Sampling the “Flavors of Honolulu”

Most people think of this kind of thing as the Taste of Honolulu — an event that provides support for Easter Seals. This year, we have one with a bit of a new twist. There’s a new charity and a few newer restaurants.


Flavors of Honolulu was presented this year on the grounds of the Frank Fasi Civic Center, which is not unusual, but this time, the beneficiary of the event was Abilities Unlimited, an organization that is actually a dba of Winners at Work and is designated for “helping people with disabilities lead productive lives.” I like the idea of supporting an organization like that! I wish I has known more about them before attending the event… I might have bought more scrip! 🙂

Crowd of people moving around various tents

I don’t think they missed my extra $20 too much. Attendance was certainly not a problem! I passed by on the Saturday afternoon of that weekend and the place was packed. These photos were all taken on Sunday afternoon, the third and final day, and there were still people everywhere! I wonder how their bottom line came out. I guess I’ll have to investigate that!

Closer to the crowds

This photo gives a better feel for just how many people were spread across the grounds of this City & County municipal park. The organization and set-up of the event was really quite good. The colors were complimentary and I enjoyed the visual aspect of it all. The park was clean and the weather, albeit very warm, was great for an outdoor happening like this.

These pictures don’t really convey the degree of heat that attendees had to endure. The sun was blazing and even the tradewinds were very warm.

Entertainment Tent

While there was entertainment, of course, but my focus was on the food. That’s always my focus! Taste of Honolulu, Flavors of Honolulu, call it what you will — it’s all about the food! I can’t count the number of times I’ve used that phrase over recent years.

Chicken Tacos

There was a great mix of ethnic cuisines! There were Mexican dishes like these little chicken tacos from Senor Frog’s seen here on the left. Senor Frog’s is located on the third floor of the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. Good food! I like our local Mexican food restaurants. With so many Taco Bell locations vanishing on us, we really need to keep track of our Mexican food places.

There were thirteen or so tents of various types of cuisine, with little plates of this and little plates of that. The emphasis is on the word little.

This brings up the one thing that stuck out and that was probably the only real negative that could be listed for this event — the servings were pathetically small. I realize the purpose of this event is to have a “taste” or to sample the “flavors” of the foods. But, for what worked out to be the equivalent of approximately $5 a plate, from the viewpoint of someone with a “local” appetite, that was unacceptable.

Again, the emphasis was on the “taste” or “flavors” of Honolulu, not “join us for a meal.” I was just too hungry, what can I say? I’m always hungry. I just like food — too much! 🙂 Just so you guys don’t think I’m a horrible person, there was even one location that offered one meatball on a plate. That was it — one meatball. That was with the same cost — approximately $5. We walked away from that vendor just because it was too ridiculous to even talk about.

Now, I will go back to my previous statement that the supported organization was, in itself, well worth supporting. If I had known more about that organization at the time, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. Okay, I may have thought twice about it but I would have gotten that meatball anyway! If you think about it, it wasn’t cheap to make one — it had three different meats and mozarella cheese.

See what my attitude got me? Nothing. That’s what I get! Sorry, Mangea!, it really did look good!  My bad.  Another restaurant to patronize gang! It smelled wonderful and looked great.   Mangea! is located at 300 Wai Nani Way, Phone: 808-923-1628.

For the most part, the food was definitely worth it. There were even a couple of vendors with steak! One of them was Koi, a restaurant located at 2028 Dillingham Blvd. The line was way too long for us to stand there and endure the heat but there were many others who had no problem waiting for what they must have known a lot about. Of course it said, “grilled steak with ginger sesame sauce” — so I guess I have to find out more about that place, huh? I’ll keep you guys posted!


In order to avoid the heat, we opted instead to try the steak from the Hilton Hawaiian Village’s Village Steak & Seafood restaurant and we were not disappointed.

To adjust my mood and to battle the heat I stopped at one of the wine vendors and sampled, at their recommendation, a very nice white wine that the vendor promised to be refreshing. She was right. I felt much better after drinking the 3/4 of a Dixie cup. Yeah, I had to throw that size part in.

