HOME > Chowhound > Hawaii >
Are you making a specialty food? Tell us about it
TELL US

Chowhounds in Oahu?

Eat_Nopal May 2, 2007 08:29 AM

I have a great job offer in Honolulu, and considering a move from Northern California. Any local Chowhounds there? Is there a particular part of the island that you would recommend (considering both restaurants & supermarkets).

Any Chowhounds that moved there from the mainland? What food insights can you provide?

THANKS

  1. y
    Yoshio May 2, 2007 09:49 AM

    Make sure you are very clear on the cost of living and time of commute. You don't say exactly where you're at in N. California, but most people who move here from the Mainland are shocked at the cost of housing and traffic. This place is paradise if you're on holiday, living here is an entirely different proposition unless you're a pro surfer or some such!

    Regarding food, I was overall very disappointed in the quality of SE Asian food. Out of all the Vietnamese restaurants in town there is only one that I consider very good. I still haven't found an excellent Thai restaurant since my favorite cook moved back to Thailand and even then she was cooking at a bar, not a restaurant. Good Japanese food is common and adequate Korean can be found with a bit of looking. If you like Catonese-style Chinese, there are many places here and a few Hong Kong-style. There is only one marginally Sichuan restaurant.

    The farmers' market is an excellent source of locally grown/produced food and agricultural items, but again, it does not compare to ones you may be familiar with as our market is less than four years old. Locally grown produce is slowly finding its way into grocery stores here, but you need to be dedicated to seeking it out as it's not commonly found in stores.

    If you haven't spent any time here, you should seriously consider coming to stay for a while and try living as locals do. You may love it! There are many wonderful things about living here, but I don't know that I'd rate the overall quality of food/restaurants/markets as a major draw. Then again, I've been told that I'm much too picky!

    1. kare_raisu May 2, 2007 02:15 PM

      Ah man Eat Nopal - Just returned from Oahu from 6 days vacation. I miss it already!

      Honolulu was a chowhound paradise for me! I will be posting on some of my experiences very soon.
      Best:
      -Sunrise Restaurant (Okinawan Music and Food)
      - Okazuya (Gulick Delicatessen and Ebisu)
      - Nicos Pier 38 (stellar fish)
      - Shirokiya Department store
      - Aloha Tofu Factory
      - Hawaiian Food at Ward Center
      - Crackseed
      - Butterfish Misoyaki and shoyu!
      -

      5 Replies
      1. re: kare_raisu
        Eat_Nopal May 2, 2007 03:02 PM

        Thanks Kare... very good to know. I even found a Mexican market in Maui... and saw some authentic looking places around Honolulu. I also had wonderful Malasadas and other Portugese stuff... and liked many of the native Hawaiin foods. One thing I didn't see much of was Indian food... bummer.

        An interesting thought I had... I think a Mexican place that dished out Ceviches, Fish Tacos, Mahi-Mahi a la Veracruzana, Carnitas, Cochinita Pibil, Aguas Frescas etc., would do very well there.

        1. re: Eat_Nopal
          Debbie M May 2, 2007 05:35 PM

          Lucky you! A chowhounder could do very well in Oahu. There are two excellent Oahu food blogs you should take a look at:

          Ono Kine Grindz: http://onokinegrindz.typepad.com/ono_kine_grindz/
          The Tasty Island: http://tastyisland.wordpress.com/

          Both excellent sources for what's good in Honolulu and beyond.

          1. re: Eat_Nopal
            kare_raisu May 2, 2007 06:47 PM

            EN - There was only 2 Mexican restaurants I came across. The one that looked the best was on the way hiking up Diamondback - a lot of Frida-coration.

            You may be interested in the Puerto Rican presence on the islands. A wave came to Hawaii during the early 20th due to a devastating hurricane to work the sugar can fields. At Foodland - the Safeway of Hawaii, I found Pasteles and I have heard Arroz con Gandules is quite popular!

            If I had the capital - I would definitely invest in your thought of a restaurant - there is a clear market for it.

