Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mahalo! Maui No Ka Oi - Day Nine

Day Nine was our last day on the island, and it was quite fitting to still write this last entry while resting inside the condo's master bedroom. Geez, where do I begin? I guess let's start with what we've done during our last day, and I'll cap it off with my takeaway. What do I mean by takeaway? With my new job, I have to give lots and lots of high-level executive presentations, and each slide that I create has to have a takeaway. Basically, what's the key point that you want to leave your audience with?

Get up, guys...chop, chop, chop!
I attempted to wake up our 4 little sleepy heads at 6am, it was a valiant effort. We planned a lightweight day since we had a 9:40pm flight to catch tonight from Kahului Airport back to LA. As I've said before, I like red-eye flights, we get to sleep during the flight, and in the morning, we'd be ready to tackle the rest of the new day.

My Filipino Bistek with Lilikoi Passion Drink

On the agenda, our Hawaii family photoshoot. No professional photographers needed. Just us with 2 of our cameras. With the help of a tripod and a self-timer, we can do our own family pictures. I made a quick breakfast for
the kids, their favorite is this Filipino Bistek (or Beefsteak). So easy to make. I marinated the beef in Aloha Shoyu, salt and pepper, and I also added 1/2 a can of Lilikoi Passion juice drink, why not? LOL.  First, I sautéed the onions, then I set the onions aside. Then, the marinated beef went in the pan, and I just let it cook for about 5-7 minutes. That's it. I served the beef and garnished it with the onions on top, and I happened to see green peas in the freezer, I thought it added a little green flair, so I added that on top. That was breakfast, including white/brown rice we cooked last night. Everyone was happy.

Next up, we continued to get ourselves ready for the shoot. The motif today for the pics? Classic white, and khaki pants for the boys. We were at Kamaole Beach before 9am. We took hundreds of pictures of the kids. I was really in awe as to how big they've grown. Poor little kids, were subject to whatever angle, or pose, or situation we threw at them. Cheese here....say Maui....say, stinky feet...anything to get them to smile. They were a big sport!!! Of course, there was a reward in between....a Fruit Roll-ups break, and the biggest reward of them all....jumping in the ocean! The picture taking session was not all that perfect. Evan got really tired of smiling with the sun in his face, so he stepped aside, but within a few minutes he rejoined his siblings. Maui 2014 Summer Pics....done!!!
I'm tired, I wanna go swim!!!!

The Best 10-minute Rain Shower
Nancy took Evan and Caitlin upstairs back to the condo, while I played in the ocean with Madison and Ethan. We enjoyed every last bit of Maui's spectacular ocean water. We took turns riding the body board, Ethan spent some time riding his skim board. Somewhere in between, gray clouds rolled in....then it showered, steady rain shower! We welcomed it. We don't get this much rain or rain at all for that matter in Southern California. And I knew that this rain would only last a few minutes, I could see clear skies from afar, and sure enough, after 10 minutes.....sunshine!

One last lunch
Not sure what to call this chicken....let's call it YUM-YUM
There was no time to drive around today, and we still had uncooked chicken. So, I decided to kick-up this chicken before frying it. I made a marinade mixture (shoyu, sesame oil, olive oil, salt n pepper, pancake syrup). What??? Yes, pancake syrup. I also added fresh garlic, rosemary and basil (from the herb garden). Put them all in mini food processor. I tucked in the mixture under the skin and all over the chicken. Threw the chicken thighs in the fryer...about 8 minutes each side.....that's all she wrote! That was our lunch.

The Maui Parkshore Condo
During our last vacation on Oahu back in April 2014, we stayed at the Ala Moana Hotel. We also stayed at our timeshare (The Ilikai Resort, next to the Hilton Hawaiian Village), and we also spent a few days and took the kids to experience Disney's Aulani). I knew that Maui won't be as busy compared to Oahu, and I knew that for this trip I wanted to try and rent a condo. I had the option to use my Marriott Rewards, but I've got bigger plans for my points. Bigger than Maui? LOL!!!

