Honolulu recs?

I’m headed for a quick 3-day visit at the end of May. Last time I went there, I had some great meals, and I’m looking forward to another food fest this year. I will be traveling solo, and I’m staying in Waikiki without a car; I am fine with long walks and taking the bus, though. I am NOT looking for fine dining, as I am a small person and neither able to eat, nor interested in eating, giant, blowout meals. Local cuisine is what I want (I include Japanese in “local.”)

On my last trip I ate at ​Kamitoku Ramen (food truck), Pig & the Lady, Nanzan GiroGiro, HWaK (drinks and music only), ​MW,​ Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin, ​and South Shore Grill. Out of that my favorites were Kamitoku Ramen and Nanzan GiroGiro. The Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin experience was really neat, but I don’t need to do it again. I found Pig & the Lady awfully precious and with somewhat chaotic service at lunch; my food was good, but not up to the extreme hype. MW was good but not great, and I was seated at a cramped counter by the kitchen.

Suggestions? Thanks!

We enjoyed Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin on our last trip too. We were trying to get to Marukame Udon but the lines were too long and we were too hungry to wait. We enjoyed breakfast at Wailana Coffee House – the macadamaia nut pancakes were amazing. Alicia’s Market had excellent poke, but it’s not near the beach. Ono Seafood is closer to you and is also supposed to have very good poke.

The Roy’s in Waikiki across from the Halekulani is one of the best and they have a patio outside with bar and they do a perfect Hamachi app that is so fresh and delicious…their Ahi poke is fantastic too.
Never go to the mainland Roy’s but the ones in the islands, rock it.

Walk across to the gorgeous Halekulani resort to House without a Key and listen to Hawaiian music, oceanfront with Diamond Head and have a Mai Tai or cocktail…

Rainbow Drive In is very local…
Leonard’s bakery for the best malasadas are da bomb…get them warm.
Hike up Diamond Head and in the parking lot is a food truck with some of the best fresh sliced pineapple in a zip lock bag for like $3-5 and it is off the chain good…

If you were flying into Maui, the best hole in the wall sushi place in Kihei is called Koiso…
Friends rave about this place but have not been…Sushi Izakaya Gaku.


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Trip report:

Lunches: Marukame Udon, 2310 Kuhio Ave., Waikiki. There is an ever-present line but it moves fast, so after arriving around 1:30 PM I was in and out in about 40 minutes total. Had the bukkake udon, cold, plus one piece each of asparagus, sweet potato, and shrimp tempura. In all, a satisfying experience but probably don’t need to do it again. The food was good but not stunning. I did enjoy the asparagus tempura. Next time I might go for a hot noodle dish, but given that it was 80 degrees out, cold seemed more appropriate.

Dew Drop Inn, 1088 S. Beretania St. (near Honolulu Art Museum). Northern Chinese. This was the one meal I really would have liked to be sharing with someone so that I could get more than the one dish I ended up with, onchon (some kind of greens) stir-fried with lamb and garlic. It was very good, healthy and non-oily with a very light sauce (which I punched up with a little hot pepper sauce), but it was a sizeable plate full of food. I had wanted the sesame bread with ground pork too, but there was no way I could get two things. The menu is extensive and included a lot of interesting things that I really wanted to try. Very nice owner.

Musubi Cafe Iyasume, 2427 Kuhio Ave., Waikiki. Supposedly this is the best spam musubi, so I had one with spam/egg/bacon/avocado, which was pretty great although a lot of rice. Also had the salmon with spicy cod roe, which was only OK, very fishy and light on the roe. Again, a food experience that it was good to have had, but which I don’t need to have again, at least for a sit-down meal. I would get the spam/egg/bacon/avocado musubi again for a takeout snack, though.

Dinners: Nanzan GiroGiro, 560 Pensacola St., Ala Moana, Honolulu. Ate here for the second time. The food was again excellent, perhaps not as spectacular as my first visit but still well worth the price. This visit was also a little less social, as my 6 PM Monday reservation meant that for my first 3 courses I was the only person in the restaurant! Got some nice chatting in with the chef though, and staff could not be more friendly.

Yakiniku Kuhio, 407 Seaside Ave. (around back), Waikiki. Delicious dinner of thick-cut short rib, a wonderful sweet-spicy sauce, and four banchan (including macaroni salad!) plus rice for the crazy low price of $12. Super friendly owner convinced me to go for this option rather than bibimpap by saying that if I just mixed up all the food I would get, it would kind of be bibimpap anyway. I walked away completely stuffed and very satisfied with the quality of my food. Great hole in the wall find in otherwise-pricey Waikiki.

Breakfast: Heavenly, 342 Seaside Ave., Waikiki. On several “best breakfast” lists for the Waikiki area, so I ate my one restaurant breakfast here. I had the kalua pig eggs benedict, which seemed appropriate. The pork was the best part, but the rest of it was just OK. Starting off, it was quite disappointing that they did not serve any decaf coffee of any kind–how hard is it to stock this??? As for the food, the poached eggs were overcooked (that drives me nuts), muffin not toasted, raw kale salad quite plain, and the serving of potatoes positively microscopic (literally, three small cubes of cold boiled purple potato). I felt reasonably healthy and kind of still hungry when I left–not the sensation I tend to look for in a restaurant breakfast! If I wanted healthy and light I would have had another breakfast of yogurt and banana in my apartment. Oh well.


Aloha for the report!!

I know this is an old thread but want to point out there has been an outbreak of Hepatitis A on Oahu recently. 93 known cases.

Aloha and read this and usually hit up HNL for a couple days before Maui or Kauai and I’m thankful that this trip is just to Maui.

