Monday, February 28, 2011

Mac 24/7

Looking for late night diner options?  Well, there are a couple options in Waikiki.  The other night I found myself drunkenly hungry at 2:30am and instead of going home and snacking on the Costco-sized box of Nutri-Grain bars in the pantry, I followed some people to a diner I had never heard of before: MAC 24/7 (2500 Kuhio Avenue Honolulu, HI 96815 - map here).  It's actually located in the bottom of the Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel.

Walking in (at 2:30am, anyway) you almost feel like you're in a late-night Las Vegas diner.  The post-modern decor is a complete contrast to the ostentacious decor of most other restaurants in Waikiki hotels.  It also contrasts with the theme and style of the hotel's lobby.  It also has a feeling of being disconnected from the outside world of Waikiki.  Outside, even at 2:30am, there are people milling around, talking, and getting from bar to bar.  Inside, there were people stuffing their face in a desperate attempt to satisfy an onset of the munchies, which made the restaurant eerily quiet as everyone is too preoccupied with exhaustion and eating that talking is really not important.

The menu is fairly extensive and everything looks and sounds delicious.  You can order anything on the menu anytime of day, which is also nice.  The prices are not listed on the menu at the above link, but it's somewhat pricey for what you get.  I'd say the average price for everything was $15-18 for a plate.  The real draw to this place is obviously that it's open 24/7, but the food was actually very good.  I had the french toast, eggs, and bacon and was very please.  You could obvious go to iHop or Denny's, but Mac 24/7 has personality.  They also have the Pancake Challenge.  The Pancake Challenge was featured on the Travel Channel's Man v. Food. If you can finish the $15 dish of massive-sized pancakes in 90 minutes or less, you get your meal for free.  When we sat down, I thought I would try to conquer this challenge.  However, the waiter informed me that such a feat would be difficult and pointed to two guys next to our table who were SHARING the dish.  I asked their opinion on my daring attempt to make the short, but distinguished Pancake Hall of Fame, but they informed me that together they were unable to finish it.  I opted to fight another day when I was more hungry.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Royal Kunia Country Club

I am very close to sending in an official request to the judiciary to keep my furlough days.  I don't know what I was thinking when I first got here when I wished we did not have them.  Sure, the extra couple thousand bucks per year might be nice, but you can't put a price on freedom.  Two Fridays a month I don't have to work.  It's also not like BigLaw where the work is never ending.  When you work for the State Government, work stays at work.  No cloud hanging over your head all weekend.

Anyway, this past furlough week I played golf with my dad and co-worker.  In one sense it was an unfortunate afternoon.  We originally had plans to play Ko'olau Golf Course, which was rated by Golf Digest a couple years ago as the hardest course in the country.  It was also rated as one of the prettiest in the country.  So we had a tee time all set up, but when we pulled up to the club house, the skies opened up and dropped a monsoon on our heads.  There was just a giant black cloud hanging over the course and it was clear that the rain was not stopping anytime soon.  It was pouring!  The sad thing is that when we left my apartment, it was a bright sunny day.  Unfortunately, Ko'olau is up in the mountains and rain clouds usually get caught up in them.  This means it can be gorgeous in downtown Honolulu and pouring up in the mountains.

Hole 18 - Royal Kunia
So my co-worker suggested the Royal Kunia Country Club.  It's out in Ewa in West Oahu and he thought it would be a little dryer since it was on the other side of the mountains.  Not so much.  We got there and it had stopped raining until right when we were in the middle of the first fairway.  It was pretty much the most unlucky situation ever.  So we played the first 4-5 holes in pouring rain.  By the 5th hole it eased up and by 6 it was all clear.  Fortunately I had one of those "DryJoy" jackets that kept me completely dry.  My bottom half did not fare so well.

Anyway, the Royal Kunia course itself is gorgeous (and as a side note, the drainage on the course was the best I have ever the time we got to the 8th or 9th hole, the course was basically dry).  Royal Kunia Country Club has been described as the best and most scenic course on Oahu. Located only 30 minutes from Waikiki or the North Shore, this course offers the ultimate Hawaii golfing experience for the beginner to low handicapper. The golf course is a Robin Nelson designed golf course, situated high above the Ewa plains. The course offers an uncompromised panoramic view of the entire south shore of Oahu. Spectacular views of Pearl Harbor, the Ko’olau and Waianae mountain ranges, the city of Honolulu and Diamond Head can be seen from every hole. The scenic, rolling fairways are also lined with palm trees and other tropical native flora, along with six water features and 101 bunkers which adds to the aesthetic appeal of this picturesque golf course.  You can check out the hole descriptions to get a sense of the challenges and beauty of the course.

