food hawaii honolulu social media

Insider Tip: Hawaii Foodies Love Social Media

When I travel, I find myself turning more and more often to social media to help me get recommendations from locals on a town’s hot spots, best dishes, and up and coming chefs. Sites like Yelp and Foodspotting and their companion smartphone apps are extremely valuable for food-lovers and diners in Honolulu have embraced them wholeheartedly! Here’s a guide to help you make the most of some of the most common apps and sites.


Yelp was the first, and probably still the site I turn to most frequently when looking for food recommendations. And the Honolulu Yelp community is not shy to tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly about any hot spot – the site is a compilation of user submitted reviews, many that go quite in-depth. I use it most frequently for restaurants but you can also search for shops, hair salons, activities, etc. It’s a great place to get feedback to see if that new restaurant lives up to its hype, check out user-submitted photos (often of menus, very helpful), and if you’re using the smartphone app, you can dial the business straight from the Yelp site or view deals for Yelp users. I also highly recommend checking out and/or signing up for the Yelp Weekly newsletter. You will get a weekly email with a roundup under a certain theme every week, like cheap eats, date spots, hot pot restaurants, breakfast spots, etc.

>> Find me on Yelp here.

photo credit Gustavo Pimenta

“Where shall we go for lunch?” “I don’t know, you pick.” “I picked last time, it’s your turn.” This exchange is all too common, and sometimes you’re just so hungry that you don’t have patience left and end up going with the first place you see. It seems like whenever I get to that point, I’m almost always disappointed. Foodspotting to the rescue! Download their handy little app and you will soon have photos of the actual dishes from nearby places popping up right before your eyes. Foodspotting uses your GPS location to show you pictures that other users have tagged nearby, so you can browse until you find something that looks delicious.

>> Find me on Foodspotting here.


Last year, when a friend and I were on a road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles, we had planned to do some wine tasting along the way. I’ve been to Napa and Sonoma many times, yet never the wine country regions of the central coast. So we set off on the Pacific Coast Highway, with a loose plan to make at least two stops along the way. I put out a query on Twitter asking for recommendations and someone chimed in with their favorite winery in Paso Robles. It ended up being a great find! Combined with the fact that Yelp was running a “check in special” and we were able to take advantage of a free wine tasting there. Score!

>> Find me on Twitter here.

Twitter Lists

If you don’t have your own “following” on Twitter (not really necessary, in my opinion) or if you don’t even have a Twitter account, a great way to get targeted information is through the use of Twitter lists and hashtags. Any user can create a list and make it public. For example, I have a list called “Honolulu Wine & Dine” (click here to view). I’ve added the local chefs I follow, food trucks, etc, so I have all of the Honolulu food-related tweets I need in one stream. A quick glance can show me the specials of the day for a variety of places I frequent, locations of my favorite food trucks, and more.

>> Examples of my Twitter lists that I follow or have created here.


I’ve only recently begun using Foursquare, but I find it useful when looking for specials nearby via the “explore” function. This is another geo-location based service, so you’ll want to download it on your mobile phone, although you can also search for nearby places on your computer. Users “check in” to local businesses, restaurants, etc. and occasionally doing so can score you a discount. For example, Zippy’s restaurants recently tweeted that checking in on Foursquare will score you a small drink for 30 cents. Local businesses may choose to reward the most frequent visitor (called “the mayor”) with special deals like free cover, 10% off their purchase, or other perks. Since I have quite a few foodie friends on Foursquare, I also find myself drooling when they post pictures to go with their check ins.

>> Find me on Foursquare here.

Last, there’s no app for this, but NonStop Honolulu has excellent coverage of Honolulu’s food scene. If you’re planning a trip to Honolulu or just hungry and looking for some good old food p0rn, it’s an a great resource! Also good event coverage and blogs by local insiders. Honolulu is a delicious city – have you had luck with any of these apps? Or know of one I’m missing?

Still hungry??
>> For a list of the latest posts related to FOOD, click here.
>> For a Honolulu Restaurant Recommendations, click here.


Makawao Morning

I’ve lived on Oahu now for more than a decade. Just being able to say that makes me feel old! I was born and raised on Maui, first in Pukalani and then Makawao. One of the things I miss about Upcountry Maui is the chill in the air. Because of the higher elevation, mornings Upcountry are cool and often smell of the rain that’s fallen overnight. Temperatures in the winter sometimes dip into the 50’s and we pull out the extra blankets, sweatshirts, maybe even grandpa’s old space heater to put by our feet while we watch tv.

Today I live in Honolulu, which I love dearly and call home. I live in the shadow of Diamond Head, steps away from my favorite running routes and just a short walk from the beach. It’s a great location and I do my best not to take for granted how lucky I am.

But mornings like this make me miss Maui.

misty makawao morning

While in the summer I need a fan to keep me cool at night, the winter months bring cooler temperatures, even to the concrete jungle of Honolulu. “Perfect sleeping weather” as our tv weathermen are fond of calling it. This morning, I woke up and pulled my blanket up to my chin. The outside temperature is in the mid-60s. It makes me miss Makawao.

deals honolulu hotels kamaaina

Kama’aina Special: Aqua Lotus Honolulu

photo courtesy of Aqua Lotus Honolulu

UPDATE AS OF MAY 2015 – The property has changed to the Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head, and Kama’aina (and other offers) can be found here.

The Aqua Lotus Honolulu is a perfect escape for Kama’aina who want to stay just outside of the craziness that can be Waikiki. Say, perhaps after a concert at the Waikiki Shell or to be near to the Saturday KCC Farmers Market. Active guests will enjoy the complimentary amenities offered by the hotel, including free beach cruiser bikes, free beach chairs and towels (nearby Kaimana Beach is my favorite!) and free yoga classes in nearby Kapiolani Park four mornings a week. Other amenities include: free WiFi, complimentary coffee and tea in the mornings, plus free wine from 4pm to 6pm in the lobby.

Kama’aina pricing starts at $159 for Diamond Head view or $179 for Ocean View Rooms and includes 50% off valet parking. Valid through June 30, 2012. (I actually saw a few dates that were a dollar or two lower, although it can also be higher based on availability. So book early if possible.)

Aqua Lotus Honolulu, Book Here (enter promo code if needed: KAM12)


A Journey of a Thousand Miles…

…Begins with a single step!

And here we are. Though I’ve been keeping blogs for awhile now, this is the first time I’m really delving into the process of building my own blog from the ground up.

I’m mostly doing this for me – a place to jot down my thoughts, to share my favorite places and things with all five of you who may be reading (hi, mom!) and a way to be continuously learning and growing, challenging myself to write regularly.

I’m also doing this for you – the hypothetical readers of Shoyu Sugar. I’m hoping these stories will convey my cravings – for food, for life, for new adventure, and for meaningful connections with those I love. I’m also hoping to honor my past, my family, and the beautiful islands that I call home.

Each year, my friends and I start the year off by toasting the first sunrise at the easternmost spot on the island and picking our word for the year. For 2012, my word was CREATE. One of my resolutions was to create my own blog, finally.

First sunrise of 2012

So here it is. Let the journey begin!