Kamehameha Schools Children’s Chorus trip to Aotearoa. March 21-29, 2017.
Travel is my passion. And packing light is my mission. I only fly with one carry-on.
Why? Two reasons.
1. To eliminate the possibility of lost or stolen luggage. I never check my bag. I just bring one carry-on. Because my vacations are always short, losing luggage on Day 1 would pretty much ruin the trip.
2. To be mobile. As soon as I deplane, I’m out the terminal. Because my bag is a backpack, I do not need to drop it off at a hotel. I can go straight to the museum or café. I also do not use a “rolly” bag, which does not work on stairs or cobblestone.
How does minimalist packing work?
Laundry. I pack clothes for 5 days (not including what I’m wearing on the plane.) This means that I would need to do laundry only one time for a 12-day trip. My t-shirts are Nike Dri-FIT and my socks are SmartWool. My shorts are hybrid boardshorts. Undies microfiber…. ahem. Everything hang dries in a few hours.
I have an Osprey Porter 46 travel backpack. It’s the largest allowable carry-on (22″ x 14″ x 9″) according to most airline restrictions. I like that it opens fully, giving you access to all of its contents. Comes with stow away shoulder straps. It’s been one of my best investments.
Packing cubes help keep you organized. They compress your clothes and save a lotta space. I slip a Bounce dryer sheet into each one to keep things “fresh.” Ziploc bags will work.
I wear my bulky clothes on the plane. I rotate two pairs of dark blue jeans. I am fond of my baseball cap.
I bring just one pair. I know that this is the deal breaker for some. I wear trekker shoes on trips. Great for walking around the city or exploring nature. Super comfortable and waterproof. They’re versatile and can match jeans or shorts.
I wear my jacket on the plane. It’s usually cold. I recommend a black jacket. It’s neutral, and dressy enough to get by.
My iPhone is the only device that I travel with. I’ll bring AC adapters and occasionally a GoPro.
I pack a collapsible daysack inside of my backpack. I always have an umbrella with me. I hate rain. I use a Moleskine notebook for journaling. Toilet paper is an absolute must. I will also bring a Santa Clause hat for my next Christmas card.
• My toiletries kit has a hook for hanging. Sometimes there’s no counter space. (Sometimes there’s no counter.)
• I print a copy of my passport for my bag, and I email it to myself.
• I stash an ample supply of Airborne Chewables to stay healthy.
• ChapStick & sunscreen will save you.
• No need to carry a water bottle or heavy flask. Bottled water is available everywhere.
Part of what makes you a minimalist is “doing without.” I do sacrifice a few things that a lot of people wouldn’t. I don’t bring slippers or an iPad on my travels anymore. I also don’t bring back souvenirs and “stuff.” I’m too poor. All of my spending money is for food.
This kind of packing is not for everyone, but it works. It’s so “freeing.” You should try. Pack light….
Took part in this morning’s Walk With Compassion charity walk to end child poverty. The event was held @ Ala Moana Beach Park.
It was a beautiful morning! There were 6 educational stations along the route around the park. There were also food booths, children’s activities, entertainment, and fellowship. It was an awesome day.
I believe that sponsoring a child through Compassion International is the most important thing that I do. Compassion is one organization that I will always wholeheartedly support.
I first learned about the Walk With Compassion event while serving at the MercyMe concert in November. Met a lotta good people there, including the event organizer. Monies raised from the walk will provide funding for disaster relief, medical emergencies, care for unsponsored children, clean water, and much, much more.
We formed TEAMInspire at the Arise Conference last month. My fundraising goal was to rescue one family from abject poverty. Thanks to the generosity of my friends, we were able to rescue two.
If you are still interested in making a tax deductible donation, please click on my link, walkwithcompassion.com/participant/alantamayose by June 2nd. Mahalo & God bless.
“POW! WOW! IS A GATHERING OF CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS THAT ENGAGES WITH THE BROADER COMMUNITY IN THE PROCESS AND CREATION OF ART AND MUSIC.”
Each February, I look forward to POW! WOW! Hawaiʻi. It’s one of the coolest events here in Kakaʻako. I believe that it started out at Fresh Café in 2011? One of the founders is a friend from Kamehameha, Kamea.
After breakfast at Karen’s Kitchen, I began my tour. I especially enjoy seeing the artists at the completion of their murals.
They are appreciative of the support and are always willing to chat.
