Food and Drink Tour: The Waikiki and Honolulu Edition

Entrance to Tiki's Grill, Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel.

Post-beach pints, late-night cocktails, and 4 am grilled cheese sandwiches. What’s better? Here’s a roundup of bars, lounges, and restaurants on last week’s food and drink-filled adventure in Oahu—mainly Waikiki and Honolulu (and a few in Kailua). Tiki’s Grill & Bar, Waikiki An open-air bar/restaurant adjacent to the pool area of the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel. While this beachfront property is a bit outdated, it’s got that quirky, retro-chic feel. Afternoon and happy hour time is mellow here, which I appreciated. Live music is off and on, and not too loud and overpowering,… Read More

A Midweek Kaiseki Meal: Wakuriya in San Mateo

Tsukuri (sashimi).

I was introduced to kaiseki, or a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner, when I visited Kyoto, Japan, several years ago. Luckily, the San Francisco Peninsula is home to two top-notch kaiseki joints—Wakuriya in San Mateo and Kaygetsu in Menlo Park—both located, interestingly, in unassuming strip malls. I’d tried Kaygetsu a few years ago, when I took my then-significant other to a birthday dinner. It was quite the meal. Here, however, I’ll focus on Wakuriya, which deserves the five-star reviews on Yelp. (Here’s my write-up on Trazzler, too.) The dim-lit space is intimate: there’s… Read More

Cocktails and the Good Life in Vegas

View Bar, Aria, Las Vegas.

Like slot machines, my visits to Vegas are progressive. Throughout the years, each stay in Sin City is more posh than the last, while the amount of money I win and lose has increased over time. Outfits, too, have become nicer. A few years ago, I had a hard time inserting a single $20 bill into a 25-cent slot machine. Last weekend, I was feeding $100 bills into dollar-slots like they were nothing. It’s fascinating how one’s status, as well as attitude about money, is manifested in actions and desires in a… Read More

Brunching at South Congress Cafe

Carrot cake french toast at South Congress Cafe. Austin, TX.

My final meal in Austin was at South Congress Cafe. Its bustling interior is bright and warm: orange lanterns above tables, pale bricks juxtaposed with wood-paneled walls. Its aesthetic is purely Austin, with a dash of old-school diner, a bit of ’70s bohemian Los Angeles, and other slices of culture. I went the brunch route—which is served daily—and had a spicy Bloody Mary and carrot cake french toast: carrot cake dipped in cinnamon vanilla egg batter, grilled to golden brown, and served with maple syrup and the cafe’s homemade cream cheese-pecan spread…. Read More

Vancouver: From Cheese Ramen to the UBC Garden

chinese garden

I visited Vancouver nearly a dozen times in 2008–09 and had the chance to really explore the city. Thus, some favorite spots: Bill Reid’s Jade Canoe In addition to its waterfalls and bird sanctuaries, the Vancouver International Airport displays First Nation art of the Pacific Northwest, like the Haida sculpture work of Bill Reid. In the international terminal stands the Jade Canoe, one of Reid’s versions of the Spirit of Haida Gwaii. If you have time to kill, check out this massive boat with characters cramped inside, including the raven (the trickster… Read More

Winter Weekend: Getting Cozy in Bend, Oregon

Thump Coffee in Downtown Bend.

Ten years ago this month, I flew to Cannes. There, I lived at the College International de Cannes, via the American Institute for Foreign Study, near the town’s port on the Mediterranean; explored Western Europe on the weekends via train and plane; took language, art history, and French cuisine classes; and interned at the glitzy Cannes Film Festival. This time I spent in Southern France  was invaluable. Granted, I’ve forced myself in many of these situations: I’ve packed up and flew away to live in and explore a new place on my… Read More

Exploring Kauai: Hiking and Feasting in Wailua

Wailua River, Kauai.

Cruising and Hiking in Wailua We embarked on a bumpy off-road journey yesterday: we head up the east coast of Kauai to where the Wailua River fuses with the sea, turned right onto 580 (Kuamoo Road), and drove for a good while up the road through a quaint residential neighborhood of little homes and family farms. On the way, we reached Opaekaa Falls (simply viewable from afar and not accessible by foot) and a spectacular view of the Wailua River and its surrounding dense forests and green peaks. I’m in awe of… Read More