Wishing the 93+lots of love and healing.

The Hepatitis-A outbreak was pinned to imported frozen scallops served at Genki Sushi chains. Hoping for a comfortable and speedy recovery to all those affected.

I’m going to Honolulu for 3.5 days in October, here’s my food itinerary (will report back):

Day 0.5, Tuesday (arrive at 12:30pm)

  • casual lunch at Ala Moana Mall - Makai Court (Poi Bowl for nostalgia; I know it’s not the best…) and Shirokiya’s new Japan Village Walk in the EWA Wing. Takoyaki, wagyu katsu curry, etc…
  • KCC Farmer’s Market to get papaya, lime, etc. for snacking in the mornings
  • dinner at Rinka for an izakaya meal. We had a fantastic meal here last time, hoping to repeat and explore more of their menu. Their tsukune and watercress hot pot was insanely good!

Day 1, Wednesday

  • breakfast at Ono Seafood for poke
  • lunch at Arancino at The Kahala for pasta.
  • shave ice at Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha
  • dinner with friends at either The Pig & The Lady (New Vietnamese) or Vintage Cave (French-Japonais)
  • drinks in Downtown/Chinatown - maybe Bar Leather Apron, again.

Day 2, Thursday

  • breakfast at Morning Glass Coffee for oatmeal brulee
  • lunch at Helena’s Hawaiian Foods, for kalua pig, chicken long rice, tripe stew, etc.
  • snack at Leonard’s for malasadas
  • dinner at Sushi Sho (will open next month at Ritz Carlton, Waikiki) or Sushi Ginza Onodera

Day 3, Friday

  • breakfast at Orchids at the Halekulani Ifor corned beef hash, loco moco
  • lunch at I-Naba for udon, soba, tempura, and batteira
  • drinks at L’Apertif at La Mer, Halekulani
  • dinner at Senia (will open soon) for their whole whitefish en croute with sauce vierge
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Excellent list…
Roy’s Waikiki, opposite of Halekulani, is one of the best Roys in the bunch…not your mainland Roys…Poke and Hamachi are stellar…sit out on the patio for apps and drinks…

House without a key for drinks and
sunset…music too…

Mai tai at the Royal Hawaiian bar…
Happy hour at Dukes, Hula grill and the rotating resto that the name escapes me…


Thanks, Aloha.

I haven’t been too much into Roy’s in the Mainland, but in the past have had not bad times at Roy’s in Hawaii and Alan Wong’s. That style of Asian fusion-Pacific Rim hasn’t been quite my style lately, but maybe Roy’s for a quick afternoon bite.

If I wanted Pacific Rim, though, maybe one should consider Chev Mavro’s. We haven’t cared much for Chef Mavro’s in the past, but their new Chef de Cuisine is Jonathan Mizukami from Vintage Cave, and he’s got great technique.

HWAK yes been there for nice sunset drinks and music. Food was ok; but the scenery was great for some leisurely drinks.

Yes, we did do a mai tai tour before. Good call on that.

I’ve worked on my own mai tai recipe since then, and I quite like my version :grin: but am always open to exploring more.

Anyway - not sure Senia will be open by then! I saw recently they now say “Autumn 2016,” and the opening date used to be “Spring 2016” then “Summer 2016.” I hope at least Sushi Sho will be ready!


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We usually stay at the Royal Hawaiian and love hanging at the mai tai bar…
Azzure is a lovely place and great food.

Need to get to Helena’s…hear it is ono!!

If your doing the Diamond Head hike, the food truck in the parking lot next to the bathrooms, has the best fresh cut pineapple for $3 bucks that is out of this world good…

Craving Leonard’s right now…
If your renting a car for the day/week…Matsumoto for shave ice and I love Giovanni’s garlic shrimp with 2 scoops…da bomb!

Have you been to Hy’s?

Headed to Maui in a couple of weeks and usually combine with HNL but not this trip…
Kauai in early spring and gonna add a couple of days to get my fix for O’ahu da kine ono…

Mahalo to you and report back…

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After this trip in October I will try some Mai Tais and see how mine stacks up! If mine compares alright, I’ll share my recipe here.

Yes - I always get the fresh pineapple after the Diamond Head hike!

Here’s another tip: go on a early Saturday morning for some cardio, then go across the street to the KCC Farmer’s Market and get the North Shore spot prawns grilled with lemon and garlic and dab the head jus over the barbecued Kakuhu corn with butter next door.

But this time I won’t be doing Diamond Head, but Pali Puka instead. Too bad the Haiku Steps are illegal. I will do it once it becomes legal again.

I am renting a car. I’ll only probably get to Waiola (for texture) and Uncle Clay’s (for syrups) - no Matsumoto this time or North Shore in general, unless I do ClimbWorks zip lining, but that is up in the air (no pun intended). No Giovanni’s (I didn’t care for it much last time, anyway), but KCC’s shrimp as described above may have to substitute. Except I don’t want to spoil our appetites for Rinka (don’t miss their tsukune and watercress hot pot - yes it sounds simple but it’s an awesome dish).

Yes, Hy’s is a family favorite, especially some of the older folks. Bone-in ribeye au poivre with Sine Qua Non syrah and yes, french fries! Coconut creme brulee with GM Cinquantenaire. Last time we did Teppanyaki Ginza Onodera, which was nice, but a change of pace compared to Hy’s. I haven’t been in a while but it’s a good choice if you want some old fashioned steakhouse luxury.

I’m debating on going to Maui first or Big Island and hit up Keck Observatory. Ever been to Keck and if so, any transportation tips?

Have a good time in Maui et al!

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