Posts Tagged ‘Honolulu’

Today, we discovered a cool place in Dole Cannery called Rascal’s Family Fun Center perfectly suited for kiddie birthday parties and just plain ‘ol entertainment. Our son Ensen was invited to his classmate Caleb’s 4th birthday party. When Kelly and I got the invitation, we had no idea what this place was all about. We figured this place must be pretty new, but it’s actually been open for a little more than one year. What?

Ensen found Rascal’s to be a very fun place. They have an arcade, laster tag, mini bowling, mini golf, and a bouncer room. They also have a Candyland Tot Town which we didn’t get to see. It looks small from the outside, but when you go in, it’s rather large. As you can see from the video above (shot and edited on my iPhone 4 with iMovie), there lots to keep the kids busy. Ensen (in photo below) really enjoyed mini bowling and hopping around in the bouncer.

In addition to all the activities, they have private rooms to hold those special celebrations with family and friends. And, they offer three hours of free validated parking. Sweet!

Nothing against Chuck E. Cheese or Dave and Busters, but this is definitely a breath of fresh air in terms of fun and locations to hold birthday parties and special events for kids on Oahu.

Have you been to Rascal’s? What other places in Hawaii are ideal for such occasions?

Oh, and once again, Happy Birthday Caleb!

-NGK

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Sad news came last week that the 110-year-old Honolulu Symphony was shutting down due to financial woes. Now, one of my favorite places for local entertainment – Kumu Kahua Theatre – is in danger of going dark forever for the same reason. Not enough money!

When Kelly and I were sans kids, we were season ticket holders for many years. We enjoyed dozens of performances by local playwrights in the intimate 100-seat playhouse. Some funny. Some serious. Some that really made you think about this place we call home. But always 100 percent local.

After hearing this news, I feel terrible that I haven’t been supporting Kumu Kahua over the past several years. The community needs this. Our children need this. Hawaii really needs to support the arts a lot more that it currently does. Our family included.

I really hope the community (and/or corporate sponsors) can help save the day for artistic director Harry Wong and his team. In reading the letter above pleading for help, it’s obvious they are doing what they need to do internally to survive.

If you are in a position to give and help Kumu Kahua Theatre, do so knowing you’re supporting something wonderful for the community and future of Hawaii. They need our help now! Our family will be making a donation. I hope you will too!

-NGK

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The more I eat, the more I’ve started thinking about where the food I’m eating comes from and who’s cooking it. Are ingredients used grown locally or from the mainland?  Is the protein local or from another part of the country? What’s the story behind the restaurant? And more recently, does the person preparing this meal care really give a “shirt” about these things or are they just going through the motions trying to make it through another shift? I blame it on a client who I traveled with to New York and D.C. years ago. I’ve never looked at food the same way again.

Eating has become somewhat of a spiritual thing for me. But eating local has definitely become a pride thing for me. There’s something enlightening these days about eating a dish so perfectly cooked and constructed from local ingredients on your plate that it’s almost like reaching nirvana…that out of body experience that makes you say…well usually nothing…kind of just leaves you speechless and rushing back for a second bite. And honestly, I’ve found this rush is intensified when local produce and products are involved and moved from farm to table as quickly as possible.

A long intro to help you understand the point of this post…why I’m taking Kanu Hawaii’s “Eat Local Challenge” and asking you to do the same. Between now and October 2, eat locally-grown and make an ongoing commitment to support our local food systems. According to Kanu Hawaii’s website, “Hawaii’s food supply is extremely vulnerable. If barge and air freight to Hawai‘i were interrupted, our islands’ food supplies would last only 14 days. We can build a healtheir, more sustainable and secure food supply with our consumer power.”

So what are you waiting for? Let’s all work to make a difference in Hawaii’s future by starting off with a pledge. For me, I’ve committed that “l will eat all locally-grown food for at least one meal during the Eat Local Challenge” and “I will spend at least 10% of my food budget on locally grown food year-round.” You can participate by eating at restaurants that use local ingredients or buy local yourself from your favorite grocery store or farmer’s market.

In case you’re wondering, I upheld my end of the deal and began today by having lunch at Town, one of my favorite restaurants on Oahu where the motto is “local first, organic whenever possible, and with Aloha always.” What I admire most about Chef/owner Ed Kenney and Dave Caldiero is their commit to using Hawaii ingredients first and their ability to execute a menu of clean, simple, and delicious dishes. The food isn’t pretentious, it’s just damn good.

