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May 25, 2018

Visit Tokyo: Kyu-Furukawa Gardens

While exploring different wards in Tokyo, we stumbled upon Kyu-Furukawa Gardens in Kita.


There is a very low admission fee to get in, as well as a separate admission if you'd like to tour the Western Style Residence.


The gardens are very pretty and tranquil.

There were very few people walking around, which made the gardens a very nice spot to sit and relax.









There were several benches throughout Kyu-Furukawa Gardens, making it an ideal spot to rest your tired and aching feet, while watching the koi swim in the pond, and the cherry blossom petals dance in the wind.


Even my kids commented how Kita is so different from other wards in Tokyo - so much more peaceful!  If you're looking for some time away from the hustle and bustle of the busier wards in Tokyo, definitely visit Kyu-Furukawa Gardens (and don't forget to pay the admission fee!).


Kyu-Furukawa Gardens
1丁目-27-39 Nishigahara
Kita, Tokyo 114-0024, Japan
+81 3-3910-0394
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May 24, 2018

Gochi Grill to Open in Downtown Honolulu


Chefs John Iha and Sean Uyehara have teamed up to open Gochi Grill in Downtown Honolulu (the Remington College Building).

They will be offering classic, local-style comfort food that most of us grew up eating, but "fancier" than you'd typically get at home or elsewhere.  And in the case of Gochi Grill, "fancier" simply means using different, sometimes unexpected ingredients, to create unbelievably delicious food.

Zaru Saimin

Corned Pig

Gochi Set - Miso Salmon, Chicken Teriyaki, Fried Noodles, Tofu Salad, Sushi

Tuna Sandwich

Roasted Chicken Kale Salad

Chicken Katsu

Sauteed Opah

Meatloaf

Kalbi
I was blown away by how much I enjoyed Chef John's interpretation of classic, home-style cooking.

It will be difficult to ever eat "plain" meatloaf with gravy and mashed potatoes again after eating Gochi Grill's Mealoaf with truffle mushroom gravy and loaded baked potato croquette.

The Gochi Set included a variety of dishes that did not disappoint (I especially loved how flavorful the Chicken Teriyaki was, and the Fried Noodles were so tasty!). 

The Chicken Katsu, served with a wasabi cocktail katsu sauce, was some of the best I've had anywhere.

I also really liked the Kalbi, which was served with a Lemongrass Chimichurri. 

Whether it's a Tuna Sandwich with Kizami wasabi aioli, a Roasted Chicken Kale Salad with a nori vinaigrette, or Sauteed Fish with a scallion mushroom sauce, Chef John adds a variety of elements to fancify a typical plate lunch - and it works!

And fear not for those with a sweet tooth, because they will have a few sweet options as well:

PB & Banana Bread Pudding

Blueberry Panna Cotta
 The Grand Opening is set for June 4!


Gochi Grill
1111 Bishop Street Suite #112
Honolulu, HI 96813
(808) 585-8558
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Visit Yokohama: Maguro Donya Miura Misakiko

I'm always game to eat wherever my friends suggest, and although I don't eat a lot of seafood, I had no problems dining at Maguro Donya Miura Misakiko at Yokohama World Porters.

Maguro Donya Miura Misakiko is a kaiten sushi restaurant, where you can pick plates off of the conveyor belt, or give your order directly to the sushi chefs.

Potatoes

Egg
Salmon

Chicken Karaage

Crab Miso

Unagi

Edamame

Rolled Omelette

Assorted Tuna

Shrimp
Upon being seated, our server simply gave us a notepad to write down our orders on.  We were waiting for her to retrieve our order, but later realized we could give the orders directly to the sushi chefs.  

Service was somewhat spotty, but the food was pretty good.

The restaurant even offers some entertainment, with a lengthy production revolving around the cutting of a huge fish (you can watch an excerpt here on our Instagram).



Maguro Donya Miura Misakiko
2 Chome-2-1 Shinko
Naka Ward, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture 231-0001, Japan
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May 23, 2018

Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows Joins Auberge Resorts Collection

Auberge Resorts Collection will welcome Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows, the famed resort on the Big Island of Hawaii, to its portfolio of award-winning luxury resorts, residences and clubs. Under the direction of a world-class development team, Mauna Lani will undergo an extensive redesign and revitalization and will be reborn as Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection, the premier resort destination in Hawaii.

The development and ownership team is DiamondHead Land, a joint venture between San Francisco-based ProspectHill Group and Hawaii-based hotel executive Pat Fitzgerald, in partnership with a major institutional investor. With plans already underway, the re-launch and re-opening of Mauna Lani is planned for late 2019.