Disney Aulani - Spring Break - April 2014

I wanted to have access to a kitchen, and laundry facilities inside the unit. I wanted enough room for all of us, so a 2-bedroom condo with a pull-out sofa sleeper would be ideal. I was also looking for a place that will not charge for parking. We all know that could add up. I started to look by using and found the listing for a unit in Maui Parkshore in Kihei. All the reviews I read had 5 out of 5 stars. That seemed so unbelievable. Was there a catch? I've never rented a condo before for a vacation, so I just trusted VRBO and my instincts. I placed back to back calls with the owner, and after 2 days of discussion, we agreed on our stay for 9 days.

From the kitchen looking out to the "family room"
The place was perfect for us. We were on the top floor (4th floor). While we had access to an elevator, we were much closer to the stairs so we decided to get a "little bit" of exercise. The condo has no A/C. Was it an issue? When we first walked in around 7pm last Monday, I longed for an A/C. In fact, Nancy said, "Tomorrow, we're going to buy a portable A/C." But....but...but...the moment we opened ALL the windows, and turned on all the fans (there were probably 8 fans in the unit), and with the help of the Hawaiian breeze, who needs an A/C? Having the windows open also allowed us to listen to the birds, chickens, and the waves of the ocean. So having no A/C was not an issue at all.
The master bedroom with a private bathroom

Once you enter the living room/kitchen area, your view directs you to the lanai...and you're looking out to Kamaole Beach Park III, and a panoramic view of the trees, mountains and ocean. This was our home for 9 days. It was perfect for us. Perfect for our needs.

This Maui Parskhore condo went over and beyond our expectations. Whenever we go to Hawaii, the moment we land, we
Da Kitchen
end up buying or renting the basic necessities. We didn't need to do that this time. All of these items were accessible to us at this condo - body board, skim board, beach chairs, beach umbrellas, goggles, and ice coolers. The kitchen had access to a great set of cookware, rice cooker (a must for us), toaster, blenders, and mini-food processor. Nothing was spared. Even the pantry was loaded with more than the basics. There were spice racks, vinegar, Shoyu sauce, olive oil, vegetable oil, pancake syrup. There was a stackable washer and dryer in the unit, and guess what else was provided? Laundry detergent!!! I kid you not. The linen closet had every towel imaginable - clean and very "white" bath towels, facial towels, and an assortment of beach towels. There's Wi-Fi in the unit, and the speed was very decent. Although the unit offered 2 flat screen televisions, believe it or not, we were here for 9 days, and not once did we turn on the television, not once.
View from the lanai overlooking the parking lot and Kamaole Beach III

Outside the condo, there's assigned parking, a gated swimming pool, 4 gas or propane BBQ grills, picnic tables, outdoor showers to wash the sand away from your body, and an herb garden that was definitely put to good use by me. All the units had an ocean view from everyone's lanai. Again, it's directly located across the street from Kamaole Beach Park, a family friendly beach that's great for swimming and snorkeling.

As with anything, things will break, and we had no washing machine for 2 days. But all it took was a quick call to the owner, she was on it, got a technician to come out, and got the washing machine fixed. We were really fortunate to have stayed in this condo. And when we return to Maui, I'm hoping we can stay here again. We just couldn't ask for anything more.

Master Bath
One last sunset and shave ice
Last Maui Sunset
Since we spent the remainder of the day in the condo, we finally left close to 5:20pm. Our flight was scheduled at 9:40pm, and we just had a few more errands before heading to the airport. One of which was a return trip to Ululani's Shave Ice. Remember the early morning rain shower? Well that didn't last very long. By the time we got to Ululani's, it was hot and sunny again. We ordered Mango shave ice, and another one with Passion, Orange, Guava. It was the perfect thirst quencher. Shortly after getting our last shave ice, we walked across the street, and took pictures of our last sunset on Maui...a perfect way to seal the deal on our 2014 Hawai'i summer vacation on Maui.

