Chillin’ at Chiba Ken

Friends, today was a wonderful day. And I truly deeply mean that; I had the one of the most fantastic days of my life here within this fine 24-hour span of time. It wasn’t exactly 24 hours, seeing as my day started at 5, but it was pretty close. Let’s start from the top.

Hanauma Bay kicked off the day with a 5:50 pickup by Isa’s parents and an arrival there before 6:30. It was splendid since it meant that we beat the traffic and fees – there were no parking or admission fees because we got there before staff. Awesome! The snorkeling at the Bay did feel a little more built up than I found my experience to be, but it was still a gorgeous area. As per Doug & Runj’s suggestion, snorkeling out past the buoy was far better fish-spotting. The coral had some color (reds & golds), there were a bunch of fish all in one place and the current was strong. Well, that last one was a downside but otherwise it was cool! We rinsed off and bathed in the sun for a bit there, then moved to a different beach.

Back at Bellows was bombin’, trip 2 out there and hopefully I’ll get a 3rd! The waves were wild there, even better than the first time I went. Isa’s family had a tent, or a half-one, so that plus 5 billion layers of sunscreen kept me from getting sunburnt. The waves did this really nifty thing where they were building up so strong and fast that they were actually rebounding from the shore, and so they met the incoming waves in this magical middle-ground. One of those actually picked us all (me, Isa & Ellen) up and dropped us back down, it was like the tower of terror except watery. So frickin’ cool.

We only left the beach at 2 but it felt wayyy later, starting with the early morning and Hanauma Bay only lasting us ’til 11. Definitely wanted a nap by that point, but I held out and had a nice skype with Danielle. After that is when the best magic truly began.

Andrew and I went out to Chiba Ken, this Japanese restaurant he used to hit up every Friday from ~7 ’til close when he first moved here. I left all decisions in his hands, seeing as he’s an absolute expert on Japanese food and culture, so the move-in haunt it was. Holy snazz, the place was golden. It was nice and comfy, super busy but not in a it’s-too-crowded-get-me-outta-here way, way friendly and just overall awesome. I let Andrew pick everything up ’til the end and it was the right decision for sure, holy poo. We started with hamachi sashimi, tako and sake nigiri, a spider roll and a shiso-maguro-natto handroll that were all so fresh and delicious. I also can say that the natto was more than decent, I’ll actually call it good despite it’s strange as shit texture/taste/etcetera that’s advertised and generally disliked. Andrew loves it though, so I gave it a try and it was worth it.

Next round of yumminess was karaage with Kewpie mayo, plus some mozuku su (Susan I think you’d like this) and chuutoro, which were amazing and the new loves of my life. Mozuku su is some seeeeriously good stuff, and Andrew let me have all of it, which is saying a lot since there was only one shot glass of it and it was as good as it was. Put it on your to-try list if your adventurous because it is beyond worth it. Side note, chuutoro is a grade below otoro and I absolutely need to try.

We ended with grilled mochi wrapped in nori and a dessert of kuro goma purin, or black sesame pudding, topped with matcha ice cream and it was -heaven-. Even Andrew hadn’t had it before and I ordered it on a whim; it was one of the dessert specials, alongside pumpkin spice flan (how strange). Ugh, this place was amazing, and that was just the food. I also officially tried sake, again all picked by Andrew, and they were all so good. I think it’s my favorite drink as well, just because of the flavors and the way it warms at the back of your throat. We started out with hassai-san, which was really dry and smooth and possibly my favorite of the night. The second sake we had was otokoyama, which was a bit less smooth and fuller and still really dang good. Last pick of the night was dassai-san, which was a bit sweeter, as smooth as the first and the other candidate for a favorite. Note, they were all served cold because apparently hot sake is more of an American/not-Japanese thing people do to cover up the taste of low-quality sake. Now you know. Anyways, they were all glasses that sat inside of a box that the waitress poured overflow into, such that you could refill your drink twice after the first glass was done. Which meant 3 samplings of each sake, which was endlessly awesome.

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By the end of the night we’d spent over 4 hours in that place, with dinner starting at 6:30 and me getting home at 11. Once we were finished, a sad yet beautiful thing, Andrew & I walked home together (he’s maybe 5 blocks past my apartment) so the conversation got to carry on some. Basically he’s one of the coolest people ever who’s been a lot of places, had a lot of experiences and is just super open to and appreciative of everything life has to offer. He told me to travel as much as possible and take every opportunity I can that comes my way, and I swear if I wasn’t planning to before he would’ve talked me into it with home inspiring he is. These people in Hawai’i, honest as heck, everyone I’ve met here, is so impressive and kind and motivational I just love being surrounded by that type of energy. And so, coming back from possibly the best food of my life and amazing conversation, I promptly passed out after 5 minutes of trying to write a post. Just such a glorious day. Here’s a picture of me about to go out for Japanese and hella excited about it! I never have a reason to dress up, so Japanese gave me my excuse 😉

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