I’m on the island of Oahu and the place is chock full of Japanese tourists. Mostly they are all young couples wearing what must pass for stylish japanese fashion these days- straightened hair, a v-neck tshirt, oversized sunglasses, and flip flops- and they are all very polite, and very curious about American culture, which is why I think they come to Honolulu.
But I was appalled on behalf of Japanese tourists everywhere when I walked into a “Senor Frogs” to get a beer and try to play Golden Tee Golf. Let me explain why.
For those of you who haven’t had the misfortune of dining or experiencing a Senor Frogs establishment, it may be hard to imagine what I’m about to describe. Imagine a garish green and purple hulk-colored bar in a tropical setting- but instead of the cool Incredible Hulk, you are bombarded with imagery of an English-speaking, skinny Mexican frog. The beer is cheap, and the food is cruddy. There is a roving DJ with a hand held microphone who tries to create a party atmosphere even when there are only 15 sober people in the room.
I’ve been to the one in the Bahamas, in Puerto Rico, in the Caymans and in Cozumel. You’d think I’m bragging about my travels, but really, they put one of these crappy restaurants everywhere a cruise ship docks. I haven’t even been on that many cruises, but whereever a liner pulls in, you can sadly find a Senor Frogs waiting to take your cash.
And though I’m not a fan of the place, its run by Americans and at least you don’t feel like you are being ripped off or a potential food poisoning victim when you go there. The big trade off is that you are annoyed nine ways to Sunday. The ONLY reason I went to the one here in Hawaii is because the Golden Tee machine I wanted to play at another establishment was broken. Otherwise, I try to avoid the dump.
But the one here in Honolulu had about a dozen Japanese couples sitting inside being acosted by the annoying roving DJ who was shouting at them in English about getting up to dance. I saw one couple taking photos of each other as they ate some cruddy plate of spaghetti noodles and a bright red sauce. They wore balloon hats made especially for them by the attentive staff, who, when they weren’t making hats for Japanese tourists, were texting their girl/boyfriends and watching YouTube videos.
I felt awful that these people traveled across the ocean to have this travesty put upon them, but then I remembered what Japanese people do for game shows. Maybe they were just hoping to win cash and prizes for putting up with these annoying people.
I didn’t get a beer, nor play Golden Tee since the game was occupied and two revisions out of date. There is another game on the North Side of the Island that I might be able to find if I have time.
UPDATE! I forgot to mention that I saw a bizarre open market eatery while on walkabout last night. Three big RV/buses were parked in a gravel parking lot and they put up signs and were serving Japanese food in one trailer and Mexican food in another. And these Japanese tourists were leaving their perfectly good hotels and getting styrofoam boxes full of this questionable food.
At first I thought they might know better than me so I moseyed up and inspected the wares like I was Anthony Bourdain stumbling onto a rare find. But no! The food at the hotel was far superior and similarly priced, so I don’t know what these people were thinking by eating out of a roadside mobile home. Eeew.
UPDATE # 2! I went to get a diet coke or two before bed at the convenience store in the local village here. I stared in horror as a Japanese woman picked over her various American beers and then pulled a single can of Coors Lite from a six pack ring. I wanted to shout at her “Nooo! get a decent American beer! Get Yeungling or even Budweiser but not that Rocky Mountain goat bloat!”
And when I came back to the room a Japanese couple boarded the elevator with Wal*Mart bags full of chocolate covered macadamian nuts. I’m talking 6 big-ass-cant-see-your-elevator-button bags.