Posts Tagged ‘Waikiki’

Lucky We Live Hawaii

Posted: January 26, 2013 by Nathan Kam in Oahu
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Sometimes I take living in Hawaii for granted. Amazing sunsets like this remind me how lucky we truly are to live in paradise. As seen from the Sheraton Waikiki.


Today, I attended the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival mahalo luncheon hosted by Chef Roy Yamaguchi at his Waikiki restaurant and learned the inaugural event raised $250,000 for its beneficiaries – Hawaii Ag Foundation ($140,000) and Culinary Institute of the Pacific ($100,000). The festival also gave partners Paepae O Heeia and Papahana Kuaola checks of $5,000 each.

Event co-chairs (and chefs) Yamaguchi and Alan Wong, were quick to thank the many individuals, companies, and sponsors involved who gave their time and resources to make it possible.

They also announced the dates of the 2nd Annual Hawaii Food & Wine Festival which will be September 6-8, 2012. Save the date and check their website for further details.

As a lover of food, I still can’t believe I was away on business and unable to attend this year’s festivities. However, after hearing all the positive comments, I’m certainly looking forward to a delicious event next year.

Congratulations to all!


Doraku Sushi Executive Chef Hide Yoshimoto offers a creative, contemporary and delicious menu for lunch and dinner.

One of the fun things about working in hospitality public relations is bringing out of town guests to restaurants they’ve never been to and pushing them to try new things. Yesterday, I was part of a hosted lunch at Doraku Sushi (Royal Hawaiian Center) that had five webbies/bloggies visiting Hawaii for a little cultural exploration around a table with some of my fellow public relations colleagues. After all, we needed nourishment after a morning of great learning with the organizers of Aloha Festivals and before heading to Moanalua Gardens for a Prince Lot Hula Festival preview.

Our visiting guests consisted of a couple pesce-vegetarians (those who eat fish), an “I don’t do raw fish” guy, and a sushi skeptic. The veggies we weren’t so  concerned about, but the other two could have been a challenge. Luckily, Doraku’s menu offers a nice selections of hot entree items, like shrimp tempura which he ordered. But he also gave a few other dishes a shot (and enjoyed them), which immediately earned him “foodie cred” with the group. As for our sushi skeptic. Well, she ended up being quite the trooper and ate (and enjoyed) everything we ordered. She even said “I would have never ordered any of the sushi we did had I not been with you folks.” So “foodie cred” to her as well.

Lunch was nothing short of delicious and satisfying. The fish was super fresh and all of the dishes we tried were packed with flavor. The food was so tasty, I didn’t need to use wasabi to eat my sushi. I’d been to Doraku before for networking events, but this was the first time enjoying regular items off its menu of modern-contemporary-fusion sushi creations…or whatever you want to call it. This definitely isn’t your grandparents traditional sushi joint. Expect the unexpected here and you better like garlic. It was a common ingredient on many of Executive Chef Hide Yoshimoto‘s dishes.

So what exactly did we eat? Here’s my attempt at food porn, Doraku Sushi style!

Ahi Poke: Local Hawaiian Ahi Tuna, Red Onions, and Sea Kelp, marinated in Doraku's Special Poke Sauce and garnished with Crispy Green Onions and Spring Mix

New Style Tuna Tataki: Juilienne Daikon Radish and Sweet Onions with Seasoned Wakame, Kaiware, Ponzu Sauce, Crispy Garlic Chips, and Garlic Aioli

Cuban Beef Roll: Grilled Rib Eye, Asparagus, Cucumber topped with Cuban style Chimichurri Sauce and Crispy Garlic Chips

Japanese Style Snapper Shiso Carpaccio: Thin Slices of Snapper Over Shiso Leaf and Topped with Marinated Cucumber, Sweet Onion, Tomato, Kaiware Sprouts and Finished with Kabayaki Sauce

Double Happiness: Tuna, Salmon, Scallop, Ika, Shrimp, Crab Meat, Shiso Leaf and Kaiware Sprouts wrapped with Nori and thinly sliced Cucumber sheet and topped with Garlic Aioli, Tobiko Eggs and Ponzu Sauce

Doraku Summer Roll: Tuna, Shrimp, Avocado, Spring Mix, Cucumber, Sweet Onion and Tomato Wrapped with Rice Paper and served with Wasabi Yuzu Dressing, Kabayaki Sauce, and Black Tobiko

Doraku Roll: Lobster, Shredded Crab, and Cream Cheese, Tempura fried served with Red and Black Tobiko and Spicy Garlic Aioli

Red Dragon Roll: Spicy Tuna, Shrimp Tempura and Avocado topped with Unagi, Red Tobiko, Unagi Sauce, Ao Nori and Spicy Aioli

Miso Teriyaki Chilean Seabass: Chilean Seabass and Spinach sauteed in Sweet Miso and Teriyaki Sauce

BTW, if you “check in” at Doraku on FourSquare, you get 10 percent off your bill.

Doraku Sushi
Royal Hawaiian Center, 3rd Floor
2233 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815-2573

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


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So what did the Kams do on this July 3 holiday you ask? We headed to one of Ensen’s favorite destinations – Honolulu  Zoo – with a couple of our friends (Araki and Nakamura clans) for some family fun. During a visit last year, we made a silly video starring Little E exploring the Keiki Zoo. This time around, we decided to let the real stars of the zoo – the animals…more specifically the monkeys – do the entertaining.

In the video above, you can see how they put on an hilarious show for the crowd, screaming, yelling, laughing, and swinging around liked crazed monkeys. In all the times we’ve been there, I can’t recall seeing them ever this active so it was a real treat. As for the photos below, those are our “little monkeys” (Lia in pink and Kenzie in white) having fun.




