Aloha Sapporo! Nijo Market, TV Tower and Autumn Festival

Sapporo Day 2So I’m here in Japan with four friends since we won a tour (not including air fare) in Hokkaido. We were lucky to get to Sapporo in time to catch the tail end of their annual Autumn Festival, a two-week food event that stretches for six blocks. I’ve never seen anything like it! If I lived in Sapporo, I would make my way through the whole thing in the two weeks by going every day; We had just one day to get through it and eat what we could.

But first, we started our morning with breakfast and browsing at Sapporo’s Nijo Market:

Nijo Market

Picture 1 of 16

We woke up early to get to Nijo Market, which is near Susukino and on our way to Odori Park. It's known for its seafood and produce.


From there we headed to the TV Tower at the end of Odori Park to catch views of the city while we waited for the festival to open. The following gallery has a couple of pics from the tower, and really, just a few of the festival. The event was so huge, there was no way to capture everything we saw or ate, or all the people we met at the booths. If you are thinking of going to Sapporo, the end of September is a good time so you can experience this event.

Sapporo TV Tower

Picture 1 of 34

One of the things you must do in Sapporo is visit the TV tower. It's at one end of Odori Park and gives you 360-degree views of the city.


Follow our adventures on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook! Our hashtags for this trip are #AlohaSapporo and #FuranoEcoTour. Up next: touring Furano, the center of Hokkaido.

Aloha Sapporo! Return to the city

Aloha Sapporo! Back in the cityI can’t believe it’s been two years since I last went to Sapporo. When Hawaiian Airlines launched their inaugural flight route there, I got to go and blogged about the experience. It ended up being my (and my friend Laurie Ishida Oue’s) favorite part of Japan.

Recently, Pali Kaaihue suggested I enter a contest with a tour company called Hokkaido Treasure Island Travel. They were looking for a group of people to take an eco tour who were not Japanese citizens, were willing to eat and drink anything, and were okay with visiting farms. We also had to be willing to allow them to photograph us for promotional purposes as they promote the tour and the area of Kitafurano. No problem! I entered with my friends D.K. Mashino, Edwina Minglana, Lena Hanson, and Laurie.

Well, we won the tour, and the catch was that we had to provide our own air fare. As soon as they announced we won, fares dropped. It was meant to be! So, here we are.

If you’re following us on social media, you already know what we are doing. If not, here’s a recap to catch up!

Aloha Sapporo!

Picture 1 of 13

We made it! The first thing we did when we landed was head to Susukino, Sapporo's big entertainment district, which has more than 1,000 bars and restaurants in a four-block radius.


Follow the hashtag #AlohaSapporo and #FuranoEcoTour on Twitter and Instagram. Ikimashoo!

My little auto adventure: Hyundai Elantra

HyundaiWell, it took a while since my last test drive to find a car dealer that would let me take a car on an extended drive as I do my car shopping and blog. Tony Auto Group’s Allan Capello was one of the first in the complex to respond to me, and pretty quickly, too.

I am taking my time in this shopping process, and now that I’ve had two very different cars in my life, I have a pretty good idea of what my next car should be. (You can see my parameters in my last post, here.) Since I never go car shopping, it’s interesting to see how far cars have come since the last time I looked.

When Hyundai first came to the United States, I remember it as a car for the budget-conscious, but with a reputation for being basic and having an exterior that wasn’t too solid. After that, I didn’t really pay much attention to them. Until now. Capello had me drive their most popular car, the Hyundai Elantra. At first glance, I thought it might be in the same class as the Camry (remember, I didn’t know anything about Hyundais), but was told it was more in line with a Honda Civic.

