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Dallas Dallas Eats Food & Drink Texas USA

Dallas Eats: Deep Ellum Pop-Up Sandoitchi

One of the things that I love about Dallas is the ever growing food scene. Having grown up in Hawai’i and having lived in LA, food has always been so important to me. I was worried when I moved to Dallas 5 years ago that there wouldn’t be a great food scene, but it turned out to be a happy surprise! There’s a lot of diversity – Asian, American, Italian, Mexican… I’m still exploring. The pop-up food scene in Dallas has been exploding, especially since COVID hit. Sandoitchi is one of the newest pop-ups and it’s become so exclusive it sells out within 30 minutes of their weekly pre-sale!

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Sandoitchi opens up it’s weekly pre-order on Sundays at 6 PM. The menu varies slightly from week to week (sometimes they have Hot Truffle Chicken Katsu, other times they don’t). They eve have a Wagyu Sando! They give you several options for pick-up times. You choose which sandwiches and sides you want and the date you want to pick it up. There’s only one option for a pick up location – the address they give is the same address as Niwa Japanese BBQ in Deep Ellum. The pick-up door is on the side of Niwa and is marked by a huge Sandoitchi sign.

MY EXPERIENCE

I had heard about Sandoitchi a few weeks ago on Instagram and had been wanting to try it, but it sold out so quick every week! I finally turned on notifications from their IG account and was able to get into pre-orders two Sundays ago. I ordered two Truffle Chicken Katsu Sandos and one Strawberry Matcha Cream Sando for pick up last Saturday. They gave me a pick up window from 12:30 PM – 2 PM, but I didn’t get an email confirmation that my order was ready for pick up until 1:30 PM. I was running late anyway, so I wasn’t able to make it over until close to 2.

I loved the chicken sando because it combines two things I love – chicken katsu and truffle! It wasn’t as amazing as I thought it would be, but I think it’s because it wasn’t hot when I ate it – I had to drive 30 min to pick it up and 30 min back home. Adam was not a fan, but he doesn’t like truffle anything so go figure. The strawberry matcha cream was so good! The matcha wasn’t overwhelming and the cream was the perfect sweetness for me.

THE VERDICT

Overall, I think it’s definitely worth a try. I’d love to try the Wagyu Sando but it’s a little out of budget – the menu last week had it at $55! I heard the pudding they have is really good, but it was sold out by the time I ordered. I’d also want to try the hot truffle sando, which wasn’t on the menu the week I ordered. I’m glad I finally got to try it, but I think I won’t be going back until they have a brick and mortar store so I can get my katsu sando fresh! Have you tried Sandoitchi or anything similar?

Categories
Dallas Dallas Eats Food & Drink Texas

Dallas Eats: Iron Cactus [DTD]

One of the things I love about Dallas is all the different restaurants. There’s a ton of great old restaurants and always a bunch of new restaurants popping up, it can be hard to pick a place!

Iron Cactus in Downtown Dallas was nice enough to host a dinner for two and I definitely left full and satisfied. I used to work in Downtown Dallas so I was surprised I had never seen or heard of it before! If you’re familiar with the DTD area, it’s located next to The Joule across the street from the big eyeball. But, enough with the words, all we foodies care about is the food!

We got a preset 3 course menu that we could choose from that featured their new appetizers, the Lobster Tacos and Ahi Tuna Ceviche. We even got a drink to go with dinner.

Chips and Salsa to start off. One salsa was warm and the other was cold. I think i liked the warm salsa better.

The manager came out and brought us a complimentary sample of another appetizer, the Picadillo Purses. This was amazing and probably my favorite thing from the night even though they were mini sizes. I’d honestly come back just for this.

Of the two appetizers we got to try, the Lobster Tacos were my favorite. Ceviche was okay, but I tend to be a snob about any raw fish dish since I’m from Hawai’i.