            1. re: Eat_Nopal
              kare_raisu May 2, 2007 06:51 PM

              Haha I found a picture of the Mexican Restaurant!

               
              1. re: Eat_Nopal
                haolebaby Jun 12, 2009 11:01 AM

                I know this is kind of late in the game but as far as Indian food.. have you been to Himalayan Kitchen or Mahrani? Both of these are excellent. Also there is Bombay by like the Discovery Center off of Ala Moana, good buffet but I still prefer the other two to that restaurant. Maharani is BYOB also.

                -----
                Cafe Maharani
                2509 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96826

                Himilayan Kitchen
                1137 11th Ave Ste 205, Honolulu, HI

            2. p
              paa3838 May 3, 2007 12:22 AM

              As far as geographic areas, I think that you can't beat the Kaimuki area... so many great restaurants, we have a hard time choosing where to eat every night. And it's a fairly quick trip into Waikiki or to King Street for those restaurants.

              1. s
                slowfoodgrrl May 3, 2007 01:40 AM

                I truly hate to say it, but moving here from Minneapolis meant major withdrawl from the restaurant scene there when I arrived in Honolulu. I love Hawaii. I'm living here doing research and plan on being here on and off and working on Hawaii (as we say in the biz) for many years. I have infinite respect for the people here, my dad was a kid here, my sister lives here. But, I've had to work harder to eat the way I like than in many other cities. I have some favorites, but it's still been more of a challenge for me. The flip side of this is that I have done less eating out and more adventurous cooking than I normally do, so that could be a perk.

                5 Replies
                1. re: slowfoodgrrl
                  Eat_Nopal May 3, 2007 06:16 AM

                  How would you describe your eating style that is challening to fulfill in Oahu?

                  1. re: Eat_Nopal
                    s
                    slowfoodgrrl May 3, 2007 12:07 PM

                    I hesitate to respond because I really don't want to sound like a snob or push anyone's buttons, but since you asked... The biggest issue is probably that I've been underwhelmed by several of the restaurants I've been to. There is less to choose from in categories such as Indian and Mexican. The pizza I've had here has not done it for me. I was very attached to my food co-op in Minneapolis (and the fact that there were maybe six other co-ops). As much as I support Kokua and also shop at Down to Earth sometimes, I miss my co-op, which was much bigger than Kokua and seemed to therefore offer more competitive prices and also the option of meat and seafood that is not frozen. I love Olive Tree Cafe, but I'm dying for a gyro at this point.

                    My hangouts in Minneapolis were coffee houses, little cafes with French inspired or vegetarian/locally-sourced-food-themes, a little Italian place that was off the charts taste wise but with bistro prices, and a punk bar. I'm bummed that I have not found a coffee house here that has inspired me to become a regular. There is also the issue of price points. Perhaps I am wrong, but my experience is that the middle-range price point is harder to find. I can get inexpensive take out or plate lunch and then there are some very enticing expensive options, but the middle range is more difficult. There was a thread on this site not long ago about moderately expensive restaurants in Honolulu and there weren't very many posts compared with other cities, by quite a large margin.

                    Please don't get me wrong! Like I said before, I have some favorites and I adore the farmers market. I have eaten well here. I just miss the options of my old digs. And I'm not really into plate lunch. It is also possible that I'm missing something.

                    1. re: slowfoodgrrl
                      k
                      kure Jun 1, 2007 12:13 AM

                      slowfoodgrrl , I think Coffee Manoa would have been your place to hangout. I really liked this shop and was sad when it closed.

                      1. re: kure
                        manomin Jun 1, 2007 10:23 AM

                        Yes, Coffee Manoa, what a great place it was! I went there so often and will never forget the view and the calm vibes and friendly people.

                      2. re: slowfoodgrrl
                        KaimukiMan Jun 1, 2007 01:36 AM

                        there are gyros right around the corner/across the street from Kokua in Pucks Alley. I'm not gonna claim they are the best ever, and perhaps they are worse than I think they are, but Greek Corner doesn't seem all that bad.