First impression: a lot roomier than it looks. Hyundai apparently maximizes the interior so you have more space. I picked up my friends Sean and Lena Morris, who drive a minivan, and they were surprised at how much room they had to stretch. The seats are also very comfortable. The seats, in fact, are equipped with a heating system; I thought it was silly for Hawaii, but they said it was good for people who need a heating pad for their backs. One of the salesmen said he uses the passenger seat heater to keep his pizza warm on the way home.

steeringMy next surprise was looking around the dash — with all the bells and whistles, you would have thought it was a fully loaded car, but this was the Limited edition, which means it was loaded with popular items (based on customer requests), but not everything. I don’t know what was missing, but there was a touch-screen media display for radio, GPS, rearview camera, and phone. The steering wheel area, as you can see in the photo, had buttons for just about everything I would need, if I had thought about it. And for those of you who know how much I love jaywalkers, the horn is strong and direct but not annoying!

This car was easy to drive and I’d say it’s good for very practical uses. It’s not super powerful, but for someone like me, that’s not important. Gas mileage on this car is 27 city, 37 highway, so I drove from Waipio to town and back and didn’t make a dent in the gas gauge.

I didn’t find the Hyundai Elantra too much different from other cars in its class, but the big selling point that sets it apart is its warranty: Five years or 60,000 miles, compared to other dealers whose warranty expires at three years or 30,000 miles. (My car is eight years old and has 42,000 miles so I’d be a good customer.) Another really cool feature is its Blue Link service, which adds security for you and your car. If the car is stolen, the technology can immobilize it. If you get into an accident, the car dispatches a signal and Hyundai’s team immediately calls to see if you’re okay; if you don’t answer, they call for help.

Oh, and the price tag for all these features? MSRP is $22,000. Pretty good, right? Capello said They’re having their semi-annual sale until the end of September, where you can get cars at employee prices.

As with the last car, I was sold on it, but for different reasons. I know I need to look at a couple more cars before I make a decision, though.

What do you think? What should I drive next?

Something new: Slurp at Vino

One day, Vino Italian Tapas Chef Keith Endo was shooting the breeze with his boss, D.K. Kodama, about food ideas and how to draw business to the restaurant for lunch. Vino, as you may know, is only open for dinner and sits dark during the day, and this was a way to make use of the space.

The challenge was, Endo needed to make the lunch concept different from what he does at night. He had already been working with John Iha at Hiroshi Eurasian Tapas on their “Oodles of Noodles” pop up, so he figured he could do that. Kodama signed off on the idea, and off they went.

“It took a while to develop the broths that we wanted,” Endo said. “It’s a three-day process, where we layer the meat, vegetable and other flavors in the pot, gradually skimming and adding.” He also worked with Sun Noodle to match the broths to the right ramen noodles.

The result is Slurp, a ramen pop-up happening Monday through Friday from about 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. They held practice runs on Monday and Tuesday; today is its first official day in business.

Slurp at Vino

Picture 1 of 13

The Slurp staff has cute shirts to embody the concept. I would wear one! —Photo by Melissa Chang


Bonus: As you know, master sommelier Chuck Furuya is quite the clown, so he took our camera and shot a video of the crowd at Slurp.

Party pics: Hawaii Restaurant Association’s Hall of Fame

The Hawaii Restaurant Association (HRA) held its eighth annual Hall of Fame dinner last night at Dole Cannery Ballrooms, an event honoring longtime, outstanding industry members.

This year’s Hall of Fame inductees were: Joey Cabell, Chart House Waikiki; Peter Canlis, Canlis Restaurant; Chuck Furuya, D.K. Restaurants; Tadao Nezu, Futaba Restaurant; the Sasaki Family, Lihue Barbecue Inn; Alan Suzuki, Young’s Market Company; Archie and Hifumi Tanaka, Archie’s Restaurant; and the Uchida Family, Two Ladies Kitchen.

The event featured 10 chefs from renowned Oahu restaurants, serving creative dishes from individual stations around the ballroom. Several beverage distributors also provided wine and soda stations. The event was packed with several hundred people and there was a lot of food and chatter, but we managed to get a few photos to show you how it went:

HRA Hall of Fame

Picture 1 of 39