Category Archives: Out of town – USA

Sushi: Island Gourmet

Take - out sushi from the Island Gourmet (tuna and salmon sushi)

Take – out sushi from the Island Gourmet (tuna and salmon sushi)

While in Hawaii, I stopped in at the Island Gourmet Market near our hotel. Island Gourmet Market is an ABC store, but they have a decent deli section with ready-made sandwiches, pies, bento boxes… and sushi! (Plus drinks, ice cream, produce, and packaged food.) While my companion went for some chicken breasts and pasta salad, I grabbed a box of nigiri sushi and a box of rolls.

Take - out sushi from the Island Gourmet (veg roll)

Take – out sushi from the Island Gourmet (veg roll)

My companion said her chicken wasn’t great (too dry) but I thought my salmon and tuna nigiri sushi was pretty good (for take-out, fast-food sushi…) and the pickled daikon radish ‘oshinko’ roll was good, with the regular sweet-and-sour crunch that I’d expect. It’s not a diverse and interesting roll, but I figured I’d go for pieces that would be less challenging than some of the sauce-heavy offerings (which I worried would be soggy or too strong…).

It’s not as good as some of the take-out, fast-food sushi I’ve tried in the past, but it’s not bad….
For more fast-food sushi, follow the Fast-Food sushi tag! If you want to see some of the other options in Hawaii, visit the Hawaii tag too!

Island Gourmet Market
69-201 Waikoloa Beach Dr,
Waikoloa Village, HI 96738, United States
+1 808-886-3577

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Posted by on March 13, 2014 in Out of town - USA, Sushi


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Sushi: Genki in Kona

Agedashi Tofu at Genki Sushi in Kona, Hawaii

Agedashi Tofu at Genki Sushi in Kona, Hawaii

As I mentioned in my previous post, I recently visited the Big Island of Hawaii. While I was there, I had dinner once more at the ‘fast-food’, conveyor belt-style sushi chain, Genki Sushi. This time I visited their location in Kona. To read more about my food experiences in Hawaii, please click the Hawaii tag!

Menu at Genki Sushi in Kona, Hawaii

Menu at Genki Sushi in Kona, Hawaii

Like a lot of conveyor-belt places, there was a menu which we could order off of, as well as taking items from the belt. I did order a few things, and while I was waiting for them to arrive I took a spicy tuna “volcano” roll from the belt. Usually I find the items on the belt to be of lower quality than the ordered items, but this was actually pretty good!

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Posted by on March 11, 2014 in Out of town - USA, Sushi


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Capture the Colour contest 2013

Capture the Colour contest 2013

While I was reading about the Luv Mex Avocado contest yesterday, I came across the Capture the Colour contest hosted by the Travel Supermarket.

Launched in the summer of 2012, the 2013 edition of the contest has a simple idea – “publish a blog post showcasing five of your favourite travel photographs which best capture the colour of our five categories: red, blue, green, yellow and white.” In 2012 they received over 3,000 entries encapsulating the most colourful travel experiences, and this year I learned about the contest and want to enter too!

My entries

Scroll through the slideshow below to see all of my entries, and then scroll down for the individual photos and descriptions.

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Capture the Colour - Yellow - fortress island of Suomenlinna off the coast of Helsinki, Finland

Capture the Colour – Yellow – fortress island of Suomenlinna off the coast of Helsinki, Finland

Many of you who have been reading Happy Sushi Belly have seen some of my photos of Finland, and my entry for the ‘yellow’ category is one of my most recent photos – from Finland! A lovely bird came to sit on the bridge as we crossed from one island to another on the fortress island of Suomenlinna. The yellow building in the background is a residential building, and you can check out all of my delicious posts about the fortress island by clicking the Suomenlinna tag. (More coming in a few days too!)


Capture the Colour - Green, at the Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton, Canada

Capture the Colour – Green, at the Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton, Canada

Of the photos I looked through, seeking out “green” I didn’t have to look too far from home. In Edmonton’s Muttart Conservatory, I loved this lush, green moss in the Temperate gallery. Click the Edmonton tag for our posts about the delicious treats and sushi I’ve had in Edmonton.


