A while back Ranee took me, Eric, Andrew and Rob to a secret spot for lunch. Oasis Cafe is a Mediterranean restaurant hidden in the back of a jewelry store in the heart of Jewelers Row! I mean, literally you walk into the jewelry store and pass cases and cases of diamonds and other gems and then you’re standing in front of a counter and placing a lunch order!! The food was really good and we sat outside in a plaza nearby our office and ate. What a great lunch!
The Haute and The Dog hotdog: Cheese-stuffed hotdog taco with pulled pork.
Some of the chefs did a hot dog in a bun with crazy toppings, but others did some pretty imaginative stuff. Gapers Block made a Thai hotdog kebab and The Haute and The Dog did a kind of taco hotdog with pulled pork added on the top.
After tasting all of the entries (luckily they were served in half-hotdog portions!) it was time to vote. I really liked Harmony Grill’s hotdog. If I remember correctly, this dog was cooked in bacon fat and had jalapeno jam that was actually pretty sweet. There were some Cheetos fried onions on the top and also some bacon in there somewhere, I think. YUMYUM. Everyone got a slip of paper that they submitted at competitor tables to vote. If you wanted you could also vote “the Chicago way,” by stuffing the ballet boxes with money!
In addition to the popular, people’s choice vote, there was also official judging done by experts! Doug Sohn of Hot Doug’s, David Lissner “The Food Dude“, and Bruce Kraig, author of Man Bites Dog conferred at the end, while Paul Baker tried to listen in, and chose a winner.
Funny thing: ManBQue won both the popular vote and the judges vote! They had a Sonora hotdog that they told me is popular in Northern Mexico and Arizona. Sara thinks she should be a judge next year, since she picked ManBQue as her favorite too!
All in all, we had a really fun time and felt good knowing that all of the proceeds will benefit Reach Out and Read Illinois, an early literacy organization.
I have always heard Dallas and his family talk about the drag races. Dallas’s dad used to drive a car in the drag races and Uncle Bob (Matsuda) and Uncle George (Matsuda) were the car designers and mechanics. Dallas and his siblings grew up at the drag races.
Well, Dallas’s dad no longer races, but Uncle Bob and Uncle George are still very involved. They own and run Matsuda Racign and they have a car that they designed and that they maintain. Their driver now is Riley, who is Dallas’s same age, although they were not classmates. At one point Uncle Bob’s daughter Marissa was their driver!
Car in the pit next to us.
Uncle Bob preparing the parachute.
Riley and Uncle George
Tying the car to the truck to pull it to the racing area.
Riley’s dad drove the blue car in the pit.
The pit next to us had a lot of keiki. Reminded Dallas of when they were kids.
Since I’ve always heard so much about the drag races I was excited to finally get a chance to check them out. Man, everyone knows everyone there. People were coming up to Dallas even. One lady was his old babysitter! I had a lot of fun watching the action from the pits. There were a ton of families in the pits with lots of kids growing up at the drag races. Reminded Dallas of when he was young.
Riley helped me understand how the racing was done. It was pretty much simple brackets. If the Matsuda car kept winning they would drive in 4 races total. When we arrived they’d already won once and had advanced on.
This is their second run:
They won again!! One thing that really surprised me is that any car can be a race car. The Matsuda car is pretty fancy, but there were souped up Volkswagon Beatles and old classic cars. All kinds of things. You can hear on the video when I ask Dallas “What is that orange car doing there?” It was the car up against Riley, but it was such a different car I was confused about what was even going on!
And here’s a video that Riley took from inside the car on that second run!
Pushing the car back in to the pit area from the race area.
Race results sheet.
Getting ready for the next race.
Andrew and Riley
Getting the truck in position to pull the car to the race area.
Pulling the car to the race area.
Pulling the car to the race area.
Here’s the third run:
They won again!!! Just one more run and if they won then they’d have won the whole thing! But….. unfortunately, something broke on the car during the race. There were some tense moments in the pit when all the other racing teams and the officials came over. Uncle Bob had to make the tough decision: Race again and risk breaking the car more or forfeit. In the end they decided to forfeit. That kind of sucked, but I can understand why.
Back in the pits.
Tense moments in the pits.
Aunty Linda rushing in to see what happened while she was away.
We saw the winning car on the way out. Won by forfeit!
The winning car.
I had a fun time at the drag races! Check it out if you want something really different to do on Kauai!
Oh, and check this out. The Garden Island, Kauai’s newspaper, did an article back in 2009 on Matsuda racing, Team Matsuda: 40 Years of Speed. There’s a great video embedded in the article that has Uncle Bob and Uncle George and Riley talking about racing and their fancy car. And a fun fact from the article: “When Bobby and Nancy’s younger daughter, Marissa, was a junior in high school, she was the first woman on Kaua‘i to obtain a license to drive the race cars.”