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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 



Happy Fathers Day!

Happy Fathers Day to D! I couldn’t have dreamed of a better father to our children; no one is more hard working and devoted. To Nomz he is pure fun and love. To the three of us, he is our world. 

Special soufflé pancakes this morning for Papa:

Wishing all fathers (including mine in Japan) a wonderful day,

Happy Mothers Day!


Wishing all mothers a wonderful day! We spent our Sunday morning at the Farmers Market as usual then had a delicious brunch at Denny’s. This Grand Slam Slugger for $8.00 including coffee and juice is possibly the best value in town!


Being a mother has been the greatest blessing in my life. We’ve always wanted to have another child after Nomz, and after 2 and a half years of trying, three miscarriages and surgery, we’re thrilled to be expecting our second child this fall! Nomz is so excited to have a little brother or sister and we know she’ll be the best big sister ever. Thank you D for making this and all of my dreams come true, and thank you Nomz for the greatest privilege of being your Mama.

Hinamatsuri (Girls Day) 2016

We were busy on Thursday so we celebrated Girls Day this weekend.

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Traditional chirashi sushi with ikura and imitation crab, clam soup, and crab cream croquettes and sunomono with cucumber and wakame. Nomz wanted to wear her yukata for the occasion. This year she ate the chirashi and croquette and told me 「今日の献立気に入ったよ」 (I like tonight’s menu). Words that every chef wants to hear!

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Cheapest Lunch in Town?

Today we picked up some bentos from Kokoro-tei and headed to the beach. This Nori Bento ($3.80) could possibly be the cheapest lunch one can find in Honolulu. Despite the price, it’s a decent meal of tempura chikuwa (fishcake), fried fish, kinpira gobo and tsukemono on top of rice seasoned with bonito flakes and nori. Delicious!!

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Matsumoto Shave Ice

After lunch at Maui Mike’s we drove to Haleiwa to visit the new & improved Matsumoto Shave Ice. We hadn’t been to Haleiwa in a while and were surprised to see so many changes and new stores! Haleiwa Store Lots, the shopping center that houses the new Matsumoto Shave Ice, is brand new and boasts a good size parking lot in the back as well as public restrooms.

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The new Matsumoto Store is bright, open, and streamlined. I was delighted to see they kept the old store sign.

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The ordering process is like an assembly line: first, study the menu and place your order with this guy: size (small $2.75, large $4.00), add-ons (ice cream, azuki bean, mochi balls, condensed milk) and choice of up to three flavors.

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He’ll write your order on a bowl and hand you the empty bowl to take to the next step: payment.

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Then your bowl will be passed on to the next friendly employee who will collect the finely shaved ice and shape it into a mound and add any add-ons.

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Then it’s on to the syrup person who will pour generous amounts of your chosen flavors onto the ice.

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I think this new system has resulted in shorter lines, although the long lines never really bothered me before. It adds to the anticipation, don’t you think?

Here’s our THE WORKS: large shave ice + ice cream + azuki beans + mochi balls + condensed milk + yuzu (my choice) + strawberry cream (D choice) + bubble gum (Nomz choice). As you can guess, it tasted, well… SWEET and the flavors all just melted together at some point. But it was soft and delicate and delicious and such a fun treat! I definitely recommend the ice cream and mochi balls.

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There’s a nice big courtyard with seating to sit and enjoy the shave ice.

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Matsumoto’s has been in business since 1951 and it was so nice to see this iconic store settled into its new but still charming home.

Matsumoto Shave Ice website


November 2017
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