Capture the Colour - Blue - jellyfish at an aquarium in Maui, USA

Capture the Colour – Blue – jellyfish at an aquarium in Maui, USA

I looked through a few of my different photographs, but best of all showing “blue” I thought was this photograph of jellyfish. This photo was taken on the island of Maui in the state of Hawaii, at the Maui Ocean Center, The Hawaiian Aquarium. I loved this tall aquarium full of jellyfish – I could watch them for hours, floating and moving hypnotically through the water.  Of course, while in Hawaii I tried lots of sushi and local dishes too – click the Hawaii tag for all of my travelling foodie posts about the beautiful islands.


Capture the Colour - White - near Geiranger, Norway

Capture the Colour – White – near Geiranger, Norway

My entry into the “white” category is from my 2012 trip to Norway. We started our trip by flying to London, UK, and then flew to Amsterdamn, The Netherlands. From there we took a Royal Carribean cruise. This shot is from a stop in Geiranger, Norway. In town we took a bus tour which took us up a long and winding road (the north and south sides of route 63), to an alpine lake called Djupvatnet high in the mountains. Although it was early summer, there was a thick blanket of snow, and someone had even crafted a tiny snow bunny looking out onto the snow and ice-covered lake.

Shockingly, I haven’t blogged at all about the cruise or the foods we enjoyed in Norway – I guess I know what I’ll be blogging about when my Finland posts are done!


Capture the Colour - Red - at 3 Valley Gap, Canada

Capture the Colour – Red – at 3 Valley Gap, Canada

For my “red” entry I decided to select a tilt-shift photo. Now, I don’t have a tilt-shift lens, so this image has been edited through a website called The contest rules say “We are tolerant of image editing and will allow images to be edited with software as we do not wish to inhibit your creative freedom. Entries will be judged on a case by case basis” so I hope that this editing is ok! (I figure since it replicates something that I ~could~ do with a lens, if I had the money to invest in such a lens, that it should be ok!)

This photo is of the resort at 3 Valley Gap, close to Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada. This shot was actually taken from our car – we didn’t have the chance to stop here, but instead you can read other posts about great places to eat in British Columbia by checking out the BC category.

More contest details

The contest will be judged by a panel of five leading travel and photography experts. Five individual category winners can choose from one of three awesome prizes (an iPad, a Fuji camera, or a Arc’teryx shopping voucher) and an overall winner will receive a huge £3,000 travel fund. I know that if I won… that would go directly into one of my next travel destinations – L’Anse aux Meadows in the summer of 2014, and then either back to Finland or to the Faroe Islands in the summer of 2015!

You be the judge!

So, which of the photos that I have entered do you like the best? Let me know in the comments below! Want to see the other entries? Check out the #CTC13 twitter hashtag for other bloggers sharing their travel photos! (note: it looks like there’s a conference using the same hashtag, so don’t get confused!)


We’re also supposed to nominate others to join in the fun, so I’m nominating:

Connie Chau Arts
Throwing Horns Abroad
Boing Photography
300 pounds of metal


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Lagoon Grill

As much as I loved the Hilton Waikoloa on a recent trip to the big island of Hawaii, I’ll say that I didn’t love the Lagoon Grill. The service was fine, but the food was hugely overpriced, and not as advertised in the menu. The one redeeming feature was the free WiFi so I could check my twitter feed while I waited for service.
We took a seat with a view of both the dolphin pool (which leaves me conflicted…) and the ocean, and missed the item from the menu that I had enjoyed the last time that I was there. I overheard the server bringing a similar item to a nearby diner – so inquired – only to find out that it was an item from the child’s menu. I asked to see the child’s menu, but instead she just recited out four or five items (without prices or descriptions) so I passed and selected the Turkey Burger instead. (Along with a side salad.)

Lagoon Grill menu

Lagoon Grill menu

I had expected a bit.. more…

Burger and a salad - with an impressive view!

Burger and a salad – with an impressive view!

