The Best Bread This Side of the Island

My favorite bakery this side of the island is, well, … not actually a bakery. You wouldn’t know it just passing by Nagoya Ramen in the Mililani Shopping Center, but they have the best freshly baked Hong Kong style buns. There are not too many bakeries in Central or West Oahu, especially Japanese or Asian style bakeries. But the secret among my friends is that we head to Nagoya Ramen for the softest, yummiest fresh baked treats that are priced at about half of most Japanese bakeries in town. It looks like a regular ramen shop from the outside, but with a small bakery counter near the entrance.


Nomz loves their Spam Rolls ($1.59) and I love their Custard Egg Tarts ($1.39) and Coconut & Raisin Rolls ($1.59). Everything is so reasonably priced!


There’s also bread by the loaf which often sell out by the afternoon.


They will be opening up another location at the new Ka Makana Alii Mall in Kapolei (yay!) but the owner tells me prices will be slightly higher there. If you’re ever in Mililani, it’s worth a visit!

(I heard the ramen and gyoza are good too, but I never made it past the pastries…)

 

 

A Lovely Baby Shower & Pregnancy Notes

The other day MIL and SILs hosted an intimate baby shower for us. They really went all out in preparing a feast!! MIL got up at 5:00am to prepare all these baby shower appetizer recipes she Googled. What an amazing spread! 


It was nice to spend the afternoon catching up with family and getting excited for baby’s arrival.

As I get ready to welcome this baby, I thought I’d record some thoughts from this pregnancy before I forget…

This pregnancy was a difficult one in the beginning, with a mysterious severe allergic reaction all over my body from week 5, which ultimately led to my decision to close down the wedding business I developed over the last six years to focus on my health. The allergic reaction gradually improved from around the second trimester (thank god) but I’m still confident the decision was the right one, and am so thankful and blessed to transition into a full time “stay at home” mom at least for the next several years.

A diagnosis of gestational diabetes early at week 5 was unusual and unexpected, and frustrating in the beginning but ultimately turned out to be a growing experience. Who knew I had the strength in me to inject myself three times a day with insulin shots and prick my finger four times a day without fainting? Who knew I had the self discipline to go without white rice for eight months? A mother’s strength and determination to do anything for her baby never ceases to surprise me. Plus the diabetes has forced me to keep the weight gain in check, as opposed to the last time around when I used pregnancy as an excuse to indulge in every craving. 

It’s a boy! and Nomz is as excited as can be about the arrival of her brother and is very gentle when touching my belly. She helps me pick things up off the floor (seriously SO helpful). We can already tell she will be the best sister ever, I just hope the jealousy won’t be too bad.

As I enter the last few weeks of pregnancy, I’ve been going to the doctor’s twice a week for non-stress tests, which monitor baby’s heartbeat and movements (typically ordered for high-risk pregnancies). Baby is a bit on the small side, but doing well. We will be welcoming him in just a few weeks via scheduled c-section (which, I’m discovering, is fantastically convenient!) and right now I am just enjoying nesting and spending precious moments snuggled up with Nomz before things get crazy. Again.

 

 

Kapolei Lately

There are so many exciting new developments in our home town of Kapolei! Three restaurants just opened within the Kapolei Commons movie theatre complex: La Tour Cafe, Gyukaku, and BIC Tacos.  Eating House 1849 by Roy Yamaguchi is still under construction.

A few shots from dinner the other night at La Tour Cafe:




and lunch at BIC Tacos. I love their low carb bowl option!


 

Kalapawai Cafe & Deli just opened as well on Kamokila Blvd.

At the new Ka Makana Alii Mall, California Pizza Kitchen (and Hampton Inn and Macy’s) are open, one step ahead before other tenants.

Longhi’s in the Marriott Beach Club is the most recent addition to the Ko Olina Resort – one of my favorites for breakfast!

It’s an exciting time to live on the West side! Now if we could only get a Japanese market here I would never have to leave…

 

A Birthday Picnic at the Beach

For Nomz’s fourth birthday (where does the time go!?), she requested a picnic at the beach with a few of her friends. D went early to our usual Ko Olina Lagoon 4 to save a shaded spot while I headed to Tanioka’s to pick up a few more items for our picnic. 


I prepped a veggie & fruit platter, finger sandwiches, desserts, and a birthday cake the day before


Then stopped by Tanioka’s the morning of to pick up some musubis, cone sushi, fried chicken, Lumpia, and fried shrimp.