This is how we rolled around Maui
Oh, Tahoe!
I mentioned earlier that we rented a full-size SUV, a Chevy Tahoe. For the past few trips to Hawaii, we've been renting a minivan since we needed room for 6. With this last trip, I found out that I could rent a full-size SUV and pay significantly less than renting a minivan. I figured might as well try and drive something like a Tahoe or Suburban. There was no doubt, they were much bigger. But it worked for us. It was just difficult whenever I had to back-up. I am spoiled with my Honda Odyssey, I get to use a rear-view camera. So with this vehicle, my rear-view aid was Ethan, and when it came down to parking at tight spots (like the one at the condo), Nancy guided me for a few days, and I seemed to have mastered it as the vacation went along. Thank you, Tahoe. we had a great ride.

The Luggage Patrol
My Official Tripadvisor luggage tag

Our six carry-ons with spinners
Our party of 6 ended up with 6 carry-on luggage PLUS one checked-luggage. We didn't have a checked luggage en route to Maui, but since we purchased Hawaii goodies, we needed another luggage. Nancy knew this was going to happen even before we left LA. So prior to our trip, she brought this sturdy, lightweight, travel bag that she folded and kept in one of our carry-ons. Although we had to check this luggage in, it was free of charge. Why? If you purchase your tickets using your Hawaiian Airlines Credit Card (which I did), you get 1 free checked bag. Other than that, we did quite well, keeping our carry-ons to a minimum, we brought what we thought we needed (and still we realized, we had clothes we brought that we ended up not wearing). We're guilty when it comes to packing, or shall I say, overpacking. But I really believe we did well. We will get better...yes, we will.

Anxious to go home
In the typical Francisco Family fashion, we took a red-eye flight back to LA. It was delayed for a 1/2 hour. We arrived just past 6am California time early Wednesday morning. We were on the road by 6:30am, ready to conquer the grueling 405 and 101 Freeways. And if you're familiar with these two freeways, you know that it was trouble that we were asking for. To our surprise, NO TRAFFIC. Simply unreal. And this was during rush hour. We arrived at home at 7:40am... the kids hit the shower (actually, we all took a quick shower). Why??? It's their FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!!!! Yes!!! We knew we'd be cutting it close....very close. We didn't think they'd make it to school before their 1st period....but they did!!! For that moment, it was all about family, and school at that point...back to reality.

First Day of School pics taken around 8:10 am (arrived from Maui at 6am)
The Takeaway
So what's the takeaway? Was it the food? Was it the beaches? Was it the condo? Or, was it everything about Hawaii? It was all of that...but truly, it all boils down to the time we spent with the kids. About a month ago, Maui was not even in the picture. But we took a leap of faith, and made it happen. I will forever remember the Q & A, and random pop quizzes that Nancy and I asked the kids during our many-a-Maui road trips. Oh, and the songs and music we listened to. The kids took over the music selection. I usually play Hawaiian music like Hapa or Keali'i Reichel using Pandora or Spotify. But this time, they got to pick their songs. Fresh from their trip to New York, they enjoy listening to songs from 2 Broadway shows - Matilda and Newsies. Those songs became the soundtrack of our Maui vacation.

These kids are growing fast each day. There will come a time when they're going to want to do their own thing. I'm hoping to savor these moments more and more. Ethan (13 yrs old) is now an 8th Grader, and I know in 3 years he'll be driving. Madison (soon to be 11 yrs old) just started middle school. Caitlin (8 yrs old) is now a 3rd grader, and little brother, Evan (5 yrs old), is now in Kindergarten. We are blessed to have the opportunity to take them on vacation with us, and we will continue to do so. What's the next adventure? I know I have be in New York 2 or 3 more times this year, for work, but for these kids....only time will tell. For now, mahalo Maui. Thanks to all of you for following our journey. Maui no ka oi!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

You went back and did what? - Maui Day Eight

The Maui Vacation Daily Pattern
Now that we're about to wind down our last few days on Maui, we realized that we have laid back days, and busy days, a bit of a pattern of some sort. Yesterday, we kept it low key, stayed on the south side, and cooked dinner at the condo. So if we followed the pattern accordingly, Day Eight should be crazy busy....and it sure was.

