Wow! What a day we've had. A very, very filling day! Our tour started at 10 am, and the next 3 1/2 hours we would drive for a few minutes, eat something tasty, drive for a few more minutes, eat some tasty, walk for a few minutes, eat something tasty - again and again and again. Our tour guides were incredibly knowledgeable, personable, and genuinely enjoyed sharing their love of food with our small group (only 9 of us). Our first stop was to try what is called a "manapua," which is baked hawaiian sweet bread with a choice of filling. We chose one stuffed with cha siu (sweet roasted pork) and one with kalua pig (smoked, pulled pork). They were both a treat, though our preference was the cha sui.
Our next stop was a bakery for wonderful cream puffs with a silky chocolate filling and a chantilly cream topping - mmmmm....
We then drove into Chinatown and began walking around a bit. We stopped at a rice noodle "factory," where they were making steamed rice noodles from scratch and by hand. It is an incredibly tedious process which is quickly dying, as young people are no longer carrying on the family's business. The noodles, which have bits of smoked pork or dried shimp in it, were probably the highlight of the tour, for both Justin and I - incredible!
Once outside the noodle storefront, our guides bought a number of different kinds of fruit for us to try - including this most interesting "rambutan" or "hairy fruit." The outside felt almost rubbery, like some crazy toy, and once you rip it open a bit, you can split the skin in half, and the inside looks just like a hard boiled egg! The flesh is very sweet and juicy, similar in texture to a... um... hmmm... kind of between a melon and plum. Very tasty though!
We continued our tour with a snack shop, which specialized in a type of dried snack, called "crack seed." It is hard to explain, but many types of fruits and such seasoned with a special li hing powder (see Justin's post below). I thought all the apothecary jars and their contents were absolutely eye-catching!
We had a short stop at a tiny shop or char siu with the most amazing roasted and glazed pork and duck - small morsels of wonderfulness. We also stopped at a lei stand, where a number of women were making hand-made flower leis. It was hard to resist some of the fragrant flowers!
After a stop for a sit-down lunch of a honey garlic chicken, beef and seasoned rice (thankfully not a large amount - we were already filling up quickly - but all terrific!), we made our final stop at another sweet bakery for a portuguese donut called a "malasada." Have you had these, Dan & Pam? The dough isn't necessarily very sweet, but yeasty and airy, fried and covered in sugar. Incredibly yummy, and a perfect end to the tour.