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Cheesecake Factory Waikiki

September 9, 2014

Well, we’ve made it to the last day of our vacation in paradise.  Eight days and 7 nights traveling and sightseeing through 2 of the Hawaiian islands has left us incredibly relaxed and reinvigorated.  Today also happened to be my husband’s birthday.  So, I told him, for his birthday, and our final meal in Hawaii, it would be his choice where we ate.  He has his pick of any of the restaurants in Waikiki that were within walking distance of our hotel.  To my surprise, instead of choosing some nice fancy restaurant, he decided to go with an old favorite, the Cheesecake Factory Waikiki.  Admittedly, it may be a big chain restaurant, but you always know you’ll get good, filling food in a nice relax atmosphere.  I seem to find myself at various Cheesecake Factory locations throughout America on my various vacations.  On top of enjoying various Cheesecake Factory locations here in Southern California, I’ve dined at the Cheesecake Factory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Las Vegas, Nevada, Seattle, Washington and now Honolulu, Hawaii.

Located right on the main drag through Waikiki of Kalakaua Ave, this Cheesecake Factory is hard to miss for anyone traveling through town.  Not to mention that in the 3 days we’d been on Oahu, the handful of times we’d passed by the restaurant, there were non-stop crowds waiting to get in and dine.  We were lucky as we showed up late Saturday afternoon to eat and were immediately seated.  We had anticipated having to wait an hour or so for a table.

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As this was his birthday, I told my husband to celebrate.  Order a drink, get crazy.  Ok, maybe not that crazy, but what the heck, it’s your birthday.  Looking through the drink menu, my husband finally settled on a drink called the Molokini Sunset.  How appropriate, a specialty Hawaiian-inspired cocktail, one that isn’t available on the regular Cheesecake Factory menu.  The drink consisted of Mt. Gay and Malibu rums, pineapple, orange and passion fruit all blended with vanilla ice cream.  The drink was served with a beautiful purple orchid flower and slice of orange speared through a toothpick resting right at the top of the glass.  It’s hard to see in this picture, but the puree of the passion fruit and the orange create this pink glow that’s interspersed throughout the drink and seemingly looking like it’s the orange rays of a setting sun against a white backdrop, hence the name Molokini Sunset.  My husband really enjoyed this drink because he said it tasted like you were drinking a tropical milkshake, after all, can a drink blended with vanilla ice cream ever be a bad thing?

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For my drink, I went with an old favorite that I’ve enjoyed many times at various Cheesecake Factory locations, the Frozen Iced Mango.  The drink is made with mango, tropical juices and a hint of coconut blended with a raspberry puree, this drink screams tropical and is pure refreshment.  The flavors of the mango are just so sweet and juicy and delicious and the raspberry puree adds that bright pop of tart, acidic flavor to the drink.  You could certainly close your eyes and imagine you’re sipping this in a tropical paradise.  Wait, I’m already at a tropical paradise having a fruity blended mocktail.  Perfect.

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Perusing through the menu, my husband and I both spotted an item on the appetizer menu that we knew was purely Hawaiian and yet another menu item not offered at other Cheesecake Factory locations.  Ahi poke.  After having dined on the smoked ahi poke at Rays on the Bay in Kona, we knew we had to give the ahi poke at Cheesecake Factory a try.  Made with diced sushi-grade ahi combined with fresh ginger, green onions, soy sauce, chili-garlic and sesame layered between crispy wontons, the dish was a work of art.  Again, served with a beautiful purple orchid flower on the plate and a wonderful side salad, we couldn’t wait to dig into the ahi poke.  The ahi was of such tremendous quality that it literally melted like butter in our mouths.  I was a bit conserved about the chili-garlic, but I shouldn’t have been as the dish wasn’t spicy at all.  The ginger was really flavorful and the combination of flavors with the green onions and the soy sauce was perfect with the ahi which just soaked up all of these wonderful ingredients.  The crispy wontons really brought the dish together as it provided a vessel to enjoy the ahi, but also a terrific crunch and texture to the appetizer.

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As I often find myself ordering when I go to the Cheesecake Factory, I went with the crusted chicken romano for my entrée.  The dish is made by taking a chicken breast and pounded it thin, coating it with a Romano-Parmesan cheese crust and then pan frying it to the perfect golden brown.  The cheese crusted chicken is then topped with angel hair pasta in a light tomato sauce.  Of course, parmesan cheese is freshly grated all over the whole thing.  The cheese crusted chicken practically melts in your mouth.  The chicken is perfectly cooked and so light and thin and the cheese crust is flavorful and salty.  The pasta is a terrific addition as it goes well with the chicken and the tomato sauce compliments the cheese crusted chicken.  I could eat this every time I go to the Cheesecake Factory.

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My husband ordered a hamburger, or in this case, they call it a glamburger because it’s all dolled up.  We’ve actually seen this burger before on the menu here at the Cheesecake Factory locations in California briefly before they were removed from the menu.  It’s the macaroni and cheese burger, which is a charbroiled burger topped with creamy fried macaroni and cheese balls and creamy cheddar cheese sauce.  It’s like comfort foods of hamburgers and macaroni and cheese all rolled up into one.  How could my husband not like a burger like this?  And sure enough, he devoured his burger.  You get all the cheese you need from the macaroni and cheese and the added cheese sauce, and then you get a delicious burger on a nice toasted bun.  He got what he wanted for his birthday meal, and it hit the spot for him, so he was a happy camper.

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We decided to end our meal with by splitting a slice of cheesecake.  After all, this is the Cheesecake Factory.  It’s hard to pass up the wide variety of yummy cheesecakes they offer.  To my surprise, instead of his normal request for the Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake, my husband actually requested that we get the Fresh Banana Cream Cheesecake, which is actually one of my favorites.  You can’t go wrong with their luscious fresh cheesecake, delicious whipped cream and fresh banana slices.

What a way to end our amazing, relaxing vacation in Hawaii.  As much of a cultural journey as it was to see everything from volcanoes to beautiful beaches, to learning about how Kona coffee is harvested, this trip was a terrific food journey as well.  Hawaiian shave ice, loco moco, and shrimp scampi, just to name a few.  We’re already dreaming of our next trip to Hawaii.  It’s hard not to fall in love with the spirit of aloha!

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