Looking forward to seeing the completion of this mural near Ala Moana Blvd. by the car dealerships. Curious to see what happens to the eyes…
POW! WOW! headquarters is at Lana Lane Studios. This is where you can pick up the passport and purchase some of the merch. I only got a sticker for my skateboard. This year’s shirt & cap look really nice.
Half way through my exploration, I took a refreshment break at Village @ SALT.
This one is across from Mother Waldron Park.
On my way home, I was able to meet up with my friends from Wooden Wave.
Had an amazing time checking out the murals and meeting the artists. This is one event that I will always support….
Every year I get a Valentine’s gift for that special someone. Unfortunately, that special someone has always been me. (Or perhaps fortunately…?) One year it was luggage, another year it was a longboard skateboard. It’s become a tradition. This year, money is tight. So that’s why I’m re-gifting something to myself.
This is my 1970 Martin D-28. I’ve been playing guitar on and off (mostly off) for the past bunch of years. I did have a gig in 2015, but that’s the only time I’ve picked it up since moving to town in 2009.
This spring, I’m blessed to be traveling with the Kamehameha Schools Children’s Chorus to New Zealand as a chaperone. I will also be accompanying them on guitar. I will do my absolute best.
And now I’m beginning to rediscover the passion that I once had. Pretty good gift if I say so myself…
Every year, about a dozen close friends attend Brian’s super, Super Bowl party in Kalihi. It’s become quite the tradition. I believe that today marks our 20th Super Bowl party!
The party starts at about noon. Brian prints a commemorative t-shirt each year and passes them out upon arrival. The shirts add a special touch.
Then the grilling begins. We try to eat before kickoff, which is usually around 1:30pm (HST.) People brought pizza, chili, and desserts.
My contribution to the potluck was this SUPER haul of poke from Foodland Farms @ Ala Moana.
Then comes the lengthy explanation of the game sheet we play. I’m always pretty bad at this. My excuse is that I’m actually trying to watch the game. Brian always comes up with cool prizes.
Today’s grand prize was a Derek Carr autographed mini-helmet. Last year it was Marcus Mariota. Nice!
We were hoping for a close game, and we got one. It went into overtime. I truly appreciate today’s gathering. So much fun catching up. And it’s all about having your own traditions. Already looking forward to the next one. It was a super Sunday. #SB51
Occasionally, out-of-town guests will hit me up for dining recommendations. Being a self-proclaimed foodie, I’m happy to oblige.
* * * D I S C L A I M E R * * *
These recommendations are for visitors staying in Waikiki. As a traveler myself, I truly value convenience and time (i.e., I wouldn’t send someone to Tanioka’s in Waipahu just for a half-pound of poke.)
- Duke’s (local food, ambiance, Hula Pie)
- International Marketplace (upscale food court)
- Waikiki Yokocho (Japanese Gourmet Alley)
- Rainbow Drive-In (plate lunches)
- Leonard’s Bakery (Malasadas)
- Side Street Inn (local food, pork chops)
- Cafe Kaila (brunch)
Ala Moana Center:
- Pineapple Room (Chef Alan Wong, upscale island cuisine)
- Shirokiya Village Walk (Japanese food court)
- Makai Market Food Court (international food court)
Kahuku / North Shore:
- Monkeypod Kitchen (west side)
January 20, 2017 was Inauguration Day. Felt kinda weird, and I couldn’t quite wrap my head around it. Definitely not a Trump supporter. (I believe he is a clown.) At the same time, I too am done with the status quo. Reflecting back. Way, way back. I believe that the best prez in my lifetime was probably Ronald Reagan.
Yup, an All-American. Hard to compete with nostalgia and the “good ol’ days.”
Still, reality bites. 1459 more days until the next election….
That’s why I’m considering a run in 2020.
“For the times they are a-changin’.” – Bob Dylan
#BeTheChange #YouHeardItFirst #SorryNotSorry #Imua
Background: After reposting the same New Year’s Resolution from 2008-2012 without success, I had to rethink it. I replaced it with a bucket list in 2013. I went from incremental goals (i.e. lose 10 lbs.) to life-changing goals.
Preface: At 12:05am on January 1st, 2013, I was lying face down in a cul-de-sac in Mililani Mauka after a fireworks accident (don’t ask.) I was thinking, sheesh, can 2013 be over with? Unlikely as it seemed then, I was blessed to meetup with my Compassion sponsored child in the Philippines and walk across the Great Wall of China by year’s end. All things are possible.