It was the perfect place to begin the challenge and the food was excellent as always. I was fortunate enough to share the meal with travel guru Rudy Maxa and his girlfriend Ana who were returning to Minneapolis today after a week on the island. We had one of those close to nirvana experiences today. Here’s a few photos from lunch.

Today's menu at Town.

antipasti: long bean, fried okra, fresh flaked ahi.

bruschetta, mozarella, hamakua mushrooms, basil.

Kanu Hawaii Eat Local Challenge Item: local bibb lettuce, mao radish, sweet onion, spicy ulu (breadfruit) chips, avocado-buttermilk

kuahiwi ranch grass-fed hamburger, potato roll, and french fries

fresh squeezed lemonade with parsley juice, mint, and honey

chocolate-hazelnut gelato

Town Kaimuki
2435 Waialae Avenue, #103 (corner of Waialae & 9th Avenue)
Honolulu, HI 96816
Phone: 735-5900 (reservations strongly suggested, walk-in dining on the patio)
Monday – Saturday (6;30 a.m. to 2:30)
Monday – Thursday (5:30-9;30 p.m.)
Friday – Saturday (5:30-10:00 p.m.)
Closed Sundays

-NGK

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I first fell in love with Cirque du Soleil after watching Mystere at Treasure Island in Las Vegas years ago. Since then, I’ve seen Zumanity, Ka, and the traveling show Saltimbanco. Mind-blowing stuff and something everyone should experience at least once in their lives.

I had the incredible opportunity to interview Cirque du Soleil’s Senior Artistic Director Michael G. Smith while he was in Honolulu back in June. He was here to help announce the coming of Cirque’s show Alegria which will open at Honolulu’s Neal S. Blaisdell Center on October 15, 2010. Aside from being a charming fellow who is obviously passionate about his job and the arts, Michael gives me the scoop on:

  • what someone who’s never seen a Cirque du Soleil show can expect
  • what the typical reaction is by those who see Cirque for the first time
  • how a road show is different (but as entertaining) from the stage show in Las Vegas
  • how Alegria is different from Saltimbanco
  • whether there’s any other show in Hawaii right now that comes near the Cirque experience
  • the best way to enjoy a Cirque show filled with tons of color, movement, and amazement
  • why Alegria is a great value and experience for the entire family

I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I enjoyed making it. Alegria opens October 15 and runs through October 31 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena. Tickets are available through ticketmaster.com.

For show updates, you can also follow Cirque du Soleil’s exclusive Hawaii account on Twitter.

We’ll definitely be there. Hope to see you at the show too!

Disclosure: The agency I work for (Anthology Marketing Group) is assisting with the public relations for Alegria in Honolulu. I do not work on the account. This interview was done for this blog.

-NGK

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I have to admit that when my friend Toby invited me and my family to visit his new marine center client near Honolulu International Airport, I was completely skeptical. Having lived five minutes away in Salt Lake for more than six years, I know the area pretty well frequenting the airport and businesses around there quite a bit. But I nearly fell off my chair when he said “no seriously, there’s a Living Art Marine Center (LAMC) on Ualena Street behind Byron’s Drive Inn and it’s a great family attraction.” THERE’S A WHAT?!

We’re always up for new excursions and any opportunity to enlighten ourselves, so the Kam family accepted the open house invitation and complimentary narrated VIP tour to explore the facilities a couple Saturdays ago. And to our surprise, there IS a wonderful marine center there in between the warehouse facilities in what I’ve only thought of as an industrial park all this time. Who would have guessed? It’s only open three days a week right now – Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday – but they hope to expand as demand hopefully rises.

The LAMC offers 75,000 liters of sea life on display in a variety of tropical fish tanks (seemed like more than a hundred), do-it-yourself workshops (including a special area for kids to do arts/crafts), an aquatic touch tank (with starfish, crabs, and other creatures), and a shark museum. The main feature is the “Tour the Six Oceans” display which takes you on a journey around the tropics to discover how the reef and its inhabitants are quite different and unique in the displays highlighting six areas around the world – Hawaii and Christmas Island, Australia, Philippines and Indonesia, Baja Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Red Sea.

Ensen had a great time looking at all the familiar and sometimes unusual sea life along with all of the other kids. Throughout the tour I kept thinking this is really a great family attraction right in our backyard. Not only is it visually stimulating, but the narrated tour was really well done. The staff is very knowledgeable and the content was interesting.

