features, food, travel

The Last Breakfast

As the sun rose on our last morning on O’ahu, my travel companion and I headed down to the beach.

Even at dawn, Waikiki had a very different feel from the beach we’d enjoyed the evening before.

We had heard, and still hear, many times, from many people, that O’ahu is the worst island to visit–Honolulu is a big tourist trap; Waikiki is overcrowded; the other islands are more enjoyable. I don’t doubt that there’s truth to this analysis, but if I had to make the decision again, I’d choose O’ahu, mainly because of Pearl Harbor, but also for the historic sites of Honolulu.

And, frankly, Waikiki isn’t all that bad.

Perhaps enough people have bought the anti-Honolulu hype, and no one goes there anymore because it’s too crowded, as the great sage of the most overrated team in baseball history once said (assuming that’s one of the things he said that he really said), but we didn’t find it anywhere near the mob scene we’d been warned to expect.

After our last walk along Waikiki, we headed indoors for our final fabulous breakfast. We’d had some frustrations with the Hilton, but breakfast wasn’t one of them.

I love fresh fruit, and the selection of juicy melons, sweet papaya, and tangy pineapple made the perfect rock on which to build my morning meal. The first day we were there, I discovered guava jelly, a pale golden spread that has the sweet tang of tropical fruit, without the tart sharpness. Throughout the week, I had fun just selecting the best pastry to serve as the setting for this jewel of a jelly. A couple of eggs and a yogurt added the protein needed for site-seeing. And cup after cup of smooth Kona coffee, bold without bitterness, washed it all down.

That’s what came from the American side of the breakfast buffet.

People want what’s familiar in the morning, and there was also a Japanese side. Fortunately, the foods were labelled in English, though in some cases, that didn’t help us much.

And three varieties of tofu is three more than I need.

Then there was natto. Natto is fermented beans; it comes in a little paper cup with a couple of small packets of sauce, into which one mixes a raw egg yolk.

Maybe we were charmed by the “Natto Boh” icon;

maybe we wanted to be adventurous; maybe left our minds in Virginia, but we decided to try it on our first breakfast.

We separated our raw eggs; we used chopsticks to beat the yolks into our little cups; we tucked into natto.

It tasted like al dente pellets wrapped in slime. We added soy sauce. It tasted like al dente pellets wrapped in salty slime.

After that, we stuck with American food.

Unfortunately, I was so sad to be leaving that last day that I could barely enjoy more than the Kona. Frankly, five days wasn’t long enough. Okay, I might be saying that after five months, but we felt as though we were just getting to know the place when we had to leave. If you’re planning a visit to Hawai’i, I’d recommend staying at least a week.

Still, it’s not over till it’s over, and after breakfast we headed back to the beach. I waded waist-deep into the water. The warm waves washed over my skin. Then cold drops startled me. It had started to rain, so I had to get out of the water. But the sun still shone, and rainbows appeared.

The rain stopped, and I waded back, one last time, into the warm blue waters of Waikiki.

Aloha!

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23 thoughts on “The Last Breakfast

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  12. Hawai’i is my home, I was raised on Oahu. As an adult, I have lived on Maui, Kauai, and in Kona. I embrace the uniqueness of each island, but am most comfortable with the choices that Oahu has to offer.

    I encourage anyone visiting Hawai’i to choose the island that best fits their desires, rather than based on someone else’s preferences.

    You tried natto? You’re more of a local than I, I couldn’t do it!

    Aloha,
    NEENZ.

  13. Leslie, as one of the multitudes who warned you about Waikiki, I’m glad I was wrong and you were able to enjoy it so much. I only wish I could also have warned you about natto.

    I would still encourage you to visit the other islands; each one has its own personality, and the things you liked about Oahu may be magnified, and some of the hassles reduced.

    Thanks for posting the pictures.

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