The Lobster Tacos

Ahi Tuna Ceviche

Since it was a Mexican restaurant, you know I had to get a margarita! I tried this Mango Habanero Margarita which I LOVED! Our server warned me that it was super spicy, but I love me some spicy and I thought it was perfect.

I tried to the fried Fish Tacos because Fish Tacos! These things are HUGE, I only finished one. It’s a giant piece of fish with cabbage, cotija cheese, and other yummy things.


A tried the Chile Relleno Rustico. I had a bite and it was pretty good.

Another pic of the Fish Tacos!

Both desserts were AMAZING! We got the Tres Leches Cake and Mexican Chocolate Torte.

.

My favorite was definitely the chocolate torte. It comes with a scoop of ice cream, it’s like chewy chocolate goodness. I’m drooling thinking about it.

Overall, it was a great experience. The service was great, our server was super nice and attentive, and the food – especially the dessert – was amazing. I definitely would come again even if it’s just to get a full size of the Picadillo Purses.

Huge thanks to Iron Cactus for hosting dinner! This really was my honest opinion about the place. 🙂

Categories
Destination Hawaii Kauai USA

Waimea Canyon, “The Grand Canyon in the Pacific”

If you make a trip out to Kaua’i, you definitely have to make a trip out to Waimea Canyon. Known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”, Located on the southwest side of the island, the canyon is a mile long and 3,600 feet. I think it’s kind of ironic that I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, even though I’ve lived in Arizona for 8 years and I’ve only been to Kaua’i twice! It’s pretty easy to navigate to the canyon and the views are gorgeous, but I’m probably biased because you know I love my Hawai’i nei.



We went to Waimea Canyon the same day we toured the Na Pali Coast, but we ended up back at our hotel, Kaua’i Beach Villas in Lihue, before driving back. The drive from our hotel to the canyon was about an hour. It’s funny, because you’d think that since Hawai’i is a bunch of small islands it wouldn’t take that long to get anywhere, but Kaua’i has one main road going around the island and the speed limit doesn’t ever get over 50! If you follow the long winding road to the top, it’s pretty easy to find the lookout point. There’s plenty of parking and a great vantage point from the top, not to mention all the stops you can take on the way up and down.

It was kind of rainy our whole trip to Kaua’i, but luckily it was clear skies when we made it up there. It was pretty cold and windy when we were up there so these were all the pictures I got!





Have you been to Waimea Canyon?
Let me know in the comments below!
Categories
Destination Hawaii USA

Don’t Say These Hawaiian Words and Phrases on Your Next Trip to Hawai’i

Whenever I tell someone I’m from Hawai’i, it never fails – they respond with “I love Hawaii!” or “I really want to go there!” Every once in a while someone will ask if I speak Hawaiian and while I don’t, we were taught Hawaiian growing up and it’s everywhere so it’s hard not to pick up some words.

I read this article from Travel and Leisure entitled, 18 basic Hawaiian words and Phrases for Your Trip to the Aloha State and I cringed at some of the descriptions on how to pronounce the words and how to use them in a sentence. I was also confused because it said 18 but I wrote this post and only came out to 15 words / phrases? Let me just disclaimer that I am not a native Hawaiian and I’m not attacking the author of this article in anyway, but I just wanted to give my perspective as a former kama’aina (local Hawai’i person) and how we used these phrases in everyday conversation.



I posted screenshots of the actual article with my numbered commentary below, so hopefully it’s not too confusing to follow.

1. – 4. aloha kakahiaka, aloha awakea, aloha ‘auinalā, and aloha ahiahi

This pronunciation of all four of these looks right, I remember learning these in elementary school. (W’s are sometimes pronounced as v’s in the Hawaiian language.) However, besides aloha kakahiaka, I’ve never heard anyone use this in regular conversation. You might hear it in touristy areas or shows, but I don’t ever remember saying these to my friends.


5. lū‘au

This one, I’m kind of not sure how you’re supposed to say loo-ah-oo because lū‘au sounds more like lou-ow. Also I don’t know what is all this talk about taro leaves is about because a lū‘au is basically a Hawaiian party or feast.


