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8/27/2014 Going Greek

Sorry about the late update, my internet was down for a while.

Remember that, since I'll be traveling back to Arizona for my brother's wedding, there's a chance that Friday's update will be skipped.

Sunday (August 24th): Honolulu Greek Festival
Honolulu has all sorts of festivals throughout the year. When it comes to cultural celebrations, Asian and Hawaiian are the most common but that doesn't mean you won't find events for other countries and cultures. For example, the Greek Festival. I found out about it from some ads and figured it would be a nice way to get out and take a break from work and moving stuff.
It actually took me a while to find the place. When it said the festival was in Ala Moana beach park, I forgot how large that park is. I also didn't realize that, rather than out in the park, the festival was inside a special events building they have there. Anyway, I had to walk all the way from one end of the park to the other, but I did find it. And I have to admit, having it set apart like that was a good idea, and the courtyard even sported a slightly Greek look, adding to the atmosphere.
One of the main draws at most cultural festivals is the food, and the Greek Festival didn't disappoint. All of your more well known Greek food were there (Greek salads, gyros, spanicopita, etc.) and a number of less common ones as well, though the longest line was for the coffee and tea stand. I spent a couple of hours there, snacking throughout, and have absolutely no complaints about the food. There were also some stalls selling Greek music, Greek cooking supplies (oils, cheeses, olives, etc.), and various things related to the Greek Orthodox Church (which was one of the festival sponsors).
There was a Greek band playing in the courtyard throughout the day. I really don't know much about Greek music (traditional or not), but it was a nice addition. There were also a few performances indoors. I hung around long enough (snacking and listening to the band) to check out a local Greek dance troupe's performance. Never would have thought there'd be a traditional Greek dance troupe on Oahu, but it goes to show just how multi-cultural this island is. The dancers were good, though I wouldn't say that Greece has one of the more interesting dance styles I've seen. All in all though, the festival was fun and worth the visit.

Random Hawaii Comment: Social Security Numbers
If you're a US citizen, you should know what I social security number is. If you're an adult, you probably have yours memorized or written down to dredge up every once in a while to register for a utility or some such. But here's a question. Do you have a social security card? It's an official government card with your social security number on it. To be perfectly honest, despite living and working in several states and even another country, I had never heard of a social security card until my new employer requested a copy of mine along with the usual HR paperwork. Apparently, they couldn't finish processing my contract without it. I had no idea where or even what it was but I called my parents and they were able to track it down and send me a scan, which was good enough. I thought that was a bit strange since I'd never needed the card before in my life, but it all worked out.
Coming up to the present though, I learned that I can't switch my Florida driver's license to a Hawaiian one without presenting my original social security card (or a couple of substitutes) Never mind that I had my current FL license, passport, birth certificate, and a zillion other forms of identification. Without that, it was a no-go. Why? I have no idea. I didn't need it (or half the other documents I do here) when I got my Colorado or Florida licenses. What is it about Hawaii that makes them require it? Why can't they just take my word on what my social security number is like everyone else does? For that matter, the DMV is a branch of the government, couldn't they just enter my name and address into their computer and pull up my social security number? There's gotta be a database like that. Anyway, if you ever find yourself moving to and/or working in Hawaii, make sure to have your social security card handy, you're going to need it (for once).


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8/25/2014 Another restaurant

So you know, there's a chance that Friday's update will be skipped since I'll be spending Thursday night flying to Arizona for my brother's wedding.

I stopped by a festival over the weekend, but I'm running a little late today so I think I'll save the write-up for Wednesday. In the meantime, here's another restaurant review.

Restaurant Review: Maui Kitchen
Type: Hawaiian
Location: McCully Shopping Center
The McCully Shopping Center is a great place for all sorts of Asian restaurants but, if you're looking for something different, Maui Kitchen offers a diverse selection of what I guess you can call Hawaiian "comfort food". Loco mocos, ahi sandwiches, garlic chicken, and the like, along with some daily specials, often involving Hawaiian grass fed beef.
I've had both the loco moco and the potato chip crusted ahi. They're both good, and the portion sizes are generous, but the food lacks that "wow" factor that pushes it from good to great. But you can choose between brown and white rice, which is nice, and most things come with a free side (generally fries or a salad of some kind).
The lady running the counter is friendly, but this is essentially a fast food place so don't expect much in the way of service. It's food in take-out containers, minimal décor, and no table service. Of course, that means the prices are below what you'd pay in a nicer restaurant, though a bit above those of a normal fast food chain.
Overall, Aloha Kitchen isn't anything fancy, and the place could use some redecorating, but the food is pretty good and reasonably priced so, if you're in the McCully area and aren't in the mood for Asian food, you may want to give it a try.


8/22/2014 Restaurants

This week's voter bonus comic is the start of a short series for this year's Forum Awards winners. As always, you can see it by clicking the TWC button on the left.

As predicted, things are calming down a little bit now, though not for too long. I've got a couple meetings today, some move related stuff on Sunday and Monday, and the first few days of classes, none or which shouldn't be too bad. Come next weekend though, I'll be off to Arizona for my brother's wedding. In the meantime, I figured I'll start on some of those restaurant review travelogue entries I mentioned. Also, from now on I'm going to start posting any restaurant reviews I do on Yelp as well (user name Josiah L).

Mid August: Getting Things Done
Between my new job and move related stuff, I haven't had a lot of time for touring, hiking, or the like. About the closest thing was walking around the Made in Hawaii festival one weekend, which involved a whole lot of booths selling locally made clothes, jewelry, food, and the like. Most it wasn't the kind of stuff I'm especially interested in, but it was a nice break from work. The one thing I've been doing is eating out, probably a bit more than I should be. Since I don't have my stuff or my own place yet, I have a had time getting myself in the cooking mood. Besides, I won't have such easy access to all these restaurants once I'm no longer living in Honolulu. Anyway, here's a few reviews.

Restaurant Review: YogurStory
Type: Fusion
Location: Honolulu, Keeaumoku St. (near Walmart)
Just hearing the name, you'd assume YogurStory is a frozen yogurt place but yogurt actually doesn't figure much into the menu . Breakfast is a number of fairly standard items (pancakes, omelettes, loco mocos, etc.), but mostly with some kind of twist such as the very purple ube pancakes. The sauce is a mix of coconut and Okinawan purple sweet potatoes and the pancakes themselves are purple as well (also because of the sweet potatoes). The pancakes aren't especially sweet, but the sauce makes up for it. They taste great and don't give you the sugar overload that some pancakes do. They definitely live up to their reputation.
The dinner menu is even more interesting, featuring some very unique Asian / Italian fusion dishes. I ended up with kalbi over kimchee risotto. The kalbi was great but then kalbi almost always is no matter where I get it. It was the kimchee risotto that surprised me. Despite the extremely weird combination, it worked. It's like kimchee and rice, only a whole lot cheesier (literally). While I never quite got over the inherent strangeness, I loved it.
The restaurant itself has a nice if somewhat eclectic interior complete with with a large fake tree. Sort of a half indoor and half outdoor forest cottage look. The service has been excellent on my visits, though he place can get pretty busy at times, which naturally slows things down a bit. Prices mostly range from the low teens to mid twenties for an entree so it's not the cheapest place around for breakfast or dinner, but it's not horribly expensive either.
Over all, YogurStory is a fun place to eat due to both the decor and the excellent (if a little strange) menu. I'll certainly be going again, and I recommend giving it a try if you're ever in the area.

That's it for today. I'll add some more reviews over the coming days.


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