day 8 :
monday, 11 february
Today's first stop was in Makawao, as we headed "upcountry." Of course this was another food stop, as we'd heard that the best bakery in Hawaii was here. Most anyone who is headed upcountry passes nearby, and it's certainly worth a stop at T. Komoda Store and Bakery to choose from their delicious selection of pastries. The store has been open for nearly a century. Locals stop in for groceries or copy of the daily news, but the draw here is the store's pastry case, filled with baked goods made from the family's secret recipes, passed down through generations.
We held up the short line (we hear it's out the door on weekends) as we debated our selections. Ian was the only one of us sure about his choice, announcing as he walked up that he wanted the doughnuts on a stick. We had read about this online, so he was giddily anticipating it for the entire ride there. As the woman behind the counter bagged up his order, Eric and Dawn finally settled on a pair of guava malasadas, a coconut turnover, and a anpan doughnut (bean paste filled). All were stellar choices, but our favorite was the malasadas.
Next stop: surfing goats. We continued upcountry to the Surfing Goat Dairy, a great stop for kids (the human kind) or cheese lovers. You can pay to take a casual tour of the farm, to learn about the history and feed the goats. They also offer opportunities to help milk the goats if you come at milking time in the afternoons. Ian absolutely loved feeding the tiny kids, and intrepidly held handfuls of grass for the larger females (they only have a couple males, which we were told not to approach).
We all sampled their goat cheeses. You can order a sampling of six or so cheeses plus crackers to enjoy on shaded picnic tables outside. Ian loved the plain soft goat cheese, and we liked the aged black pepper cheese, along with the soft goat with herbs de Provence. Don't miss the stellar lemonade, by the way, made with lemons, limes, and honey. We also each tried one of the goat cheese chocolate truffles: Ian chose blueberry, Dawn lilikoʻi, and Eric key lime.
It wasn't really on the route back, but we made a detour for shave ice at Tom's Mini Mart, a place popular with the locals. Indeed, the shave ice here is even better than Ululani's. Ian again chose rainbow (cherry, vanilla, and bubblegum) and we shared the tropical (passion fruit, mango, and guava). And this time, we tried it with ice cream on the bottom, as recommended by the local woman who directed us here. This is certainly the way to enjoy shave ice, as it's reminiscent of a creamsicle!
We finally found a great playground within walking distance of our place this afternoon - we simply had to head north instead of south. Kalama Beach Park is great for the kiddos, as it not only has great playground equipment, with lots of climbing options and more than a half dozen slides, but it also has a number of kid-height banyan trees. Ian loved climbing in and out of the knots of the branches.
There is also a skate park, where Ian enjoyed watching the BMX bikes do jumps. And there is an oceanfront outdoor roller rink, with public skating on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights, with skate rentals available. On a future visit, it would be fun to do this!
For our date night tonight, we walked back up across from Kalama Beach Park for drinks and dinner. First stop was South Shore Tiki Lounge, where we enjoyed tiki drinks on the patio (which becomes a dance floor at night). Eric had the Zombie and Dawn had the mai tai. It fits the bill if you're looking for a place with loud music and strong, tasty fruity tropical drinks.
Then we walked over to the Kihei location of Sansei. A number of people had mentioned this as a great place to get sushi, and clearly we were not the only ones aware of this, as there were a lot of people waiting outside for a table. Luckily, we'd made a reservation, so only had to wait a few minutes. This place is expansive inside with lots of tables, and service was polite but perfunctory and impersonal.
Unfortunately, while we wouldn't say the food was bad, it certainly didn't match our idea of great sushi, with dressed up rolls trying to be as original as possible with lots of competing flavors (which is kind of the antithesis of the simplicity of Japanese cuisine, where the ingredients tend to speak for themselves). The tempura fried shrimp special was good, but after a few bites we were ready to move on (the plate was huge). We had to try the foie gras nigiri with caramelized onions and mango, purely for the novelty of the idea. It was actually good, once we got past the idea of it calling itself nigiri, which it was far from. We tried one of the rolls on the nightly specials menu - it might have been called the ultimate roll, but we don't recall. This was a huge spicy tuna roll, with ten pieces, and over the top in flavors yet lackluster at the same time. Not sure what else to order off the completely overwhelming menu, we settled on the "award winning" mango and crab handroll, which was a huge letdown. We definitely preferred Sushi Paradise to our experience at Sansei. There are some other sushi places that we didn't get around to trying, as we'd had a lot of sushi and poke during our trip. One we'd consider trying on a future trip is Koiso Sushi Bar.
On our walk home we noticed that tonight was the first waxing crescent moon. We marveled at how the sliver hung nearly on the bottom of the moon, instead of clinging to the side as it does in the more northern latitude of Seattle.