NYT: Honolulu update

Rohit Khare (khare@mci.net)
Wed, 23 Jul 1997 18:04:34 -0400

[Of course, adam, joe, and dan are in Maui, not Oahu, but that doesn't make
me any more sympathetic...]


Honolulu residents are endlessly amused by the mainlanders' penchant for
proclaiming Hawaii seasonless. Local people know it's spring when gardenias
and pikake (jasmine) reappear and the air around Chinatown's lei stands is
thick with their heady fragrances tempering the scents of burning mugwort,
dried herbs and fresh fish. Hand-painted "Mangoes 4 Sale" signs beckon
along country roads, and the voluptuous fruit, along with litchis, bulge on
trees, all the better to fuel the picnics and festivals of summertime

Vital Statistics
City365,272 County836,231 WEATHER IN JULY
High82Low73Days with rain14
Sources: Runzheimer International, United States Census Bureau, Times Books
World Weather Guide

Islanders know they can count on these things despite the wilting morale
induced by a beleaguered economy and the second-highest cost of living in
the nation (San Francisco is first, New York City third). But at the
beaches and parks, music, hula, feasting and festivals are a balm for the
spirit: the barbecues are alight, and the ocean is at its warmest.

One summer celebration is the annual tribute to the man who ruled as King
Kamehameha V in the 1860's. The death of Lot Kamehameha, a self-proclaimed
nativist and take-charge king, in 1872 ended the 77-year-old Kamehameha
dynasty, but his legacy continues at the Prince Lot Hula Festival, which is
holding its 20th anniversary this weekend. Lot was all for the Hawaiian
monarchy and did what he could to revive Hawaiian traditions such as the
hula and the native religious practices suppressed by missionaries. Lot
Kamehameha would be proud to see the resurgence of things Hawaiian
celebrated at the tree-shaded Moanalua Gardens, just off H1 (take the
Tripler Hospital exit), where loyalists and hula enthusiasts gather every
summer in his name, on grounds owned by the estate of Samuel Mills Damon, a
prominent missionary.


At Ward Seafood next Sunday, from 9 A.M. to 4 P.M. chefs, seafood and keiki
(children's) hula share the limelight at three adjacent festival sites in
the Ward Avenue-Ala Moana Boulevard area. Awaiting the hungry: seafood from
top chefs ($2 tastings), cooking demonstrations, a Hawaii-food-products
fair, and a chance to taste nine types of fish, side by side and simply
prepared so that the subtle tastes and textures are easier to compare.
Free, except for the food; call (808) 591-8411 for information.

Across town in the Diamond Head area, summer is in full swing with the
Waikiki Aquarium's fund-raising concerts on Aug. 6 and 27, at 7:30 P.M. on
its outdoor stage, right by the ocean. Hawaiian musicians (The Makaha Sons
and Ka'au Crater Boys respectively) and traditional Hawaiian dancers will
perform at sunset. Spectators can spread picnic suppers on the lawn and
watch the sun set over the ocean and cast a golden halo on Diamond Head.
Tickets are $15; Waikiki Aquarium, 2777 Kalakaua Avenue; (808) 923-9741.

Across the street from the Aquarium, at the Waikiki Shell in Kapiolani
Park, Natalie Cole will sing during "An Unforgettable Evening With the
Honolulu Symphony," with Charles Floyd as guest conductor, on Aug. 1 at
7:30 P.M. Reserved seats are $50 and $75; lawn tickets, $20. For tickets
and information, contact Honolulu Symphony, 677 Ala Moana Boulevard, Suite
606; (808) 538-8863. Tickets may also be charged through The Connection,
(800) 333-3388.

The Hawaii International Jazz Festival, which runs from July 31 through
Aug. 3, has a new home this year: the Hawaii Theater. Built in 1922 in the
Beaux-Arts style as a vaudeville movie palace, the theater reopened a year
ago after a $22 million restoration of the interior. Concerts start at 7
P.M. and include the singers Linda Hopkins and Marlena Shaw and the
saxophonist Ernie Watts. Tickets are $10, $18 and $25; Hawaii Theater Box
Office, 1130 Bethel Street, (808) 528-0506, or The Connection, (800)=

The Bankoh Ki Ho Alu Festival has a new home, too, on the grounds of the
104-year-old Bishop Museum, at 1525 Bernice Street, Kalihi, (808) 847-3511.
The world's finest players of slack key acoustic guitar converge Aug. 17
for an all-day celebration of this soulful Hawaiian tradition. The music's
unique, lingering resonance is created by slackening the strings for a
variety of tunings, a technique introduced by Spanish and Mexican cowboys
in the 1830's. 11 A.M. to 5 P.M.; $14.95.