"Among the many distinctive qualities of Mauna Lani are its exceptionally beautiful natural setting and iconic place in the history of Hawaii," said Dan Friedkin, Owner and Chairman, Auberge Resorts Collection. "We are excited to elevate the great heritage of Mauna Lani with the Auberge sense of intimacy, world-class service, local adventures and a fresh contemporary aesthetic that will allow guests to experience the best that Hawaii has to offer."
"Auberge Resorts Collection shares our vision for providing a style of luxury and service that resonates with guests on a personal level," said Pat Fitzgerald, partner, DiamondHead Land. "Auberge's experience capturing the unique lifestyle of each destination and setting in a captivating way is what we sought for the transformation of Mauna Lani. We are thrilled to collaborate with Auberge to create a truly inspiring Hawaiian resort."

Set on 32 oceanfront acres marked by sacred royal fishing ponds, natural lava plains, lush tropical gardens and bordered by pristine white-sand beaches, Mauna Lani offers the island's premier location for relaxation, adventure and immersion in the authentic culture and traditions of Hawaii. A great respect for the ancient concept of aloha āina - love of the land - and a deep connection to land, sea and Hawaiian heritage will inform every aspect of the resort's physical and experiential transformation.

Plans are well underway for a hotel renovation in excess of $100 million, which will completely re-envision the guest experience, bring to life the legacy, character and spirit of the Kohala Coast and celebrate the natural and active lifestyle of the Island of Hawaii.

Award-winning interior design firm Meyer Davis is orchestrating a dramatic redesign of the public areas and guest rooms. World-renowned land planning and architecture firm Hart Howerton will lead the complete re-imagining of Mauna Lani's iconic architecture and oversee the extensive renovation and refurbishment of the resort's storied gardens and grounds, respecting and preserving the ancient and sacred royal fishing ponds, native plants and the many archeologically important features of the coastal site.

As part of the hotel redesign, the total number of hotel rooms will be reduced, and dramatic ocean-front and ocean-view suites offering panoramic coastal views will be added. The ultra-luxury Mauna Lani Bungalows, with their private pools, butler service and private resort-within-a-resort setting, will be enhanced to provide the ultimate insider getaway.

Auberge's acclaimed culinary expertise and the Island of Hawaii's abundance of organic farms will inspire rich and varied dining experiences, from starlit dinners overlooking the ocean, to fun-filled family meals on the beach. The signature waterfront CanoeHouse restaurant, an unrivalled setting for watching the sun slip beyond the horizon, will serve artfully prepared local dishes, hand-crafted cocktails and premium wines. The existing Bay Terrace Restaurant will be transformed and re-imagined as a new three-meal restaurant with a lively bar to enjoy daily sunsets.

Anchoring the extensive and lush landscape of the resort will be brand-new adult and family pools and a variety of gathering places for playing, relaxing and indulging in the warm embrace of Hawaii's magical year-round sunshine. A brand-new infinity-edge Adult Pool and Lounge is being built with private cabanas and scenic views of the royal ponds and the Pacific, and a completely redesigned Family Pool will be active with daily programs centered around sun-soaked fun.

Auberge will introduce its signature Auberge Adventures program, which will take full advantage of the resort's 32 acres and the Island's natural playground. Whether together or independently, 'ohana (families) will enjoy active programs, from a kids club for keiki, to stand-up paddle boarding, outrigger canoe adventuring and after-hours bonfires.

Home to the original IRONMAN Triathlon, the Island of Hawaii offers a fitness culture that's second to none. Mauna Lani will cater to active guests with a 5,000-square-foot fitness facility that includes an expansive fitness garden, personal trainers and classes tailored to all levels. Complementing the rich menu of fitness programs indoors and out will be a signature Auberge Spa with its commitment to lokahi - harmony and balance - as interpreted by the Hawaiian tradition of healing arts.
Plans call for Mauna Lani to close in October 2018 and reopen in late 2019 as part of Auberge Resorts Collection. To learn more, please visit https://maunalani.aubergeresorts.com/.
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The Veranda Lavish Breakfast Buffet

While staycationing at the Moana Surfider, a Westin Resort & Spa, our family indulged in the Lavish Breakfast Buffet at The Veranda.

The buffet was full of delicious options - salads, meats, cheeses, baked goods, fresh fruit, cereal, a yogurt / parfait bar, a pancake bar, an omelette station, a Japanese food bar, and numerous hot items.















With a focus on fresh, local ingredients, the breakfast buffet at The Veranda offers classic comfort food and island faves.  Of course I went straight for the savories (bacon!), and my kids went straight for the sweet pastries. 

There was something for everyone - fish, sausage, miso soup, potatoes, eggs benedict, papaya, natto, muffins...such a great variety!

I especially loved the different stations where you could create your own eats, such as pancakes, parfaits, and omelets.


And the setting is just so pretty!  Breakfast by the beach, under the beautiful banyan tree - what an ideal way to start the day!

The Veranda does offer an a la carte menu (as well as a keiki menu), but the Lavish Breakfast Buffet and all of its delicious offerings was just too hard to resist!

Service was excellent, and I couldn't have asked for a better way to start the morning.


The Veranda
Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort & Spa
2365 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
(808) 922-3111

Mahalo to The Veranda for hosting our wonderful breakfast.  Gratuity was paid on my own.
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