge condos, malls, what-nots. There was a section of Ena Road where someone was trying to buy out a couple of plots, at least that was the rumor we heard. The family that owned them (I think 2 buildings), didn't want to sell. But we don't really know exactly what happened but those small buildings are still there and since then, a few restaurants have come and gone.

So back to my story. We joked as we started to walk down Ena that the restaurant was gone. It turned out to be no joke. We peaked into the Pho place, only had about 4 customers. We decided to walk the rest of the road (not very long) to see what else had changed. The little Chinese restaurant was still there but closed for dinner as usual (odd). The tattoo parlor was still there (also closed). At the end of the street, there's a new Irish pub, the old Pho place was still there, next to the laundry mat. That pho place used to be where we'd go for a pho fix but the service is horrendous and after 2 last chances, we finally wrote it off. may be a good thing the new pho place is there. We'll have to try that next time we stay in Waikiki, that is, if it's still there. I really wasn't in the mood to have pho last night. Too hot, too humid.

As we were walking back up towards Ala Moana, we decided to peak into Chiba-ken, another Japanese restaurant that we noticed during the last visit. Since we had already decided on Japanese food, we thought we give it a try. It didn't seem too busy but it's a decent size place, about a dozen tables inside, some more outside, and a good length sushi bar. I was still pretty full from lunch and since my eating time was a bit off, I just wanted something a little light. Uh huh. We took a seat and looked over the menu. Koji Okada, owner and sushi chef, was one of 5 behind the sushi counter. The waitresses and waiters were very friendly and quick.

Chu toro was on the special list and we almost ordered it but decided on a mix sushi platter and the vinegar cucumber/seaweed/octopus salad to start. The salad was very good. The vinegar was mild and refreshing, slightly sweet. The cucumbers were the small kind and crunchy. Seaweed was perfect, not fishy. Octopus was very tender, perfect touch to the salad. Our mixed sushi plate was served up. It contained tuna roll (no cucumber, the way I like it), 1 nigiri each of taco (octopus), hamachi, salmon, sweet shrimp, tuna, fish roe, and one more I can't remember. The Mister and I split up based on what we like. Roe, of course, was mine and it was really good. I also had the hamachi, tuna, and the shrimp. All were very good, fresh and melted in your mouth. The Mister said the salmon was excellent. After we polished off the plate, we still had room for more (yeah, I just wanted a little something, something light, right). So we decided to order one more plate and an order of unagi nigiri. Lovely. The Mister thought this was the best sushi we have had in a very long time, maybe even best, he said. I would agree in a very long time. Best? Possibly. Everything just melted in your mouth. If it wasn't so hot, I would have tried the aji but next time. Oh yeah, there will be a next time, that is if Chiba-Ken survives the curse of Ena Road.

With such an enjoyable meal, I decided to look up some info on Chiba-Ken. Here's what I found. Star Bulletin Eatery had it as one of its picks in 2006 (click here for the write up). For Sushi Monster's review, click here (with pics, of course). Scroll down to April 5, 2007 to read it.

I know, I know. Not much a review without pictures but I was a bit out of sorts yesterday, being a travel day and all. It's not like I could have posted pictures anyway because the Casio is one of those cameras that need the special based (not just a plug and cable) to download the pictures. Stupid but that's how it goes.

I now have the camera in my purse. We decided to go to Hy's Steak House tonight since we're not in the mood to drive anywhere. I've even convinced the Mister to let me take food pictures, considering it's a high end restaurants. We wanted to go to Hy's because they have awesome food and a great selection of flambe desserts. Our favorite, Banana Foster!! Hy's still believes in the traditional table side preparation of flambe desserts. Fun to watch. Posting for Hy's will have to wait until I'm back home so I can upload the pictures.

468 Ena Rd
Waikiki area

Have a wonderful weekend. Now go and eat well.

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