As vacation progressed, the family found it increasingly important to work up an appetite for, and essentially “earn”, our meals at new eateries every day. Today began with a hike on the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse trail. Though much more of a moderate trail than Manana, the intense heat and humidity combined with a concrete footpath made the hike to the lighthouse more exhaustive than we had anticipated. This hike was located on a ridge directly across from another mountain that we previously climbed on our last trip to Hawaii. The “No Trespassing” signs and fences we saw on the trail we had previously hiked reminded us of just how treacherous that hike had been, and really instilled in us a renewed sense of pride.
After the hike, we lunched at the Pa’ina Cafe, the little restaurant where we were first introduced to poke by my friend Malia. Two years ago we completed the Makapu’u TomTom trail and rewarded ourselves with lunch at the cafe. This time, we decided to come full circle and return to the cafe that we all held in such high regard since the second we ate its poke. Sara ordered the “Kewalo” Bowl, complete with shoyu (soy) ahi, alfalfa sprouts, and red onion on a bed of fresh brown rice. This speciality cafe bowl was the same she had tried two years ago. Luckily, she claimed it was as good as ever.
My Mom and I split a “make your own” bowl with spicy shoyu ahi, takuan pickles (yellow), green onion, natto, and seaweed salad over brown rice. The natto is made of fermented soybeans with a distinctly earthy and strong flavor. Like any other fermented food like certain wine or cheeses, natto is somewhat of an acquired taste. Although my mom and I absolutely love natto, Sara and my Dad could never quite get over its pungency and stickiness, no matter how many times we force them to try it. In my opinion however, this poke bowl truly has it all- the spicy and silky ahi, crunchy and salty seaweed salad, bitter and earthy natto, and sweet crunch from the pickles. Compared to the other restaurants we have seen selling poke, the Pa’ina cafe seems unique in its variety in that they provide a much more extensive array of toppings.
Dad went in what he would consider more of a “purist” direction with his ahi bowl, choosing ahi with masago (fish eggs) and green onion.
To top off what was yet another excellent (maybe even my favorite?) lunch in Hawaii, we ventured a few doors down from the cafe to KoKonuts, a shave ice and bubble tea shop. Up until this point I had only ever had bubble tea with a liquid drink base of tea and milk. However, Kokonuts’ bubble tea was creamy and iced. It even offered the option of having black tapioca pearls or white mochi balls as the “bubble” part of the drink. Sara and I chose to split a green tea bubble tea topped with a helping of homemade azuki beans. Although the picture really doesn’t do it justice, the drink was just the right green color, created by using real matcha green tea powder in the frozen part of the drink. We eventually mixed the azuki right into the drink, incorporating more texture and flavor. The bubble tea was the perfect dessert for a boiling hot day. We could barely stop ourselves from frantically slurping it down. I’m sure that the extra wide straw for accommodating the tapioca bubbles didn’t help us to savor the drink for very long!