Hawaiian Plate

All was not lost. Laverne’s was the one tent, serving Hawaiian cuisine, that had a grasp on knowing where they were. They knew how to please the local (okay, my) appetite. Laverne’s Catering & Restaurant is located at 99-866 Moloalo Street in Waipahu and can be reached at 808-678-1678. In the photo above you can see their sampling of rice, kalua pig, lomi salmon, chicken long rice, and haupia. Word has it that it was all good!  It looked great, smelled wonderful and was definitely much more reasonable from a serving size point of view.

Li Hing PineappleIn spite of it all, I wasn’t going to turn down a little sampling of li hing pineapple! I did get some of that from Laverne’s.

Pineapple is good with a little bit of li hing powder! This one was made from canned pineapple but I still liked it. It was, consequently, a little sweeter than normal.

All in all, I think it was a great event. I will go again, I will be better prepared, I will know what to expect and I will try as many of the food samplings as I can! If you plan to attend the next one, you might want to be sure you have a good breakfast that day!  I just wanted more.  Piggy.  After all, it’s all about the food!

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13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Keahi Pelayo // Jul 10, 2008 at 10:43 am

    Thanks for the heads up.

  • 2 Becky Cook // Jul 10, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    All those things look soooo good. I miss the Hawaiian food. I love lomi salmon, kalua pig, poi, etc. It makes my mouth water. Hopefully next I’ll be able to treat myself once again. Miss you guys. Becky

  • 3 Pua // Jul 10, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    Great food for a great cause! How better can it get. There are always some special food events going on in Hawaii.

    When those events are dedicated to helping people with disabilities, even more people show up, not just for tasting the flavors of our multi-cultured cuisine but also for showing their aloha spirit.
    For those visitors who are on their way to the Big Island’s Kohala Coast, mark your calendar.

    The annual coffee tasting competition at the Four Seasons Hualalai Resort is coming up July 12th. There will be a dessert competition with Kona Coffee as ingredient. Sounds yummie to me!

  • 4 Evelyn // Jul 10, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Hey Becky! We miss you too. The cost of travel is not helping any of us get to see each other! I hope it won’t be too much longer. Sigh.

  • 5 Evelyn // Jul 10, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    Yeah, Pua! That sounds like a definite must! Kona coffee ice cream is my favorite. I love things with coffee as an ingredient with lots of sugar! 🙂

  • 6 Rod // Jul 11, 2008 at 1:10 am

    You guys are all making me gain weight just by reading these comments!!!

  • 7 Angie // Jul 11, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Yum! Those pics made me hungry! (And I’m sorry but unless the meatball was like a mondo meatball, I wouldn’t pay $5 for one either!) 😉

  • 8 Evelyn // Jul 11, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Hi Keahi! Thanks for stopping by and letting us know you’re around! 🙂

  • 9 Evelyn // Jul 11, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    LOL! Well, Rod, you can buy us a meal at Mangea! since you’re our meatball connoisseur! 🙂 I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Seriously.

    I know Angie, me too… but you should have smelled it! I’ve GOT to pay them a visit… I owe them now. 🙂

  • 10 Sheila // Jul 14, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Very nice post and photos. I felt like I was there tasting Honolulu along with you.

    Um $5/meatball would have had me turning away too.

    What does li hing powder taste like? I’ve never had li hing pineapple.

  • 11 Evelyn // Jul 14, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    Hi Sheila!

    Hmmm, let’s see… li hing has a flavor all its own. It’s the same “seasoning” that is found on local favorites like li hing mui and other varieties of crack seed. They even use it in margaritas now — my favorite! 🙂 It’s kind of a mixture of tart, sweet and sour all rolled into one. I don’t know how else to describe it. We just have to be sure you get some when you guys come back!

  • 12 HawaiiVacationGifts // Jul 15, 2008 at 1:06 am

    Thanks for taking your blog gang along with you for the tasting. How much was the delicious looking Laverne’s Hawaiian plate?

  • 13 Evelyn // Jul 16, 2008 at 3:55 am

    Hello HVG! Laverne’s was the same price as the others but they had a better handle on actually making a dent in the appetite. 🙂 That wasn’t a full-size plate, of course, but it was at least something we could relate to.

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