So, the “Fresh Island Sauce” is apparently mayonnaise and the chipotle aioli was no where to be found on the burger – neither were the pickles that were supposed to be included with the burger.  The brioche bun fell apart while I was trying to eat it (toasting it might have helped), and there was only one flavourless slice of tomato on the burger, but the turkey patty itself was fine. It looked a bit like a pre-made frozen patty though… pretty steep for nearly $14. That’s right… the $14 was JUST for the burger – no fries, no side pickle, no salad… nothing.  The side salad was an additional charge, and included lettuce, red cabbage, one slice of cucumber, and a few bits of grated carrot and beet.

Really not recommended – within a 10-15 minute walk is an ABC store with a good deli in the Queen’s Shops – I grabbed a turkey sandwich ($4.99), a mochi ($1.98) and a pop there the day before – better value for the money, and just as good – plus you can bring it back and get the same view.

Lagoon Grill
Waikoloa Village
Kamuela, HI 96743

Lagoon Grill @ Hilton Waikoloa on Urbanspoon

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Posted by on March 6, 2013 in Out of town - USA


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Sushi: Genki Sushi

I was in Hawaii (on the Big Island) in February, and had to stop for sushi while I was there… I stopped at a fast-food (conveyor belt) sushi chain place, where the service was minimal, but the food was (reasonably) good.

I say reasonably, because there were my favorites on the belt – but I really felt that they weren’t fresh, so they weren’t nearly as good.

Chopped Scallop sushi

Chopped Scallop sushi

However, I followed that with orders from the menu instead of taking things from the belt, and they were much better.



I had an order of salmon eggs (Ikura), plus a Volcano Roll (a California roll topped with spicy tuna).

Volcano roll in the foreground, crab salad to the left, and gyoza to the right.

Volcano roll in the foreground, crab salad to the left, and gyoza to the right.

I also split an order of gyoza (alright, but not great) while my companion had the crab salad sushi.

We also split an order of bean curd filled with Tuna salad – which I didn’t really like… but at least it was something different!

Our total bill came to $27.00 including tax.  Pretty good!

Bean curd pouches filled with tuna salad

Bean curd pouches filled with tuna salad

Genki Sushi
74-5450 Makala Blvd #202 Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
(808) 327-6776
Genki Sushi on Urbanspoon

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Posted by on March 2, 2013 in Out of town - USA, Sushi


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Metal Mike’s Twisted Pretzels

I’m going to restrain myself from making a bunch of music puns, but my inner (and frequently outer) metalhead loved a menu/advertising with Anthrax/Slayer/etc style writing, and an owner who sells tasty pretzels while wearing a Rob Zombie shirt..

I first had huge soft pretzels when I was in Philadelphia (not sure why, but I don’t see them often around here) so when we were in Kona, Hawaii and saw a sign for Metal Mike’s Twisted Pretzels on the street near where we had parked, we had to get one.. well.. we ended up getting three (since they have a 3 for $10 deal).

I couldn't wait to try the white chocolate macadamia nut pretzel before taking a photo

I couldn’t wait to try the white chocolate macadamia nut pretzel before taking a photo

First up, we both had a plain sea-salted pretzel, but took a white chocolate macadamia nut to go. The plain one was fantastic with a bit of honey mustard (Mike has a bunch of different mustards and sauces) but if you’re just going to get one – get the white chocolate macadamia nut – this was completely delicious! Both were soft and chewy, and so good when warmed up.

Close up of that white chocolate - a big nut is under the fold, while the rest of the white chocolate macadamia nut pretzel has chopped nuts throughout.

Close up of that white chocolate – a big nut is under the fold, while the rest of the white chocolate macadamia nut pretzel has chopped nuts throughout.

Metal Mike’s Twisted Pretzels is a bit hard to find (check out the map through the link below), it’s in the lane-way, around the corner from the Scandinavian shave ice place (which was also fantastic – I had lychee/cinnamon/red velvet – served up by a hot guy with a sleeve full of old-school gaming tattoos…).  Also, his hours are “noonish to close” – which… might make for some hit-and-miss if you are on a schedule like Heidi, who tried to visit (check out her blog post for a photo of the outside).  We went back a few days later, and he wasn’t open yet, so we waited a bit and were rewarded by our second serving of yumminess!

Again, we couldn't wait to take a photo before tasting the four cheese pretzel.

Again, we couldn’t wait to take a photo before tasting the four cheese pretzel.