This is my current bucket list. There’s a whole lotta travel, which is my passion.
• Seek after God’s heart
• Go snowboarding
• Appear in a TV commercial
• Create a work of art
• See a Red Sox vs. Yankees game
• Learn to cook a fancy gourmet dish
• Get a tattoo
• Own my dream car, a ’67 VW van
• Buy a suit (and wear it)
• Run a TED-Ed speaking event at SALT @ Our Kakaʻako
• Publish a TED-Ed animated lesson on the Hōkūleʻa Worldwide Voyage
• Tie a kihei
• Go on a missions trip to Japan
• Visit Hiroshima & Miyajima Island
• Visit Hong Kong
• Eat phở in Vietnam
• Visit London
• Visit Prague in the Czech Republic
• Go to Oktoberfest in Germany
• Travel to Istanbul
• Travel to Marrakech
• Travel to Angkor Wat in Cambodia
• Visit Aotearoa
• See the Taj Mahal
• Witness the Aurora Borealis
• Attend a World Cup Soccer match
√ Visit my sponsored child in the Philippines
√ Revisit New York City
√ Travel to Machu Picchu
√ Walk across the Great Wall of China
√ Visit Barcelona
√ Visit Rome
√ Visit Australia
√ Learn to skateboard
√ Take a solo (YOLO) trip to Paris
√ Visit my “homeland” of Okinawa
√ Find the best bowl of ramen in Hawaiʻi
√ Help launch a homeless outreach ministry in Chinatown
√ Run a TEDxYouth event at school
√ Play guitar in a café
√ Own a condo near Ala Moana Beach (lifelong dream)
Amazing memories! I am also thankful that I have been blessed with things that I never even dreamed of.
Occasionally, I will open up my Moleskine and have a [re]imagine sesh. Continuing to work on my life goals, school goals, ministry goals, and travel goals.
Hope your bucket list is going well. Dream big!
Happy 2017! Hau`oli Makahiki Hou & God Bless!
Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas! Here’s my 2016 card and customary Year in Review blurb. Hope this finds you well….
2016 kicked off with our @KSEdTech Team’s New Year’s get-together. I was able to take my coworkers on a tour of my beloved Chinatown. Needless to say, it was a blast!
I was summoned for jury duty in February. First time ever. Mind blown. Had no idea that people could live like this. My definition of the word “drama” was expanded “dramatically.”
Our Revive homeless outreach ministry relocated from Chinatown to Kaimuki. We continue to befriend those who are less fortunate. Blessed to be a blessing….
I continued to travel to the Hawaiʻi Campus in the early part of the year. Always a pleasure to work with such kindhearted and inspirational educators. Great people. Great school.
Hehe. Earned my Yelp Elite badge. “It’s neat to be elite.” And yes, I always take pics of my food. Absolutely….
Dream come true. Blessed to have traveled to Machu Picchu and the Amazon during Spring Break. Great students, great teachers, and great memories. AMAZING, AMAZING. #BucketList
Yes, lightning can strike twice. Blessed to have chaperoned an exchange project with schools in Takahagi, Japan. Amazing hospitality. Dear people.
Tiana got married! Congrats to Cody & Ana. What a beautiful ceremony and reception. It was also great to reconnect with my two “adopted nieces.” Priceless….
KS students volunteered at TEDxHonolulu in July. They did a great job of running interactive games with attendees. So proud.
Blessed with great PD opportunities this summer. Attended the CUE Rock Star Camp in Maui, hosted by Seabury Hall. Met up and learned alongside rock star educators, from Cali to Qatar.
Also attended the Student Global Leadership Institute (SGLI) Educator Strand at Punahou. It was an amazing experience. Got to connect with outstanding educators from around the world. My annual PD of choice. Looking forward to reconnecting next summer.
Then this happened. Blessed to have been accepted into the third cohort of TED-Ed Innovative Educators. What an amazing opportunity to learn, grow, share, and be inspired.
Privileged to have served on the EdCamp Honolulu planning team. Amazing educators and friends. We hosted the event at our middle school. Yup, yup, it was a huge success.
The year concluded with TED-Ed Weekend in New York City. Wow. It was incredible. The TED-Ed Team was awesome. The student speakers were amazing. And the cohort…. We became a family. #BestWeekendEver.
“Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
Everyone in the TED-Ed Innovative Educators cohort delivered a 2-minute innovation project pitch on the TED stage at TED-Ed Weekend in New York City. My project is called [re]imagine (previously named SALT-Ed.) The guiding question is, “What if we could be more like NYU where the classroom is not just a building, but an entire city?” My project idea is to connect our Kamehameha Schools students to the city (specifically to Kakaʻako.) I would like to do this via school clubs, which would be least disruptive to the school day. The two main goals are to 1. Amplify Student Voices, and 2. Provide Authentic Learning Experiences. We’re off to a great start!
Our Entrepreneurship Club was invited to participate in Paʻakai Marketplace (night market) at SALT in Our Kakaʻako. Here is our club president Malia on our state’s number one morning newscast promoting the event and amplifying our student voices.
Here is our booth at the event. Our students sold wire & shell jewelry which they learned how to make in our Creative Metals class at school. Another student is a full-stack web developer who displayed his websites and passed out business cards. It was authentic, real-world learning, and it was a lot of fun.
We are looking to schedule a CPR clinic by our Lifesavers Club and a TED-Ed Club speaking event during the 2nd semester. Imua!
Attended TED-Ed Weekend in New York City on December 3rd-4th. This is all I could capture on my iPhone. The rest is captured in my heart….
So blessed. And My hope is to be a blessing.
Here are my Top 10 reasons in 2016 for being thankful:
2. I am thankful for my family and friends. I do not deserve them.
3. I am thankful for my health. I just need to get in shape. Pears do not count….
4. I attend a wonderful church, Inspire Honolulu. Consider yourself invited.
5. I am blessed to be at the Kamehameha Schools with an amazing team. I laugh everyday.
6. I live in a cool place. #OurKakaako
7. I am blessed to sponsor a child in the Philippines. It’s the most important thing that I do.
8. TED-Ed. Technologies will come and go. Great ideas never go out of style….
9. Travel. This is my passion. Machu Picchu, Tokyo, and NYC in 2016. Aotearoa (and more) in 2017.
Happy Thanksgiving, and Happy ThanksLiving.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks….”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
It’s been a long-time goal to host an EdCamp event here at Kamehameha. We did it! It was a big success. There were about 90 attendees (educators from public, private, higher-ed, and industry) and a team of a dozen awesome volunteers. It was a great experience to serve on the core planning committee with these inspiring educators.
We are also thankful to our sponsors for monetary contributions and in-kind donations.
An EdCamp is an “unconference.” There are no scheduled presenters. Instead, participants come with their ideas & suggestions and are in charge of their own learning.
In the age where most content can be accessed online, the value of these events is in making connections. Many friendships were made which will hopefully lead to more collaborations in the future.
Very happy with the day, and proud to be a part of an amazing team!
Follow the conversation on Twitter at hashtag #EdCampHI.
Extremely excited to have been accepted into the third cohort of TED-Ed Innovative Educators. What a blessing it is to have this opportunity to learn, grow, share, and be inspired. (Yes, that’s me in the 3rd row!)
The cohort will receive training on the TED-Ed platform and attend TED-Ed Weekend in NYC in December. We will also work together on innovative projects in our schools and communities. Looking forward to making friends with fellow educators from around the world.
Highlights from last year’s trip to Osaka. Cherry blossoms were in full bloom! Made a shorter version. (Original was way too long.) Arigato to @arakakizemitv & the Yasuda family for your kind hospitality. Everything shot on an iPhone….
Blessed to have participated in Punahou School’s SGLI Educator Strand. It was an amazing experience! I was able to connect with colleagues (and develop lifelong friendships) from around the world.
Dr. James Scott presented the concept to us on Day 1. Q: “What if we took the top students from the top schools from around the world and brought them together in a residency program to work on global issues?” This is the Student Global Leadership Institute (SGLI.)
I took part in the educator strand. Our first activity was to introduce ourselves with a dance or movement. It took a while, but it was a great icebreaker activity.
We each shared our school’s mission statement with one another.
On Day 2, we Skyped in Dr. Yong Zhao. He spoke about the transformation of schools. He mentioned student voice & choice, authentic products & services, and having a global perspective. It was stimulating and inspiring.
My table group consisted of Jennifer and Jeffie from different schools in Shanghai, Shusaku from Tokyo, Tom from Philly, and Karin from Denmark.
