Friday, July 19, 2013

New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel

Kaimana Beach Hotel

If you're tired of the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, this charming boutique hotel near Kapiolani Park provides old fashioned charm and elegance. Although it is one of the older hotels, the service is wonderful, and the staff is friendly and welcoming. By the time you leave, the staff will know you by name: this is old style service that you cannot get at a lot of the bigger chain hotels. At the Kaimana Beach Hotel, all the rooms and suites include balconies with full or partial ocean or mountain views. The hotel's Hau Tree Lanai overlooking the beach offers flavorful specialties and lovely atmosphere. (My husband's favorite breakfast item is the Loco Moco which is cornbeef hash served on a bed of rice and topped with a fried egg.) This restaurant is located in the same spot where long ago, the Scottish poet and author, Robert Louis Stevenson, wrote his stories under the leafy boughs of the Hau Tree. Voted best outdoor dining restaurant by Honolulu Magazine in 2009 and 2010, the Hau Tree Lanai continues to be a favorite with locals and visitors alike.

The Kaimano Beach Hotel offers many activities in the neighborhood: hiking up Diamond Head (which is a ten minute drive away), jogging or strolling through Kapiolani Park, and swimming and sun bathing at Sans Souci Beach in front of the hotel. For those of you with small children, the Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium are close by. A few steps away from the hotel entrance is a small food store that sells the ubiquitous musubi or spam sushi. Go early because this traditional Hawaiian junk food specialty sells out quickly!!

Kaimana Beach Hotel
2863 Kalakaua Avenue
Waikiki, Honolulu

Traditional Hawaiian Poi Supper

In Honolulu during the late 1800s, the Poi Supper was the traditional culinary entertainment for the Hawaiian Ali'i (nobility) and the elite haole (non native residents). There were strict rules for the Poi Supper: the decor and table arrangements had to be as special and meaningful as the cuisine. Fragrant leis were draped on each chair, while floweres, ti leaves, and ferns were scattered down the middle of the table. In the centre was a display of gorgeous tropical fruit. Elegant crystal glasses and heavy silver cutlery were contrasted with poi cups made from coconut shells and bowls made from koa wood. The menu was usually a hybrid selection of Hawaiian and Western specialties. Typically, the starter was a fruit cocktail, f'ollowed by a fish steamed in ti leaves, pork laulau, poi, and western side dishes. Dessert was baked bananas or coconut cake. Princess Ka'iulani, the last Crown Princess of Hawaii would have been an honored guest at many such occasion. She would have worn a floral holoku or formal mu'umu'u while her escort would have been wearing a loose white silk shirt with a colorful cummerbund.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Willows Restaurant

The Willows Restaurant

Always a favorite culinary destination, The Willows is one of Hawaii's original garden restaurants. Long ago, as part of the property belonging to Kamamalu, sister of Kamehameha IV and V, this land was treasured by the nobility for its sacred healing waters. Then during the 1800s, the Chinese settlers planted rice and created ponds on this property; while later on, the Japanese settlers nurtured the area for farming. During the 1920s, The Willows was a family home cherished by the Haustens who were enthusiastic garderners. The property became famous for its lovely tropical flowers, plants, and herbs, and the family began holding luaus and weddings at the request of the public. After the second world war, the family established a restaurant which quickly became famous for its spectacular curry dishes and its traditional Hawaiian specialties. Nowadays, this historical landmark continues to welcome kema'aina (locals) and visitors alike with its old fashioned Hawaiian hospitality and charm. The Sunday Buffet has an enormous selection of tasty Hawaiian foods such as Ahi Poke, Lau Lau, Poi, Kalua Pig and Chicken Long Rice.  For the less adventurous, there is a wonderful variety of traditional brunch dishes which include a seafood station, curry station, and of course traditional roast beef with all the trimmings.

The Willows
901 Hausten Street
Honolulu, Oahu