Baker’s Hours

March 17, 2009

Good Eats at Honolulu Festival

This past weekend, the Hawaii Convention center played host for the 15th annual Honolulu Festival. This multicultural event features performers from around the pacific rim, traditional art demonstrations, and a craft fair in the main exhibition hall. Aside from the usual cultural booths, there was plenty of good eats to be had.


Upon entering the exhibit hall, the first thing that caught my attention was none other than “Famous Amos” himself, Wally Amos working his “Chip & Cookie” booth. Still cordial as ever, he spent more time chatting and glad handing the passers by, then selling cookies. But I guess in the long run, this method worked because pretty much everyone he talked to bought some cookies. Although, it probably didn’t hurt that he makes a damn good cookie! It was great seeing Wally Amos out and about. The man is a local legend here in Hawaii, and he’s a classic example of you are only as old as you feel.

okonomiyakiwmFrom there, I ran into some friends who directed me to the far end of the exhibit hall where the real good stuff was. Sure enough, upon turning the corner I saw several booths with a long lines. I made my way through the crowd, and came upon a booth for a restaurant called Sammy’s. They were making Okonomiyaki, and of course I had to try some. Basically, it’s a crape topped with cabbage, crispy tempura pieces, bean sprouts, bacon, noodles, egg and a special okonomi sauce. Good stuff!

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Next to Sammy’s was an equally busy booth manned by Ocean Dim Sum & Food Company. Their display cases were packed full of finger food goodies, but what really caught my eye was the Gau.  This traditional steamed Mochi is usually eaten around Chinese New Year, but they had a fresh batch, so I bought a wheel to take home for the family. 

dsc_1456wm1Next in the row was the Migawon booth which was selling assorted sushi and bento boxes. The owner was there at the booth. She was a bit shy about getting her picture taken, but was a very nice lady. While talking to her, I found out that her restaurant was right across the street from the convention center. Having already eaten, I regret not getting to try some of her food, but given how close her restaurant is to the one I work at, I’ll be sure to check it out in the near future.

dsc_1424wmAfter finishing my lunch, I was ready to checkout the other exhibitors. One that caught my attention was a table filled with assorted flat breads. This booth was for Gourmet Island Breads. A true mom and pop operation, they started out selling pesto bread at the local swap meet. Since then they have expanded their operations to include calzones and sweet breads. Like most of the exhibitors I later found, they have a production kitchen, but don’t have a real store front from which they sell their goods. All of their products are sold at swap meets, farmer’s markets, and craft fairs. I got a chance to sample some of their Blueberry sweet bread, and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for them the next time I’m at the swap meet.

dsc_1433wmAnother tasty discovery I found that you can also only get at craft fairs and such were the ladies from All Butter Dreams. They would make their way from fairs to farmer’s markets selling all sorts of cookies and party mixes. The best part about their products, like their name says, is that they use all butter, which means that their cookies had a rich flavor that you can’t get from lard or margarine. Sure it’s not as healthy, but after sampling the buttery goodness, you won’t really care.


Now, I like sweets as much as the next guy, but I was starting to go into diabetic shock with all the sweets around,  which is why I found it ironic (and I do enjoy a good bit of irony)  that they put a salt booth across from the cookie booth. This booth was run by the people from ‘Umi Island Style Seasonings, and yes, they were selling salt… Lots of salt… Flavored salt.

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dsc_1437wmNext, I came across the Taiwan booth which was selling an varying array of cultural merchandise. There was a wide range of colorful mochi to sample (I particularly liked the one with the red bean center). The people working the booth were very friendly and insisted that I try every flavor. I think they saw my camera (a Nikon D80 with AF VR zoom 55-200 lens and SB-600 flash) and might have thought that I was with the local newspaper. I tried to explain that I was just a local blogger, but their English wasn’t very good so I snapped a few photos, much to their delight. 


However, the thing that really made my day was when I found one of my favorite teas for sale at their booth. I immediately pointed to the bag of Tung Ting Oolong tea and exclaimed, “This is my favorite tea in the world!” I started talking to the guy selling the tea (Who’s English was better than the guys selling the mochi), and found out that he owned the Cha No Ma Tea House in Waikiki. Like the owner of Migawon, he was reluctant to have his picture taken. I think it might be an owner thing. I purchased a bag of tea, and made a mental note to check out Cha No Ma the next time I’m in Waikiki. Yet another place that has made it on my list of places to try in the near future. 

dsc_1487wmAs I made my way out of the exhibit hall, I found one last booth of interest, and of course, they were giving out free booze! The Yoshinogawa Brewery (site only in Japanese) was offering free samples of its Echigo Junmai (brown label), and Gokujo Ginjo (white label) sakes. I found the Echigo Junmai had a pleasent flowery aroma, and fruity flavor. Very smooth, and almost none of the harshness you would get from cheep sake. On the other hand, the Gokujo Ginjo, which was equally smooth, was the dryer (less sweet) of the two. But then again, what the hell do I know about sake? 

On the whole, I had a great time at the Honolulu Festival, and I look forward to attending it again next year. If you would like to see more of the pictures I took with at the Festival, you can find them in my blog gallery, or in my Flickr photostream.


Song stuck in my head at the time of this post: The Gargoyles Theme (It’s all @valdezign’s fault!)



  1. I’ll go with you to Migawon!

    Comment by Melissa — March 17, 2009 @ 10:58 pm

  2. Shoots, When?

    Comment by NctrnlBst — March 17, 2009 @ 11:07 pm

  3. I had a great time at the Festival!

    Comment by Laura Williamson — March 18, 2009 @ 1:21 pm

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