The tour also included a look a the Voyage Into the Deep, Clownfish” breeding area, Fish collecting boat, and a touch tank where visitors can get hands-on feeling different marine life, such as hermit crabs, starfish, and other creatures of the sea.

Once we were finished looking at all of the exhibits, the families found themselves back in the main building preparing to do some arts/crafts in the workshop area. For an extra cost, you can create Gyotaku fish print t-shirts, seashell decorations, decorate an ipu (gourd), and other fun do-it yourself activities.

Ensen was quite happy making his Gyotaku print. Instead of using real, smelly fish which are used in making authentic prints, the LAMC uses fish “stamps” which parents like me appreciate.

Nothing against smelly, slimy fish, but this alternative worked out just fine as evidenced by photo above. After the print dries, the kids were then able to cut out a border from construction paper to frame the photo. We now have a beautiful Gyotaku print in our condo.

And as we were about to leave, these interesting pieces of art caught my eye and I couldn’t help but snap a photo.  This would actually look quite neat in my office.

After taking the tour and talking with President Richard Xie, it made sense why the LAMC was located here. It’s part of Hawaiian Sealife, a marine ornamental fish business (they export cool fish to pet stores and aquariums). Xie and his team are trying to do their part to showcase the beauty found below the Hawaiian waters, while educating residents and visitors about the hundreds of different species of tropical fish here.

So who exactly is the LAMC is a great experience for? In my humble opinion:

  • local families looking for something new and interesting to do
  • visitors interested in seeing and learning about Hawaii’s marine life (or maybe killing time if your flight happens to get delayed and you don’t want to spend hours at the airport…this place is just 5 minutes away)
  • die-hard aquarium/fish fanatics who want to know more about ornamental fish
  • teachers and their students as an educational too (they do tours for school groups on a regular basis)

While we enjoyed the VIP tour, I can see us returning again to do the self-guided version at our own pace…especially because we have kids who are on their own schedule and program when it comes to experiences like this.

And as the saying goes, never judge a book by its cover. The exterior of the LAMC is nothing to look at, but the quality of exhibits inside is what you’re really here for. Go check it out!

—–

Living Art Marine Center
3239 Ualena Street, #100
Honolulu, HI 96819

Hours of Operation: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday
Guided Tours: 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. (90 minutes) – Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday
Reservations: 808-841-8080
Online Information: www.hawaiiansealife.com

Entrance Fees:
Kamaaina
Adult: $14.95
Children (4-12): $9.95
Children (3 & under): Free

Non-Reisdent*
Adult: $50
Children: (4-12): $35
Children (3 & under): Free

* cost includes Waikiki transportation (pick up twice a day at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. from the Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, and Ala Moana Center). 20 perecent discount off the non-resident rate on Saturday and Sunday without transportation.

[Photo taken by me with my Canon EOS Rebel T1i and a Tamron 18-200mm XR DiII lens.]

-NGK

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Hawaiian Airlines' new fleet of Airbus A330s features a personal, on-demand entertainment system in every coach seat.

I had the incredible opportunity to attend Hawaiian Airlines’ blessing and ceremony today as it introduced its fleet of the future by welcoming the first of 27 new long-range Airbus A330 and A350 aircraft joining the company’s fleet this decade. The new A330 is named for the constellation Makalii, otherwise known as Pleiades or the Seven Sisters, which guided ancient Polynesian voyagers across the Pacific and was seen high in the sky when Inter-Island Airways (renamed Hawaiian Airlines in 1941) launched its first scheduled flight on November 11, 1929. Each of Hawaiian’s new A330s are being named after a star or constellation used by Polynesian voyagers for celestial navigation.

There were several hundred people in attendance who were greeted by traditional chants and listened to remarks by Governor Linda Lingle, Airbus Americas Chairman T. Allan McArtor, and Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Mark Dunkerley. Hawaiian’s new aircraft will offer improved onboard amenities as well as greater operating range that will enable growth and expansion in the years ahead. Starting a new era for Hawaiian Airlines, the company will inaugurate service with its first new 294-seat, wide-body A330-200 aircraft this Friday, June 4, on a flight departing Honolulu for Los Angeles.

