“You give people an experience!”, one of our VIPs delivered with a firm head nod, as we delicately toasted sunset cocktails our last dinner on the Redondo Beach pier.
Yes, we do; that’s the Hawaii Sports Fans goal every single time, whether it’s 2 or 6 or 24 of you.
Not a cookie-cutter tour company, we curate adventures to provide you a unique experience you simply won’t find anywhere else, delivering value for your money every time.
The Rainbow Warriors gave us even more to deliver on this trip, winning back-to-back Big West Men’s Volleyball championships, but we already had much more waiting in store.
Friday, April 21, 2023
After a night of restful sleep and daily breakfast at our go-to hotel, we officially kicked off the tour with a 1 pm pickup, heading south to Irvine.
Our pre-game meal was first; we had an array of broke da mout’ options to choose from between LAX down to Orange County, a region I know like the back of my hand.
BAEKJEONG might be one of the best KBBQ joints on the planet. The quality of the meats and abundance of fresh banchan (sides) already puts it at the top of a very competitive SoCal market - one I know personally very well - and yet, we threw in a little more for our VIPs: makgeolli (rice wine), soju and one of my absolute favorite dishes on the planet, the dosirak. Also known as the “lunch box” - a tin containing rice, egg coated spam, fried egg, kimchi and onion and roasted seaweed, the tasty concoction first revealed to you by the waiter before he covers and vigorously shakes into a delicious mix.
Being already in Irvine, it was a short drive over to the Bren Events Center at UCI. From our parking garage spot overlooking the entrance. We tailgated with fellow UH fan over beers before watching the ‘Bows throttle the UCSB gauchos in a semifinal sweep. You might have even seen some of us on the front page of the newspaper the next day.
After congratulating our boys postgame, we wanted to add more more experience before bed. There’s nothing like authentic street tacos! With Santa Ana just minutes from Irvine, we had the perfect spot, Taqueria Ayutla Oaxaca, to wrap up the night for our wide-eyed VIPs.
Saturday, April 22, 2023
With a 2 PM pickup it was time for our next culinary delight, and Brodard was the obvious choice.
Orange County is home to the most Vietnamese people outside of Vietnam, so there is a plethora of options. Brodard has risen above, and it’s always a pleasure to introduce guests to some of the dishes they’ve never tried before: banh xeo (Vietnamese crepe with shrimp, pork and veggies), chao (porridge), bo nau ruou (beef braised in Burgundy wine stew), bo kho (boneless beef shank stew) among others.
Everyone got a special drink or cocktail - or both - which is easy to do with cafe sua da (ice coffee) and lychee martinis on the menu.
Brodard stands out in the most popular spot for Vietnamese restaurants in the world; it’s the local knowledge that stands out when it comes to Hawaii Sports Fans, where first priority is eating some place that you can’t find anywhere else on the planet.
In this case, it also helps that the tour escort speaks Vietnamese.
From lunch in Fountain Valley, we headed just a few miles south to see our UH Men’s Volleyball team off from their hotel, create a cheering, high-fiving tunnel with fellow UH die hards. The ‘Bows definitely appreciate all the love heading into our match, but it’s also such a fun, personal experience to get to be up close with them and be a source of encouragement before a huge match.
Hawaii took on the home team, but the majority of the noise in Irvine was in the visitors’ favor. I’ve never seen UH fans completely dominate like that on the road before. It was truly a sight!
The Warriors would win the Big West title 3-1 in one of only two matches shown one of ESPN’s cable channels. I have to tell you something you already know though: it was even better watching it in-person.
Of course, we needed to celebrate. The Donuttery, a 24-Hour artisan shop producing the best traditional and even vegan and gluten-free donuts and pastries, gave us the perfect night cap.
Sunday, April 23, 2023
A morning departure from our hotel gave us a chance to tailgate at Angel Stadium before Shohei Ohtani and his teammates took on the Royals.
Before we got to Anaheim, we made another stop in Little Saigon for banh mi, Vietnamese sandwiches on baguettes, made unlike anywhere else.
Because the Angels allow outside food into their stadium, our VIPs could bring their sandwiches inside if they wanted to.
We got in around the time gates opened and headed straight to the team store. Ohtani apparel can fly off the shelves quick, and many of us opted for Shohei t-shirts or even new jerseys!
The Angels gave us a great win, but also an extremely RARE moment as the 1-2-3 batters - Ward, Trout and Ohtani - hit three home runs in a row! You can see the moment below:
From our shaded loge seats right above the Angels dugout-side of the plate, we also enjoyed a Hawaii Sports Fans favorite— Cathy’s Cookies! Everyone got a commemorative Angels cap/cup to take home too.
After the game, it was off to the historic Anaheim Packing District. Unfortunately, a power outage caused closures of all the places inside we wanted to sample. We did get to meet our new four-legged friend Liliko’i though!
With the Local knowledge we have at Hawaii Sports Fans, we were able to call the right audible, instead, heading up to Redondo Beach.
With the sun approaching the horizon line, we walked their famous pier, enjoying the many fishermen sending their lines off the sides of the long wooden structure.
This was the setting as we entered R/10 Social House at the opposite end of the pier, live music playing in the background. From our couch seating, we clicked our cocktail glasses and enjoyed calamari, Brussel sprouts, truffle fries and more.
As tour escort, it feels good to see everyone having so much that they don’t want it to end.
This trip was no different after experiencing three full days of sports fun and foodie adventures behind the VIPs— another Hawaii Sports Fans classic!