Monday, March 19, 2012

Diamond Head Market & Grill

I made it. I made it through my second-to-last set of law school finals. And while several of my classmates who finished law school a quarter early were appropriately parading down the halls, I was studying for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE). But I made it. I still have a ton of stuff to push through, like some clinic work and a law review comment, but I feel sufficiently unburdened to start blogging again. And because it's spring break, I think it's time to start another series of three Hawaii posts. This time, all savory.

I'm not just writing about Hawaii now because it's spring break though. I'm crazy behind on the food I'd like to share from the past half of a year. And today, I'd like to share a particularly delicious spot on Oahu that got put on my radar by my friend, Melissa.

Hawaii has a lot of great hikes, and when I was on Oahu last September, I was somehow motivated enough to do three hikes. From my personal favorite to least favorite they were: the Makiki Valley Loop Trail, Koko Head, and Diamond Head. Some people like hikes that end with a big shebang of a view at the end of the trail. They'd probably love the seemingly never-ending steep climb along the railroad tracks of Koko Head.

The journey is painful and uneventful. Torturous, even. But the scenic view at the end is unbeatable and you feel like you're on top of the world. Until you have to make the sobering, but somewhat less painful decline.

Ideally, for me, a hike will have its fair share of moments of beauty along the way and end with an astonishing view.

The Makiki Valley Loop Trail didn't have a great end point (hence, the "loop"), but I loved how much the scenery changed, from the humungous roots that formed a natural staircase to the lush fantasy of colorful native flowers and vividly green rainforest contrasted against the clear blue sky.

This hike covered the most mileage, but it was also the most enjoyable. For me, at least.

My least favorite was definitely Diamond Head. Known as the most accessible hike on the island, the barren and heatstroke-inducing trails are packed with tourists attempting the hike in Crocs and high heels.

Tour guides shout among the hoards and finding a second to enjoy the view at the top without getting in the way of someone's picture or getting asked to move along is impossible.

I guess the view is worth it for the few seconds you get to enjoy it in very disturbed peace. But what makes the hike well worth it is the excitement of getting back down that godforsaken hill in anticipation of getting back all those calories at Diamond Head Market & Grill.

On an island saturated with classic Hawaiian food, Diamond Head Market & Grill's plate lunches and breakfast options are exceptional. And after dealing with the crowds at Diamond Head, nothing tastes sweeter.

While I was on the island, I hit up this place twice. Once for breakfast, and once for lunch.

Lunch is pretty standard, but even the most mundane of options, like the Teriyaki Chicken, exceeds expectations. All too often teriyaki chicken is grilled into a dry, carbonite mass. This one was just the right amount of plump, juice, and char. Add some sriracha or some sweet and slightly tangy housemade teriyaki sauce if you want, but I could just eat this plain.

If you'd rather have some pork, they serve a pretty decent Char Siu Pork. Again, perfectly grilled with just the right amount of char and a good retention of juiciness. The Chinese red sauce marinade is appropriately sweet, but not overwhelmingly sweet as it sometimes is when char siu comes in a steamed bun. Although the pork is quite good, I still preferred the teri chicken.

If you're hungry, you can still get that teri chicken goodness and that tasty char siu in they're huge, generous, chicken/pig/cow trifecta of a Mix Plate. This plate hits all the right spots with the addition of a meat patty slathered in gravy. The meat patty was actually a little bit overdone for me, but the gravy and the bits of black char saved the day. All it needed to induce a heart attack was a fried egg.

Although it serves a pretty solid plate lunch, Diamond Head Market & Grill shines brightest in the morning.

Of course, I had to get the Breakfast Plate: two eggs, a choice of bacon, ham, spam, or Portuguese sausage, and brown or white rice. I got the Portuguese sausage, which was exceptionally better than other Portuguese sausages I've had. Portuguese sausage is pretty rampant in the Hawaiian breakfast scene, but these give the rest a run for their money. The secret? Those outrageously delicious grill marks. The sausage really comes to life with that char.

You can also get the Fish and Eggs, which is basically the Breakfast Plate with a choice of ahi or salmon in lieu of the meat. My friend got the salmon, which was a little bit on the dry side, but still had that satisfying grilled taste.

And you can't leave any Hawaiian island without having some Banana Pancakes.

They're no Tasty Crust, but they're pretty freaking tasty. Warm, comforting, and laced with gooey chunks of banana, these cakes beat anything I've had on the mainland (I know, I'm not Hawaiian). The powdered sugar was unnecessary, and they barely even needed the side of maple syrup. They stood just fine on their own.

The two best things I had for breakfast were from the market's pastry section.

The Lemon Crunch Cake is pretty delicious. There's plenty of that delicious tartness, and the toffee-like brittle along the outsides of the cake add some serious sweetness and a little bitterness. Overall, it's a lemon tart or a lemon chiffon on crack. Don't eat this alone though. The sweetness can get pretty overwhelming pretty fast.

The better of the two was the heavenly Blueberry Cream Cheese Scone. Holy smokes. This might be one of the top five scones I've ever had. My number one problem with scones is that they're often way too dense, way too dry, or both. I often equate scones with flavored bricks. But every once in a while, you come across an insanely good scone. Like this one.

The number of blueberries is generous, the scone itself is surprisingly moist and fluffy, and a sweet cheesiness finds its way into each bite. Imagine your favorite blueberry cheesecake toned down and translated into a handheld pastry encased in a thin sugary piece of armor. I thought this might come off as too sweet, but it was perfection. Throw in some coffee and you're good to go.

After stuffing yourself silly with their signature charred goodness and tasty baked goods, the only way to work off the food coma is an afternoon at Kailua Beach.

Diamond Head Market & Grill
3158 Monsarrat Ave
Honolulu, HI 96815
(808) 732-0077

GET: Blueberry Cream Cheese Scone; Banana Pancakes; Portuguese Sausage; Teriyaki Chicken.

1 comment:

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