Foodie Stops
After our early morning ritual of getting the kids ready and preparing a light breakfast, we managed to leave the condo at 9:30am. First stop was supposed to be Sam Sato's, a return visit. However, on our way to Sam Sato's, we saw Tasty Crust in Wailuku. The parking lot was packed so we decided, let's try a thing or two, order it to go, and then take the kids to Sam Sato's. We ordered Breakfast Loco Moco, and Banana Pancakes with Coconut Syrup. Both were equally delicious, but it was the pancakes that I will remember since I don't get that kind of pancake when I'm on the mainland. It was light and fluffy, the syrup did not overpower the pancakes, instead, it was there to enhance the taste of the bananas. I want more!

The kids wanted Sam Sato's for early lunch, so we drove over to Sam Sato's which was just right around the corner from Tasty Crust. The same "Auntie" was there, the same lady who waited on us last week. It was like coming home when she saw us and talked to us. She gave us a few more local tips that I'm hoping to try tomorrow, or on our next trip to Maui. That's what I like about going on's the people that we meet that enhances our trip.

Our early lunch was quite simple, Dry Noodles again, plus Wonton was exactly how I wanted it. The noodles again were perfectly al dente. Thank you, Auntie. We hope to come back someday soon.

You went back and did what?
We decided to go back and do a "mini" Road to Hana (RTH). What? Yes, but we made sure we set  our limits, meaning, we were not to go all the way to Hana, we'd stop by 2-3 waterfalls, and not to go past Mile Marker 16. That's exactly what we did. First of all, today's weather was completely different when we did RTH last week. Last week was cloudy, and somewhat gray, although it only rained on us for a few minutes, the clouds pretty much covered the skies. Today, however, was totally different. It was sunny, warm, blue skies....just magnificent.

There were a couple of lesser known falls where we stopped at (between Mile Marker 11 and 12, and past Mile Marker 13). Both required a very easy walk from the more than 2-3 minutes. After making a couple of stops, we turned around and headed back, but with the intent of going back to Twin Falls (located on Mile Marker 2). We made our way in towards Twin Falls, the path was dry, not wet or muddy (unlike last week). There were fewer tourists too (maybe it was because we went around 2:30pm). Our goal was to stay here no more than hour. Last week, we went directly to Twin Falls, today however, we made it to the top of the lower falls. There were mini-pools of water on top and the kids were able to play for a bit. Shortly after, we decided to go to the main attraction, the not-so Identical Twin Falls. If we didn't make any stops, it would have been a 20-minute hike/walk towards the falls.

Upon reaching the entrance to the falls, we had to walk on the knee-high stream, and within minutes, we were just a few feet away from the falls. It was so hot. Madison and I jumped in and swam in the pool near Twin Falls. It was cold, but tolerable. We swam towards the falls, and found it ironic that the water falling down was warmer than the pool of water. That was very interesting. I'm glad we made this trip back to this side of RTH. After leaving the falls, I picked a couple of fresh guavas from one of the many trees.

Local Uncle said...
"If you make it to Paia Town, you have to go Paia Fish Market, tourists and locals go there. You have to order the Ono Sandwich." Again, who was I argue with local uncle. We timed it properly. We built an appetite after driving our mini-RTH. So I ordered exactly what Uncle suggested, plus Mahi-Mahi Chips. I've had many fish and chips in my life, but this Mahi was soooo fresh, so sweet. It was lightly breaded or shrouded in batter.  My ono sandwich was just exactly how Uncle described it....ONOLICIOUS!!! I shall return!!!

So there you go.....that's our Day Eight....we have 1 more full day/afternoon's planned as a rest/kick back day. Mahalo for following our journey. Good night!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Huli-Huli, ALS Ice Bucket Challenge - Maui Day Seven

Oh Day Seven! I can't believe that we've now been on the island for 7 days. For today, at first we planned on hiking La Perouse Bay. We packed our sneakers, lunch, and extra clothing. We actually got out of the condo right at 9am. We're really getting better at this. First order of activity was to rent snorkeling gear. I've rented from Boss Frog's and Snorkel Bob's before, and I knew that I saw them around somewhere in Kihei. However, the very first one I saw that was nearest to us was Auntie Snorkel. The guy suggested the following local spots, Ahihi Bay, Makena Landing, Po'olenalena Beach, and of course, right across from the condo, Kamaole Beach III. After 5-10 minutes of getting our gear, we were off.