Chinatown is now in full bloom with the harvests of summer. Exotic fruits
-- sapodilla, soursop, dragon's eye, litchis, pirie mangoes -- disappear
quickly at the Maunakea Marketplace, at the corner of Maunakea and Hotel
streets. The takeout counters next to the market display a feast of ethnic
cuisines, from Italian to Vietnamese to Filipino.

The Bishop Museum is showing an interactive exhibit called "Ocean Planet,"
developed by the Smithsonian Institution, through Oct. 5. A Hawaiian
princess founded this four-story, lava rock museum, the world's greatest
repository of cultural and natural artifacts from Hawaii and the Pacific.
Feathered capes worn by kings, a grass house, 13 million insect specimens,
a 50-foot sperm whale skeleton and rare wood implements are among the
permanent exhibits. Open 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. daily; admission, $14.95;
telephone, (808) 847-3511.

There are no grass houses or pre-Western works at the Contemporary Museum,
one of Hawaii's pre-eminent cultural treasures; its six galleries, David
Hockney pavilion, Oriental gardens, cafe, gift shop and newly opened
Biennial of Hawaii Artists, through Sept. 21, are the lure. The works of
six of Hawaii's foremost artists in various media are on display in this
1925 architectural marvel in the Tantalus neighborhood, a gracious,
forested residential area with views of Diamond Head. The museum is at 2411
Makiki Heights Drive; (808) 526-0232. Open Tuesday to Saturday 10 A.M. to 4
P.M.; Sunday, noon to 4 P.M.; $5. The third Thursday of each month is free.

Where to Stay

Hotel rates in Hawaii remain high, but this is the off season, which means
lower prices than the December through April high season. The Diamond Head
end of Waikiki is the place to be, particularly the New Otani Kaimana Beach
Hotel, 2863 Kalakaua Avenue; (800) 356-8264, fax (808) 922-9404. The 125
rooms, in pastels and tropical d=E9cor, are on the third to ninth floors of
an atrium-style building and have balconies and small refrigerators; some
have kitchenettes. The New Otani is on the beach, near Kapiolani Park and
the Waikiki Aquarium, and its restaurant, Hau Tree Lanai, is practically on
the sand. Doubles: from $110.

Nearby, Diamond Head Bed and Breakfast is awash in the fragrances of
Tahitian gardenias and puakenikeni, at the end of a drive lined with
estates discreetly hidden behind royal palms and pandanus trees. An easy
walk from Kapiolani Park and Sans Souci Beach, the house is nearly 50 years
old and filled with family heirlooms, including the four-poster koa bed of
Princess Ruth, who was reputed to have weighed more than 300 pounds.
Immense trees in all directions shade the three units, each with a lanai.
Doubles: $100 to $125. Book through Hawaii's Best Bed and Breakfasts, Post
Office Box 563, Kamuela, Hawaii 96743; (800) 262-9912, fax (808) 885-0559.

Budget: The Royal Grove Hotel, 151 Uluniu Avenue, (808) 923-7691, fax (808)
922-7508, as pink as the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, is a tad frayed at the
edges. But it is two blocks from Waikiki Beach, clean, convenient and
friendly, with the usual amenities (phone, kitchenette, air-conditioning,
TV), as well as a pool. Guests who can do without fluffy towels and room
service will enjoy the price: doubles are $57.
Also near the beach is the Breakers, at the opposite end of Waikiki, 250
Beach Walk; (800) 426-0494, fax (808) 923-7174. The two-story walk-up has
64 units, a pool, lush foliage and a walkway leading to the Urasenke
Foundation's tea room, where a free tea ceremony is open to visitors every
Wednesday. All rooms have a kitchenette. Doubles: $91 and $97.