The only downside to this course is the restaurant/pro shop.  There isn't really a clubhouse and what they do have is mediocre at best.  I mean, you can get a sandwich and everything, but the clubhouse and restaurant don't do the course justice at all. This course was my dad's favorite for the week.  I still like Luana Hills the best despite its difficulty.  The nice thing about Royal Kunia is that it is an enjoyable course to play.  It's a challenge, but you're not going to be upset at losing 10 balls.

Headnote of the Week

It is a matter of common knowledge that usually there is no love like a mother's love.
Perkins v. Perkins, 293 S.W.2d 889 (Ark. 1956)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hawaii Kai Golf Course

Playing golf in Hawaii is a pretty great experience.  There are not too many course I have played where you have a volcano in the background while overlooking the ocean.  Yes, I know there are gorgeous courses around the world, but I imagine that they are pretty exclusive.  The courses in Hawaii are great because they are, largely, accessible to the public.

That being said, I was not a tremendous fan of the Hawaii Kai golf course.  Located at 8902 Kalanianaole Highway Honolulu, HI 96825-2821 - map here), it is basically across the street from Sandy's Beach Park and the Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail.  From the outside it looks like the perfect place to play.  Koko Head Crater and the pacific ocean are both visible from almost every hole of the Championship Course (there is also a par 3 executive course).  Driving in, though, the parking lot looks like it hasn't been paved in about 30 years.  Some of the fairways and greens look well cared for, but others look like they haven't watered anything in months.  There are lots of patches of dead and brown grass.  The greens were probably the most disappointing part of the entire course.  The greens were in pretty terrible shape.  They had a lot of unrepaired ball marks and there were patches completely missing in certain areas.  One of the tee boxes wasn't even grass.  They had the carpet that you'd see on a driving range.

Those were the negatives.  On the positive side, the course is beautifully laid out, especially the surrounding scenery.  It was also not tremendously difficult.  It was nothing like Luana Hills, for example.  I didn't lose a single golf ball all day (a real feat for me).  Also, at $48/person (Kama'aina rate, including cart), it was a pretty decent deal.  There were a few times we looked around to just enjoy the surrounding views of the ocean and/or mountains.

Getting there is pretty easy, too. Take H1 East which leads to Kalanianaole Highway (Route 72). Continue on, passing Hanauma Bay, Halona Blowhole and Sandy Beach on your right. About a mile past Sandy Beach you will see a two-story building, the Hawaii Kai Club House on your left. A sign indicates the entrance to the golf course.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hy's Steakhouse

Parents coming to visit is the best.  You get to go places that your state-government salary will not otherwise permit.  The other night my dad took me to Hy's Steak House, one of the best-known steakhouses in Hawaii, which is located in the heart of Waikiki (2440 Kuhio Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815 - map here). The only way I can properly describe this place is to say that it was the best steakhouse - in food, service, and ambience - I have ever been to.  Now, because I know people who will challenge that bold assertion, let me assure you I have been to plenty of steakhouses.  I have been to the original Morton's in Chicago (as well as the second Morton's in Chicago on Rush St.).  I have been to Ruth's Chris in Annapolis and Chicago.  I have been to Hyde Park in Columbus, OH.  I have been to the Chart House in Annapolis, Kobe Steak in Honolulu, the Palm in Washington, DC, and even the Hotel DuPont in Wilmington, Delaware.  None of these come even remotely close.  Fortunately, I can provide an accurate comparison because I always order the same thing.

Originally part of the Canadian-owned chain, Hy's offers superb cuisine which has a mixtures of American, European, Hawaiian and Pacific influences. Hy's Main Room and Broiler Room resemble an old English mansion and possess all the ambience of a private scotch/cigar club. The Main Room looks like a library, with walls of old books and framed art, a lighted ceiling of authentic circa 1905 Tiffany stained glass, dark mahogany paneling, ornately carved wood moldings and heavy brass chandeliers.  The centerpiece of the Broiler Room is a custom-made, brass and copper caldron which serves as an open hearth for the house specialties broiled over native Hawaiian kiawe wood. The hearth is enclosed by glass in an ornate gazebo, where the chef and grills the steaks to perfection.  I ordered the filet and alaskan king crab legs.  The 7-oz filet seriously melted in my mouth while the huge pile of pre-cut crab legs were (almost) more than I could eat.  We also ordered escargot, which came in 6 individual portions covered in garlic, cheese, and butter sauce.  It was a delicious heart-attack waiting to happen!