Making our way  to the southernmost tip
Since we've not explored anything past Makena Beach, I decided let's go further South first and make our way back. Further South in this case was La Perouse Bay. The road went from paved, to unpaved, to rocky, and the kids had a Road to Hana flashback. We parked where most cars parked. It started to rain for a bit, you the rain that lingers for about 5 minutes or so. The kids asked if we could go to a beach with sand instead. So I turned around and headed back. It was, however, very interesting to see goats roam around the rough roads near La Perouse.

Secret Cove
When a beach is labeled "secret" and it's on the map, it's really not a secret anymore, is it? I wasn't really sure if this beach was the secret cove they were talking about. It's located a few miles away from La Perouse, and Ahihi, it was the one right after Makena Beach. I saw a shoreline access, it was a tiny more than 15-20 feet, and then bam...we were at the cove. Waves were crashing, not really a big place to snorkel, but truly a picturesque beach.

Nancy and Molokini Crater

This area was sandwiched between 2 large homes. There were two little beach coves where our kids played. There were also rocks off to the right that leads you to a front row seat where you can watch surfers catch a wave or two. We stayed here for about an hour, ate a very early lunch. I took out the poke I purchased from Tamura's last night - Wasabi King Crab Poke. These were big, thick, chunky King Crab meat - so fresh and sweet! Good enough for a quick lunch. We had chopsticks and soy sauce and we were good to go.

Makena Landing
After leaving the not-so-secret cove, we decided to check out Makena Landing. The guy at the snorkel store mentioned that you have to swim 100 yards to see the real action. I think we could do that. First thing I noticed upon arriving at Makena Landing, there were a lot of locals. I actually like that. The other one I noticed, there were facilities (showers, restroom)...that's a good thing. The entrance to Makena Landing's Beach wasn't that wide to begin. It's not a place where Ethan could skim board. But there were decent kid-friendly waves so the kids got to ride their boogie board. It was cool to see  Ethan help his little brother ride the body board. Ethan and I tried to swim for about 100 yards, I must have seen a fish or two. So we decided to just stay and play close to the beach.

My Huli-Huli Chicken
After leaving Makena Landing around noon, and after seeing many locals and their families grill chicken, and after seeing a Huli-huli chicken vendor prepare the most aromatic chicken, I decided to make it myself. Would you believe that I never had huli-huli chicken? I've been to Hawaii so many times, and but never once did I have this. Back in April, on our last day on Oahu, I remember seeing a sign for huli-huli chicken. I think I also saw Guy Fieri, from Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives Food Network TV show,  do a feature on Mike's Huli-Huli on Oahu. That paved the way to me yearning to one day make my own huli-huli chicken, and no other
place to try it than here on Maui.

I looked up the recipe before, so I knew that I'd be making it while on vacation. Since I had limited access to ingredients, I picked up what I thought was an important ingredient...pineapple. I bought canned sliced pineapples from a local store (everything else I needed were in the condo's pantry). We bought chicken thighs from
Costco. All I did was chop the can of pineapple using a mini-food processor. The chopped pineapples, and juice went in a mixing bowl. I don't measure, I just guesstimated. Again, these items were in the pantry (free and included by the condo owner). I added low-sodium Aloha Shoyu sauce, red wine vinegar, a couple of ketchup packets, powdered ginger and garlic (from the spice rack), salt and freshly ground pepper. Oh I might have broken the huli-huli chicken rules, but went to the fridge, I saw a can POG juice - Passion Orange Guava. Why not??? I make my own kitchen rules :-) So there, that's my quick, down, and dirty recipe. I planned to let this absorb the flavor and let it rest inside the fridge and pray I got it right.

