Honolulu is full of delicious places to eat. I swear I could eat out every night and rarely repeat, yet there are a few that I just gravitate towards time and again. There’s always something new, so check out Nonstop Honolulu’s Eating section for the latest.
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- Olive Tree – I love their souvlakis, hummus, and baklava. Specials also rotate daily. Be prepared to do some table-stalking to grab a seat as it’s pretty crowded, even early. Or call ahead for take out.
- Whole Ox Deli – Hang out on the big communal picnic tables on the outdoor lanai and make new friends as you try out dishes like foie gras poutine, porchetta di testa, and their famous burger.
- JJ French Pastry – Such a bargain – 4 course menu for less than $25. Famous for their desserts, including the chocolate pyramid.
- Himalayan Kitchen – Service is always hit or miss for me here, but the Indian/Nepalese food is delicious.
- Morio’s Sushi Bistro – Omakase (chef’s choice) is the way to go! Call ahead for seats at the sushi bar and don’t forget some beer or sake for Morio!
Special Occasion Restaurants
- Azure – This elegant ocean-front restaurant is located in the Royal Hawaiian. I highly recommend the tasting menu, every bite was delicious. Four courses + dessert for $72/$95 with wine pairings. Service is impeccable.
- Hiroshi’s – I love just about everything on Hiroshi’s menu, and my favorite time to come is for “happy hour” from 5:30-6:30pm nightly when food is 50% off if you sit at the bar! Four times a year he does a 9 course contemporary kaiseki dinner for only $75/$100 with wine pairings by Master Sommelier Chuck Furuya.
- Yajima-Ya – This truck is actually stationary, located on Sheridan Street (near Walmart). My favorite dish is the pork ginger donburi although it’s hard to pick. The mushroom chicken plate is another customer favorite. They’re even open for breakfast. Check out my friend Ed’s awesome write up here.
- Shrimp Trucks – Giovanni’s – My favorite of all the North Shore Shrimp Trucks has always been Giovanni’s. One day I enlisted some friends to compare 4 trucks in one day, and Giovanni’s still came out on top for me. You can see photos (with captions) on this photo set from when I used to write for WhyGo Hawaii.
- Kapiolani Community College – The KCC Farmers Market is by far my favorite on Oahu. It’s quite crowded and the best produce sells out early, however if you don’t mind going at a more leisurely pace, there are also a lot of great food vendors, including trendy local restaurants (my favorite is the Pig & the Lady) that set up to sell breakfast and brunch items. Local honeys, dressings, flowers, and baked goods can make nice gifts. Saturdays from 7:30 – 11am, but go early if possible.
- Honolulu Farmers Market (Blaisdell) – When I can’t make the KCC market, this is another great weeknight option in town. Again, great food vendors as well as a good selection of produce and local made goods. The last time I went there was even fresh, locally made tofu! Wednesdays from 4pm to 7pm.
>> Slow Food USA’s Hawaii chapter has compiled a great list of restaurants and resources related to local food sourcing and sustainability. View this list here.
- Yotekko-Ya – This restaurant specializes in Kyoto-style ramen and their housemade chasu is melt-in-your mouth tender. My favorite is the shoyu base yataiaji ramen, although many enjoy the thicker paitan broth. Pan fried gyoza is another standout menu item.
- Goma Tei – Both locations of Goma Tei are in shopping centers (Ala Moana & Ward Center) so it’s a convenient stop when you need a break from shopping. I’m a simple girl, so my favorite is the shoyu ramen, although they are famous for the tan tan ramen which is made with a spicy sesame broth.
- Shirokiya – The Yataimura food court on the 3rd floor of Shirokiya has some great ramen options. I usually pick the stall with more customers in line or eavesdrop to listen what others are trying. Some of the stalls rotate to feature different types of ramen. The beer garden ($1 Bud light, $2 Kirin, $3 Asashi) and the option to select multiple items from the various stalls make this a Japanese foodie heaven.
