Air Park Karaoke – Rockin’ Out

I am visiting Hawaii with a group of nine and a couple of us wanted to give karaoke a go while the other half were dubious.

We booked a private room at Air Park Karaoke across from Ala Moana to give it a whirl and man did we rock out!

It was a slow start, but after a few rainbow shots (amazing try them if you’re there!) we were singing our little hearts out. We had a VERY wide range of music choices in the room and sang everything from Linkin Park to Queen, Righteous Brothers to Eminem and Bruno Mars. Personally, I think my rendition of Chop Suey by System of a Down was the best but the others may debate that.

We had a bunch of fun together and everyone relaxed. Dan (my brother) had me in hysterics with his renditions of songs in different voices using both the microphones. Steph (my cousin) and I smashed out Unchained Melody, a song from our childhood and I think Laura (family friend) lost her voice rapping to Eminem!

The bar is on call, you just push the service button and Ta Daaa! A bar tender appears to shake you up a delicious cocktail. I was partial to Moscow Mules but I hear the Pink Delicious was yummy and sweet too. Oh and you can order in Japanese platters too.

Highly recommend for a fun night out together in Waikiki!

 

 *Room and shots were gifted, review is authentic and true!

Coconut Hotel Waikiki Bliss

Ever had one of those travel experiences where you just couldn’t wait to be at your destination? You know the ones… flight delay, long flight, crying babies, crappy airport food. Well I had a fairly decent one. It started with a big night out in New York, a seven hour flight delay and then a ten hour flight. Then when I landed in Honolulu my ’15’ minute shuttle took over an hour. Instead of getting in at 4pm, I got in at 1am. Anyway now for the good stuff!

I got to Coconut Waikiki Hotel, greeted by the friendly and compassionate reception staff and got up to my room and nearly cried it was so great! The TV was on with welcoming Hawaii tunes and scenes, the bed was huge and plush with soooo many pillows! The room was expansive, with a full bathroom, another separate toilet and a kitchenette. Perfect.

I dive bombed that bed!! I have never been so happy to roll around and smother myself in pillows. I was exhausted and oh-so-happy! Anddd I fell straight to sleep.

I woke up the next day after a great sleep in my comfy bed and was able to walk straight out into the heart of Waikiki. The hotel is located far enough off the main strip that it is not loud but lit up and only a couple of blocks walk to the main restaurant and shopping areas. For me that’s ideal.

Hot Tip – if you book direct there’s no resort fees and 15% off! Oh and breakfast is inclusive. Pretty sweet deal!

I’ll definitely be back – I’ll let the pictures do the talking….

*This hotel room was complimentary, review is completely authentic and true.

9 Classic New York Must Do’s

Heading to New York? Here’s my checklist for the top classic and touristy must do activities while you’re in the big smoke.

1. Walk the Highline 

Jump on the highline and walk through the skyscrapers. The highline used to be the old railway and runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues. There’s expansive views, incredible art installations and you can look into the apartments as you stroll around. Perfect to do after a long brunch to walk it off! Stop at Chelsea Markets too while you’re at it. 


2. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge 

For sweeping views of Manhattan, try walk across the bridge during the day and then back in the evening so you can see the cityscape in both daylight and all lit up at night. Head over for dinner in Brooklyn and then make your way back. If you have time spend a day over there exploring. 


3. Ferry to Staten Island 

Ahhh the lady with the torch representing freedom. There’s a ferry you can catch over to the island if you want to get a closer look at the Statue of Liberty. It’s nice to have the wind in your hair and be on the water. Be warned though, there’s nothing to do on the other side once you get there. I recommend going straight back. 

4. Grand Central Station 

Every time I go to Grand Central Station I see something new. It’s an incredibly well kept building and very impressive in size and grandeur. Walk around exploring and head to the oyster bar there, it’s one of my fave places! 


5. Times Square

What’s a trip to New York without a visit to the famous Times Square! You really feel like you’re in New York when you’re there. To get the full effect, visit at night, the advertising and lights are spectacular. There’s lots of shops, quirky characters, photo opportunities and places to eat. 


6. Chelsea markets 

A foodie favourite. The lobster rolls are the absolute best! There’s a mouth wateringly good pasta joint too and cupcakes.. the list goes on. Some funky shops to check out as well. 