6. mahalo

This one is for the most part correct, even the bit about tourists thinking it means garbage. But nui is pronounced more like new-ee but I guess I can see how you could phonetically get noo? Idk looks more like noooooo to me.


7/8. wahine, kane

These are also right.




The Common Hawaiian phrases section is definitely the part that I was like whaaaa because I don’t remember hearing or using half these a lot.

9. ‘a’ole pilikia

Pronunciation looks right and you would use this if someone says ‘thank you’ because I think it means no problem, but I didn’t ever use this phrase.


10. a ‘o ia

Honestly I don’t know what is happening here. I tried to figure out what phrase this is supposed to be but I have no clue. Don’t say this.


11. hui

Unless you’re trying to call your Filipino friends and say hoyy, I wouldn’t try to call anyone like this in Hawai’i especially if you’re a tourist.


12. e kala mai

This one looks right, but you could just say excuse me.




Useful Hawaiian sayings for travelers

This part is kind of useful, people will use mauka and makai for reference on direction, but the pronunciations looked kind of weird to me. Like why are they broken up like ma uka and ma kai, they should be one word.

13. mauka

Mauka is pronounced more like mow-kah. The way I learned it, it means more mountainside. Don’t say, “We’ll be mauka today doing the zipline.” Nobody would say that.


14. makai

I feel like if you say mah-kie-yee it sounds more like you’re trying to say maika’i which means something different so I’d just drop that ‘yee’ and say mah-kie. Makai means oceanside. Also dont’ say “at the boathouse makai.” Nobody says that either.


15. a hui hou

The meaning is right, “until we meet again”, but again the pronunciation. Idk what’s all this extra stuff on the end, but ah-hoo-wee-ho would suffice.




Again, I’m not a Hawaiian expert, I could be wrong about some of this (local friends correct me if I am!) I think it’s great that people want to learn about Hawaiian culture, but you don’t want to go to Hawai’i and have the locals look at you funny when attempt to use these words. 😉

Categories
Destination Mexico Playa del Carmen

Adventuring through Xplor in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

I haven’t been traveling much this year since I’m really buckling down and focusing on my financial goals so I’m living vicariously through myself and going through old photos. I realized I have a ton of trips I haven’t blogged about (I’m still backlogged on Hawaii earlier this year) so I figured, why not post all #laterblogs! I totally forgot I had this post sitting in my drafts so this Travel Thursday, we’re starting with Xplor theme park.

Xplor is an adventure theme park near Playa del Carmen, Mexico – about halfway between Cancun and Tulum. A coworker told me about it because she went ziplining there and loved it and I mentioned it in passing to one of my friends and she really wanted to go. I’ll be honest, I was not all for ziplining – I’m afraid of heights and the complete opposite of an adrenaline junky – but I am the friend who’s down for whatever so ziplining we went.



Admission is broken up between the day park and night park, which they call Xplor Fuego. The day park is open from 9 AM – 5 PM and Xplor Fuego is open from 5:30 PM – 11:30 PM. We opted for Xplor Fuego because we wanted to zipline through a ring of fire.

there are maps of the park all over

We looked on the Xplor website and found admission tickets for $89, but we didn’t have a car and needed transportation there so we talked to the concierge and got a round trip shuttle bus ride plus admission for $129. The shuttle bus picked us up at 3:30 PM, we made a few pit stops to pick up more people, then transferred at a bus station. Once we arrived at the park, we waited in line to get our helmets and a locker key then were let out into the park.

