Aulani Trip Report – Part 3
BY MARY WARING – JANUARY 2012
Aulani Trip Report: Day 3
Waikiki; Chinatown Markets; Leonard’s Malasadas
It was nice to start the day with a simple breakfast in our villa. The Kona coffee we bought at Costco was excellent.
We left Aulani at 9:00 and despite a little traffic downtown, we were at the far side of Waikiki by 9:40. Following a tip from a local, we parked in the Honolulu Zoo public parking lot for $1 per hour. There were lots of open spaces and it was pull-in parking. A short stroll took us to the beach. We walked out on the jetty to get a view of Waikiki from the water side, and then wandered down the sidewalk until we reached the Royal Hawaiian, about halfway down the beach. We’ve always heard it’s a beautiful hotel, so we went in and looked around a little. It’s certainly a lovely, historic place.
It was a hot, sticky day, so we stopped for a cold drink at the Royal Hawaiian’s Mai Tai bar and cooled off in the shade, before walking back to our car. I noted that drinks at the 5-star Royal Hawaiian were less expensive than the drinks at Aulani, and a whole lot better. My Virgin Wasabi Mary was fantastic.
Next up: the markets of Chinatown. We parked in the Harbor Village parking structure on Nimitz Highway between River & Kekaulike, where the spaces are metered. (You’ll need quarters: parking is $1.50/hour.) From there it’s an easy walk around the block to the Oahu Market, founded in 1904, where you can see lots of interesting meat and fish items that are popular in Asian cooking.
After a quick walk through the Oahu Market, we crossed the street and checked out the other Chinatown markets, including lots of outdoor greengrocer stands selling items like Asian greens, at least six varieties of eggplant, and all kinds of tropical fruits you never see on the mainland. There are also indoor markets offering a huge variety of packaged Asian groceries. We visited a market with beautiful seafood, including fresh shrimp in many varieties, and local fish at low prices, such as opakapaka – Hawaiian pink snapper – for $6.95 a pound. The prices throughout Chinatown are fantastic: we bought a 1-pound sack of shallots for $1, for example. Frankly we were sorry we hadn’t waited to buy groceries here: especially for produce and fish, this is the place to go for great deals.
We found ourselves in a food court within one of the markets. All of the food stands were locally operated, non-chain places and each represented a different Asian specialty. After looking them over, we decided on a Thai stand. We ended up with two huge plates of delicious food (Panang fish curry and crab fried rice) and two drinks (a soda and a Thai iced tea) for a total of $22. We ate at one of the communal tables and had so much food left over that we took it back to the resort with us.
As we were driving back to Aulani, I told Mike I wanted to try Leonard’s Malasadas, a Portuguese donut place that gets rave reviews. Mike fired up his iPhone and located the Leonard’s truck in Waipahu (94-894 Lumiaina Street in Waikele Shopping Center), just in time for me to exit the highway at the right place.
We found the truck without too much difficulty: it’s at the back of the shopping center, across from Kmart and along the back fence next to the highway. $6 and some change later, we had an assortment of half a dozen malasadas, including two with coconut cream filling. We dived into them immediately and learned why people love them. I’m not even a big donut fan, and I was crazy about these. Try the Li Hing Sugar covered ones. (Li hing mui is preserved plum: the sugar is pink and slightly salty/sour in addition to sweet.)
We were back at Aulani a few minutes later, and on our way out of the garage, we passed a Cast Member who saw our distinctive pink Leonard’s box. “Ah, Leonard’s,” he said with a grin. “The happiest place on earth!” We laughed and agreed.
Dinner was the delicious poke from Costco and reheated Thai food left over from lunch, plus some veggies to cancel out the donut binge. Dessert was fresh fruit. Ono! (Tasty!)