Landed back where we started
It was evident that today was going to be a perfectly lazy Sunday. We found ourselves hanging out at Kamaole Beach III (right in front of our condo). I've said it before, and I'll say it again, a perfect family beach. The lifeguard pointed to the rocky point where we could snorkel, but the day's
conditions just wasn't that great for snorkeling. It was more of body boarding, or surfing kind of a day. That was just fine. Most of that afternoon was spent doing exactly just that, exactly what the kids wanted to. Evan and Caitlin dug a 3x3 feet hole in the sand, and invited me to go in the hole. I gladly obliged. It was actually quite comfortable, it was like sitting in an empty bucket with the perfect view of the ocean in front of me. Madison, on the other hand, worked on her skim boarding, while Ethan enjoyed body boarding. Nancy had fun just watching her 5 kids (me included) play and we had the  grandest time in Kamaole Beach. After 2-3 hours of beach play, Ethan and I stayed in the water, while the rest of them went to the pool.

Huli-huli Chicken: Revealed
After over 4 hours of marinating the chicken, I brought the bowls of marinated chicken downstairs. The condo has access to 4 portable grills located right next to the pool. With a push of a button the grill was ready to go, flames and all. I kept the lid closed first, no chicken yet, and waited for the temp to rise to about 300 deg. While waiting for the temp to  rise to 300, I scooped the chopped pineapples out of the bowl, and I tucked them under the skin of each chicken thigh. My hope was for the pineapples and its juices and flavors to permeate onto the skin and meat.
Once it reached 300 deg, I laid all 7 thighs on the grill. I kept the lid closed to help with the grilling process. I was also able to give the family a heads up to get ready for dinner. Ethan, who was upstairs on the 4th floor, yelled out..."smells good, Dad!" A couple of condo guests/residents also gave me the thumbs up. I was hoping the smell translates well with the taste. Since I had no basting brush, I just took the chicken out of the grill, and dipped them again in the mixing bowl, that's how I
basted.  After 30-40 minutes or so, after seeing a good chargrilled look on the skin, it's time to unveil the chicken to my family. I passed by the  herb garden and picked fresh parsley. I washed the parsley, chopped it, and used it to garnish the chicken.
The family had prepared our dinner table right on the lanai overlooking Kamaole Beach. Aside from breakfast (we've been eating breakfast here since it takes us forever to get ready in the morning, this was probably the first time we've prepared dinner). Daddy got rave reviews on his first attempt to grill Huli-Huli chicken. I was so glad i tucked the chopped pineapple under the skin. The sweet taste was evident on the chicken meat. The skin was nicely charred crispy. On the side, not to be outdone, was the 3rd Poke I purchased last night from Tamura's. It was the Ahi Hot Shoyu Poke. It was a perfect contrast to the sweetness of the chicken. Also on the side was kimchee we purchased from Foodland the other day. For our drinks, we had ice cold bottled water, and a variety of Aloha Maid canned juices. That was our, lanai, overlooking the sun that was about to set. It just couldn't get any better than that...until....

My ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
Madison challenged me to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge yesterday. This was her video (I hope this link works now). Since I had to respond within 24 hours, I decided to respond to the challenge the beach, with the sunset. We took out the ice from the tray, grabbed a bucket and headed down to Kamaole Beach. Without further ado, here's my video (click here), and why I did the challenge. I'm hoping the link works. I love watching this video over and over, not
because of me being in it, but because of the last few seconds. Although it was my challenge, but it looks like Madison got drenched more than I did. Hilarious! Right after she dumped the ice cold water on me, I ran to the ocean, it was perfectly warm.  :-)

Ono Gelato
Directly after dinner and Ice Bucket Challenge, we headed out for dessert, any kind
of dessert. We opted for Ono Gelato, a couple of miles down. With a Yelp check-in, you get a free waffle cone.  Voted as Best Maui Gelato for many years, we just had to give it a try and see what the buzz was all about. We ordered and enjoyed their For Goodness Cake (a cake batter flavored Gelato), and Coffee Crunch. That satisfied our dessert needs. Ethan, against my will, caved in and went to Taco Bell - this was so against Daddy's vacation rule books, but oh well  :-)

There you go....Day Seven....done!!! We have 2 more full days left, and you can bet we're going to make the best of it. Aloha and mahalo for reading our journey.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Wild, Wild, West Maui - Maui Day Six

For links to my Daily Blogs from Days 1-5, please check the right side of this page...Blog Archive.