I wasn’t sure that we would need all 6 hours to see everything, but you really do. The major activities were:

  • Ziplining through a nine circuits and ending through a ring of fire and into the water.
  • Driving an Amphibious Vehicle through the jungle and caves.
  • Swimming in a 437 yard Lava River inside ancient caves
  • Paddling through 580 yards of underground river with special hand paddles

paddling through the underground river

I surprisingly really liked ziplining. I hate that feeling in your stomach you get when you drop on a rollercoaster, but it didn’t feel like that at all. It is scary being that high up but it’s so quick and there’s so much of the view that you wanna take in. The swimming was the most draining for me, mostly because I do not swim well so it took forever but it was still pretty cool. There’s also a decent dinner buffet and rest stops with coffee, drinks, and snacks. I wish I had better pictures, but I had to take my old waterproof camera and it was too risky taking it out while we were adventuring. Overall, if you’re into theme parks, I think it’s definitely worth a visit.

tons of cave photo ops walking to your next adventure



Have you ever been here? What's the best theme park you've been to?
Let me know in the comments below!

Categories
Destination Hawaii Oahu USA

Hiking Lanikai Pillbox on O’ahu

Lanikai Pillbox is one of my favorite hikes in Hawai’i because the hike isn’t really difficult and the views are amazing. Located in Kailua, it’s called Lanikai because of the views of Lanikai beach and ‘pillbox’ because of the old concrete bunkers that were used in WWII and got repurposed into rest stops and vantage points on the hike.



 

The hike isn’t super long and you get beautiful 360 views of the ocean and mountainside the whole way up. You have to park in a neighborhood to get to the trailhead. It can be confusing finding the entrance, so be careful not to trespass into the neighbor’s homes! The first stretch of the trail is uphill and if it’s rainy, it can be muddy, but there are ropes to help you up along the way. Once you past that little uphill slope, the trail is pretty easy to follow. There are usually people on the trail up and early so if you do get lost, you can just follow someone else.



 

As you make the trek up, you get a view of Lanikai on the ocean side and lush, green view of Kailua and the golf course on the mountainside. I think I’ll say this about every place in Hawai’i, but my pictures will never do it justice.



Have you been to Lanikai Pillbox? What’s your favorite place to hike?
Let me know in the comments below!

Categories
Dallas Destination Fort Worth Texas USA

Takashi Murakami’s “The Octopus Eats Its Own Legs” Exhibit at The Modern Art Museum Fort Worth

Last weekend I went with a few friends to see Takashi Murakami’s “The Octopus Eats Its Own Legs” exhibit at The Modern in Fort Worth, Texas. Murakami is a Japanese artist whose work you probably recognize – he designed Kanye West’s Graduation album and did several collaborations with Louis Vuitton. I love the work he did with Louis Vuitton so I definitely wanted to check it out!

This wasn’t part of the Murakami exhibit, but I loved this shot!

The Modern is located in Fort Worth, Texas, not far off the I-30. We went on a Sunday and the line was ridiculously long! I found out later that they offer half-price tickets on Sundays and free admission on Fridays. I would say 1.5 – 2 hours is enough time to get through the exhibit. I personally really loved this exhibit, his art is so colorful and there’s so much detail in every piece it kind of boggles my mind! It’s definitely something you should see in person. Honestly, I never read super long commentaries so I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves. 🙂

the 2nd floor of The Modern decorated with Murakami’s design – reminded us of Lisa Frank!

I really loved the detail in his work.

Mr. DOB panda edition?

The Kanye West bear

This room seriously made me so happy!

Probably my favorite in the whole exhibit – the detail and colors in this one is RIDICULOUS!

Sculpture with little creatures hidden

I thought this room was empty but Mr. DOB was hanging out up top

 

These flowers seriously made me so happy!



Have you been to any art exhibits? What has been your favorite?
Let me know in the comments below!

Categories
Destination Hawaii Oahu USA

Makapu’u Tide Pools on O’ahu

Makapu’u Tide pools is located off the Makapu’u light house trail. You walk up maybe halfway through the trail then have to hike down the side of a rocky mountain to get to the tide pools. It’s a pretty popular local spot, I remember hearing about it when I was growing up, but I actually had never been when I lived there! (I was a sheltered little child.)




