Thursday, August 30, 2012

Romy's Prawns and Shrimp, Kahuku, Oahu

I'll add my second post about Hawaii, the first added two days ago in my discussion about Honolulu Coffee Company at Ala Moana MallRomy's is the second of two shrimp trucks/shacks that we went to a few months ago, and from what I ordered, it was my favorite of the two.  Had I ordered identical items from both of them I could do a better comparison.  I'll write about Giovanni's, the other shrimp truck, next week.  In this regard, what I ordered at Giovanni's tasted great too.

We went to the shrimp shacks/trucks in succession as they were on the same street and we were pretty hungry.  One thing about the shrimp trucks, they are great, but are not the cheapest.  You'll be paying at least 12 bucks for a plate of 12-15 shrimp (more money if you get prawns, and less prawns than shrimp).  But in my opinion it is well worth it; they are absolutely delicious.  Here are some pics and comments. 

Well, we got there around 4:30ish and here is a picture of the establishment.  Seating is all outdoors, so I expect it could get pretty hot in the summer.  There are bathrooms in the back and a facility to wash your hands.

I ordered prawns and li hing mui flavored pineapple (Chinese dried plum flavor, unique to Hawaii (in America at least)).   The woman at the counter looked behind her and asked if they still had prawns left and I quickly became horrified that there would be none left for us.  I was relieved when the cook told her that there were some left for us.  A pound of prawns was 18 dollars and the pineapple was 4 dollars.   After waiting for about 15 minutes (there were not many people around because it was not 5 or 6 yet), my number was called and I brought the food to our table. Here it is:

The pineapple was delicious, very fresh and full of the li hing mui flavor.

The prawns were, well, to die for.  They were the little red superstars of my Hawaii trip.  The prawns were roughly the size of hand (fingers and palm; I'd say I have average-sized hands).  They were crunchy and juicy all at the same time, perfectly cooked.  In fact, they were like little lobsters.  I savored the tails, but what I really liked was sucking the head and all the stuff in there.  I was sad when I downed the sixth one.  Right now, I'm getting hungry just thinking about them.  We will definitely head back to Romy's for the prawns next time.

Romy's has an option where you can fish for your own shrimp and then have them cooked.  If we have more time next time, I think that would be pretty fun.

In closing, I give Romy's five out of five prawns for the prawns and pineapple.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Enchanted Tiki Room at Tokyo Disneyland featuring Stitch

Well here is the first Tiki post on my blog. (Please see the update below incorporating more pictures of the Tiki Room from my most recent trip to Tokyo Disneyland).

A few months ago, I had the chance to go to the Enchanted Tiki Room at Tokyo Disneyland.  In this incantation of the Tiki Room, Stitch has taken over the show.  The interior and actual show were too dark for me to get any good shots, so we are left with pictures from the exterior.  The show is very entertaining, even if you do not understand Japanese.  The show features the song, Hawaiian Rollercoaster Ride, and a life-sized audio-animatronic of Stitch sings and plays the ukulele.  The show definitely beats that lame-ass Tiki Room Under Construction that I saw at the Magic Kingdom in 2004.   I wonder if all the Disney Parks have switched to the Stitch format...  Enjoy!

 Nice sign.  It lets you know that Stitch controls the show.
 Tikis Ahoy!!!
 Real Hibiscus Flowers
 Nice Tiki Pagoda

Update.  I returned to the Enchanted Tiki Room last weekend and was able to get more pictures to further give you an idea of Tokyo Disneyland's latest incarnation of the attraction.  That said, since the blog is named Tokyo Tiki Room, I feel obliged to give you guys a detailed view of TDL's Tiki Room.  Please enjoy!

This lets guests know that the Tiki Room has an extraterrestrial visitor
More Tikis
Good view
Yet more Tikis
Here'be warned that an extraterrestrial is on the loose!

Next we have a series of pictures of the show itself.  The actual interior of the Tiki Room theater is identical to the WDW version if my memory serves correct.

Not a great pic, the interior was a little too dark for my Ipod camera.  If you can't tell, this is a picture of the overhead birds, the stars of the show.
Here is an interior singing Tiki
More singing birds
Singing flowers
Yet more singing birds

And finally...
The show's headliner, Mr. Stich!!!

Thanks, and please see my posting describing the rest of my most recent Tokyo Disneyland trip. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Honolulu Coffee Company in Odaiba, Japan and Honolulu, Hawaii

Well, to start, I love coffee.  I love going to coffee shops.  You are going to see various coffee shop reviews here in the next few months and years. Why do I love coffee shops so much?  Nothing beats 1. Having free time, 2. the caffeine boost from the coffee, 3. the opportunity to learn more by studying books, notes, etc., 4. listening to jazz, bossa nova, or whatever music the coffee shop is playing, and 5. often having attractive people around you (I like watching people) doing the same thing you are doing.

Of all coffees, I feel that Kona is king.  It just tastes so good compared to the others.  Here in Tokyo, a normal bag (the size you see at  Starbucks, supermarkets, etc.) of 100% Kona coffee will easily set you back 35 bucks while you can get the same in Oahu for 9.95.  There used to be a Hawaii coffee joint in Jimbocho called Bad Ass Coffee but unfortunately it closed.  It was pretty well-themed, all the way from the spam musubi to the picture of the Duke on the wall.  Luckily, there still is one in Makuhari.

