Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hawaii Day 2: Diamond Head, Nickie's Cafe and Side Street Inn

We rose with the sun on our second day in town and set off for an adventure.

We headed uphill toward Diamond Head Mountain, passing tons of gorgeous flora, fauna and scenery.

 The residential streets in this part of Honolulu remind me a lot of parts of Puerto Rico. 

We needed a caffeine stop, so we hit up Bogart's Cafe on Monsarrat Ave.

 I had a pretty darn delicious iced coffee, made all the more exciting by this Superman Mug. 

 Joe chowed down on an acai bowl and Inga had a breakfast burrito. Both seemed happy with their choices, though the prices were a bit steep for breakfast.....

Inga wasn't feeling well, so she headed back to her apartment and Joe and I continued up the hill in search of the Diamond Head trailhead.

 The view got more and more beautiful as we climbed. 

After ascending a pretty steep hill to enter the park (admission $1/ pedestrian or $5/ car), we stopped at the Magoo truck for some refreshments. 

Things had already started to get steamy...

We hydrated with some cool pineapple slices and rested in the shade a few minutes before beginning the hike...

And then.... we were off!

 The trail is definitely not stroll-inducing; it gains 560 feet in 0.8 miles and at times the terrain is uneven. 

There are several stunning vistas that make good excuses to take a quick rest on the way up. 

The payoff for this sweaty schelp is 100% worth it, though. 

Our stroll back through Kapahulu and Kaimuki was... HOT. These birds were so hot that they couldn't be bothered flying.. .anywhere...

Neither Joe nor I had eaten much before our hike, so towards the end of our 7 mile trip (hike + commute), we were STARVING. We initially walked past this place, but were lured back by an inkling (and Yelp reviews) suggesting that this tiny hole-in-the wall shop was not to be overlooked...

Nickie Cafe was refreshingly cool with the aid of a fan (no A/C) and we were immediately greeted with a smile and brought some "water"- which tasted a lot more like iced tea to me, but I wasn't complaining. Delicious.

We've been familiarizing ourselves with Vietnamese cuisine, so we didn't need to look at the menu long. 

We placed our orders and relaxed.

I was pleased to see the table stocked with the condiments of champions- chili pastes, soy sauce and Sriracha.

We had just enough time to cool down before our meals arrived to heat things up!

 We did halvsies (as Joe and I usually do at new restaurants). First up- pho tai. Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup with a variety of mix ins and toppings. 

 Next up? Bahn mi- a traditional Vietnamese sandwich served on a baguette. We got the 'the Nickie'- a classic and simple take on this delicious dish. 

We divvied up our Pho toppings (Thai basil, sprouts, lime) and got to work. 

 The bahn mi was absolutely divine. The char siu was perfectly cooked, the toppings were fresh and the baguette was the perfect combo of crunchy outside and soft, chewy inside. Joe and I both place THIS bahn mi in our top five sandwiches ON EARTH.

 I added my greens and condiments to my pho and was in love. Even in the heat, I slurped down every last drop of the succulent boiling broth. There's nothing like a big, delicious bowl of soup. Comfort food crosses ALL cultural borders. We were EXTREMELY pleased with our experience at Nickie's Cafe, and I can't recommend it highly enough! If you find yourself in Honolulu for any period of time, definitely stop by!

 After eating, we met Inga downstairs at her place for some poolside action. The pool was a little too cold, and the hot tub was a little too hot, but together they were quite refreshing.

We relaxed for a bit and may have napped on the lanai. :)

Later that evening, Joe, Matt, Inga and I visited the Side Street Inn for dinner. 

We went with their classics- Pan Fried Island Porkchops and "Side Style" Fried Rice. So. Freaking. Yummy.

We finished the evening with a stroll in Waikiki to burn off some of our delicious dinner. :)