A friend and I finished hiking Wiliwilinui Trail by lunch time and had time to make it to tide pools. The hike down to the tide pools goes down a pretty rocky cliff. I couldn’t take pictures because I was too scared I’d drop my phone! There’s some markers on the rocks that point arrows in the direction of the easiest way to get up and down, but definitely be careful and watch out for loose rocks.

The water is so clear, it’s seriously unreal. The tide pools are pretty shallow and they’re surrounded by rocks. When the waves break on the rocks and the tide pools will fill up a little, but it’ doesn’t get deep at all. (This is coming from someone who doesn’t swim very well!) We stayed long enough to dip in the water, enjoy the scenery, and take some pics but it’s definitely one of those places you have to see in person. I may be biased, but Hawai’i is still the prettiest place I’ve ever been and places like this remind me there’s no place like home!



Have you ever been here? What's the prettiest place you've ever been?
Let me know in the comments below!

Categories
Destination Hawaii Hotels Kauai Reviews

Staying at Kaua’i Beach Villas in Lihue

On our mini family vacation, we stayed at the Kaua’i Beach Villas. My mom owns a Wyndham timeshare that doesn’t get nearly as much use as it should and when I went home last March, I really wanted to visit another island and purely based on availability, we decided on Kaua’i Beach Villas. Before we get into the deets, the TLDR;



 

TLDR;

PROS

  • Great size with good amenities – full kitchen, dining and living areas, and washer/dryer.
  • Central-ish on the island. Close to the airport, ~30 minutes to Poipu and ~40 minutes to Princeville.

CONS

  • Decor is a little dated and it’s not the prettiest.
  • There’s no beach on site.

There were 6 of us on the trip and we booked a 2 bedroom suite. It was a great size for the 6 of us. There’s a full sized kitchen, dining room, and washer/dryer in suite. Overall, it’s an okay place to say. I honestly wouldn’t prefer to stay there again – there wasn’t anything bad about it, but there wasn’t anything amazing either. The best thing was how much space we had, but the decor wasn’t the prettiest or most updated. But then again, in my experience, unless you’re staying at a more expensive chain hotel, most Hawai’i hotels have a little outdated decor (think cheesy Hawai’i print styles).



 

The view from our patio was pretty decent. I mostly just love being in Hawai’i where everything is so green and blue. Another downside was there was no beach on site or pool. If I remember correctly, they gave us access to the neighboring hotels pool but even then there was no walkable beach nearby. The staff is pretty pleasant and the concierge did help us get a discount on our Na Pali Coast tour. Parking is gated and I generally felt safe there.

Overall, it was a good experience. If you’re traveling with a big family, it’s definitely great having all that space and the ability to cook or do laundry if you want to. However, if you’re looking for a luxurious place to stay, this wouldn’t be my first choice.

Kauai Beach Villas Living Room
View of the TV in the Living Room

Kauai Beach Villas Dining Room
Dining Area

Kauai Beach Villas Kitchen
Kitchen

Kauai Beach Villas Bathroom
Vanity in the second bathroom

Kauai Beach Villas Bathroom
The bathroom

Kauai Beach Villas Patio
Patio Table



Kauai Beach Villas Master Bedroom
Master Bedroom

Kauai Beach Villas Second Room
Kauai Beach Villas Second Room

Kauai Beach Villas View
View from the patio

Categories
Destination Hawaii Kauai Reviews USA

Touring the Na Pali Coast by Sea with Blue Dolphin Charters

All views and opinions expressed here are my own and are in no way affiliated with Blue Dolphin Charters. I was not compensated in any way for this tour.

On our mini family trip to Kaua’i, we decided to do a Na Pali coast boat tour. If you don’t know, Na Pali is the iconic coast line of Kaua’i. It’s inaccessible by vehicle and the only way to see the coast in all its glory is either via boat or helicopter. It’s everything you dream Hawai’i is – the lush green mountains and big blue open sea. Before I get into my experience, as always, a little TLDR; summary for lazy people (like me) who don’t want to read everything!



