Imagine going to a party. At a zoo. With free food. And beer. Really good craft beer. And unicorns.
I went to that party.
It’s hard to start my review of the 2012 Yelp Uncaged event at the Honolulu Zoo because it was so outrageously awesome. I guess I should start with the search for an octopus. An octopus costume, to be exact. That’s what Joel decided to go to the Uncaged event as. Octopi searches at Party City, Flora Dec, and some other small costume shops around Oahu proved to be futile. So of course, Google was the next best thing. His “search” for an octopus costume came to an end when he stumbled upon this creative link. He set out to create that octopus and ended up with a rad costume. I, historically very lazy when it comes to costume parties, spent about 2 minutes at Party City before locking in on a pair of Gorilla Gloves. Monette went as a black kitty (she disregard my suggestion of going as a cheetah). And Ahnate was even lazier than I (imagine that).
Having never been to a Yelp event, I was quite unsure of what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. After donning my Yelp name tage (non-elite status), I noticed that a large number of people showed up in elaborate costumes. There were flying gorillas, pandas, cheetahs, and of course unicorns. The event was set up just around the bend from where the flamingos like to hang out. The large, open, and grassy space was perfect.
Lining one side of the grassy field was over 20 food and beverage tents. Our first stop was Pau’ls Poppers. What’s a “Popper?” Think funky wontons. They were serving turkey with cheese and jalapeno poppers that were out-of-this-world good. Just next door to Paul’s Popper was Hula Grill and their Honey Glazed Chicken Lollipop w/Glazed Walnuts. Good, but I ended up liking the name of the dish more than the end product.
Just two plates in and I had my first taste of desert, courtesy of Sweet Revenge. Their One-Bite Banana Cream Pie was ah-ma-zing. I resisted going back for a second and third serving. I probably could have gone for a third and fourth serving if I had no shame! Another irrisisitible food find was Hawaiian Cheesecake’s lilikoi cheesecake made with only local ingredients. The crust was lined with premium Waialua chocolate.
Other notable dishes included the cauliflower mash, steak served with savory sauce from GRYLT. I’m a regular at GRYLT and knew what to expect: savory awesomeness. Another dish that earned rave reviews from both Joel and Ahnate was the goat cheese brussel sprout salad from The Grove. Monette, scared of the goat cheese, handed me her untouched plate. I gobbled it up. The goat cheese was spectacular. Joel also raved about The Pig & The Lady’s vegetarian curry doused in heavy shitake mushrooms. I had been wanting to visit the Pig & The Lady for some time now, but, was rather unimpressed with this particular dish. Maybe I wanted some pig?
The two most popular tents of the night, without a doubt, were Street Frites and Shokudo. Street Frites were serving some really funky french fries, both sweet and savory. Think chocolate fries and wasabi ranch fries. We didn’t get a chance to try Street Frites until the end of the event. That’s how busy they were. By that time, they were only serving fries with, er, ketchup. Monette lucked out and had the chocolate fries. Shokudo, on the other hand, was a line worth standing in. They were serving lychee saketini’s. I stood in line for about 5 minutes or so. I was not disappointed. Then again, I am a big fan of Shokudo’s mixed drinks.
On the beer front, Aloha Beer represented well with their crafter beers. They served proper portions, not sample cups! I had the lager, it went down very smoothly. I’d definitely try Aloha Beer again in the future. And yet another tent was handing out cans of Blue Moon. I think I was in heaven at that point.
And I have to mention the only tend that I went back twice to, the Hawaiian Chip Company. They were serving tasty taro chips. Taro chips are ridiculously expensive in stores and they were handing them out by the bag. I was floored. So good.
With all of the food and beverages, I basically ignored all of the “entertainment” booths. They had face painting and photo booths were you could upload you photos straight to Facebook. Joel gave positive reviews to the Mobile Gamer Guys portable gaming truck. Outside of the truck they had Just Dance 3 set up, and inside they were playing Call of Duty. I think Joel was in heaven. I think if given the chance, he would live in the Mobile Gamer Guys portable gaming truck.
Other highlights from the night was the acrobatic performance by the high flying Angela Warren and the Yelp Uncaged costume contest. This event was prime ground for a costume contest. To not have one would have been a damn shame. Of course, most of the extravagant costumes did not disappoint. The gamut ranged from a caged ape with custom build costume cage to Barf from Spaceballs to a unicorn. Oh, and then there was Joel’s octopus. In a Herculean feat, Joel made it to the final round of the costume contest. Of the 15 or so costume entries, he made the top 5. I was impressed. Throughout the night, he also garnered a lot of fans who were clamoring over his homemade costume. Many of those fans asked, non-sexually of course, to “touch his tentacles.” And that was Yelp Uncaged.