- Lucky Belly – This newcomer to the downtown/Chinatown area has a great menu, including 3 or so ramen bowls. Don’t miss the appetizers too though, and the late night take out window!
Hot Pot Restaurants
- Shabu Shabu House – Hot pot restaurants are ubiquitous in Honolulu now, although Shabu Shabu House is still one of my favorites. This is a plain shabu shabu where the ingredients are just cooked in water as opposed to nabe, where they are done in broths. This allows the ingredients and sauce to stand out, my favorite being a mixture of the ginger and ponzu.
- Sweet Home Cafe – This Taiwanese style hot pot restaurant is ever popular, despite long wait times and a tiny seating area. The draw is the wide selections of broths (my favorite is the lemongrass), homemade condiment bar, and a huge variety of self-serve items to add to your bowl. Your meal is also finished by a huge bowl of a shaved ice dessert. BYOB.
Vietnamese Restaurants (Pho)
- Pho 97 – Although the last time I visited it seems like they’ve gone downhill a bit, this Laotian-owned restaurant right next to Maunakea Marketplace in Chinatown was the first place I ever tried pho. It’s my sentimental favorite and their broth is rich and fragrant, lots of herbs, star anise and meaty goodness.
- Super Pho – Another favorite neighborhood pho spot is Super Pho in Kaimuki. There’s usually parking in the lot behind or on the street, and the broth is simple and flavorful. A friend also raves about the oxtail pho but I can never bring myself to deviate from my fave, the pho with rare steak (meat outside) and brisket.
- Morio’s Sushi Bistro (see above in the BYOB section)
- Nico’s Pier 38 – I haven’t been to Nico’s since they remodeled but I’ve heard that the addition of the dinner menu and new restaurant space have really been great for business. Not that Nico’s was ever hurting for it. Perched steps away from the Honolulu Fish Auction, this is the freshest fish you will find! The bar features beer and wine on tap and live entertainment, although lunchtime favorites like the furikake ahi are great for take out or dine in.
- Bogart’s – I may be biased on this one because it’s walking distance from my neighborhood, although it’s always crowded so I guess that just goes to show how popular it is. I like almost anything I’ve tried here although my favorite is the housemade corned beef hash, the eggs benedict, or any of the salads. Cash only.
- Longhi’s – I love sitting out for a leisurely breakfast (with appropriate breakfast cocktails) at Longhi’s Ala Moana. Breeze setting, great view, and the best crabcakes benedict on the island!
- Haleiwa Joe’s- Haleiwa Joe’s is famous for their prime rib, and a carving station features prominently in their brunch buffet, which is a pretty good deal for $24.95 per person. I love the setting of the Kaneohe restaurant in Haiku Gardens.
- Eat The Street – This monthly event rounds up some of the island’s most popular food trucks with a different rotating theme each month. Location also varies occasionally, but it’s usually held on the last Friday of the month in Kakaako.
- Restaurant Week – Oh how I love Restaurant Week. I literally plan strategically to see how many restaurants I can hit in one week when this annual event happens. Participating restaurants do lunch and dinner prix fixe menus – often a 3 or 4 course meal for between $30 to $60.
- Taste of Marukai – I’m literally sick to my stomach that this year’s Taste of Marukai snuck up on me. I’m putting it on my calendar for April 11, 2013 right now. And if you love sake and Japanese food, you should too!
- Dishcrawl Oahu – I love these progressive mystery dinners! Each one takes place in a different neighborhood or with a different theme, and all you’ll know ahead of time is the first stop (emailed to you 48 hours before) and possibly a few hints about the other three restaurants. Sample a dish or two at each, make new adventurous foodie friends, and leave stuffed! Plus, Shoyu Sugar readers receive $10 off their Dishcrawl by using coupon code “shoyusugarspecial”.
>> For a list of the latest posts related to FOOD, click here.
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