Our exploration continued to the north part of the island.
We stayed at a vacation rental in a beautiful ranch near Waimea.
Yuyu loves horses. That is why we chose this place. And right after the gate, we were greeted by a dozen of horses. You could never imagine such encounter in Japan. A dozen of horses, free on the lawn, coming to greet us on their own will.
She is in heaven.
It was a nice place with lots of space.
We were cooking grass-fed filet mignon we bought in Whole Foods in Honolulu.
We are having it with Papaya sauce.
Along with the swordfish.
Waipio Valley lookout.
There was a pretty restaurant I wanted to come.
It’s Cookhouse near Waipio Valley lookout. It’s famous for house smoke meats.
We were here for breakfast but I was determined to go smoky.
Beautiful place with great view.
Yes, yes, yes, a serious smoke car.
Yuyu doesn’t like bananas. But liked this banana which was free for the customers here. It tasted like the Okinawan banana which is a little sour with fresh smell.
Pancakes with house-smoked bacons. Pancake was thin, just like Okinawan “Poh-Poh”, but fluffy and “mochy” (good sticky). It was so good.
The crispy bacons are beautiful too.
Cheese omelet. Beautiful.
Kalua pig. I had been searching for a place to have this Hawaiian dish. I decided to have it here. And I was right. Now I can say I love Kalua Pig!
House-smoked brisket. Nice smoke ring. It was falling-off-the-bone quality.
We climbed on Mauna Kea.
The carpet of clouds, reflecting the shadow of Mauna Kea itself.
Jumping to the space.
Beautiful sunset to the carpet of clouds.
Back down to the visitor center, the star gazing tour was very interesting.
I pointed to what the guide said the brightest part of the night sky. 32-second shot by F1.4.
Sometimes it’s good to have simple food like this. So soothing for our exhausted stomach.
Somen noodles with lots of coriander in Japanese fish broth.
Checking out the ranch house. Horses gathered to say good-bye.
It was such a clear day. From this ranch, we could see all the summits of Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa and Hualalai to the left, and Kohala to the right. Breath-taking panoramic view.
Now we had to jump.
Village Burger, Waimea
This is a burger joint in Waimea.
The lady at the counter asked “how would you like it done?”
Yes, that was the magical question I have been waiting for. To me, the question just confirms that this is a real burger. You don’t get that question in Japan. “Medium rare, please”, I replied with a huge smile.
A bold looking burger with an attitude.
“Who said Hawaii has no good food???”
Delish! Perfect doneness. Packed with juice and meaty flavor.
Fries are crispy and lightly seasoned, also great.
I was thinking…
We can’t beat American burgers. Why can’t we? Japanese people has imported lots of food cultures from around the world. Some are authentic, some are adapted to Japanese taste. I think we do a great job at it. I’m not just talking about top-notch chefs, general skills of street restaurants.
But when it comes to burger, there’s a world of difference. Partly because burgers came to Japan as fast junk food and has been popular as that. Recently Okinawa has had some specialized burger restaurants. This is good. Burger has to grow where Americans are and get trained by the local tongue. They talk about which burgers are better, and I go to those places too. And I can tell that, even though they don’t say it, they know they are all much of a muchness, way lower competition compared to American burgers.
Like this restaurant. This is in Waimea. Waimea! Have you heard of the place? It’s such a small pretty rural town in the big island. Not really known for anything. But this simple burger joint beats all the Okinawan burger restaurants. So the size of the town doesn’t matter. As long as a restaurant has “burger” in the name in America, it’s got to be good. Because there is a solid standard demand for good burgers, set by the people.
This is what we are missing in Japan. I’m clear about it now. Hawaii is not really American. Still, they have grown the burger standard like this. If Hawaii can do it, Okinawa can do it, too.
So what’s stopping us to do it?
I think it’s Yakiniku culture.
Yakiniku is the style that they serve raw thin sliced meat and you grill your own on the table. This is so popular in Japan and I think this is blocking us to develop the taste for chunk meats. Yes, this is it. Thin slices suck! You can’t control doneness. And it speeds up oxidation and deterioration. It was probably an easy solution to enjoy cheap tough cuts when that was the only kind of beef available in Japan. Now Yakiniku is big for franchise business. It’s in the hand of evil mass-production. Now it’s full of reconstructed meats and softened meats with all the chemicals.
We should change now! We should graduate from Yakiniku and start developing our taste standard for the real meat cooking!
I sent out this hope to the clear Hawaiian sky.