That evening, we had the SGLI Lūʻau at Dr. Scott’s home. We were able to meet up with the amazing students. One student who introduced herself to me was from Sidwell Friends in D.C. and knew the Obama girls.
My new friend Hae Jean from Korea has studied hula for 5 years. She did a great job at the SGLI Talent Show. It was neat to see how passionate people feel towards Hawaiian culture. Another great friend is Roddy (from Canada) who teaches in Tokyo. He dazzled us with his jazz ukulele. (Can’t believe that I don’t have a selfie with him.)
Unfortunately, tropical storm Darby made landfall on Sunday. However, I saw the most amazing Facebook post on that day (there is a private SGLI Group on Facebook.) This is from a student from Japan who celebrated her birthday….
She received handmade cards and cupcakes from her team members. Heartwarming stuff for sure….
The highlight of Day 3 was actually the evening’s aforementioned SGLI Talent Show. There were great singers, dancers, and pianists. This pic is of calligraphy as a “talent show act.” Strangely, everyone rushed the stage to have their names written in katakana….
Day 4 was my last day. Sob….
Here is a pic of some of the amazing students sharing their SGLI experiences. They carried themselves well and answered all of our questions.
By this time, many of the teachers had bonded and formed relationships. Nats from Kyoto shared her Japanese snacks with the class. Lisa from Castle High School also brought chocolate macnuts for our visitors.
We were able to attend a presentation from Punahou students who participated in SGLI @ Oakridge International School in Hyderabad, India. I was able to reconnect with my Punahou Lab School buddy, Lorelei.
After our session, I took a few teachers on a brief tour of the Kamehameha Schools campus. I got to hear cool stories about Castilleja in Palo Alto from Jamie and Phillips Exeter in New Hampshire from Tanya.
Then it was time to say goodbye. This is my new friend Shu from Tokyo.
Most of the teachers have chaperone responsibilities until the end of the week. For some of us with no participating students, it was the end of our conference experience. One of my takeaways is to participate in an ongoing PLN with Usha from India and Jamie from Palo Alto.
So happy that I was able to meet up with former KS students Mehana & Emma.
Finally, my biggest takeaway was the friendships that I formed at SGLI. Mahalo to Chai, Wendi, Robyn, Usha, and team for an amazing experience. SGLI has become my PD of choice for the school year. See you next time at #SGLI2017….
Volunteered at our very successful TEDxHonolulu 2016 event at the Blaisdell Concert Hall. This year’s theme was “Flow.” It was one of our better events for attendees due to the rich interactive exhibits. Included were a DJ, an artist, a makerspace, and foreign games.
I was able to recruit a couple of our high school students to volunteer. They did an amazing job of leading adults in interactive games. They were also introduced to some very inspiring people in the community. It was a great opportunity.
My job was to take care of the beans. Hehe. They were termed, flow-tokens or “flowkens.” Attendees were designated a team color. They collected flowkens by participating at the different stations. The team that accumulated the most flowkens would win an invitation to an afterparty and a discount to next year’s event. I tabulated the flowken standings after each break.
There was a great variety of talks. We had an artist, oceanographer, musician, and aerialist, to name a few. TED Talk videos were also screened in between.
We had a blast. It was an amazing day of learning new ideas and meeting new people. #TEDxHNL
Highlights from the KS Japanese Club exchange program with the Takahagi International Friendship Association.
In 6 years at 909, never once upgraded sheets, towels, nothin’. Finally pulled the trigger on these pillows after receiving my tax return.
Got these BioSense Cool Air Pillows from Brookstone. Stumbled upon them one night after Bible study. Came highly recommended. Passed on them initially because of the price. Decided to finally get them. Fortunately, they were on sale. They are pricy, but it’s an investment. Sleep is super important.
I’ve always had to flip my pillows over in the middle of the night. (Too hot-headed?)
Now I can get a good night’s sleep. And that’s cool. Yup, as cool as the other side of the pillow….
Here is an update to my “Ramen Dreams” posts from 2014 and 2015.
I’ve been in search of the best bowl of ramen on O’ahu. For me, it’s the combination of the broth, the noodles, and the chashu that makes it so magical. I think I’ve pretty much sampled all of the best shops on the island:
My fave bowl of ramen by far was the Miso Cha-Shu Ramen at Japanese Ramen Kai on Kona Street. Unfortunately, the owner got homesick and moved back to Japan.
