Monday, June 17, 2013

Chinatown Field Trip

Each and every Saturday morning, my friend Cassie and I visit our local Farmer's Market at the nearby Kapiolani Community College. We load up on veggies, fruit, and freshly baked bread. This ritual is one we cherish and we leave the market feeling productive, inspired to cook with our fresh ingredients, and highly caffeinated! Some weeks that inspiration holds strong and our kitchens are bare by the next Saturday, others leave plenty of grub still remaining the following Saturday. This was one of those plenty-of-leftovers weeks so we decided to try something new and visit Chinatown's markets on our Saturday morning, rather than the FM.

I'd perused the Maunakea Marketplace before, although typically just to kill time on my lunch hour when I worked downtown and not for actual shopping. Poor Cassie had never been before and I think she may have been a little traumatized by the experience!

Our first couple stops were the tiny little stores on the edge of Chinatown that sold a small variety of fruits, veggies, snacks, canned and dried foods.

The shops were so small and cramped that it was hard to navigate through the aisle without bumping another shopper or knocking items off their shelf! 

These two cats casually sunbathed outside a store.

Us two white girls stood out like a sore thumb in Chinatown. Sometimes we were ignored altogether and other times we were kindly (??) brought into the loop. While I took this photo the woman working at the store was yelling towards me saying "KINGO NUTS, KINGO NUTS!" Thanks, lady.

Once we got to the heart of the marketplace, the real fun began. The produce went on for days and days at both the indoor and outdoor stores lining the main mall of the market. I even spotted zucchini flowers, which I've never seen in real life (and failed to photograph)!

The indoor stores were just as cramped as the ones we'd previously been in, but these posed the danger of rubbing up against animal parts! Huge displays of ice are packed with every type of seafood and meat you can imagine, and I'm not exaggerating.

Just a few seconds after walking in we spotted the infamous chicken feet!

Although crammed, most for-sale offerings were highly organized. Here you see the pork department from head, to intestine (tripe), to feet!

I'd been expecting pigs head, chicken feet, stray cats, and similar surprises, yet the thing that really caught me off guard was this...

Yes, that's a very full tank of (live) bullfrogs! No thank you.

Despite passing up on the 1 lb of bullfrogs for just $6.99, I managed to spend just under $40 on 2 huge leeks, a bag of pine nuts, some spicy garlic peanuts for Bryce, 3 lemons, a pound of live manilla clams, an avocado, some of those lovely multicolored tomatoes, and a bag of dried honey ginger.

We did a little more exploring before ending our white girl field trip to Chinatown. How could anyone take us seriously?! We couldn't.

We even got a bit of an education on the history of the old 'red light district'!

It really helped us to understand the famous 'Hubba Hubba' sign nearby!

Not long after our field trip ended, Bryce and I enjoyed a lunch of the fresh clams made with white wine, garlic, butter, and parsley grown from our garden.

Among all of the sights, sounds, and smells in Chinatown, I'd still love to go back. It's an overwhelming place with every type of food option known to man so next time I'll be sure have a specific recipe in mind so I can purchase accordingly. Frog legs, chicken feet, and pig heads anyone?!


  1. You know how much I loved the produce in Chinatown. I loved shopping there...rat acrobats included!


  2. Brookie,

    This comment first thing in the morning made me so happy! I MISS YOU SO.

    I think it was your initial bravery and love of Chinatown that prompted me to go there.

    Perhaps another, nightime Chinatown, post is in order. Rats and hookers!


    1. I miss you too. :-) YEAH FOR CHINATOWN!!!