7. Shopping 

You can’t go to NYC without doing some shopping, even if it’s just to see the shops themselves and not buy anything! 5th ave and Madison ave are sights to see. Check out the big luxury department stores and the high street flagship stores. Macy’s and Victoria’s Secret and Sephora are popular to visit too. 

8. Empire State Building 

For that Empire State of mind head to the top of the ESB. Wait for a clear day and you can see right around. Be prepared to line up and make sure your phone is charged for that selfie! 


9. Catch a Broadway show 

Broadway musicals are a fun and memorable experience, even if you’re not a fan of musicals or the theatre. You can get discount tickets in Times Square or online for the day of the show usually. Mary Poppins was my first show and then The Lion King was next. The theatres are breathtaking, right down to the red velvet curtains. 

I can always keep listing activities and sights but they’re a decent start! 

Don’t forget Wall Street, East Village and Rockerfellar too…. 

Real Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen, Hells Kitchen, NYC 

After the ChinaTown dumpling catastrophe, I thought I would do a little more research. I was in Times Square and had tickets to The Christmas Spectacular off Broadway so didn’t want to go too far. Thanks to google I found a great little place hidden away on 8th and 49th. 

There was a line out the door – always a good sign. Luckily I was dining alone and it straight in past the queue! I ordered the xiao long bao and a house ramen. 

The xiao long bao were some of the best I have had. Thin wrappers, soooo much tasty soup and beautiful pork filling. I could have eaten double. 

The ramen was nice. Good broth and great noodles. The egg was too well cooked though and I wasn’t a fan of the beef they had included. Reminded me more of pho than ramen. 

Go here for the dumplings!

Old Shanghai Deluxe, ChinaTown, NYC

I really thought eating in ChinaTown would be a great and easy experience. I took the subway as near as I could then walked down. Surprisingly, the streets were quiet, it was dark and most of the shops were shut. I probably wouldn’t recommend doing it on your own. 

I thought it would be easy to find a good dumpling place, I was hunting xiao long bao and hadn’t done much research about where I was going. When I got to the ‘main’ street, there wasn’t much choice and a few places were shut. 

I used google to find a high rated restaurant and went in to where I thought it was… it had a similar name but it wasn’t the one. I didn’t realise until I was already seated though. 

The staff could not care less but the food was quick to come out. I ordered xiao long bao and a noodle dish. They were both pretty average, not bad but just not great. The xiao long bao had thick wrappers and the noodles didn’t seem handmade. 

Awkwardly, there was a couple at the table next to me having an argument. They kept their voices low to start but his soon crept up. It was hard not to take notice from right next door. She had been having an affair and everyone knew and the guy turned up at thanksgiving dinner! The husband was devastated and kept reiterating that he loved her and missed her but how could she do that… it went on a long time!  

Not worth going back to, remember to do your research, kids! 

Lennox Coffee Roasters, Harlem, NYC

On the corner of 129th and Lennox Ave in Harlem, you’ll find the Lennox Cafe hidden away. 

As soon as I arrived I went over and the lovely servers were great. After flying for 20+ hours I didn’t want to make decisions and they made them all for me. I needed a freshly squeezed OJ to pep me up and an everything bagel with plain cream cheese. 

I hadn’t got out any US cash yet and they were very sweet and gave me the two items even though I was slightly short. The next time I was back in I made sure I gave them a big tip. 

The second time I visited I got the deliciously fresh and sweet OJ and a raisin and cinnamon bagel with plain cream cheese. I was more decisive on this day! I took my bagel into the city on the subway and ate it on 34th street in one of the little parks. 

Perfect! 

Harlem Perspective, NYC 

I’ve visited New York a number of times now and this time I wanted something a little different. 

I usually stay in midtown and a friend offered for me to stay with her in Harlem – an area I haven’t explored, apart from Donosaur Ribs. Mmmm ribssss….

It’s given me a whole new perspective on the city and I’m very glad I accepted. 

I’ve walked all around 129th to 125th on Lennox each day to get the subway. I even walked right to 40th street through Central Park! 

I had an incredible dining experience at Sylvia’s, great bagels & OJ at Lennox Cafe, a beautiful pizza at Babbalucci’s and enjoyed wine to soulful sounds at Red Rooster in the wee hours. 

Come to think of it, Sylvia’s gospel Sundays and Red Rooster at 2am were so of my fave experiences so far on this trip! Probably because they are both so authentic. Sylvia’s is full of locals coming in to eat soul food & listen to the gospel after Sunday church. At Red Rooster, the music was incredible and everyone was grooving. We were the minority and it came complete with a dealer out the back and a line up. 