Reinforcing the ceremony’s theme of looking to the future, the event concluded with a surprise performance by the award-winning, 110-member Pearl City High School Marching Band, who were joined by 80 keiki hula dancers of the renowned Halau Hula Olana. The took the Continental Airlines hanger by storm and belted out a few songs that got everyone’s blood pumping.

Then it was time for the moment I was looking forward to most…boarding Makalii for a tour. And for the record, yes, there is a new airplane smell. 🙂 The inside of the Airbus A330 was beautiful as expected. First Class seating was impressive as it should be, but coach seating (in a 2-4-2 configuration) was surprisingly spacious and each headrest is equipped with a personal on-demand, state-of-the-art entertainment system.

I bumped into Allan Staker on the plane, who is part of the Hawaiian Airlines Transformation Team, and he was kind enough to give me an overview of the entertainment system’s capabilities. As an iPhone user, I was stoked to find out there’s a USB port in each headrest to charge gadgets, but there’s much more. Here’s what you can expect to keep you busy on-board for a nominal fee:


Hawaiian Airlines Transformation Team Director Allan Staker explains the features of the on-board, on-demand entertainment system found on the new Airbus A330-200s joining the fleet.

So as you can see, passengers aboard a future Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330 are in for quite a treat. There more photos from today’s ceremony posted to my Flickr account and also a few more below

My co-workers Noreen Kam (@buzzbunny) and Erin Kinoshita (@shmerin) aboard Makalii in First Class. The touch screen entertainment systems are much larger and have iPod capabilities.

First Class passengers on Hawaiian’s new A330 aircraft will enjoy the added advantages of larger in-seat LCD screens and iPOD compatibility.

Passengers flying in coach class on Hawaiian’s A330 will enjoy the comforts of the new aircraft, including more legroom and a state-of-the-art on-demand entertainment system. High-resolution LCD touch screen monitors in each seatback allow each passenger to choose from a wide selection of movies and video programs, audio channels and video games. Each system also includes a USB port allowing connectivity for personal media players.

Entertainment systems are equipped with special screen protectors for privacy so your seat neighbor can't see what you're watching or playing.

And last but not least, this new fleet of Airbus planes provides Hawaiian with incredible potential to connect Hawaii with the rest of the world. The A330’s give Hawaiian an increased operating range of 6,050 nautical miles and the capability to expand its service area on both sides of the Pacific by offering nonstop flights between Hawaii and points in eastern Asia and all of North America.

Hawaiian second A330, Hokulea, arrived yesterday and a third plane will join the fleet in November with more on the way in 2011. Then the next-generation A350s will be here in 2017 and will seat 322 passengers in a two-class configuration and have an operating range of 8,300 nautical miles.  This provides Hawaiian with the capability to offer nonstop flights to Hawaii from points in Asia, Australasia, the Americas, and Europe.

I’m excited about the future of Hawaiian Airlines and I hope you are too!

Disclosure: Hawaiian Airlines is a client of Anthology Marketing Group, the company I’m employed by.  I attended today’s Airbus A330-200 blessing and ceremony as a guest, travel industry representative, and social media enthusiast. I’ve never been in a brand new airplane before, so if this post sounds like I was a kid in a candy store…well…I kind of was.

[All photos and video taken by me with my stock Canon EOS Rebel T1i.]

-NGK

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The 50th State Fair seemed so much bigger when I was smaller. Larger than life. Almost Las Vegas-like! Kelly and I both have fond memories going with uncles, aunties, cousins, and friends when we were growing up. Since we’re a lot older now, the fair seems quite small these days, but still fun. Nothing like dropping loads of money of cheap stuffed animals, overpriced food, and expensive rides. But hey, it’s not like we do this all the time, right?

But, now that we have Ensen (soon to be 3-years-old) and Avery (6-weeks-old now) going to the State Fair has taken on a whole new meaning. It’s super fun all over again and to experience it through the emotions and excitement of your children are priceless. The family made the trip to Aloha Stadium last night for some fun and entertainment. But the main reason was to see Ensen’s favorite superhero Ironman! And while we found him, we also found out Little E is quite the adventure seeker. He rode a couple rides, including the “bigger kids” roller coaster (which he wasn’t too fond of).

It was a night we won’t soon forget and we created some great family memories. The 50th State Fair runs through the end of June so there’s plenty of time to get there. Here’s a few photos to recap our night.

[All photos and video taken by me with my stock Canon EOS Rebel T1i.]

-NGK

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