If you are into electronics, cameras or gadgets in general Yodobashi Camera is the place to be. Knowing my geeky interests, @Sophielynette cued me on to Yodobashi. There are about 21 of these stores scattered around Japan, each one consisting of multiple floors of electronics gear. The one we went to in Umeda was 8 floors, jam packed with everything electronic you can think of. I recall mentioning to Bert Kimura, one of our guides on this excursion, that it was an assault on the senses. There were racks stacked full of gear, signs pointing you in every direction and people everywhere. You could get lost in there and your family would never find you. I was impressed with the vast assortment of gear on display. But it wasn't just the assortment, it was the depth. For example I happened onto the section of the store featuring telescopes. Yodobashi not only had a vast selection of telescopes and binoculars but in addition they had microscopes and scientific accessories. I couldn't even think of a place in Hawaii that sells microscopes. The camera department is the signature section of the store. It's a photographers heaven in there. Dallas Nagata White asked if they had the Leica M9 and sure enough, there it was. My measure of a store's worth is the amount of tripods they carry. Not just any tripod, I am looking for quirky Gorillapods. Yodobashi had tiny little tripods, big huge tripods and this rack full of Gorillapods. Okay, I am done gushing over Yodobashi. We had to pry ourselves out of there and get Dallas to the train for the airport. If you want more on our Osaka adventure check out Dallas' excellent photo gallery and Mari's delicious foodie video. You can also check out my Flickr set of our Day 3: Osaka. ** Mahalo to Hawaiian Airlines who sponsored this trip on their inaugural flight from Honolulu to Osaka, Kansai.
There is a phenomenon happening on the streets of Honolulu that I am finding quite tasty. Lunch wagons are popping up all over the place. It's not like they weren't already a common occurrence, it's just that these are active in the Web 2.0 space. This past week I visited 4 around the Keeaumoku St area. They include Melt, OnotoGo, Yajima-Ya and Eatgogi. I haven't tried all of their food fare but intent to. The closest to my work place is Melt, located on Akoko St. a side street off King. If you are driving just hang a left on Akoko St. right before Easy Music. Word is they have some great sandwiches which I plan to try next week. Next up is Yajima-Ya on Sheridan St. They are right next to Hinone Mizunone in an empty parking lot. On first appearance, how they got the lunch wagon into that space looks like an engineering feat. As it turns out, Tomo, the guy managing the lunch wagon tells me it was just a matter of careful driving. They got some delicious looking donburi starting from $6.50. Another on my must try list. Further down the street, on the corner of Sheridan St. and Makaloa St. in another parking lot is @WedgeLee's lunch wagon OnotoGo. They are right next to Modern Pet Center which is a landmark for me since small kid time. Wedge is the master social media guru so it surprised me to see him behind the grill also. His signature lunches include his kiawe grilled selections but he also told me his hamburger curry is also a winner. Finally for a nice walk all the way to Kapiolani Blvd. you'll find Jim Wilson's EatGogi lunch wagon. Get their Gogi Dog for a broke do mouth experience. This "korean" fusion selection has a hefty hot dog covered in bacon chili topped with an egg and hot sauce. For $6 I would definitely go back and have another. These bulgogi tacos look pretty good too. I understand Jim is planning to introduce other fusion creations which I am sure he will announce on this twitter account.
When you stop to think about where all our food comes from you realize how much of it is shipped in from outside the state. About 90% of Hawaii's food is brought in from elsewhere. And, if transportation to Hawaii was cut off, there would be about 2 weeks worth of food on island to sustain the population. That's a little scary. Granted, I'm not about to stop buying my Rotisserie chicken and box of Fuji apples from Costco anytime soon, but what if for one week we were to challenge ourselves to eat local. By this I mean eat foods that are grown here in Hawaii. With this we can raise the awareness of locally grown foods and support our local farmers, ranchers and fishermen, perhaps even grow this industry to be more than 10% of our food intake. Kanu Hawaii started this challenge in 2009 and the 2nd annual Eat Local Challenge 2010 is talking place on Sept. 26 to October 2. Last year several restaurants joined in the challenge by offering selection that were 100% locally sourced. Town and Downtown both participated and I assume will continue this year. I am on the hunt to find out if there are more restaurants joining in. This will at least make the lunchtime, Eat Local experience more tasty. Another suggestion would be to stock up on local produce at the KCC Farmers Market. In the meantime the Kanu Eat Local site will have a list of participating restaurants and produce specials but as of this writing it's Coming Soon. You can also keep up with the play-by-play tweetstream by searching for the hashtag #EatLocalHI on Twitter. I plan to also blog my adventures and learnings along the way to eating local. Hope you will also join in the challenge.
If you look in the back room of some of the most traditional practices in Hawaii, you will find tech. In this case it was the Jodo Mission Bon Dance. An annual event that I have grown fond of for is home town feel and great camaraderie. Each year there is the standard food fair of sushi, bbq meat, musubi and my favorite chili rice with hot dog. Every year there is also the iconic Waffle Dog. It's notoriety was sealed back in the days when KC Drive Inn was a landmark eatery in Kaimuki. KC Drive Inn closed in March 2005 but the Waffle Dog lives on. Dayton Asato, grandson of the owner of KC Drive Inn, Jiro Asato, carries on the Waffle Dog legacy with these custom made waffle irons that press out 6 batter encrusted hot dogs. Asato makes these units available to community groups for fund raisers, hence the ones at the Jodo Mission. The waffle batter is secret but the hot dogs are the kind you find at Foodland. (I wonder if anyone has gotten creative and used those fancy sausages from Costco?) Shown in the photo is master waffle maker Lianne Kitajima and her apprentice Tricia Murakami. Notice the flipping action to get it out on the tray in one piece. Lianne tells me there is no formal training for this, it is all OJT. As you venture into the Honolulu community events scene, I am sure you will find future Waffle Dog sightings. In the meantime I did find a "how to eat" a Waffle Dog video from Traci Toguchi, who obviously loves it whether eating it or pitching it. (Thanks to Ryan Ozawa for the Twitpic.)
What better way to spend an afternoon than with friends sampling all manner of burgers. @Turkeyboy808 (aka Jason Kim) Chief Proprietor of Burgers on the Edge has this contest going to pick the best custom burger. Jason and his team ran this contest last year and based on its success are making it an annual event. They culled through several hundred submissions and ended up with these 7 burgers, 3 in the beef category, 2 in turkey and 2 in veggie. The number of burgers bought by June 30th will determine which custom burger will get added onto the menu. There will be one burger winner for each category. According to Jason, he updates that Burger track on the home page every day, manually. Our little tasting party consisted of @Neenz, @Nctrnlbst, @tweetpea @noe808 and @RodneyLee. We ordered each of the entries (Mr. Smarty Pants, Save the Chickens, Plan B, Garden Isle, Da Local Kine, Kung POW and Southern Belle) and sampled the creations. Here are my rankings on a scale of 1 to 5 where 5 is the best.
- Mr. Smarty Pants: 4 - Pepper Jack cheese and fried egg worked well with the turkey burger.
- Save the Chickens: 2 - Cream of mushroom didn't quite do it for me. Sorry @ryankanno
- Plan B: 4 - The tonkatsu sauce and onions worked on this veggie burger. Nice job @starletshay
- Garden Isle: 2 - Too subtle for my tastes, it needed something.
- Da Local Kine: 3 - Kinda liked the spam and pineapple combo but novelty did not last.
- Kung POW: 1 - Wrong! Hoisin should not be used on a beef burger.
- Southern Belle: 5 - My favorite, the Ranch worked with sharp cheddar and fried tomato.