Travel Eats

Layton's Dip'n Donuts


Not pictured--the reason we went to Layton's.  Powdered sugar donuts.  My powdered sugar donut obsession started early in life with the Holy Grail of Donuts.  We called them "crullers," and they were a summertime treat from a little bakery in Madison, CT.  Layton's has come close to replicating them, and I sought them out on trips to Ocean City, Maryland some 28 years(!) ago.  They are still the same, and they do not disappoint.  A freshly made donut liberally coated in powdered sugar with crispy edges, especially in the "hole" region.  We used to frequent their 92nd street location, but I can attest that the donuts at the 16th street location are equally delicious. 

 Layton's has a full breakfast menus, and the 92nd St. location has outdoor seating.  Don't know how their breakfast rates since I have only gone for the donuts. 

Sophie, easily swayed by color, enjoys her Fruity Pebble encrusted treat.

 Apple fritter, impressive, yes, but still not as good as powdered sugar. 


Sushi Samba at the Palazzo

                The Cocktail that preceded the Cake Boss Incident

After a day of wandering the Strip (to the tune of 7 miles per the pedometer) we were ready for happy hour drinks and nibbles ($6 plates and drinks) at Sushi Samba at the Palazzo shops.

 I cannot remember the names of our drink specials but they were some powerful fruity concoctions that made me feel like I was on vacation.  We sat at the bar and were entertained by the young folk adjacent to us and well taken care of by our bartenders.

Waygu beef gyoza: some of the best pot-stickers I have ever eaten although I am not sure if this is the best use of Waygu. 


Scallop sushi and salmon skin roll: delicious but not stand-outs.  We had two orders of the seabass tempura on the recommendation of the bartender--ethereal crust dusted with togarashi.  Gone too fast for a photo.  The tuna tartare was a nice sized serving for the price but not especially memorable.  We also enjoyed a sake flight for $15.  Refreshingly inexpensive tab for great food and drink, and one of the few happy hours in Vegas that doesn't involve beer in plastic cups and your standard bar fare.

 SUSHISAMBA strip (Palazzo) on Urbanspoon


Pa'ina Cafe

 Hoping to maximize our poke intake before returning to the Mainland we checked out Pa'ina Cafein Koko Marina Shopping Center on our way home from Sandy's.

Pa'ina means "gathering," and their mission is to bring people together with fresh, really ono food.  To that effect, their menu is diverse with a selection of sandwiches, plate lunch, salads and bowls to please the entire group.

The concept of a poke bowl is new to me, but echoes the ice cream sundae construction.   A base + toppings=huge variety of flavor combinations.

Take a base of brown or white rice, add a sauce (spicy/mild), poke of your choice, and as many toppings as you like and are willing to pay for at 50 cents each.  The cheerful staff will have the bowl of goodness to you in short order.   Can't decide on one type of poke?  No worries, they let you do half/half.  The day we went they had masago (flying fish roe) wasabi poke, and I mixed that up with the limu ahi poke, topped with scallions, kimchi and seaweed salad--see first picture in post.  Ian went heavy on the kimchi.

 Cullen got the Hawaiian bowl--poke plus kalua pig and lomi salmon.

 Maddy got the poke salad bowl--no rice + salad dressing.  Sophie got a grilled cheese--no surprise there.  The poke was super fresh, and no price increase this close to New Years!?  A large bowl will run you $6.35, and there had to be close to a half pound of ahi on each bowl.  The Hawaiian bowl is $7.25.  Time ran out for another stop at Pa'ina Cafe for me, but Ian returned for the Hawaiian bowl.  I am back to a poke-free existence in Texas and wishing Pa'ina Cafe delivered.

Paina Cafe on Urbanspoon


House of Pure Aloha

There is a new shave ice purveyor in town in the Aina Haina shopping center, and it makes a perfect stop on your way home from Hanauma Bay.  Uncle Clay Chang and his nephew Bronson opened this past fall with a double pronged mission of creating some really ono shave ice and spreading their message on living pure aloha.  For every dollar spent on gift cards, the Changs will give a certain percentage back to selected charities, and they are putting the local back in shave ice with local partners and suppliers. 

The shave ice pictured above is lichee and coconut with homemade mochi hearts and azuki beans--not the usual garish colors one would expect because the syrups are all natural.  Certainly less photogenic but definitely no less tasty.  They are also the first shave ice establishment to offer a kale-based syrup--a little too green for me, but I'm sure there will be takers.  

If you are in the neighborhood, stop in and live the aloha.



Fast Food with a View

Plate lunch: meat + rice + macaroni salad.  A winning formula, and Zippy's does it right.  No trip to Hawaii is complete without a stop here.  This is hearty fare, perfect for replacing the calories you just burned surfing or hiking.  

Korean Fried chicken: crispy and coated with a sweet garlic sauce.

The beloved Zippy's chili.  They will ship to the mainland for the die-hard fans.

Fried noodles: Sophie's favorite dish.

From Napolean's Bakery--the associated pastry shop within Zippy's.  This is their Reese's Cup Doughnut.  Sophie referred to it as "the Holy Grail of Doughnuts."  We were saving room for shave ice, or I would have had a coconut napple--a flaky coconut filled turnover unique to Zippy's.

 Zippy's... easy on your wallet not on your waistline.....