Not that the first part of the trip was a hardship, but I definitely had a lot of fun during my last three days in Hawaii.
I went to the airport and picked up the Turo car rental. It was a little old car and I took a ton of pictures in case there were any issues with “damages” at the end of the rental (there were not!). Then, I went to Mitch’s Sushi for lunch which was amazing. There were a few foodies at the conference who recommended the place and they were not lying! The fish was so fresh. I know for the true sushi connoisseur, it’s all about the rice. I don’t know a lot about rice but it was also good! Mitch’s was not cheap, but it was delicious.
Then, I went to check in at the cabanas of Kaneohe Bay. It ended up being a bare bones unit that looked like it was 1/4 of an elongated shed. There was noisy AC and shared bathrooms. Basically, think of it as glamping and it’s amazing. Think of it as a hotel and you’ll be disappointed. I thought of it as the former and it was great! The room was about 20 feet from the beach on Kaneohe Bay. It was beautiful. One of the activities I really wanted to do was kayak out to the sandbar but during my visit, it was too windy to allow rentals so I was out of luck.
That evening, I met up with a med school classmate for dinner with her wife at Senia. They specialize in “regional cuisine focusing on Hawaii’s abundance.” We started with fun cocktails. I had The Freddie (wild turkey bourbon, chestnut, vanilla, blood orange, smoke). We ordered a bottle of wine recommended by the sommelier as a lesser known but excellent French wine (Faury, Saint-Joseph).
The dishes were absolutely amazing. We shared several, which was such a good plan. We had a bone marrow dish that was excellent, although St Germain in Norfolk (RIP) still has the best I’ve had. We had smoked ahi “cigars” (bric pastry, yuzu kosho aioli, chive) that were innovative. Senia, in general, is a big fan of the smoke. The hamachi tataki (cucumber, tomatillo, poha berry) was super refreshing. We shared two larger dishes: the triple smoked salmon (lemon & chive waffles, maple butter glaze) and duck three ways (breast, crispy leg confit, foie gras, orange, port wine gel).
For dessert, we split two. One was a panna cotta and the other was amazing. Hahaha, I can’t remember the name and it doesn’t seem to be on the website menu. One looked like a uni-don, which was very clever and cute.
The bill was pretty crazy and, even crazier, my friend picked it up. WHAT?!?! That was unexpected and overly generous. I am definitely taking them out to someplace great in the Bay Area when they come to visit. My friend works a few per diem days at a nearby university so I definitely want to return the treat!
The next morning, I went to Cafe Kalawe where I had a delicious pancake. Next, I picked up a malasada from Leonard’s mobile stand before heading over to Bellows Beach. The weather was sun-rain-sun accompanied by a lot of wind, but it is so beautiful there. I read my Kindle, so I didn’t have to worry about the wind turning the pages. Over the vacation, I read The Love Letters of W.E.B DuBois, which isn’t exactly a beach read but it is a good book. I recommend it, but it’s pretty heavy. The rest of the day was pretty mellow and I was very excited for my next day’s plans.
I had been wanting to go to the Shangri-La for the longest time. It’s Doris Duke’s former home in Honolulu that was inspired by her honeymoon tour that included tours of the Taj Mahal and other Islamic Art exemplars. I didn’t know about it during my medical student rotation, but I think I knew about it by the late 2000s. But on my various trips, I was never able to make it on a day that it was open as the schedule is pretty limited. This time, I had booked tickets two months in advance and I was ready!
First, I went to Guieb Cafe for breakfast where I had a delicious bao bun egg benedict and fried rice. At this point, if you are wondering if I lost weight on this vacation, I would have to say no. No, I did not. But, you know, vacation!!!
After breakfast, I toured the Honolulu Museum of Art while waiting for the shuttle. The museum is amazing! There are incredible permanent collections of Polynesian art, as well as two temporary exhibits that were breath-taking.
I’m starting to realize this post is getting a little long, so I’ll write about the Honolulu Museum of Art and Shangri-La separately. After the museum and house tour, I went back to Waikiki and had a shave ice at the Island Vintage kiosk. Then I went to the beach for a few hours that included a lot of time in the water. I never went surfing, but I was glad to get in the ocean for an extended swim. After the swim, I decided to have a final shave ice at Ululani’s. I meant to go to Wailoa, but Ululani’s was excellent.
Then I headed back to Kailua, where Brandi and I met up for another, more low-key dinner at Buzz’s. I’m so glad I got to see a friend while in Hawaii. Although she and I weren’t in the same close friend groups at USUHS, we always liked each other so it’s great to still be in touch.
The next day, it was time to go. I had a longer-than-expected-to-pour-over pour-over at Tradition coffee, dropped off the Turo in the airport, went to my gate, and left. I was a little sad but excited to see SMS. I had a wonderful week in Hawaii and I know I’ll be back! Aloha!