You’ve come this far, let me take you a little farther west to Japan a la department stores with a direct link to the Far East: today Don Quijote and next time Shirokiya.
When I came to Hawaii, I found myself embracing the multiculturalism – especially the food. It was this desire to get some real local produce that got me headed in the direction of finding one of my favorite stores on the Island – Don Quijote . It turned out to be so much more than a source of vegetables.
Located close to Ala Moana shopping center (there are more locations, including Kailua, but this would be the one to go to if staying in Waikiki). I thought that I was walking into a piece of the East’ the first time I went, and my reaction hasn’t changed in 2 years. I love going into this store. I lose track of time when I’m there, wandering the many aisles looking at food items that I have never seen before, or deciphering the Japanese cosmetics’ aisle (ladies, Japanese women take their cosmetics seriously – and this is your chance to pick up some real gems for face and hair not available elsewhere. The labels are all in Japanese, but I muddle through trying to figuring out what a product is for, or I just judge by the label. Sort of fun to play this guessing game and I’ve never been disappointed with a purchase), or enjoying the Hawaiiana area for specialty and local gift items.
I see the look on tourists’ faces when they come in, thinking they’ve jumped longitude by 60 degrees. I’m not the only one who tends to call this store the “Japanese Wal-Mart” (it is after all Japanese owned) – with its clutter of imported merchandise and very extensive specialty food sections, plus fresh cooked takeout foods that are authentically Hawaiian and Japanese. Yes, some of it does look strange, but get brave! It’s all a part of experiencing your Hawaii vacation. Look at the tea section and see brands not normally available. Same with rice. And the selection of different types of saimen is amazing. When I discovered the local Watanabe brand bread sold here, it became an instant favorite of mine. I’ve never had a more delicious BP & J than the one I made with this bread and some local mango/PA jelly.
Admittedly the store is not for everyone, but if you like the Asian influence, you’ll love it. I do quite a bit of Christmas shopping for gifts for my mainland family here and consider it a destination’ in itself when I show my own guests around.
Posted by: Bruce Fisher on Sep 27, 2010