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Our Oahu trip report (long)

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I want to say thanks for everyone on this board and onokinegrindz.com blog for your recommendations on places to eat in Oahu. We decided to take a family vacation with our 20 month toddler before the arrival of our second. Never been Oahu so we decided to stay on the Strip. Boy were we suprised by all the shops there, reminded us of LA. It was a little too busy for us. Anyway, back to the food. We're pretty simple people and really enjoying visiting local/hole in the wall joints. We ate most of our meals at local joints as rec by this board and onokingrindz.com blog and friends. But we did give in and eat on the strip a couple of times, CPK (it is what it is) and TGIF (regretable). So here's what I have to report and I'll include address if I have it.

Ono Hawaiian Foods on 726 Kapahulu:
This is really local because some of the food items we did not recognize. The "sweet potato" is really a taro. We got the kahlua pork, beef stew and sweet potato and they were all good. The kahlua pork was just right, I've had some that were really really salty but this pork was just right , beef stew was really tasty with lots of beef.
They a la carte options or they have package meal options. We wanted to get package meal but there were some items that we had no idea what they were and my wife is not as adventurous as I am.

Leonardo's Bakery 933 Kapahulu (up the street from Ono Hawaiian)
Got Malasadas? That's all you need to know and what they specialize in. Wish we could have got it when it was hot out of the oven but nevertheless it was delicious. We got the one with creme filling which wasn't as good as cinnamon sugar.

Palace Saiman 1256 N King St
This is literally a hole in the wall. If you walk fast enough, you might miss it. Also, it's closed three days out of the week. But the saiman (that's all they do) is really good. The broth is flavorful and you know it's good with the influx of locals coming in. We actually ate there twice. it's probably a 200 -250 sq ft rest + kitchen. looking into the kitchen, i see grandma's making the beef satay and the saiman. Reminds me of my mom making noodles for me.

Rainbow Drive Inn 3308 Kanaina Ave
Plate lunches, it was ok, nothing great but not bad. But with all the locals we saw there, we know this place is enjoyed by locals. There's not much seating there so either get it to go or be like a vulture and get ready to pounce on any open seating.

Kaka'ako Kitchen - Ward Center
Our first plate lunches in Oahu. Wife got Shoyu and I got mahi mahi and something else. According to Frommer's it's "gourmet plate lunches". Not bad. I like the option of brown rice. Both plates were tasty and the mahi mahi was really good.

Kua'Ana Sandwich Shop - North Shore
My wife and I both had the mahi mahi. It wasn't bad but not a must have as most guide books and my friend raved about. My wife (who's 7 month pregnant) which she had the burger. Her comment: "it was tasty enough". Anyway, if I had to do it again, I would have insisted that we had the BBQ that a church down the street was hosting.

Jimbo's Kitchen 1936 S King St
Udon - that is my recommendation. Broth is very good and the udon tasted homemade. Enjoyed this place. Packed with locals.

I Love Country Cafe - by Ala Moana Mall
I really like this place. To Go twice. They have a lot of different options besides plate lunches and they even have a section that's dedicated to "healthy eats" Again, nothing spectacular but I was yearing for some veggies (by the way, unless you are cooking yourself, vegetable dishes are hard to find) and both times got the stir fried vegetables (which minimal oil) and it was tasty. My wife got the mahi mahi coated in panko and that was good!

Like Like Drive In - by Walmart
How to best describe this place: a Hawaiian style Denny's. Diner style but if you get the meal it comes with drink, a fruit cup (basically canned fruit in syrup), salad/soup and dessert. It is what it is.

Boot & Kimo 131 Hekili St Kailua
Known for their Macademia Pancake syrup and it's good. We got breakfast there; and I have to say the macademia pancak syrup is good but the pancake (banana) is ok. They cover the pancake with the syrup so if you are watching your calories ask for it on the side.

Little Village Noodle House - 1113 Smith St (? ) in Chinatown
To our disappointment this was the only rest we visited in Chinatown. Food, not bad but had better in SGV. AT least they had sauteed spinach but it left this grimy taste in our mouth afterwards.