The second time around, Mike was wiping off the menu board to put up the day’s flavours.  Luckily, the white chocolate macadamia nut was making a repeat performance (based online reviews, it sounds like a customer favorite!) and I picked up a four-cheese along with a chocolate peanut butter cup one too.  The cheese was good (though for “plain” ones, I’d go back for the plain sea-salted instead..) and the white chocolate macadamia nut was again, fantastic, but I REALLY liked the peanut butter/chocolate one. So good!

Chocolate peanut butter cup Pretzel - my favourite!

Chocolate peanut butter cup Pretzel – my favourite!

Metal Mike’s Twisted Pretzels
Likana Lane-way
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (has a map)

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Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Out of town - USA, Treats


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Island Lava Java Bistro

While on holiday on Hawaii’s big island, I took a few photos of yummy things, just to share here on Happy Sushi Belly (including some sushi of course!). One place we went to in Kona, was Lava Java, where we had an amazing breakfast – featuring this fantastic vegetarian omelet.

Tasty Breakfast

Tasty Breakfast

The omelet was filled with roasted vegetables; squash, eggplant, onions (which I picked out), and carrots, plus it was topped by avocado, and served with a side of salsa and fresh fruit salad. (And an orchid which I wore in my hair for the rest of the day…) Delicious!

... and what a fantastic view!

… and what a fantastic view!

Island Lava Java
75-5799 Alii Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI
(808) 327-2161 ‎

Island Lava Java on Urbanspoon

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Posted by on February 23, 2013 in Out of town - USA


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Sushi Land in Portland

I mentioned in my previous post about visiting a conveyor-belt style sushi place in Seattle.  While in Portland we checked out a different one.

LIke Blue C Sushi, I did a little research online before hand and a place called Marineopolis was well-recommended.  We went there and instead found a different place, but still conveyor-belt, called Sushi Land. I get the impression that they are one and the same, but it made it hard to find.  Still, sushi is sushi!

The conveyor belt

The set up at Sushi Land is not nearly as nice as Blue C Sushi, but it is bright and cheerful within. The first item I plucked from the belt was Tuna, though it took a long time to wait for it to come around, and there were only two or three pieces on the very long belt.


I really was not impressed with my first selection – the tuna was ok, although a bit dry, and the rice was very dry – as though the tuna had been sitting on the belt for a very long time.  I do like how each plate is marked with the price – 150= 1.50$ for a plate of tuna.  I imagine that as prices change that each item is just moved from the lower price point plate to a higher one…

Salmon and Ikura

Next up I had two pieces of tobiko (which I didn’t photograph) and then a plate of salmon.  I was as equally disappointed with the salmon as I had been with the tuna and after that chose to order from the chef instead of picking things off the belt.  Like the tuna the salmon was somewhat flavourless, dry, thin, and topped off some dry rice as well.

Disappointed with the belt sushi I placed orders for Ikura and chopped scallops instead.

Ikura and chopped scallops

Having been made fresh – the Ikura was really quite good! The little eggs were firm and perfect!ff


Looks tasty – right?

Chopped scallops

The chopped scallops weren’t quite as good, but still much better than anything I was taking off the belt.


Early when I sat down, I asked for a menu to see the pricing as well as what might be available to order.  I was a little annoyed to see the number of things that had been marked as unavailable, especially since two of them are ones I would have liked to try!

I was also a little disturbed at how dirty the menu was – it hadn’t been cleaned recently – it was covered in dried… soy sauce? I don’t like seeing that because it makes me wonder what else might be missing a good cleaning…. ew!

The sign outside

The service at Sushi Land was friendly – but very, very slow.  The chefs were exceptionally quick, but the server was unfortunately overworked (and thus slow) because of the number of people in there.  The server who was doing double-duty between serving and running the till was also sick with a cough which was uncomfortable too. I know that lots of my co-workers will come to work with the sniffles – but there is something unpleasant about eating at a place where someone is obviously under the weather.

With all of that said, Sushi Land was still pretty good once we ordered directly from the chefs rather than taking things from the conveyor belt, and it’s worth checking out if you’re in downtown Portland.