Traditions that have disappeared in other fine dining restaurants are maintained at Hy's. Tuxedoed waiters still expertly prepare Caesar Salad, carve Chateaubriand for two and flambè delicious desserts (like Bananas Foster and Cherries Jubilee) tableside.  The service is probably what stood out to me the most.  We had reservations for 8:30pm, but got hungry/thirsty around 6-6:30.  We figured we would just hang out at the bar and drink until our table was ready.  As soon as we walked in, we were greeted by a very friendly hostess.  We explained our situation and she immediately asked if we wanted to wait or take the first available table.  We were seated immediately with no problem.  All the waiters and waitresses were friendly and knowledgeable.  It was clear that our waiter had tried everything on the menu as he had no trouble describing the items we had questions about.  For dessert we had the Strawberry Flambe (I absolutely, more than anything on this earth, hate Bananas.  I will gag if I smell them, so we did not get the Bananas Foster, even though the waiter recommended it as the best dessert).  The Strawberry Flambe was still awesome.

I waddled home.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pro Bowl

That's right, be jealous.  While Blizzard 2011 was wreaking havoc on some 100 million people across the U.S., I was sitting on the 45 yard line of Aloha Stadium watching the worst football game in history Pro Bowl.  It started with a 9:30am tailgate.  The game wasn't until 2pm, but my co-worker "Joe," my roommate "Alan," and a guy we met upstairs, "George," went to the game.  Now, to be honest, only George, Joe, and I drove out to Aloha stadium at 9:30am.  Alan, the drunkard that he is, got drunk the night before and passed out at some poor unsuspecting woman's house and didn't get up in time.  He came later during the tailgate.  Anyway, I made my world famous (and of course by world famous I mean my mom likes them) turkey burgers.  I marinated steak and chicken to make shish kebobs.  We brought hot links. We bought humus, jalepeno dip, guacamole, pita chips, tostitos, coronas, and bud light.  We loaded up the back of my SUV with utensils, plates, cups, etc.  And we brought our gas grill.

When we got there and started setting up, a group of military guys and their wives/girlfriends pulled up right across from us and starting setting up tables, chairs, tents, and their own spread of beer and food.  It was pretty hilarious to watch them set up.  We were convinced they had a pre-determined game plan where everyone had assigned tasks because their tailgate was up in about 10 minutes.  I'd say there were maybe 10-15 of them in 3 pickups.  Anyway, Joe, George, and I started setting up and I threw on some burgers and kebobs.

We had a little mishap with one of the burgers
Well, at some point within the next 45-60 minutes one of the guys at the tailgate across from us asked if he could borrow our grill.  Apparently, their grill guy fell through.  See, I love tailgates because everyone is friendly, outgoing, and ready to party.  So we obviously told them that our grill was their grill and to just throw whatever they wanted on there.  The grill was plenty big enough.  Plus, we wanted to play beer pong, which they had set up.  Additionally, they had several coolers of beer whereas we only had one.  It's all about planning ahead.  Plus, we had far more food than the 3 (and eventually 4) of us could possibly eat.  So handing out my famous burgers and kebobs was a great way to make friends.

Walking into the Stadium
A few hours later we had met all of the people from the other tailgate, made plans to hang out the following week, shotgunned a few beers, played some beer pong, and gotten sufficiently intoxicated that it was time to see the game.  Joe and I had tickets on the 45 yard line.  Alan (who had finally shown up) and George had tickets 5 rows from the field but in the corner of the endzone.  Everyone had good tickets, just not together.

From Our Seats
Joe and I went in and let me just say trying to get into the stadium was a complete and total cluster f*ck.  The security guards operating the gate clearly had no concept of efficiency or logic.  There were five gates available, but they were only utilizing three.  They made everyone go past the security gate before wrapping around to come through.  We finally made it in, though, and the stadium is really nice.  It's where the University of Hawaii plays their games.  There really isn't a bad seat in the stadium.

The game itself was...well...the NFL All-Star game.  These guys really look at the Pro Bowl as a free trip for them and their families to come to Hawaii.  They don't take the game seriously AT ALL.  It was actually kind of humorous (more so b/c I was drunk).  When the ball was snapped, the linemen just stood up and sort of held each other up.  When Adrian Pederson would run into a tackle, he just fell down.  It was clear they were playing not to get hurt.  By the end of the second quarter, the NFC was winning like 45-0.  So Joe and I decided to see the halftime show and go back to the parking lot.  The truth is, once the tailgate got going, we didn't really want to leave.  It was too much fun.  It was even fun during the 20 minutes of rain we had before the game started.  So we went back to the parking lot, found the guys tailgating still (they didn't actually have tickets to the game) and just kept eating and drinking.  Eventually we met up with Alan and George and went home.

Halftime Show

It was a pretty fun day and I was definitely happy that I got the chance to go.