Recently, while visiting Odaiba, I was able to go to Honolulu Coffee at the food court of Diver City.  They have 100% Kona and an assortment of things that Japanese people believe that Hawaiian coffee shops should have such as pancakes and melted cheese sandwiches.  I believe that Honolulu Coffee is a licensee/franchisee (it might be company owned though) of Honolulu Coffee Company in Honolulu, and I suspect for trademark reasons, the Company portion could not be added to the name here in Japan.  If a licensee/franchisee, I was surprised at the poor quality of the Honolulu Coffee sign as it was pixilated, like it was a computer graphic blown up to the proportion of the sign (not pictured).  If I were a licensor/franchisor, I would definitely want approval rights over something as important as signs.  However, the coffee was great and the pancakes were pretty good.  I think breakfast was something around 2,500 yen or 30 dollars.  That said, I give Honolulu Coffee four out of five Kona shots for the all-around experience.
It was pretty crowded
Nice artwork
 Pancakes, a truly Hawaiian meal.
 Nice decor

Well, not too long after my trip to Honolulu Coffee, I was in Honolulu and was actually able to have coffee at Honolulu Coffee Company at Ala Moana Mall.  Much cheaper, I think my Kona was something like 3 dollars.  
The sign looked much better too.  

Honolulu Coffee Company actually had a sign talking about the Odaiba location.   

I look forward to going to both locations again.

Games Day 2012, Stephens Convention Center, Rosemont, Illinois

Nuff said.  Time to dork it up!!!

I never did get around to having a skirmish though.  After 25 years of painting the miniatures, you'd think at some point I'd learn how to play the game...  Well, after that Warhammer horrorfest in the basement of the games club in Champaign, I never made it to another game.  The dudes seriously wanted to bludgeon each other over a toy tank.  

Just waiting for the day when they make a big screen adaptation of that 3rd Armageddon battle. Robert Deniro as Commissar Yarrick?

Royal Buffet in Hoffman Estates, Illinois

I love buffets.  Nothing like being able to pick out whatever you want to eat and eat as much of it as you can.  My first buffet experience was at a place called Bill Wong's near Orlando and then around the age of 11, Old Country Buffet invaded the suburbs where I grew up in.  My college, University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana, had buffet-style dining at every dorm, and I'm proud to say that I worked as a buffet worker for around two years.

I was in Chicago this month and had the luck of finding Royal Buffet on Golf and Roselle Roads in Hoffman Estates.  Amongst sushi, dim sum, Mongolian BBQ, Korean food and of course, Chinese food, they had all-you-can-eat lobster for USD 22.95!  Everything tasted great here.  I just couldn't believe the selection.  The buffet actually felt like a Las Vegas-type buffet with the choices available.

Once a batch of lobsters was cooked, dinners eagerly waited in line for a worker to put one on their plate with the tongs.  Here is a picture of one of my friends that I dined on. 

As an update, I actually had a chance to cook my own live lobsters.  The post is here.

My little red friend!
Cotton candy, lychee and grapes too!!!

So where does Royal Buffet rank in the hierarchy of the many buffets that I've eaten at?  Well, I'd have to say at least in the top 10.  Here are my favorites:

  1. Bellagio, Las Vegas- Nothing beats the selection and quality here.
  2. Paris, Las Vegas- Crepes and regional French fare with a French theme, awesome!!!
  3. Carnival Buffet, Rio, Las Vegas- Biggest selection of food hands down, from ramen to spaghetti to prime rib to tacos to hamburgers, this one has it all.
  4. Kushiya Monogatari, Minami Funabashi, Japan- All-you-can-eat battered and deep-fried sticks of meat! You pick out the meat sticks, batter them yourself and then cook them at your table! 
  5. Hollywood Hotel, Hong Kong Disneyland- Well, the Disney fanatic in me has this one near the top, great shourompo (dumplings) and Mickey-shaped pizzas.
  6. Royal Buffet, Hoffman Estates, Illinois- See the above.
  7.  Carne Station, Ginza/Shimbashi, Japan- 焼肉食べ放題!!! Affordable, and a great selection of drinks to go along with your meat.
  8. Biergarten, Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort, Florida- Great brauts, kraut and spetzle.  Lots of fun watching the yoddlers and performers on stage.
  9. Blue Chip Casino, Michigan City- Well back in the day studying for the bar examination, I had quite a run on the 5 Timer slot machine.  Good memories bumped this one to the top.  The big BBQ beef ribs are delicious here.
  10. Oceanarium, Pacific Beach Hotel, Honolulu, Hawaii- All you can eat king crab legs and a three-story aquarium.  Doesn't get better than watching what you are eating while it is swimming around.
The above being said, I give Royal Buffet five out of five lobsters.

Welcome! ようこそ!E komo mai!

Welcome one, welcome all to my ecclectic world, a world filled with Tikis, Japanese idols, Space Marines, Disney attractions, X-Men, the 80’s and places to get gyoza sets!  In the next few days, more about my world will be revealed.  However, at this point, I am not sure what the purpose of this blog is yet… For now, enjoy this lovely picture taken in person from the 28th floor of the Tapa Tower at the Hilton Hawaiian Village!   Thanks for visiting.