Chip & Cookie - 609 Kailua Rd Kailua
This is a store owned by Wally Amos, formerly of the Famous Amos Cookie Fame (but I guess the corp that owns his name too his trade mark). If you are in Kailua stop there and try the cookies, very good. Bought some for the trip home. If you are lucky, Wally might be in (unfortunately he wasn't in the store). Also, if you have kids they have a section where they have books and you are welcomed to just sit there and read. At least go in and get some samples. You'll be hooked

Last but not least Shaved Ice. What is a trip to Hawaii w/o shave ice? We visited three places and order of preferences:
1. Waiola Shaved Ice (original locationi on 2135 Waiola Ave) The ice is very fine there and it literally melts in your mouth. We love the fine ice
2. Matsumoto - North Shore ice not as fine as Waiola but the syrup was really good. By the way, has anyone ever tried the other shaved ice up the street from Matsumoto, I think it's Aoki Shaved Ice
3. Island Snow - Kailua
ice was coarse and they drenched it with syrup. We had the beans with it and there wasn't much beans with it. We both looked at each other and said it was too sweet; felt like we were just drinking syrup

This is about it. Sorry for the long post. By the way, can anyone tell me how to get to Banzai Pipeline in North Shore. I wanted to check out the surf but in following the directions on Frommers, I couldn't find it.

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  1. Thanks for the comprehensive report. I think that the board should make this a "sticky" so that it is always near the top. You have covered two sides of Oahu well.

    Hunt

    1. You really did a lot of research to find some of these places, I'm impressed. Next time you go to Ono's try the lau lau, moist pork wrapped in taro leaf which is kind of like spinach. They make an excellent one there, you may have seen people eat it, also their chicken long rice is very good.

      Jimbo's does make their own fresh udon noodles, you can taste the difference. Palace Saimin serves some of the best saimin on the island, glad you enjoyed it enough for a repeat visit. In fact you've gone to many of the places I eat at regularly like I Love Country Cafe, good plate lunches with brown rice and fresh greens. Thanks for the report.

      1. I second the recommendation of the lau lau at Ono Hawaiian Foods. For a haole like myself, it was a discovery of something truly Pacific Islander. Because it has to be cooked for a long time, a few minutes more or less make no difference and the lau lau you eat is ready when you walk into the restaurant, so it is served immediately after ordering it.

        Although I would not describe the cooked taro in lau lau as "like spinach". It reminds me much more, texture-wise, of the heart of a cooked artichoke.

        1. i did a post earlier this year on my hawaiian ice spin...take a peak at it...

          1. i should have before the trip, I'll take a look at it

            1. i love going to hawaii... i don't know how many times i've been and i was there for about a month after taking the bar exam years ago... i have many local friends who live there, and suffice it to say, i really have assimilated with the culture, so much so that i sometimes talk with a hawaiian accent here on the mainland!!! =) i've also made a mini-travel guide (on a budget and if u want to splurge) for all my mainland friends who visit =)

              i like going to rainbow.. i'm not too big on the chain plate lunch places.. i really enjoyed this place called hk's... i want to say it's mauka (towards the mountains) from honolulu... i actually liked it better than rainbows... they have a really good fried saimin... it's on a corner and they have a patio-style eating area indoors...

              if ur gonna go to north shore, try out a garlic shrimp truck... giovanni's is well-known and delish, but i found i got bigger portions at another shrimp truck that was more towards the windward end of north shore (came with salad and was also a bit cheaper than gio's).... it's a little odd that ur ordering shrimp from a truck.. but seriously, it is one of the best meals i've ever had... i love the fresh garlic and the butter that smothers the unpeeled shrimp and even covers the rice...

              i'm into surfing... the best this to do is to ask locals there pipes is... it's either right across from or right after a school.... there's a grassy area in the front.. be careful of the undertow... it really is STRONG!!! =)

              for breakfast, i enjoy wailana coffeehouse across from the hilton hawaiian village... the service may be a bit off, but that place is ALWAYS crowded.. i love love love their macademia pancakes... yum =) my boyfriend went there a week after i did, and he loved the pancakes and poured coconut syrup on it (too sweet altogether for me, but everyone is different)

              =)

              sorry for the long reply... i just started posting yesterday and i'm just getting used to everything... =)

              aloha! =)

              1. Great list! But how did you miss Side Street??? Fried pork chops, misoyaki chicken no skin, Big Island smoked pork, fried rice.... Oh man. I crave that food. One of my very favorite places when I lived there. Total dive though.

                Popular with the local celeb chefs too. http://starbulletin.com/1999/08/25/fe...

                1 Reply
                1. re: ccl1111

                  i know, I read about Side Street and was tempted but our toddler girl is not very good at eating out with us. when she's done, that means we are done. I guess we could have gotten take out. it's on my list for next trip