You get a few funny looks from the locals but I’ve always felt safe. There’s even a Michelin starred sushi restaurant across the road too! Unfortunately it’s closed Sunday for lunch when I wanted to dine. 

There’s always fun characters on the street, laughing and having fun with their friends. Of course, there is the sad side too, the homeless and those who can’t afford to live well. 

A new perspective and one I am thankful to have had. 

Next time I come, Brooklyn is on the cards. 

Babbalucci, Harlem, NYC

We lunched at Babbalucci on my first day in New York for a group lunch. It’s a cozy Italian restaurant nestled away around 127th on Lennox Ave. 

I had all but chosen the eggplant parmigiana but then I found the pizza menu! Man, do they have an impressive pizza menu. I’m not a massive pizza fan but these had such unique flavours I couldn’t not! I finally chose the Honey Pie, a white based pizza of ricotta, mozzarella, gorgonzola and hot peppers (jalapeños), spicy salami with a honey truffle sauce.

It was amazing, the flavours all melded together well and the truffle with the seeet honey at the end finished it off. The pizza was traditionally cooked to perfection in a wood fire oven with a crispy base. 

Miguel had a pizza with duck prosciutto on it. It was very dark and had a sweet sauce on it, a very interesting combination. 

I want to go back and try the rest!


Coffee Hit North Lakes Opening

I was lucky enough to attend the opening day of the extension at Westfield North lakes on the 17th November, including checking out the new Coffee Hit North Lakes Cafe.

Being the opening day, the queue was long for coffees but was moving fast.
There’s a big menu with all day breakfast and in the end, I couldn’t choose between the super salad and the laksa hokkien noodle salad… so I let the staff choose! To my delight, they bought over the laksa hokkien noodle salad.

The Laksa sauce tasted great and paired with the fresh noodles, asian greens and tofu it made quite the dish!

I must say, I’m not normally one for tofu (apart from agedashi) but it was really good in this combination.

My soy chai latte was sweet (just how I like it) and they had almond and soy milk to choose from. Almond was the call of the day.

Loved the funky graffiti on the walls and the staff were polite and helpful.

I also got to watch a roasting session with Craig Simon who is a 2x Australian barista champion! He’s an ambassador for Coffee Hit coffee and I learnt heaps about the process. Having a roaster in-store means the coffee is always fresh and you just can’t beat that smell!

Looking forward to dropping by next time I’m in North Brisbane.

Groove Train Kawana Waters

Alfresco dining – tick
Large menu choice – tick
Cool beer on tap – tick
Fantastic customer service – tick
Ample parking – tick
Strawberry and Nutella calzone – tick, tick tick!

After a lovely, leisurely day hitting the beach and checking out the shops at Shoppingworld, my girlfriends and I headed to Groove Train Kawana Waters for a bite to eat and a wind down wine. We had been really impressed with the variety of shops at Kawana Shoppingworld, with some of our favourite stores for fashion and beauty buys and we needed a debrief. We chose a table outside the restaurant, perfect for people watching and with a beautiful, cool breeze.

As a regular holiday maker to the Sunshine Coast, I’m always looking for great places to kick back and enjoy some beverages and great food with friends. A large menu is always important for me as everyone has different tastes and food requirements or allergies. As luck would have it, their menu had something for everyone.

We all explored the menu, tossing in ideas of sharing plates so we could taste everything as it all sounded so good. I ended up picking an old time favourite of mine, the pumpkin and spinach risotto. Boy, did it not disappoint! Lightly creamy and full of flavour. Obviously, I paired it with a glass of red, a lovely cab sav that was recommended by our waitress.

I noticed a large range of beers there too, will have to bring the boys next time!

The girls went on the fresh side (something about this warmer weather) and chose a seared beef salad and a Thai calamari salad to share.  The salads which, of course I tried, were refreshing and light. I think I favoured the calamari best.

For dessert I can never go past the chocolatey calzone… it’s full of Nutella and strawberries. Delightfully warm, melted Nutella and strawberries in a beautiful, crisp calzone with ice cream on the side – cue drooling!

A bunch of big ticks for me! We will definitely be back soon.

** Originally published in Dining Out Magazine, Sunshine Coast

Groove Train Kawana Waters Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato