Thursday, June 25, 2009

Chai's Island Bistro

Welcome to Honolulu Harbor at Sunset!
Aloha Tower, courtesy of Chuck Painter (c)

“A tree trunk the size of a man grows from a blade as thin as a hair. A tower nine stories high is built from a small heap of earth.”
Lao Tzu

Women Warriors of WWII. Note the camouflaged Aloha Tower!

Contemporary Clouds;
like Me!

Morning Ladies!

"The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them,

but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of humanity."

George Bernard Shaw

No, I don't know what these birds are called.
I call them Oahu Woody Woodpeckers ;-)

"Cloudia, I loved your little book (Aloha Where You Like Go?);
I laughed, I cried, I got 'chicken skin.'" (Goose bumps)
Robert Cazimero

Tomorrow evening there will be a White House first: a Hawaiian Luau on da lawn!

My sincere admiration to Cha Thompson of Tihati productions for keeping secret this engagement of her dancers and fire knife masters until the official announcement. She looked like she won't need a plane to fly to DC.

The "Coconut wireless" has it that planners wanted to use East Coast hula dancers, but that a Local Guy (In Chief) nixed that idea in favor of bringing in the real, local performers. He can handle 16 crises AND chew gum at the same time. Our President well exemplifies the local Hawaii saying: "Cool head main thing." Yay Barack!

My luau was last night,
as Favourite Husband and those California Cattermoles took me to Chai's Island Bistro at the Aloha Tower Marketplace for a belated birthday dinner.
The Aloha Tower, a local icon, was the tallest thing in Honolulu till after WWII. Once upon a time, she greeted the Matson Liners on "Boat Day" while bands played, lei sellers displayed their fragrant wares, and kids (some of whom I met as senior citizens) dove for coins tossed into Honolulu Harbor.
The tower, though still Harbor Control Headquarters, and the docking site for the QEII and her sister cruise ships, is now home to a mixed-use "festival marketplace" like San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf.

Chai is a nice Thai guy who brought his palate to Honolulu some years ago and launched a successful restaurant career. His eponymous bistro is known for great food and as a place to hear world-class local talent.

Wednesdays feature the famous Cazimero Brothers, holding court and playing Hawaiian Classics as they do at their periodic Carnegie Hall concerts. But on Tuesdays the room belongs to Robert Cazimero: songwriter, vocalist, and respected Kumu Hula (hula master) who transfixes the room with his brilliant contemporary interpretations of the great Hawaii Songbook.

Alone at the piano, he effortlessly conjures a magic atmosphere. Deftly his melodious voice moves from one unique vocal interpretation to the next. "My Hawaiian Souvenirs" once recorded by beloved auntie Genoa Keawe on the old 49th State record label, is one such almost-forgotten Hapa Haole masterpiece that Robert breathes charming, fresh life into.
A single Hula dancer joins him from time to time, her expressive hands, feet, face, & body as supple and salutary as Robert's voice. During breaks, the sound system plays Hawaiian classics - including the evening's featured performer.

Can you tell I had a good time?
The food? Oh yes! I had a Pu Pu (appetizer) platter to myself (greedy girl) consisting of seared, crusted ahi (red tuna) sashimi, a diminutive crab cake (very different from the working class, Philly crab cakes of my youth) and two towering prawns wearing Summer-weight robes of spun tempura batter.

"These prawns are almost Hifumi sized!" I thought, comparing them to my favorite budget Japanese Restaurant, located (only-in-Hawaii style) at the Chinese Cultural Center. They are famous for giant shrimp tempura (and honorably stand up to the fleet of excellent Chinese eateries surrounding them).

At the end of the evening, Robert sang "Happy Birthday" to me from behind the keys. An artist I admire so much!

You know, Robert's exemplary Aloha is very much at home everywhere, at classy Chai's or blue collar Hifumi. His graciousness to the upscale patrons last night was EXACTLY the same as I've seen him lavish on near destitute patrons at a favorite Hotel Street dive around the corner from the Hawaii Theatre. The governor, an ancient, homeless drunk, or me: Robert shares his simple, profound kindness with each one.

THAT is the definition of Aloha.

He permits each one of us to be Ali`i (chiefly) for a charmed hour. The world-recognized artist treats each like a peer, spreading his kingly feathered cloak over our shoulders too. . .

Last evening will always remain one of my cherished Hawaiian Souvenirs.

I hope YOUR visits here make you feel a little of that tropical

magic too!

A L O H A! Cloudia