Friday, January 9, 2009

Brekkies and a bit more Hawaiian catch-up

Day two of Hawaii - boy, I have some catching up to do. Our hotel in Waikiki is conveniently located next door to an IHOP. At first this doesn't really ring a bell - is it a US convenience store chain that I've heard from the Simpsons? No, my more Americanised friend tells me, it's pancakes! I don't know what it is about Americans and pancakes, but I'm soon to find out at the International House of Pancakes, or IHOP.

IHOP on Kuhio Ave, Waikiki

Our first taste of American hospitality: we're seated and told that our server would be with us soon to take our orders. In the meantime we peruse the extensive menu and look around at fellow diners. There's a majority of Americans and a few Japanese tourists - this is pretty much indicative of the mix of people in Waikiki overall. But we're here for pancakes, and pancakes I shall have. The sweet stacked versions topped with cream and syrup look a little much for breakfast, so we both choose savoury options with pancakes on the side.

I believe mine was the 'Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity' (try saying that when you're half asleep), which came with as many options as when buying a new car. Eggs? Fried. How? Over hard, apparently. Bacon or sausage or half & half? Half & half, please. Pancakes? Blueberry. Drink? Guava juice. It's just too much decision-making for first thing in the morning.

(On the 'half & half' order, the server asked first in her American accent, naturally. My friend responded in the relatively British-sounding Aussie accent. When the server asked me in the American accent I unintentionally replied with an American-accented "half & half", to which she reiterated a British-sounding "half & half". Accent swapping - very amusing!)

Our juices arrive, the guava prettily pink but tasting nastily of tin, not that I expected fresh juice but I didn't quite need to taste the packaging either. And then the meals arrive in a flurry and it's hard not to smile.

Pancakes with blueberry and cream (left), bacon, eggs and
sausages (centre) and chocolate chip pancakes (right)

The blueberry pancake looks pretty as a picture, although I don't really like cream and the blueberries look artificial and sickly sweet (I later find out that they are). The choc chip pancakes are chocolatey brown rather than having choc chips in them. And I've two rashers of well-done but not quite crispy bacon, two thin sausages and two eggs fried 'over hard'.

I'm not quite sure if there is any order of eating the meal but I first taste the pancakes, mostly because they look so good. The blueberries sit in a thick, dark blue syrup that drenches two fluffy pancakes. It's not light eating and I manage one and a quarter pancakes, probably a quarter of the blueberry mix and none of the cream. The sausages are a bit of a surprise, very tasty and not too oily. I only wish a piece of toast to go with it all rather than the pancakes, but I concede that it is IHOP and when in Rome...

The next eating adventure happens to be again breakfast, the next day. Actually, considering the time we got out of bed and up for food, it was probably closer to lunch than brekky. Closer to lunch than brunch even. We'd passed a little eatery a few nights earlier and were intrigued by the menu, especially the last row of items in the pic below.

Outdoor menu at ME B-B-Q (Kaiulani Ave, I think)

Third from the left is indeed Spam, eggs and rice. I'm not sure what my sudden obsession with Spam is - it must be contagious from the locals. It is a breakfast item on the menu so I unfortunately do not get to sample this local fare. The rest of the menu is Korean and not necessarily breakfast-like. We're on holidays and we'll do what we want..!

Bi bim bap

My companion nominates the bi bim bap before I get to it. I thought the fresh, clean flavours would be ideal as a breakfast substitute and they are, huge serve aside. Atop the mound of steamed rice are strips of beef, chopped kimchee, cabbage, cucumber and bean sprouts, topped with a sunny side up egg with a chilli paste on the side and served with a salty, clear seaweed soup.

Shrimp jun with four vegies and rice

I resort to having a cutely named shrimp jun, basically an omelette encased with a school of butterflied shrimp with tails. It's also a big serving in a square styrofoam box and I get to choose four vegies to have with it. I'm glad because sometimes when I'm holidaying I don't get my proper fixes of fruits and vegies. I chose steamed broccoli, caramelised potatoes, bean sprouts and kimchee - much like the appetisers you'd get at a Korean resturant. It's a huge meal and plenty enough sustenance to get me through the day and to dinner.

Speaking of, dinner happens early this day at an establishment known as Senor Frog's.

Senor Frog's (Kalakaua Ave, Waikiki)

Upon entry we're seated and then our server introduces themselves and suggests that we have shots. We politely decline and instead go for the nightly special of Blue Hawaiis that taste less exciting than their vivid appearance.

Blue Hawaiis at Senor Frog's

The mood here is young and rambunctious, though it's still early and there are families about. It has a backpackers feel to it and I can imagine the mischief that patrons and staff alike would get up to. The interior is adorned with quirky signs and posters, plasmas show the NFL and the lucky ones on the balcony get views of tourists doing their designer shopping.

Again the menu is quite huge so we go the easy way out and order a mixed appetiser plate, unaware of what we're getting ourselves into.

Mixed appetiser platter at Senor Frog's

My first thought is: it's all deep fried, my goodness. We stare a while and discount the internal fat and cholesterol counters: it's okay, we're on holidays. Starting from the top clockwise we've got shoestring chips/fries, plus ketchup, and tortilla chips with a home made salsa (centre yellow dish). Then we've got fried chicken wings with a blue cheese sauce - the wings which are actually done well and still juicy and flavoursome. We've got crumbed and deep fried cheese sprinkled with coriander to make queso cilantro (it's rubbery and bland - the best part is the coriander). We've got fried shrimp with a tartare sauce. And we've got chicken flautas which are tortillas filled with shredded chicken then deep fried and served with refried beans, lettuce, tomato bits and sour cream. And there's a chilli sauce for whatever really.

This platter of fried food is daunting, surely artery-clogging and tempting in mostly the wrong ways. I'm almost embarassed to say that we ploughed through the most of it, leaving a few stray chips and a very impressed server. We avert our eyes, tip and vow never to come back for the sake of health... which then doesn't stop my travelling partner from dessert.

While I gape in shock from looking at more food and the pretty, pretty cakes at Satura Cakes, the cakes more than tempt my friend.

Mini cakes at Satura Cakes, Royal Hawaiian Center, Waikiki

These are literally cup cakes as they're in little paper cups and look simply adorable. The order is for red velvet, an American favourite I'm told. Back at the hotel I sneak a few bites later in the night and I'm unimpressed with the fluffy and moist cake, which tastes simply like chocolate sponge tinged red, but I lick up the icing, which is light and tastes like either cream cheese or yoghurt. Yum, but no more eating. For tonight.

IHOP on Urbanspoon

Senor Frog's on Urbanspoon

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