My 2nd favorite bowl of ramen was the Spicy Tsukemen at Kiwami. I was heartbroken when they closed.
So here are my current faves:
1. Agu Ramen Bistro on Isenberg Street. The Spicy Kotteri Tonkotsu (level 2 spiciness) is so flavorful and satisfying. We are regulars at the more convenient location in the Ward Centre.
2. Menya Musashi is a relatively new shop on Pensacola. Love the Tonkotsu Ramen here. The broth is deep & flavorful, and the noodles are thick & chewy. My current “go-to place.”
3. Wagaya is another newer ramen shop, located in McCully. The Tsukemen is awesome. Their curly noodles have a great texture. Will be back soon for the beef tongue.
4. Hokkaido Ramen Santouka at the entrance of Don Quijote. The Shoyu Ramen is savory and comforting. Part of a large chain, but still so good.
Not done sampling more places and more recommendations.
Always dreaming of ramen….
Highlights from the KS International Relations Club service-learning trip to Peru.
Chee-hoo! Just received my “Elite” badge today. Yelp is an online community that provides tips & reviews of restaurants and other establishments. It is helpful in that it provides business hours, maps, menus, and photos, and is especially useful when traveling.
I became a more contributing Yelper this year. I was asked to be the advisor for our high school’s newly created Yelp Club. I figured that I needed to be more active in order to gain credibility. I actually found it fun and engaging to be a part of this positive and supportive community.
No surprise, but most of my reviews are food-related. I consider Chinatown to be my “beat,” but I will go anywhere and everywhere to find the perfect loco moco or bowl of ramen. For me, a 3-star rating is “good,” a 4-star is “great,” and a 5-star means that it’s adding enormous value to the community (and it would be a shame if it were to go away.)
Enjoy being on Yelp and tickled to be on the 2016 Yelp Honolulu Elite Squad. “It’s neat to be elite.” And yes, I always take pics of my food….
Checkout my reviews at http://alantamayose.yelp.com.
I was summoned for Jury Duty this past Tuesday. This was only my 2nd time (I was released the first time, years ago.) I walked over to the First Circuit Court on Punchbowl Street.
During the selection process, each side could dismiss three potential jurors. After five were dismissed, I thought I was going home early. Of course, I was selected. Juror #12.
The case started that afternoon. The judge assured us that it would probably last only three days. I wholeheartedly agreed. Looking back, it was a good experience. I learned a lot. I thought I knew what the word “drama” meant. I had no idea….
Serving on the jury (and walking through Kaka’ako) allowed me to eat at different restaurants. I went to Egghead Café, Karen’s Kitchen, a fast food Chinese express in Restaurant Row (not so good,) and a convenience store in Restaurant Row (enjoyed the mandoo.) I wanted to check out Mimi’s Place (Peruvian food,) but was unable to do so.
On Wednesday, the Eddie surf meet was scheduled to go down (canceled at 7:30am.) I rocked my 2009 Eddie t-shirt in the courtroom. Eddie would go….
POW! WOW! Hawai’i was also going down this week. Each afternoon I would stroll the neighborhood and check out the progress. (Click to enlarge photo.) Great way to spend the afternoon.
The trial ended on Thursday afternoon, and we entered into deliberation at 3:30pm. If we couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict by 4:15, we would need to return on Friday. Needless to say, it didn’t take long.
All in all, it was a good experience. The proceedings were “interesting,” and the jurors were friendly. I made 11 friends, 90 dollars, and my definition of the word “drama” was seriously expanded.
Hehe…. In the spirit of a Rick Steve’s Travel Guidebook, here’s my take on Chinatown Honolulu. This is an update to a post from two years ago. Will be taking my coworkers on a tour soon, so thought this would be timely.
I started exploring Chinatown after moving to Kaka’ako a few years ago. What started out as exercise (urban hiking) transformed into a deeper sense of “place.” It’s become a Saturday morning ritual. I also believe that Chinatown has the best food in Hawai’i. Now I want to share my passion for the sights, sounds, (smells,) and energy of this vibrant community….
History 101: Chinese laborers arrive in the 1850s when sugar replaces whaling as the prominent industry.
Chinatown fires: In 1900, there was the bubonic plague. 7000 were quarantined. 40 controlled fires were set by the Honolulu Fire Department. One got out of control and lasted 17 days. Only a few buildings escaped the fire and still exist today.