It's now Saturday, and we've definitely crossed over the halfway point of our vacation. So far, we've conquered Hana, Central Maui, and most definitely, South Kihei, including parts of Wailea and Makena. We also drove past the foot of Haleakala. The one section we've not yet covered - West Maui. That all changed today.

Reality Check
I should know this. I really should know this. No matter how early I would like us to leave and get our day started, I'm really a firm believer that our party of six, with 4 young ones, requires an Act of Congress to get us all in one vehicle. On a day like today, I got up at 6:00 am, and Nancy got up around 6:30 am. With the whole breakfast prep, showers, change of clothing ritual, and the never ending packing of food and extra clothing for the day, we were lucky we got out of the condo by 9:30am. So back to my reality check, on average, we need a good 2-3 hours to get our full day started. What's funny is...after those 2-3 hours of preparation, guess what? There's still a thing or two that we end up forgetting. Who else is with me? Aaaahhh!!! Such is life, and honestly, that's all okay.

Heading West with no major agenda (except foodie agenda)
The last time we were on the West side of Maui was back in 2005. I remember staying at the Sheraton near Black Rock and had the most wonderful time. So, I was hoping to revisit the area, show Ethan and Madison where they stayed before. But first, at 10am, we've already built an appetite. We looked at our options and decided on Star Noodle on Kupuohi St. 

Local Auntie...and many others 
During our visit at Sam Sato's, the local Auntie suggested Star Noodle. Prior to our trip, I did my own research, and it was also highly suggested by many Tripadvisor regulars in the Maui Forum. Another good friend, Fletcher, urged me to try Star Noodle as well. So what's the big deal? I really had no idea until the day that we flew from LA to Maui. Sheldon Simeon was featured in Hawaiian Airlines' magazine, from his humble beginnings, to his recent claim to fame, Bravo's Top Chef reality TV show. Here's his here.

As we made our way towards Lahaina, we found out that Star Noodle opens at 10:30am. We decided to go right when they first opened at 10:30am, and we were so glad we did. I was expecting Star Noodle to be in the heart of touristy Lahaina harbor area. But it wasn't. It was located on the mountain side, more in a business district/industrial area. Hmmmmm. As we approached the parking lot, Star Noodle was a bigger establishment than I first imagined. When we walked in at 10:30, we were the 1st party who

were seated. First impression, it's a sit-down restaurant....very new in appearance, clean, trendy. Within 15-20 minutes (close to 11am), the restaurant was already 3/4 full (it probably had a capacity for about 100 guests). The waitress gave us a breakdown as to how the menu was divided, and every time she described a menu item, my mouth salivated. It also didn't help that in the middle of her going over the items, another waitress delivered a sizzling rib eye plate across from where we were seated. Uggghhh!!! Fine, we better we did. 

Hapa Ramen (Rich Pork Broth, Roast Pork, Poached Egg, Choi Sum, Kamaboko, Bamboo Shoots, Mayu, Spicy Aka Miso) 
Hapa Ramen
Star Udon (Rich Pork Broth, Roast Pork, Scallions)
Star Udon
Yakitori (Chicken, Teriyaki Glaze, Scallion, Sesame Seeds), and for dessert,
Steamed Pork Bun aka Pork Bao

eamed Pork Buns (Duroc Pressed Pork, Hoisin, Shiitake, Cucumber)

Malasadas (with Chocolate and Butterscotch Caramel Sauces and Peanuts). I played it safe with the Hapa Ramen. I'm really a "spicy" ramen kind of guy, and should have opted for the Hot N Sour Ramen. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this ramen and I availed of the chili sauce that was on the table. The pork buns were also very good, I added a bit of horseradish and chili, and that sealed the deal. Ethan had the Star Udon, he didn't complain, and that's a good thing. The other kiddies had the chicken yakitori. They wanted more, so we ordered more....that's a testament that it was good. The malasadas were served with skewers and we drizzled the sauce and sprinkled peanuts prior to eating. I think I just drooled! LOL!!!