Sushi Land
138 NW 10th Ave
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 546-9933

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Posted by on October 30, 2012 in Out of town - USA, Sushi, Uncategorized


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Blue C Sushi Seattle

In late September – early October I headed to Seattle and Portland, and of course every time I get to the coast one of the things I have to check out is the sushi – and in Seattle it was top of the list!

Before going, I reviewed a few different options, and one of the places that seemed to be highly recommended was Blue C Sushi.  We went to the downtown location, and although it was later in the evening, there was a good-sized line up for a place to sit. Although  we could have sat at the counter, we had been walking for so long that although it might seem counter-intuitive, we really wanted to sit and relax at one of the few booths.

The conveyor belt with names for each dish

Blue C Sushi is another conveyor belt style of sushi bar – but unlike any I’ve seen before – each dish is well-labeled below the dish – assisting diners – but also conveying to the chefs which items need replenishing. (I’ve had my item labeled, but the label comes with the food – and thus there are no indications to the chef.) The label also had a brief description of the ingredients – an awesome touch.

I took a photo of the warm dishes as well – but they didn’t turn out.  Each of the warm dishes had a little burner under it to keep it warm. Very cool!

Avocado salad

My first choice was something I hadn’t seen before – an avocado salad – half an avocado cut up along with mango, edamame beans, a tiny bit of lettuce, and.. (sweet potato? I don’t remember!) It had a nice orange/citrus dressing as well which was delicious!

Massago (Or is this Tobiko?)

Next up – Tobiko – or Massago.  Oh.. I’m having a bad roe day! Someone, quick, correct me! Haha


Right after being seated, I popped off to the washroom (restroom? I got teased while in Seattle at the concert I was there to see about the whole Canada/US washroom vs. restroom thing…) and my companion ordered my favourite Ikura and chopped scallop for me. They both came next – the Ikura was fantastic!

Spicy scallop

My companion had been very clear that we wanted chopped – NOT spicy scallop – and the server even came by to confirm that we did not want the spicy version.

Um. Oops.  The chef delivered the spicy one instead, which I really wasn’t fond of (just too spicy!) but still I wasn’t going to fuss too much!

Spicy tuna roll

Next up the spicy tuna roll (tuna, cucumber and spicy sauce) – again, a bit too spicy for my liking. Around here I was starting to get full – and yet there were so many that were so good to look at!  I highly recommend coming to Blue C with a friend or two and split some of these rolls – just to be able to try more varieties!

Lobster roll

I really wanted to try the Lobster roll as well – in honour of my friend Dee, who is just starting to try sushi, but still is hesitant to try too many of the raw varieties! This is lobster tempura with avocado. I thought it would be better than it was I’m afraid – but still interesting to try!

Smoked squid

I saw smoked squid on the menu – another thing I’ve never tried… so placed an order for that as well… Oh, we would waddle home to our hotel after all of this! Thank goodness we had walked so much this day! The smoked squid was actually REALLY good.  It reminded me a lot of bacon – with that kind of smokiness – and the texture of calamari.  I haven’t ever seen this locally – but if I did, I’d definitely try it again.

Menu at Blue C Sushi

A super-quick shot of the menu. oops – a little blurry!
Near the end of our meal, our server came by with a postcard with a QR code on it – if we voted for them in a Washington state contest, we could have 10% off our bill, and if we both voted, we could have 20% off. I was really pleased with our meal and with the service, so I was more than happy to vote. My companion also tried to vote but couldn’t get it to work – but the server still gave us the 20% off our bill – saving us a nice chunk of money for sure! Even without the discount – this was a pretty affordable sushi-night compared to Calgary prices – but with the discount, we seriously considered going back again – and would have if we had been able to juggle the timing.

Our bill for the night… we ate so much!

Blue C Sushi
7th Avenue location
1510 7th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101
Phone: (206) 467-4022

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Posted by on October 26, 2012 in Out of town - USA, Sushi


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Happy Maui Bellies: ‘OnO Grill

Macadamia nut chicken

Ok.. for the last post I’ll make about the food on Maui we had during our recent vacation, I’m heading back to our hotel, and the ‘OnO Bar & Grill.  Of all of the dining at the Westin, it’s actually the only one we went to, mostly for convienience.