Luxury: The 456-room Halekulani, 2199 Kalia Road, (800) 367-2343, fax (808)
926-8004, remains the darling of Honolulu, unfailingly gracious in its
attention to detail. In plush rooms with lanais, three phones and all the
comforts (an individual toaster for hot toast is supplied with room
service), you can see Diamond Head even from the bathtubs. The House
Without a Key, the hotel's informal outdoor cafe, is the favorite place for
sunset Mai Tais and hula under a 100-year-old kiawe tree, close to the
swimming pool with an orchid mosaic on the bottom. The Halekulani's two
swanky restaurants, Orchids and La Mer, have considerable followings.
Doubles from $295.

Five miles from Waikiki, in an upscale residential area, the 370-room
Kahala Mandarin Oriental, 5000 Kahala Avenue, (800) 367-2525, fax (808)
739-8800, tries hard to reclaim the loyalty it once held as the Kahala
Hilton. Away from the crowds of Waikiki, hotel balconies look over the
mountains, golf course or the ocean, and the rooms are tasteful (grass
cloth walls, four-poster beds). Some look over a lagoon where dolphins leap
and spin. Old-timers may miss the old Plumeria Cafe and Maile Restaurant,
but the new Hoku's has better views, international cuisine and a bamboo
floor. Doubles start at $275.

Where to Eat

t the top is Alan Wong's Restaurant, the shrine of Hawaii regional cuisine,
on the fifth floor at 1857 South King Street, (808) 949-2526.
Here you can dine indoors next to an open kitchen, or in a glassed-in
terrace with mountain and street views. Specials include ahi lumpia, fresh
scallops in saffron sauce, and grilled opakapaka (pink snapper). Mr. Wong
should get a medal for his rose-apple sorbet. Dinner for two with wine:
$120 to $160.

At A Pacific Cafe, Jean-Marie Josselin, triathlete and master chef, shows
how he lost 40 pounds while serving feasts at four restaurants. His new
light menu is a counterpoint to the regular selection -- with such
offerings as tiger-eye sushi tempura, butter-tender ribeye steak and the
signature sesame-crusted mahi mahi -- not designed for deprivation. Dinner
for two with wine: about $120. The restaurant, decorated in shades of blue
and gold with lamps made with beach glass, is at Ward Center, 1200 Ala
Moana Boulevard; (808) 593-0035.

In an industrial area toward the airport, at 580 North Nimitz Highway, Sam
Choy's new Breakfast, Lunch and Crab is one of the busiest spots in
Honolulu. A diner by day and a crab house by night, it serves superb king
crab legs, fresh oysters and stone crab, unusual for Hawaii, in a huge room
with brewery vats, an oyster bar and an authentic wooden sampan that serves
as a dining area. Enormous servings are Choy's signature. Fried poke (fresh
tuna) omelet and wok-cooked chicken and saimin (noodle soup topped with
crab and condiments) are noteworthy items for breakfast or lunch. Dinner
for two with microbrewed beer: about $90. Breakfast and lunch are much
less. Telephone: (808) 545-7979.

At Hawaii Seafood Paradise, 1830 Ala Moana Boulevard, (808) 946-4514, you
may be the only non-Chinese diner. Among the crowd-pleasers are nine types
of duck (the Peking is superb), sizzling platters, 228 Cantonese and
Szechuan items (including an excellent Thai-style prawn soup that's not on
the menu) and the hours -- open until 3 A.M. Dinner for two with beer:
about $50.

Inland from Waikiki, not far from Alan Wong's, is Jimbo's, 1936 South King
Street, (808) 947-2211. Customers must bring their own alcohol to this
noodle house, which has fewer than a dozen tables. Homemade noodles come in
savory, smoky homemade broths, with equally tasty vegetable and chicken
toppings. The menu also includes cold noodles, fried noodles and
steamed-rice dishes called donburi. Dinner for two: about $20.=A0=A0=A0=A0

Rohit Khare /// MCI Internet Architecture (BOS) /// khare@mci.net
Voice+Pager: (617) 960-5131  VNet: 370-5131   Fax: (617) 960-1009