Pineapple Growth (3 Months Down)

The entire point of this blog was to document the growth of the pineapples sitting on my lanai during the two years I am supposed to be here.  My plan was to update with pictures once a month.  Epic fail.  Anyway, these pictures were taken right when I got back from vacation, so about January 3rd or 4th.  As you can see, their growth slowed down considerably, but I still think they're alive.  You be the judge:

Taken January 3, 2011

Picture Taken January 3, 2011

Picture Taken January 3, 2011
Now, some smartass I know might say, "there is no growth at all, the pineapples are dead."  This is probably because she was too lazy to look back at the beginning stages and compare the pictures.  As a result, below you will find the original pictures from when the pineapples were planted.  If you're curious about the monthly progress (i.e. November/December), you can view those posts here or simply click on the label "Pineapple Project."
Planted October 25, 2010 

Planted October 1, 2010

Planted October 1, 2010

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar

I'm surprised I haven't written about this place before.  I have been here twice on Friday night and it's always a pretty good time.  In Japanese the word sansei means “third generation” and in this case refers to the founder of the restaurant who is a third-generation Japanese-American.  Sansai Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar (3rd Floor of the Waikiki Beach Marriot Resort - 2552 Kalakaua Avenue - map here) serves contemporary interpretations of sushi and Asian cuisine. In the interest of full disclosure, I don't have much experience with the menu outside of Friday night happy hour.  That being said, Friday nights are great here.  They have half price sushi and appetizers as well as $3 kettle one drinks, $3 beers, and free karaoke until 2pm.  Now, overall this place is not as good as Doraku, but it's still really good.  However, when you're able to have 4 people go out, drink and eat all night, sing free karaoke (I don't sing AT ALL, but I hear others are into it), and spend less than $100 total, sign me up.  Normally (i.e. during the week at regular hours), Sansei is waayyy overpriced unless you get the Kama'aina discount, which gives 50% off everything on Sunday and Monday or 25% Tuesday-Thursday.

Anyway, their Friday night deal starts at 10pm, but I recommend getting there at 9:30 because it is first come-first served and it fills up quickly.  If you get there late, or even try to go at dinner time on a regular day, the wait can be upwards of 45 minutes.  It's best to make a reservation if you want to go for dinner (808-931-6286 - no reservations for Friday late-night special).  The best sushi roll here is their signature "Butterfry Roll."  Yes, I spelled that correctly.  I guess they appreciate a good Asian joke too, which is another reason to like this place.  If you're thinking that 10pm on Friday night is too late, I would remind you that you're in Hawai'i and therefore likely on vacation.  Therefore, relax and go have fun.

Headnote of the Week

For those paying attention in Egypt...

In order to preserve order when unpopular speech disrupts it, the police may not silence the rabble-rousing speaker, but must permit the speech and control the crowd; there is no heckler's veto. Ovadal v. City of Madison, Wisconsin, 416 F.3d 531 (7th Cir. 2005)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

No Snow Days Here

It has been brought to my attention that the East Coast and Midwest are being absolutely pounded by winter storms. is reporting that 100 million people will be affected.  In Chicago "this may be the biggest snowstorm the city has ever seen." Forecasts call for more than 24 inches of snow, with snow totals possibly surpassing those of the 1967 and 1979 blizzards. A record 23 inches of snow fell during the 1967 blizzard.  An ice storm struck the Dallas metro area, closing schools and snarling traffic.  A foot of snow is expected in St. Louis.

If that weren't enough, reading news reports you'd think it was the end of the world as we know it. According to weather reports, "the system will increasingly target the Midwest through tonight and the Northeast Wednesday bringing more of the same: blizzard conditions, heavy snow, damaging ice and some rain. In the South, blizzard conditions linger in Oklahoma while severe thunderstorms race eastward from the lower Mississippi Valley to Alabama and western Florida today.", the new tabloid of mainstream media, is also claiming armageddon-like conditions: "wind-whipped snow twisted like a frozen dust devil across a vast swath of the nation on Tuesday, blinding motorists, closing airports and even complicating the travel plans of football fans headed to this weekend's Super Bowl."

Not in Hawaii.  We may have earthquakes and oozing volcanoes, but damn it, we don't get blizzards.  However, I am starting to buy into the end of the world theory.  We have gotten some ridiculous weather here, too.  A cold front moved in last night and it's supposed to dip into the low 70s this week!  Last night, I actually had to sleep under my sheets! It was freezing! Close to 64 degrees.  Now, I was explaining this to a law school friend who used to live in Hawaii.  He is currently a public defender in Boston where, I'm told, they have already received 60+ inches of snow this winter.  He sent me this youtube video that pretty much perfectly sums up Hawaiian weather and everyone's feelings about it.  It's pretty hilarious.