WWII: Chinatown becomes a red-light district.
Statehood/1959: The tourism boom and the opening of Ala Moana Shopping Center lead to the decline of Chinatown.
Revitalization: Chinatown targeted for revitalization in the 70s by Mayor Frank Fasi.
Parking: People have the perception that Chinatown has no parking and that it is dirty. Let me dispel this by saying that there’s a whole lotta parking. In fact, street parking is free on Sundays (however, some of the really good shops are closed on Sundays.) The best parking lot is underground, underneath Smith-Beretania Park (next to the old Empress Theater.) As far as being dirty…. hmm….
Currency: The best restaurants here are cash-only, have sticky menus, and no one speaks English (not even the customers.)
Chinatown is bordered by King Street and Beretania (but includes the Chinese Cultural Plaza,) and by River Street and Bethel. Let’s go….
The Hawai’i Theatre was built in 1922 by Consolidated Amusement. It closed in the 80s, but was renovated and reopened in the 90s.
Bozo: The sign and marquee were created by sign artist “Bozo” Shigemura. He was the only one in Hawai’i at the time who could bend glass for the neon signs. He created the iconic signs for Wo Fat Chop Suey and Club Hubba Hubba.
Maunakea Marketplace is a great place to explore. There’s a huge food court, souvenir stands, and a great open market. You can even find old Kung Fu movies on VHS. Mickey Café has the best bubble tea drinks in Chinatown. Instead of powdered sugar, they grind fresh sugar cane.
After exiting Maunakea Marketplace, cross Hotel Street to Kekaulike Market. Here you can get a Hamachi Poke Bowl from Maguro Bros. Amazing stuff! Along Kekaulike Mall, you’ll find the Ying Leong Look Funn Factory.
Cross King Street to O’ahu Market, the oldest market in Chinatown. You can find the freshest meats, produce, and unusual things there. I saw hanging char siu, roast duck, live crabs, beef tongue, pig heads, dragon fruit, and unrecognizable organ meats. Fong’s Meat Market has the best roast pork in Chinatown.
Chinatown is a great place to try a new cuisine, buy produce, and take pictures.
The Chinese Cultural Plaza is where you’ll find all of the dim sum restaurants. I’ve only been to Legend’s, but I hear that Fook Lam and Tai Pan are the best ones. (Locals tend to gravitate toward english names.) You’ll find the older men playing mahjong on the benches along the river.
For noodles, my fave place is the Hong Kong Noodle House in the Chinese Cultural Plaza. I usually get the Tossed (stewed) noodle. I ordered this one with pig’s feet. Noms….
Chinatown absolutely has the best phở in Hawai’i. No need to go to “Phở Row” on River Street. My top three shops are Phở My Lan on Maunakea Street, Huang Lan in the Chinese Cultural Plaza, and Saigon Vietnamese Cuisine on King Street.
Chinatown has awesome sweets and desserts. The Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery is a landmark. I like the gin dui (black sugar) and mooncakes, but I always go home with a bag of something….
Wing’s Ice Cream has homemade flavors. This one is Raspberry with dark chocolate chip.
Of course, Lee’s Bakery has the most amazing custard pies.
It’s comforting to know that there are still places that I remember from my childhood. Char Hung Sut still has my favorite manapua & pork hash.
I especially appreciate the traditional ethnic foods in Chinatown. This is the Bún bò Huế from Kim An Vietnamese Restaurant. It comes with blood cake and pig’s trotters. This place is the “real deal.”
This is dim sum from Happy Garden (made famous by Andrew Zimmern.) The chicken feet are on the way….
Chinatown also has the coolest, new, “trendy” places. The Pig & the Lady is one of my fave restaurants. Love the Bánh mì sandwiches with the incredible, crunchy bread. Try the watermelon soda.
Lucky Belly is another fave. I enjoy the Bao sandwiches (pork buns) and ramen here. They recently opened Livestock Tavern across the street.
Chinatown also has a great skateboard park, antique shops, boutiques, tattoo parlors, and tons of lei stands. Chinatown is where the creatives & makers set up shop.
Festivals: The Chinese New Year Street Festival & Parade is THE event of the year. Thousands gather for this amazing celebration. Chinese New Year will be on February 8th this year. Festival takes place on Saturday, January 30th. Chinatown also hosts First Fridays, art events, and other block parties.
Definitely my kinda place. See you in Chinatown….