One of the things I enjoy most about going on vacation is not eating at home. Any food cooked by nearly anyone else and then given to me is a huge thrill, frankly. But when the food is excellent and the experience enjoyable, well, I nearly hover out of my seat in joy. So, for my last post about our vacation to Hawaii, I'm going to give a little shout-out to a few of the places I liked best in Oahu. (You heard in previous posts about Roy's and Ted's Bakery and the delicious Dole Whip.)

Right down the street from our condo in Ko Olina and directly across from the new Disney Aulani resort opening is August is the very cute Two Scoops Ice Cream Parlour. Two things made this place stand out in a big way: the quality of the ice cream, and the friendliness of the owners and staff. To quote from their site: "Everyone who enters 'Two Scoops Ice Cream Parlour' will be greeted and treated with the utmost respect and courtesy. It's said you only get one first impression and within our slogan we have stated...'that our product is happiness and our commodity is ice cream!'" We had a lovely chat with the two ladies behind the counter, and the ice cream was just amaaaaazing: super-rich without being over-sugared, and top-quality local ingredients. The kids enjoyed their favorite, mint chocolate chip, and I had a hot fudge sundae with coconut macadamia nut ice cream that I wanted to bathe in.

When owners Pat and Nathan Neal popped in, our whole family was introduced with smiles and handshakes. During the course of conversation, Nathan let us in on a local secret: the boat used in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies, the "Black Pearl," is docked in Ko Olina! Mr13 was particularly stoked to see it up close, after some very mild tresspassery. Thanks, Two Scoops!

Two Scoops Ice Cream Parlour
92-1049 Olani St., Unit 3-101C
Kapolei, Hawaii 

Another place that I was eager to get to was the Poke Stop, a tiny take-out place located in Waipahu and highly-rated for super-fresh fish ("poke" is cubed raw fish). Chef Elmer delivers sophisticated combinations at very reasonable prices, and again, the service was incredibly friendly and helpful.

Blackened mahi-mahi:

The "Deconstructed Sushi Bowl" with blackened ahi sashimi, creamy ahi, sesame tako, tobikko, ginger, and Asian shrimp over sticky rice:

Asian garlic white shrimp, made mild for MissEight:

(You could finish your meal at the very-nearby Dave's Hawaiian Ice Cream, inside the Don Quijote import store, just sayin'.)

Poke Stop
94-050 Farrington Hwy, #E4
Waipahu, Hawaii 

I was so completely overwhelmed by the food choices at Shirokiya at Honolulu's lux Ala Moana Center that I couldn't even take photos -- I just wandered through the huge Japanese food court/department store combo in a daze because everything looked so exotic and yum. I settled for the Mamaya daily buffet, where you fill up your styrofoam container with selections and then pay by weight. The kids got more sushi. I also had a Japanese bottled mango, mangosteen, coconut juice, and aloe drink with globs of...stuff...in it that initially was a little disturbing, but turned out to be good. You'd just have to drink it to see.

Ala Moana Shopping Center
1450 Ala Moana Blvd., Unit 2250
Honolulu, Hawaii

The best meal of the whole trip was perhaps the most unexpected. After our visit to Halona Cove and Sandy Beach, we found our way to the town of Kailua and decided to find somewhere to eat dinner before driving back to Ko Olina. I got on Yelp on my phone and saw that Uahi Island Grill was close by and top-rated, so we decided to stop in. It looked very modest from the outside, and I expected just a nice "plate lunch" place. SO MUCH MORE!

This was a really special restaurant. All of the food was so very excellent and fresh and served so beautifully that it might be one of the best meals I have ever had. All of us were over the moon at how good it was. There is something extra cool about being in a place that is very relaxed and non-snobby and eating what is truly gourmet fare. And the cost was totally cool too, especially considering the quality: drinks (no alcohol here but BYOB), entrees, and desserts for all was $100.

Waialua sodas, a bowl of edamame, and a Thai iced tea.

Pan-fry mahi-mahi with cilantro-ginger pesto, Waialua lomi, and garlic mashed potatoes.

Seared Ahi salad with ponzu dressing.

Lemongrass lamb skewers with green papaya salad and nuoc cham.

Mandarin Duck Confit with anise-orange glaze and choi sum.

Masalada (a hot, freshly-fried sugared donut) with house-made vanilla ice cream, Waialua Estate dark chocolate dipped bacon (yes, BACON), drizzled with Ohi'a Lehua honey.

Hot rice pudding topped with vanilla ice cream and caramelized tropical fruit.

Affogato (vanilla ice cream swimming in espresso).

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake topped with chocolate ganache.

I left there just stuffed, because I had to try a bit of ALL of them. Just incredible. Great service, too.

Uahi Island Grill
131 Hekili St, #102
Kailua, Hawaii

So that's that. If you are in Oahu, get out and about and try some of these places -- we were so glad we did!