Catherine E. Toth

Correspondent

  • Oahu, Hawaii, USA

Catherine E. Toth is a correspondent who lives in East Honolulu and covers Oahu for Forbes Travel Guide. Born and raised on the island, Toth has been chronicling her adventures in her blog, The Cat Dish, for almost a decade. She worked as a newspaper reporter in Hawaii for 10 years and continues to freelance — in between teaching journalism, hitting the surf and eating everything in sight — for national and local print and online publications. She earned her master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 1999. Toth lives with her two dogs, Sunny and Indy, and has an extensive collection of surfboards.

  • On May 16, 2013
  • On May 8, 2013
  • On May 3, 2013
    Sarah Gleim is now following Catherine E. Toth
  • On May 1, 2013
  • On May 1, 2013
    Hayley Bosch is now following Catherine E. Toth
  • On April 30, 2013
    Catherine E. Toth answered the question: Catherine E. Toth

    What's new in Oahu?

    Over the past few years, there's been a proliferation of farmer's markets all across the state.

    The latest one in Honolulu is the Ala Moana Farmer's Market (Ala Moana Center, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd., 808-388-9696) on Saturday mornings and Tuesday events on the upper deck of the parking lot overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Dozens of vendors sell fresh locally grown produce (like the mangoes above), homemade bread baked on site, gourmet treats, even fresh pasta dishes.

    The owners and operators of this farmer's market also puts on similar ones in Hawaii Kai (Saturday mornings), in Haleiwa (Thursday afternoons) and Kailua (Sunday mornings).

    These markets also feature live music and seating areas so patrons can sit and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.

    ***

    Earlier this month a new milk tea cafe opened on Kapiolani Boulevard in Honolulu.

    Taste Tea (1391 Kapiolani Blvd., 808-951-8288) offers milk tea drinks that can be customized to your sweetness preference. You can even add tapioca balls — various sizes — and ice cream. It offers five varieties of tea, all brewed fresh daily. This and the fact that it's open late on Fridays and Saturdays have quickly made this a popular spot for milk tea aficionados.

    ***

    Though two years old, ART & FLEA (831 Queen St.) is only getting more and more popular every month. This urban-inspired monthly art and flea market held at Fresh Cafe in Kakaako showcases local designers and artists in an event that draws an eclectic crowd of shoppers and music lovers. There are handmade products, vintage art, locally designed fashion, handcrafted jewelry and more.
  • On April 30, 2013
    Catherine E. Toth answered the question: Catherine E. Toth

    What are the best Oahu food experiences?

    Hawaii offers unique food experiences, from traditional Hawaiian food to dishes that showcase the blend of cultures in the islands. There are Portuguese malasadas, Chinese manapua and the ubiquitous plate lunch.

    But one of the most unique food items only found in the Islands — and just about everywhere on Oahu — is the Spam musubi.

    Spam has a long history in the Islands. The luncheon meat was served to GIs during World War II, and it quickly became part of the local culinary culture in Hawaii. More Spam is consumed per person in Hawaii than in any other state. Almost 7 million cans of Spam are eaten every year. There's even an annual festival — the Waikiki Spam Jam — that celebrates all things Spam.

    The Spam musubi is, by far, the most popular way residents eat the canned meat.

    A slice of Spam — typically fried and often flavored with a teriyaki-based sauce — is placed on a brick of white rice and wrapped with nori (seaweed). It's sold at convenience stores like 7-Eleven across the state.

    One of the best Spam musubis can be found at Tanioka's Seafood & Catering (94-903 Farrington Highway, 808-671-3779) in Waipahu.
  • On April 30, 2013
    Catherine E. Toth answered the question: Catherine E. Toth

    What are the best places to eat on Oahu?

    Whatever you're craving, you'll find it on Oahu. This island's got everything from Vietnamese pho shops to vegan cafes to world-class steakhouses.

    Here are suggestions for your major meals next time you're on Oahu — and yes, it's a bit all over the island map:
    • Breakfast at Moena Cafe (7192 Kalanianaole Highway, Hawaii Kai, 808-888-7716), where you can feast on a Hawaiian-style omelet with kalua pig and onions or banana chantilly pancakes (shown above). Prices range from $7 to $14.
    • Late-morning snack at Hank's Haute Dogs (324 Coral St., Kakaako, 808-532-4265), a hip little hot dog shop in the emerging neighborhood of Kakaako. Get a classic Chicago dog or a grilled chorizo topped with brown mustard and grilled onions. Or get the daily special, which can range from a buffalo brat (Thursdays) to a lobster sausage (Friday and Saturday). The duck fat fries are incredible, too.
    • Lunch at The Alley in Aiea Bowl (99-115 Aiea Heights Drive, 808-488-6854), where you can get local favorites like the award-winning Tasty Chicken, a classic loco moco with fresh-made gravy, or its famous oxtail soup served with ponzu sauce. Be sure to order a slice of the popular lemon crunch cake.
    • Afternoon snack at Coffee or Tea? (1960 Kapiolani Blvd., McCully, 808-942-4357), where you can order an Asian-style milk tea and desserts.
    • Dinner at Prima Kailua (108 Hekili St., #107, Kailua, 808-888-8933), a modern Italian-American restaurant that boasts kiawe wood-fired brick-oven pizzas and dishes that showcase local ingredients. Get the pappardelle with curry bolognese or the slow-roasted pork belly with king trumpet mushrooms.
  • On April 30, 2013
    Catherine E. Toth answered the question: Catherine E. Toth

    What is the best way to see Oahu in one day?