The weather was perfect and everyone enjoyed a day full of fun in the sun. We’re so lucky to be raising our family in Hawaii surrounded by friends, family, beautiful beaches and of course, good food. 

Fresh Fruit Filled Mochi from Hilo’s Two Ladies Kitchen

On a recent business trip to the Big Island, D brought us a box of fresh mochi from the famous Two Ladies Kitchen! It’s like opening up a box of colorful jewels, each one filled with different combination of fresh fruit and anko (sweet bean paste).


His selection: the original strawberry with red tsubu-an, peach with shiro-an, grape with red koshi-an, and poha berry with shiro-an. My favorite was the poha berry: its intense tart flavor paired perfectly with just the right amount of anko wrapped in pillowy soft mochi. Gochisousamadeshita!

Staycation at Aulani Resort & Ulu Cafe

Last month we enjoyed a two night staycation at the Aulani Resort. We didn’t set foot outside of Ko Olina Resort the entire time, and just enjoyed relaxing at the pool.


Out of convenience, we ended up eating multiple meals from Ulu Cafe, which is a casual take-out option within the hotel. The cafe is located on the ground level, towards the ocean side of the Waianae Tower.

It’s open all day and has everything you need. Breakfast (coffee, pastries, fruit, yogurt, hot meals)


Lunch & dinner (salads, sandwiches, hot meals & made-to-order pizza)


Snacks (ice cream, cookies, fruit, chips) and even wine & cheese too.


There is a self-service utensil & condiment station, and some seating outside and by the pool area. This is also one of several places you can purchase and refill these cooler mugs for $18.99 (unlimited coffee & soft drink refills throughout your stay).


On the night we were planning on dinner at Monkeypod Kitchen across the street followed by the complimentary Starlit Hui Show, both plans were foiled by sudden rainfall, so we opted for a cozy takeout & movie night in  the room.

Chinese chicken salad, chicken noodle soup, and a hoisin duck pizza:



Often times hotels in Hawaii at this price range do not offer a casual dining option with this extensive a take-out menu, but Disney really understands the needs of families with young kids and we really appreciated having Ulu Cafe as an option during our stay.

 

 

 

 

Makahiki Dinner Buffet at Aulani Resort

We celebrated D’s Father’s Day dinner at the Makahiki Restaurant at the Disney Aulani Resort At Ko Olina. We find ourselves returning to Aulani time and again for special occasions because they just do it right. By “it” I mean family-friendly service while maintaining quality of food and ambience. As many parents around the world would probably agree, Disney has mastered the art of delighting children while also satisfying parents’ needs.

Makahiki is the resort’s buffet service restaurant serving dinner and the famous character breakfast daily. It’s located just downstairs from the lobby area, overlooking a garden/water feature and pool area. After checking in at the hostess stand, it’s a short wait at this waiting area until you’re escorted to your table. Reservations are highly recommended, especially during peak seasons and holidays.


There is seating both indoors and outdoors overlooking the garden and pond:


The buffet menu ($47.00 for adults, $21.00 3~9 yrs old) includes most soft drinks, iced tea, coffee & tea, milk, etc. The buffet itself is located in a dedicated space just off the dining area and includes a prime rib carving station and items to please both children and adults.

Here are the salads and chilled seafoods, sushi, and cheese station:


And hot items including pizzas, pastas, and crab legs:


Some of our plates:

Of course there is a special section of the buffet dedicated to kids (lower in height of course so the keiki can serve themselves) but there is plenty of other items like pizza and pasta from the regular buffet too.


And of course, desserts to include plenty of fresh fruit and REAL whipped cream! I love whipped cream so much that sometimes whether a restaurant uses real dairy cream can be my one criteria for if a restaurant can be taken seriously.


Nomz’s plate:


As the parent of a toddler, it’s the little touches like offering 1% milk and providing wet wipes that make a difference. Even the restrooms have lower sinks for little ones to wash their hands, yet the luxury finishings and attentive service achieve the ambience of a high-end hotel. And if you end your evening with a stroll around the pool area where you can view fish through an aquarium-like window, and a visit to the gift shop, it becomes a fun family night out, not just a dinner. It will also leave you wanting to come back as a hotel guest so you can experience the wonderful pool area and spend more time with the Disney characters walking around the property.
Makahiki at Aulani Resort website 
 

 

 


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