Buffet breakfast

First off the buffet for breakfast – it was good, but not nearly as good as the Hilton we stayed at last time on the big island.  It had the omelet station (which is cool) and waffles, classic breakfast stuff like cereal, pastries, bacon, eggs Benedict, etc, but it also had you covered if you were in more of a brunch-y mood like deli meat.  I liked the bagel with cream cheese, lox, and capers (mainly because I only get to have that while on vacation!) I didn’t like the eggs Benedict (the eggs were too soft for my liking) and I really would have liked to see more fruit and veg.  I suppose if I hadn’t been watching what I ate, I might have enjoyed it more, but as it was the $27.95 price tag seemed pretty steep for what I had, and the quality of what was offered.

I did think that the miso soup station (a miso base with add-ins where you could add two types of seaweed, pickled cucumber, tofu, and more to your preference) along with the steamed rice and grilled fish was interesting.  Yep, I had miso soup for breakfast.. yum!


So another night we returned to the ‘OnO Grill for dinner, and mum had the Macadamia Nut Chicken ($16) which didn’t look very impressive, and she said was ok.. but not the best in the world either…

I had the Furikake Seared Ahi on Sesame Focaccia ($18) which was fantastic – the tuna was just seared (with the inside cooked but not overdone at all) and it came with a sinus-clearing wasabi-mayo sauce which was fantastic.  It really complimented the tuna and the focaccia really well.  The sandwich came with french fries (If’ I’d be paying attention I would have swapped them for a salad) and the server brought a side of the wasabi-mayo to dip the fries in… the saltiness of the fries was perfect with the dip – though it was still REALLY hot.

From DIY Recipe:

Furikake is a Japanese condiment typically sprinkled over or mixed into rice. There are dozens of varieties on the market – most contain seaweed, sesame seeds, sugar, and salt. Other ingredients may include MSG and dried fish, shrimp, roe, egg, and vegetables.

This is something I’d love to try do do at home sometime…. I actually have some of this seasoning mix at home…

Tuna sandwhich

We had been skipping on housekeeping, and to thank us the Westin gave us a $5 coupon each day – so we had two to put towards this meal.  With the coupon, the prices were fine, but without them I would have found the prices high.  Unfortunately our server didn’t pay attention to the coupons, so at the end there was a bit of confusion.  Oh well…

Dinner part 2

Tomato salad

On Valentine’s Day we headed back to the ‘OnO Grill for dinner (just because we were too tired to go out after a long day!) and we both had salads.  I had the Kamuela Tomato with Surfing Goat Dairy Cheese ($15) without the Maui onions, which was quite good.

I was disappointed that there was just half a tomato in a salad with tomato as the headliner, and that the only basil in the salad was the dried herb sprinkled on top, but the cheese was absolutely fantastic.  The watercress was really nice; a great change from just lettuce or whatever, but I did wish that they had cut it up better – the pieces were big and required a knife and fork to make it manageable.  Still… that cheese -awesome.  Tangy but creamy and smooth.  Yum yum!

Cobb salad

Mum had the Paniolo Cobb salad ($17) which looked great as well, and she said that there were so many flavours that she frequently forgot to add dressing as she was enjoying it.

Of course, the photos aren’t very good because it was late in the evening and the only lighting was little fake candles.  It made for a more ‘romantic’ setting (not that that mattered to us!) but it also made for lousy picture-taking!

Finally, we finished off by sharing the Macadamia Fudge Pie – Macadamia ice cream, Oreo crust, and fudge topping with caramel sauce.  ($7) – this was fantastic… we kept stealing the plate back and forth from one another.  Mum thought that the ice cream was just vanilla with macadamia nuts sprinkled throughout though – but either way it was really good.

Again, I found the prices high, but we were happy to use two more coupons on this meal too which brought it down to a very reasonable price.  I’ll admit, I really wanted to try the Ahi Tuna salad, but at $24 – that seemed too steep!

Macadamia fudge pie dessert

The ‘OnO Grill is located at:
The Westin Maui Resort & Spa
2365 Ka’anapali Parkway
Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii 96761
'Ono Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

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Posted by on March 27, 2012 in Out of town - USA, Treats


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