    The best way to see Oahu in one day is to get up early, grab a rental car and go.

    First, get in some exercise — so you can eat later. If it's your first time to Oahu, you'll want to hike up Leahi, more commonly known as Diamond Head, the iconic volcano on the eastern edge of Waikiki. The hike up is less than a mile and it ascends 560 feet to a lookout with sweeping views of the island's coastline. The park opens at 6 a.m., so get there early. It's $5 per car, with the money going toward improvements and maintenance at the park. (If you've done this hike before, consider Manoa Falls, an easy trail in the back of Manoa Valley that twists through a lush rainforest and bamboo trees and ends at a waterfall.)

    Next, indulge in a blueberry stuffed French toast or eggs Benedict at Sweet E's Cafe (1016 Kapahulu Ave., 808-737-7771), a charming little cafe tucked away in Kilohana Square. Pop next door to South Shore Paperie (1016 Kapahulu Ave., 808-744-8746), a custom stationery studio for some handcrafted notecards. It's open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday.

    It will probably be close to 10 a.m. when you leave Kapahulu, giving you two choices: you can book it to the North Shore, about a 45-minute drive from Waikiki, or head to Kailua Beach Park on Oahu's Windward side, which takes less than half an hour. If you choose Kailua Beach Park, take Pali Highway and stop at the historic Pali Lookout, a lookout with panoramic views of the Koolau Mountains and the Windward Coast. Cost is $3 for cars.

    At Kailua Beach Park, you can rent kayaks and paddle to either Flat Island or the farther Mokulua Islands. Or you can frolic in the water or walk the half-mile of soft white sand. Or you can find a quiet spot and just lounge. When you start to feel those hunger pangs, walk across the street to Bob's Pizzeria (130 Kailua Road, 808-263-7757) for a slice of Boston-style pizza. Walk around the bustling little beach town filled with boutiques and specialty shops. Grab a malassada from Agnes's Portuguese Bake Shop (46 Hoolai St., 808-262-5367), easily one of the best on the island, and hop back in the car to drive back to Honolulu.

    For dinner, go simple at an izakaya, a Japanese-style tavern that serves small plates. Try Sushi Izakaya Shinn (2065 S. Beretania St., 808-946-7466) in Moiliili for first-rate sushi and other specialty items. Then finish your meal with mochi ice cream from Bubbie's Homemade Ice Cream & Desserts (1010 University Ave., 808-949-8984) in the University area.

    It was a big day, so get some rest. Tomorrow, there's always more to explore.
     
    Don't forget to bring:
    • Snacks and water for the drive
    • Sunscreen, lip balm and other sun protection
    • Camera
    • Towels
    • Jacket or sweater in case it gets cold at night
  • On April 30, 2013
    Catherine E. Toth answered the question: Catherine E. Toth

    What is the best thing to bring home from Oahu?

    Catherine E. Toth Finding gifts to bring home is part of the fun of traveling. Here are three only-on-Oahu items sure to please any recipient:
    1. Hawaiian Style Chili Seasoning & Rub (shown) from Rainbow Drive-In (3308 Kanaina Ave., 808-737-0177): This iconic drive-in off Kapahulu Avenue just outside of Waikiki has been serving up great local-style food since 1961. A couple of years ago, it started selling its popular chili in a mix form — and it's been a huge seller ever since. The mix can be used to make chili, of course, but you can use it to make fried chicken or as a dry rub on pork or fish. And grab a plate lunch while you're there, too. $4.95 per pack.
    2. 72% Hawaiian Sea Salt Chocolate Bar from Manoa Chocolate (315 Uluniu St., Kailua, 808-262-6789): This bean-to-bar chocolate company in Kailua crafts high-quality chocolate using sustainable practices. While it can be tough to find locally grown cacao, Manoa Chocolate manages to use as much local chocolate as possible. And the bars — like this Hawaiian Sea Salt one — are to die for. $9 per bar.
    3. Lemon Flavored Cookies by The Cookie Lady Hawaii (94-449 Akoki St., #102, Waipahu): The Cookie Lady offers a variety of cookies, from almond to peanut butter. But the savory lemon cookies are the company's most popular. Find them at Carousel Candyland in Kahala Mall, Karen's Kitchen on Cooke Street and Maruki Tei in Windward Mall. $6.50 for a package of 10 (per the website).
  • On April 30, 2013
    Catherine E. Toth answered the question: Catherine E. Toth

    What is the best beach on Oahu?

