With an increased number of flights to Hawaii -- accompanied by correspondingly more competitive airfares -- including resumed direct routes out to Kauai, it's easier than it's been in years to get to that island getaway you've been dreaming about. My recent visit yielded plenty of rewards for foodies -- not to mention some excellent hotels that are offering various discounts and deals.
This time around, I focus on street food and the KCC farmer's market in Honolulu, then food on Oahu’s fabulous North Shore, surfing capital of the world. Stay tuned for a multi-part series on neighboring oasis Kauai and Honolulu's bars and restaurants.
KCC Farmers Market:
Held in the tony Diamond Head neighborhood -- adjacent to the touristy but absolutely breathtaking hike over the Diamond Head Summit trail from Waikiki -- I’d call this farmer's market a must for any foodie. It's got passionate purveyors, memorable local eats, and a bustling crowd. Here's my ultimate game plan for KCC.
Start with taro dips from Tom Purdy of Taro Delight. I liked his red chili and coconut milk and his Thai green curry – taronaise, a taro root substitute for mayo, made for an interesting alternative.
From there, move on to Korean-influenced sausages on a stick from Kukui Sausage Co., in particular the kimchee and pineapple sausages, which I loved. Savor an ultra-salty salmon fried rice from Ohana Seafoods, cooked on a wok right in front of you. Order two to six pieces of Kona Coast abalone. Wash it all down with refreshing kalamansi lime, ginger, and seltzer drink made with PacifiKool’s award-winning ginger syrup.
Also availabe at Saturday’s KCC farmers market were OnoPops, one of my favorite tastes from the entire trip – they'd be a massive hit in San Francisco. Ultra-fresh ingredients are paired in unique flavor combos like ume Thai basil and kalamansi coriander. Lilikoi (passionfruit) 50-50 combines passion fruit with cream, while the tart kumquat pop is loaded with candied kumquat rinds. Pick a flavor – you cannot lose here. Coupled with a sweet staff, this cart is a must-stop.
The Soul empire:
Available at his restaurant Soul and his food truck named Soul Patrol, chef Sean Priester is overtaking Honolulu with authentic Southern soul food -- something you don’t find much of on the islands. Though it felt wrong ordering chicken and waffles ($12) in Hawaii while surrounded by foods unique to the region, I was pleased to taste Priester’s authentic flavors, which strangely enough, felt right at home on the islands.
Driving from Honolulu along Oahu’s Eastern side to the North Shore was one of the most delightful experiences in my time on Oahu. Unforgettable vistas and quiet beach towns unfolded before us, waving their gentle, aloha welcome as we passed by, compelling us to stop for multiple beach strolls along the way.