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Shave ice from Aoki's on Oahu's North Shore is always a great way to cool off!

Shave ice from Aoki’s on Oahu’s North Shore is always a great way to cool off!

It’s been pretty hot and humid in Hawaii the past week. So much so that Mother Nature has forced us to use our portable AC  at night in our bedroom to get a good nights rest. As locals and visitors alike look for options to beat the Hawaii heat, it got me thinking about some of my favorite ways to cool down when the sun is out. And I’m not talking about beaches, swimming pools, or spa treatments. I’m talking about cool treats to bring the body temperature down while satisfying the sweet tooth and quenching that thirst.

Here’s my suggestions for island treats to beat the summer heat:

Shave Ice
This one is pretty much a no-brainer when it’s time to cool off after a long day at the beach, hiking, or working at the office. Institutions like Waiola Shave Ice, Aoki’s Shave Ice, Matsumoto Shave Ice, and countless other are the perfect cure. You really can’t go wrong with any flavor combination. But my personal favorite is to have shave ice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and li hing mui syrup all over. YUM!

Strawberry and pineapple mix ice cream from Tasaka Guri Guri at Maui Mall. A "must try" for anyone visiting Maui!

Strawberry and pineapple mix ice cream from Tasaka Guri Guri at Maui Mall. A “must try” for anyone visiting Maui!

Ice Cream
There’s a few local ice cream producers like Roselani Tropics Ice Cream (Maui), Lapperts (Kauai), and the famous Tasaka Guri Guri (Maui) that trumps the national brands any day in my opinion. Maybe it’s just the proud local in me, but I’m not sure there’s anything more satisfying than a bowl of Roselani’s Haupia (coconut) ice cream, or Lappert’s Kona Coffee ice cream, or Tasaka’s Strawberry and Pineapple Guri Guri. And don’t forget about mochi ice cream found at many Japanese restaurants, sushi bars, and stores like Shirokiya in Ala Moana Center. SO ONO!

Frozen Yogurt
In the past year, there’s been a resurgence in the popularity of frozen yogurt. We’ve seen places like Yogurtland, Menchie’s, Red Mango, and many more sprout up on Oahu like weeds. I’m sure there’s many other on the neighbor islands. I’m not going to waste my time explaining why. All you need to do is read my friend Melissa Chang’s review of “Yogurt mania in Hawaii” in Metromix to understand what the buzz is all about.

Tropical Drinks
A tropical drink may not be considered a “cool treat” to everyone, but it certainly means exactly that to me. And to many visitors as well having as I’ve witnessed while attending many business meetings at Hawaii resorts and jealously see vacationers lounging poolside with Mai Tais and Pina Coladas (pictured above) in hand. Hawaii has some of the best cocktails found anywhere in the world. So do yourself a favor and get out of the sun for a minute, belly up to the bar, and enjoy a refreshing tropical drink. I always do when I’m enjoying a cocktail at my favorite beach bar. BTW, I hear the Mai Tai Degeneres at The Royal Hawaiian is incredible. Can you guess who it’s named after? I thought you could.

These are just a few of the ways I stay cool when things heat up in the Islands. I know there’s plenty of other local treats that will do the job. What are some of your favorite ways to cool off?


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Ensen and Lia checking out the monk seals at Waikiki Aquarium.

One of the great things about having a young child is rediscovering some of the great – and affordable – activities and attractions we enjoyed as kids growing up. Being from the Big Island, it was always a treat to come to Oahu to visit family. It also meant an opportunity to visit the zoo, aquarium, museums, and other fun stuff, things we didn’t have in Kona. On the other hand, Kelly grew up on Oahu and enjoyed these things on a much more regular basis.

But the bottom line is after we both got older, we lost touch with these great backyard treasures which have only gotten better with time. Now as parents, we’re relishing the opportunity to rediscover and explore Oahu’s great family activities and attractions with Ensen (now 20-months old). But more than that, many of our friends also have kids and are reconnecting like we are with childhood favorites. Exploring together as families makes the experience that much richer.

We recently visited the Waikiki Aquarium for the first time in years with my buddy Brad and his daughter Lia. Admission is just $9 for adults ($6 kamaaina) and kids under 4-years-old are free. It’s not the biggest aquarium, but it’s got a lot of cool stuff to explore. I put together this short tour of the facility. Can you name the marine animal in the last part of the video?

One of the coolest things about the Waikiki Aquarium is the Hawaiian Monk Seal feeding show. The trainers there are well educated and share the knowledge with park visitors several times throughout the day. I actually shot the entire show (10 minutes) which was one of the big highlights of our visit.

If you haven’t been to the aquarium in a while, I recommend you head back soon. Lot’s of fun and a great value. And while we’re on the subject, here are some other places we like that you may want to check out that are equally affordable and perfect for the family:

What are your favorite activities and attractions on Oahu that don’t break the bank? I’m always in search for more fun things to do with the family!


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If you haven’t already heard, PodCamp Hawaii is coming to the Hawaii Convention Center, October 24-25. And there’s no excuse for all you social media junkies and marketing/PR folks like me not to be there. THE UNCONFERENCE IS FREE! That’s right…FREE! And this “un-geek” is looking forward to learning a few things about new media.

Mahalo to Roxanne Darling and L.P. “Neenz” Faleafine for spearheading the effort to bring this unconference to the islands. For two days, technology junkies from Hawaii and across the globe will come together in beautiful Honolulu, Oahu to learn, share and discuss podcasting, blogging and new media…among other things. Plus, there’s a WordCamp part to the unconference too for all you WordPress lovers!

So will you be there? If so, let’s connect prior to your arrival. You can find me on Twitter and Facebook. I’d be glad to offer suggestions on where to stay, things to do, places to eat, golf, and so on while you’re here. See you in Hawaii in October!