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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Hawaii, New Orleans have lots in common

Photo galleryPhoto gallery: University of Hawaii football
 •  Jones says he has no interest in SMU job
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By Michael Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

UH football player Lorgan Pau, on the floor, and teammates waited yesterday at Honolulu Airport to board their flight to New Orleans.

Photos by ANDREW SHIMABUKU | The Honolulu Advertiser

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HAWAI'I PARTIES IN NEW ORLEANS

Dec. 31

Warriors Rally & New Year's Eve Celebration: Rally, party and concert hosted by Willie K, Vili the Warrior, Nalani Choi and Warren Wyatt, with additional entertainment by Augie T. and others. 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. at the Sugar Mill. Cost: $49 advance, $59 door. Information: www.warriorsrally.com or 262-6300.

Cajun-Warriors New Year's Eve Bash: Benefit for Na Koa Football Club and the New Orleans Habitat for Humanity, with appearances by June Jones, the UH band and cheerleaders, plus Cajun food and live entertainment. 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Generations Hall (310 Andrew Higgins Drive). Cost: $125 advance; $150 door; $65 ages 11-20. Information: www.hawaiiancajunbash.com.

Jan. 1

Warrior Tailgate Party: Warriors fans-only party at Johnny White's Pub & Grill, hosted by owner and UH alumnus Lynn Sapir. 1 to 6:30 p.m. at 718 Bourbon St. Cost: $20.

Food

Best place for a quick, inexpensive taste of New Orleans: Acme Oyster House (724 Iberville St.)

Best beignet: Cafe du Monde (800 Decatur St. and other locations)

Best breakfast: Brennan's (417 Royal St.)

Best place for a leisurely (but pricey) French dinner: Louis XVI (St. Louis Hotel, 730 Bienville)

Music

Best place to check out local jazz acts: Donna's Bar & Grill (800 N. Rampart St.)

Best place to work for your supper: Cajun Cabin (501 Bourbon St.)

Best place to get hit on by a real blues man: Funky Pirate (727 Bourbon St.)

Best place not to hear New Orleans music: House of Blues (225 Decatur St.)

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Come New Year's Day, University of Hawai'i football fans will find out once and for all whether the Warriors' prolific air attack can outdo Georgia's ferocious running game in the Sugar Bowl.

But with thousands of Warrior faithful descending on New Orleans for the Jan. 1 Bowl Championship Series game, other burning questions have arisen:

Do voodoo dolls make good omiyage?

Where can a poi-boy get a good po' boy?

Why are the tablecloths at Brennan's Restaurant Bulldog red?

For Islanders loathe to venture farther east than Las Vegas, the southern comforts of the Big Easy may seem like a different world. Yet, swap pidgin for creole, and squid lu'au for gumbo and the two cultures have much in common: a tenacious sense of discrete regional identity, an up-and-down tourism economy, and, of course, an abiding love of food, music and shopping.

And, as Honolulu resident Gary Ching notes, you don't have to know etouffee from Frito-Lay to enjoy yourself in "NOLa."

Ching, 37, visited New Orleans for the first time last summer and, though something of a whirlwind, his trip included some deep post-Katrina exploration of the city's legendary French Quarter and metropolitan areas.

"It wasn't exactly what I expected," Ching said. "There are places you wouldn't think would have survived the hurricane because they look totally untouched. But right next door you see something that's totally destroyed."

Ching was mildly surprised to find more prerecorded rap music and generic Guns 'n' Roses cover bands than live jazz, blues and zydeco along famed Bourbon Street. Still, the vibe of the Quarter from the bustling, beer-fueled revelry on Bourbon to the more subdued traffic along the row of art galleries on Royal left an indelible impression.

"It's not what I imagined, and a lot has probably changed because of Katrina, but it's definitely a jumping scene," he said.

The dining possibilities range from the low-frills, high-return charm of Mother's Restaurant (which boasts "The World's Best Baked Ham") or Acme Oyster House to the old-world elegance of such higher-end establishments as 167-year-old Antoine's or Louis XVI Restaurant.

Cajun Cabin on Bourbon Street offers everything from oysters to alligator the palate-scraping po' boy buns might be the only things that aren't deep fried but tourists shouldn't be surprised if they have to work for their dinner. Like many guests, Ching was yanked on stage to accompany the house zydeco band on the washboard.

Hawai'i fans may be tempted to pay a visit to the Warrior quarterback's namesake Brennan's Restaurant, reknowned for its gourmet breakfasts and courtyard dining.

Another must-stop for many tourists is internationally known Cafe du Monde, which has coffee and beignets available at seven locations around New Orleans. (The shop's coffee with chicory and beignet mixes are popular take-home items.)

For a slightly seedier experience, there's no shortage of bars and adult entertainment shops along Bourbon Street (think Kuhio Avenue meets Hotel Street, with better restaurants), and for those who seek maximum efficiency, "Big (expletive) Beers" in plastic cups are available from take-out windows for convenient drinking and staggering.

Omiyage shoppers can find the standard assortment of T-shirts, shot glasses, voodoo dolls, Cajun seasonings, canned alligator meat and Mardi Gras beads at dozens of souvenir and convenience stores along Canal Street. Shoppers are advised to compare prices; items at stores in close proximity to large hotels are generally more expensive.

Art lovers flock to Royal Street, home to a wide variety of fine art, photo and sculpture galleries. Most shops provide relatively low-cost shipping options.

A more conventional mall experience can be had at the Riverwalk Marketplace, located next to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on Poydras Street.

The Riverwalk is also the site for boarding the Steamboat Natchez Riverboat Cruise, which travels along the Mississippi River.

Tourists with a free morning or afternoon have a variety of guided tours through which to explore historic Jackson Square, the Louisiana swamps, the National D-Day Museum or even St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, believed to be the final resting place of legendary voodoo queen Marie Laveau.

Reach Michael Tsai at mtsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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