    Catherine E. Toth There's no shortage of great beaches on Oahu, from bustling Waikiki Beach ideal for surfing and people-watching to the half-mile-long Kailua Beach where you can kayak, kitesurf or stroll with your dogs. But if you want something different — and you'd prefer to avoid the crowds of Waikiki and the North Shore — head 35 miles northwest of Honolulu to Makaha Beach on the island's west side. Here you'll find world-class surf and pristine waters — with half the crowd. During the summer months, when the ocean is calmer, Makaha Beach offers excellent snorkeling and swimming. You'll see endangered green sea turtles, manta rays, dolphins and schools of various reef fish. But beware: Makaha, in Hawaiian, means "fierce," and that's exactly what conditions may turn to during the winter months of monster waves and rip currents.
  • On April 30, 2013
    Catherine E. Toth answered the question: Catherine E. Toth

    What is the best thing to bring home from Oahu?

    Catherine E. Toth Finding gifts to bring home is part of the fun of traveling. Here are three only-on-Oahu items sure to please any recipient:
    1. Hawaiian Style Chili Seasoning & Rub (shown) from Rainbow Drive-In (3308 Kanaina Ave., 808-737-0177): This iconic drive-in off Kapahulu Avenue just outside of Waikiki has been serving up great local-style food since 1961. A couple of years ago, it started selling its popular chili in a mix form — and it's been a huge seller ever since. The mix can be used to make chili, of course, but you can use it to make fried chicken or as a dry rub on pork or fish. And grab a plate lunch while you're there, too. $4.95 per pack.
    2. 72% Hawaiian Sea Salt Chocolate Bar from Manoa Chocolate (315 Uluniu St., Kailua, 808-262-6789): This bean-to-bar chocolate company in Kailua crafts high-quality chocolate using sustainable practices. While it can be tough to find locally grown cacao, Manoa Chocolate manages to use as much local chocolate as possible. And the bars — like this Hawaiian Sea Salt one — are to die for. $9 per bar.
    3. Lemon Flavored Cookies by The Cookie Lady Hawaii (94-449 Akoki St., #102, Waipahu): The Cookie Lady offers a variety of cookies, from almond to peanut butter. But the savory lemon cookies are the company's most popular. Find them at Carousel Candyland in Kahala Mall, Karen's Kitchen on Cooke Street and Maruki Tei in Windward Mall. $6.50 for a package of 10 (per the website).
  • On April 30, 2013
    Catherine E. Toth answered the question: Catherine E. Toth

    What are the best things to do with kids on Oahu?

    Kids love adventures, and there are lots of those on Oahu. From hiking to a waterfall to visiting a world-class aquarium, families will find no shortage of things to do. One of the best adventures for kids is experiencing the colorful underwater world at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve (808-396-4229). Located on the southeast tip of East Honolulu, this circular-shaped bay is a protected marine conservation area and one of the island's most popular snorkeling spots. Here, you can see a variety of marine wildlife including the raccoon butterflyfish (kikakapu), the bluespine unicornfish (kala), the spotted boxfish (moa) and the hard-to-pronounce state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapuaa, or reef triggerfish. More than 3,000 people visit the bay every day, so get there early. (The parking lot does fill up.) You will be required to watch a 9-minute educational video about the nature preserve before entering, so plan for that. Cost is $7.50 per person, free for children 12 and under. It costs another $1 to park your car. The bay is closed on Tuesdays.
  • On April 30, 2013
    Catherine E. Toth answered the question: Catherine E. Toth

    What are the best things to do with kids on Oahu?

    Kids love adventures, and there are lots of those on Oahu. From hiking to a waterfall to visiting a world-class aquarium, families will find no shortage of things to do. One of the best adventures for kids is experiencing the colorful underwater world at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve (808-396-4229). Located on the southeast tip of East Honolulu, this circular-shaped bay is a protected marine conservation area and one of the island's most popular snorkeling spots. Here, you can see a variety of marine wildlife including the racoon butterflyfish (kikakapu), the bluespine unicornfish (kala), the spotted boxfish (moa) and the hard-to-pronounce state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapuaa, or reef triggerfish. More than 3,000 people visit the bay every day, so get there early. (The parking lot does fill up.) You will be required to watch a 9-minute educational video about the nature preserve before entering, so plan for that. Cost is $7.50 per person, free for children 12 and under. It costs another $1 to park your car. The bay is closed on Tuesdays.
  • On April 30, 2013
    Catherine E. Toth answered the question: Catherine E. Toth

    What are the best places to stay on Oahu?

    Oahu has more accommodation choices than any other island. You can indulge in the luxurious Halekulani right on Waikiki Beach or book a quaint bed-and-breakfast in Kailua on Oahu's Windward side. For the best of both worlds, though, check out The Kahala Hotel & Resort (5000 Kahala Ave., 808-739-8888). It's located about five miles east of Waikiki, past the iconic Diamond Head and in the upscale neighborhood of Kahala. It's far enough away from the bustle and lights of Waikiki, yet close enough to stay in the action. The 338-room oceanfront resort boasts five restaurants, a world-class spa, lush gardens, a private lagoon with dolphins, and an 800-foot stretch of white-sand beach. It's an oasis in the middle of Honolulu. (And it's pet-friendly!)