East Coast Meets West Coast - Maui Style
Meeting up with Karen and Lloyd - Kaanapali Beach (Hula Grill)

One of my dear colleagues from work, Karen, and her husband, Lloyd, are vacationing on Maui. They arrived last night. Karen and I managed to stay in touch despite the distance (Maryland and California). Earlier this week, she sent me a Facebook message about their 
vacation, and if all of us were near each other, then a meeting was in order. While we were at Star Noodle, she and Lloyd were about to have lunch at Hula Grill (Whalers Village). Directly after lunch, we met up with Karen and Lloyd at Hula Grill. It was so great to see them. When Karen visited California, she didn't get the chance to meet my family, and of course, it had to be on the island of Maui where our families would eventually meet. So great to see you, Karen and Lloyd, enjoy your vacation.
Icy Kaanapali Beach   
Caitlin and Evan with Mommy

After meeting up with Karen and Lloyd, it was time to hit the ocean. For nearly 3 hours, we spent the early part of the afternoon at Kaanapali. We didn't boogie board, didn't snorkel, didn't jump at Black Rock - we just swam, and we let the waves pull and push us in and out of the shore.
Gorgeous Kaanapali 
Mommy and Evan
All of us got in the water. Madison was also able to respond to her friend's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Prior to the challenge, we made sure the Madison knew the reason for the cause, and that it wasn't all about getting drenched with ice cold water. I'm glad that we took that time and she understood.For the challenge, we only had access to two sand beach buckets. I took the buckets to the nearest bar, and the bartender gladly gave me ice for the challenge. Here's her video response to the challenge - click here.

Lahaina Sunset
Local Boys Shave Ice - Lahaina
Nachos from Maui Tacos

We spent the rest of the afternoon in Lahaina. We had a short break and ate Nachos at Maui Tacos (as recommended by Auntie from Sam Sato's).  What was different? Well, I'm from California and I'm quite picky when it comes to Mexican food. When we got to the area where Maui Tacos was located, there's a sign that said "It's Mexican with Mauitude!" The nachos was yummy. It was all in the cheese! Then when I dipped the chips in Pineapple Salsa, hell broke loose! It was crazy good. I've never had this salsa before. Zagat did the right thing by making this a Zagat-rated eatery. 

After Maui Tacos, we also walked
Sunset in Lahaina
around the Outlet (because living close to a Factory Outlet in California was simply not enough hahahahaha). We live within 5-10 minutes away from the Camarillo Factory Outlet  :-) We also managed to stroll around Front Street, 
watched another majestic sunset, and finally, we, the local boys, had some shave ice again from Local Boys. It was just another one of those easy, laid back evenings.

Tamura's Fine Wine 

In my possession, 3 precious Poke orders
It's not what you think. One of the Tripadvisor's (Kathryn) in the Maui Forum suggested Tamura's Fine Wine and Liquor for their poke. Really? Poke from a liquor store? So I looked up the address....Kupuohi St....hey, that's where Star Noodle restaurant is located. So I called Tamura's, around 8:40pm and asked if they were still open (YES), and if they still had poke (another YES). But the guy said they were about to close, and I told him I was on my way. So I circled around Kupuohi St. and naturally, I found Star Noodle, but I couldn't find Tamura's. Then off to my left was a guy standing, waving at my vehicle...I rolled down my window, and he said, "You looking for Tamura's?" Perfect!!! I was led in. Again, I was expecting a little mini-mart, you know, a little store. But this one compares to a BevMo in California....lots of drinks, and when I walked in, to the left was the deli section, and there they were waving at me...POKE. It was a Poke Circus...probably 8-10 choices. But I zeroed in on 3 pokes....Kimchee Tako (Octopus), Fresh
Kimchee Tako (Octopus)
Ahi Hot Shoyu, and Wasabi King Crab. I couldn't wait to eat them, but I decided to wait, I mean, WAIT till we got back to Kihei (a 30+ minutes drive). Thank you for this recommendation. We ate the Kimchee Tako tonight.....perfectly chewy octopus with the kimchee spice. The rest of the pokes are happily sitting the in the fridge and will be consumed tomorrow. 

That was our Day Six....tiring....we were gone from home (the condo) the whole day......another day that's now embedded in my blogging memory. I'm now getting ready to go to bed.....exhausted, yet fulfilled. Mahalo and good night!