TLDR;

  • Take a 5.5 hour boat tour around the Na Pali Coast in Kaua’i with Blue Dolphin Charters.
  • Cost is ~$100 – $150. Tours are rain or shine.
  • They feed you. And give you alcohol (if you’re of age, of course).
  • See dolphins! (And maybe whales and flying fish).
  • Be prepared with sunscreen, towels, and dramamine (if you get seasick!).
  • The sea crew was awesome and definitely made the trip entertaining and comfortable.
  • Definitely worth the cost, but wish it wasn’t rainy when we went. I’d love to do it again when it’s sunny.

The last time I went to Kaua’i was over 10 years ago when I was in high school. We went for a community service thing so we didn’t really get to do a lot of fun touristy things so visiting the Na Pali coast has been on my bucket list. When we checked into our hotel, we asked the concierge about different tours and she got us a deal through for around $500 for 6 of us (my parents, Aunt, sister, and brother in law). We booked a morning Deluxe Na Pali Snorkel & Scuba Tour with Blue Dolphin Charters. That was a complete steal because if you look on Blue Dolphin’s website, regular price for adults are $147, youths are $127, and children are $97.

View from the boat, a little ways out from the harbor.

The tour starts out at the Blue Dolphin home base in ‘Ele’ele, near Hanapepe on the southern part of the island. You have to check in, sign some waiver forms and wait for the rest of the tour group to get there. Once everyone checked in, the boat captain gave a little safety speech, and we were guided like school kids to the boat. The sucky thing about our trip was it was cloudy, a little rainy and cold, so we didn’t get the best views of Na Pali which is why I mentioned earlier that I would love to do it again. But the views are still amazing and it’s one of those places that you have to see for yourself.

Some of the coastline



Look how rainy/cloudy it was!

The trip took us around the west coast then back towards the harbor with a stop at a little snorkeling area. I did jump in the water when we stopped to snorkel even though it was cold, because I HAD to (we were in Kaua’i, YOLO!) but I didn’t swim far out enough from the boat to go snorkeling because I don’t swim very well LOL! They fed us a continental breakfast on the way out and lunch was served after we were done snorkeling. Lunch wasn’t anything fancy, just sandwiches and potato salad, but I actually really liked the sandwich spread they hand. They also had alcoholic beverages, but those were only served after you were done snorkeling/swimming.

Did you know part of Jurassic Park was filmed here?



I would recommend bringing sunscreen, a towel, and Dramamine. My Mom and Aunt got sea sick on the boat ride, so if you’re prone to that, definitely take some Dramamine or other preventative medicine beforehand. They did take some before, but because of the weather and how choppy the ocean was, it was pretty rough out there. You’re not allowed to wear shoes on the boat unless they’re boat shoes and if you didn’t have boat shoes, you had to leave them at the dock. Don’t worry, they’ll have a little place for you to put them!

Probably my favorite pic of the day

I think one of Blue Dolphin’s guarantees is that you’ll see dolphins – and we definitely saw some! I didn’t get any good pictures of them, but it’s always fun to see them out in the wild. (Totally normal for a Hawai’i girl like me.) We saw a couple different pods of bottlenose dolphins (groups of dolphins), but I remember seeing this baby dolphin that was a complete ham! He kept jump out of the water and twirling, it was the cutest thing!

one of the crew members messing with me

Overall, even though I didn’t get the amazing pictures that I wanted, the tour was a great experience and I would definitely recommend Blue Dolphin. The crew was super nice, entertaining, and helpful. When my mom got seasick, the crew members constantly came over to make sure she was okay. They were great hosts, super funny (as you can see from my picture above), and even pretty good photographers. I’ll just leave you with some pictures we took on the trip.



Me and my sister

One of the crew members taking candids of us

I seriously don’t know how people take pretty pictures in the wind.

Me in my element – totally awkward.

I love the ocean



bikini by Triangl

Mini photo shoot when we stopped to snorkel lol!

Love you Kaua’i! \m/



Have you done a boat tour? Where did you go?
Let me know in the comments below!