Throughout the 80s and 90s, I frequently journeyed home to Australia from Toronto, always spending a day or two in Hawaii to break up the very long journey half-way around the globe and chillin’ on the beach at Waikiki. I had originally booked for 3 days in Honolulu so I could do the touristy thing before heading Down Under but thanks to Qantas being so short-staffed with pilots and crew, my flight was cancelled and I had to scramble to find a seat on a plane 2 days earlier so all I had was 36hrs to enjoy the tropical paradise.This trip, I checked into the Holiday Inn Express, a couple of rows back from the beach and several hundred dollars a night cheaper!! Had a great view over the canal and up into the mountains…and the comfiest queen bed in which to recover from the Air Canada economy seats from Toronto and Vancouver (12 hours in total flying time). First place I visited was the Duke Kahanamoku memorial (below) on Waikiki beach – it is said he invented surfing as we know it today.I then worked by way along Kalakaua Avenue to view the grand old ladies – hotels Royal Hawaiian (the “pink palace”) and the Moana (pictured below) – I’ve stayed at both in the past and you get a real feel for 1920s old school hotel glamour when you walk in. Being on a budget this time, I headed over to Duke’s Lane, a great flea market where I found some treasures including a beautiful hair comb that the lovely stall holder lady put in my hair…isn’t it lovely? The famous International Market was torn down about 20yrs ago and in its place, there’s a suburban style mall with fancy-schmancy boutiques that you get in any major city. I really miss Trader Vic’s and all the cute stalls…but I did like seeing Don Ho’s memorial (below)Time to depart for the longest leg of my journey – the 10 1/2hrs across the Pacific to Sydney. But look what I found in the lounge at the Honolulu airport. I was having visions of Jack Lord calling Hawaii 5-O HQ while chasing a villain through the airport…”book him, Danno”!! So Aloha and mahalo to Hawaii, and westward ho on to Australia….
So I celebrated my birthday today – December 26th, a.k.a. Boxing Day or St. Stephen’s Day for the more religiously inclined. I usually spend birthdays safe at home, locked away from the post-Christmas crazies at the malls, hoping that someone will remember to call or send me a Facebook greeting, or at least re-gift some god-awful Christmas pressie as my birthday treat. This year, however, I decided to head out and join my dear friend, Donna (with whom I shared many an “adventure” when we both worked at Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Kabaret in the 1980s) at Toronto’s latest hotspot – the Shameful Tiki Room on Queen St West (just past Dufferin).
Haven’t hung out with Donna for a while so there was a lot to catch up on other than birthdays and our various aches, pains and bitching about our sags, bags and WTF is that growing there?…LOL!
The lovely folks at Shameful Tiki made us a sumptuous repast and as I arrived early, I sat at the bar waiting for Donna to arrive and got stuck into a “Pain Killer” cocktail that certainly lived up to its name (below). The drinks are all very affordable and pack a real punch. Many are rum-based and I admired their drinks menu which was reminiscent of the bar “placemat” at the old Trader Vic’s in Waikiki where I used to spend many an hour killing time between flights to and from Australia. All you have to do is just point to the picture of which drinkie you’d like and the barkeep at the Shameful Tiki Room will create a masterpiece in a glass, complete with garnishes and fancy swizzle stick.When Donna arrived, we moved to a cozy booth at the back of the room surrounded by all sorts of tiki memorabilia and mid-century Hawaiian nic-nacs. The music was right out of Mad Men and each time the song changed I found myself humming along and singing with Deano, Frank, and even a little Don Ho! Talk about authentic…wow The food menu is short but sweet…all sorts of nibblies and treats so we opted for the tiki platter that gave us a selection of everything and I highly recommend the awesome Huli-Huli chicken wings, all sticky and spicy. I also enjoyed the teriyaki fried broccoli and the Spam fried rice ball…yummm. We made short work of the platter and ordered even more wings. It was a virtual luau! We were so stuffed..Donna offered up a ladylike burp (below)…while I sucked those damned chicken wings dry!!!More drinks? Sure….then we got a bit sloshed. “allo, sailor!” Fellow diners at a neighbouring table got stuck in to one of the “mystery bowls” announced to all in the tiki lounge by the bartender striking a big noisy gong. They were such a fun bunch…So here’s to the wonderful SHAMEFUL TIKI ROOM, 1378 Queen West, Toronto. Yes, we’ll be back for more…lots more. I have an entire double-sided drinks menu to point-n-guzzle my way thru this coming year! See you all there: http://shamefultikiroom.com/toronto/