                  2. Leucadian May 3, 2007 12:11 PM

                    Hi Eat_Nopal,

                    You should get in touch with David (CH: Xelhuan) who is in Hawaii, but I don't know what island.

                    There was a lively thread a while back on the Mexico board, but I didn't get any contact info for him, and it looks like he hasn't posted for a while. He might be just lurking, and might respond to a posting on this thread:

                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/374426

                    1. t
                      torta basilica May 3, 2007 01:54 PM

                      Check out Kaimuki, along Waialae Avenue - a few bistros, Austrian/German bakery I've heard good things about, 3660 on the Rise for a more upscale dinner, a saimen place & Tamura's Fine Wines, groceries & poke bar. Tamura's has the best wine & pricing I've seen in ages - even better than the mainland in some instances.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: torta basilica
                        e
                        Embla May 6, 2007 12:13 AM

                        Also in Kaimuki: town. Absolutely delicious!

                        Kaimuki has undergone a bit of a culinary revival, with fantastic restaurants opening up. The neighborhood is also rather charming... But this is Hawaii, everyone is nice! :)

                        Also, re: slowfoodgrrl. I would agree. A metropolis like MSP has many more restaurants... which means more competition, which thus increases the quality in offerings. I absolute love the food I can find in MSP!! However, Hawaii's dining scene is still fairly decent... and it is quickly growing! A Whole Foods is finally coming, co-ops are growing, and there's always a new farmers market popping up somewhere, if those can indicate the dining scene's growth.

                        Ditto slowfoodgrrl's words on coffee shops. The thing is, coffee shops just aren't a big part of the culture here in Hawaii. I was in a small town in North Dakota, and even they had a couple of very charming and intimate coffee shops.. Whereas people here are more inclined to drop by Starbucks, or Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (owned by a family in Hawaii, I think, but they have a lot of stores, and their ambiance is similar to that of Starbucks. they don't quite have the charm of small, independently-owned coffee shops). That said, however, there are a few small, darling coffee shops.. You just have to look.. :)

                        1. re: Embla
                          s
                          slowfoodgrrl May 6, 2007 01:27 AM

                          You are right, Embla, there does seem to be a revival going on and town (the restaurant) is a place I have somehow not been to yet, surprisingly. It's next on the list.

                          I hope I didn't sound like too much of a pill in my earlier posts. I was in Chinatown today and in manapua heaven... There is no Chinatown in MSP, so I relish this one. Cheers to Chinatown and the growing numbers of farmers markets!

                          1. re: slowfoodgrrl
                            Bill Hunt May 6, 2007 11:44 AM

                            My causal observations as a tourist, not as a local, coincide with many of yours. Great low-end and high-end, but the middle-road caters more to the tourist throngs. In many ways, this has helped the general dining economy, but has left a gulf for really good food in the center of the spectrum. We usually do all of our dining in the high-end spots, with quick grabs in the low. I have never had anything, in what I would typify as the "middle" that I would ever want again.

                            For the "coffee house experience," I think I'd just grab a Starbucks to-go and head over to Ala Moana Park for some "talk story," with the locals.

                            Hunt

                      2. k
                        kinipela May 6, 2007 03:06 PM

                        wow there are tons of places to eat in oahu.... i think if at all possible, just try to avoid the touristy locations and you should be okay... for grocery stores, don't shop in waikiki. everything is double there. oahu has great pupu's.... i love the seafood.. and the different influences of all the pacific rim countries stands out. the vibe is great. the dining is good.. as long as you talk to locals and tell them what you are looking for, then i think you will be okay.. nothern california (sf bay area) and hnl are kinda the same pricewise. yes, you won't see that much mexican, or indian, etc, but you can make your food... and there are hole in the wall places that you can look for. i just love the fresh island ingredients and how all the influences of different cultures seamless fits in the dining experience, whether it be a plate lunch or a gourmet meal =)

                        congrats on the new job offer!

                        ps i found a recent thread that i posted to =) i know it's not the same as LIVING there, but it's a start =)

                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/394774

                        1. m
                          myrrhine47 May 31, 2007 01:32 AM

                          Congrats on the job offer! Like yourself, I recently moved from Northern California (Bay Area) to Honolulu.
                          I heard all the warnings before I left about how much more expensive things are - food, gas, rent, etc - but being from the Bay Area, it was pretty much what I was used to - no big shockers there, just budget about what you do now and you should be fine. The only surprise was actually kind of random - wine here is generally more expensive than I'm used to. In the Bay Area, a glass of wine at a bar is usually a good, cheaper alternative to a cocktail. Here, generally, wine by the glass will be more expensive than cocktails... Has to do with the cost of importing wine vs hard alcohol, I'm told, and I suppose that makes sense!

                          My commute here is actually shorter than it was in the Bay Area, so that's a big plus for me - but that all depends on where you live.
                          Speaking of which - I'm casting my vote with Kaimuki. It's close to downtown, and has a plethora of good restaurants (two of which, Town and 12th Ave Grill, made me feel like I was back in SF - they're great). There's also a coffee place (called Coffee Talk) that is a fun place to get your latte, scone, and spend a couple hours on a Sunday with a book if you're not in a beach-y mood!

                          Assuming your job is somewhere downtown, you'd probably be better off staying (if not in the city itself) to the East of the city - that means Kaimuki, Kahala, Diamond Head, even as far as Hawaii Kai (although that would be a longer commute). Areas to the West of the city - Ewa and Pearl City for example - do offer a lot of affordable housing, and a lot of the people I work with live out that way - but that means a longer, more traffic-y commute in the morning. Also there's just not as much interesting food out there (hope I'm not offending anybody now!)...
                          And while some people at my job DO live as far as Kaneohe or even the North Shore and commute into Honolulu every day, I wouldn't recommend it unless you were really willing to commit to the long commute... They love it because they have big pieces of land and basically live "in the country" - unless that's what you're looking for, stay in town!

                          Another plus for the Kaimuki/Kahala/Diamond Head area is that you're close to the FANTASTIC Kapiolani Community College farmer's market, held every Saturday morning. I buy most of my fruits and veggies there, and always find something interesting to inspire cooking - fresh hearts of palm, for example, or fiddlehead fern - I had heard of cooking with these, but never actually seen them for sale! It's also a great place to pick up local meat and baked goods. And I challenge you to go your first time and NOT buy at least one orchid (although I can't see why you'd want to take me up on that challenge :) - they're every bit as beautiful as the ones we get in the Bay Area and a fraction of the price. Turns out they're also easy to take care of!

                          Oh, and I recently heard a rumor that a Whole Foods Market (!! first in the state, I think?) is going to be opening up in the Kahala Mall - so that would be another perk of being in that area!
                          Hope some of this helps (I know it was long!) - good luck and good eating!

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: myrrhine47
                            KaimukiMan May 31, 2007 02:45 AM

                            For obvious reasons I can't argue one bit with myrrhine's recommendation as to the best neighborhood. East Oahu (from Nuuanu to Koko Head) is considered the prime residential area on this side of the island. Prices do reflect that reality. The Kaimuki/ Kapahulu/ Moiliili neighborhoods do have some good eats, probably rivaling anything you would find anywhere on the island (with the exception of some of the big names. And yes, Kahala Mall announced today that Whole Foods will be moving in there. I'm not sure I understand how, as the Whole Foods I have seen in LA are roughly three times the size of the space formerly occupied by star market.... we shall see.

                            Being from California, a few things will surprise you. While our sales tax is lower, it is applied to everything - from professional services to food. Yes, we charge sales tax on all grocery items, drugs, etc. EVERYTHING. Also as I am sure you realize, almost no place on earth can compare wtih the quality and variety of produce you find in your average CA grocery store. While the Diamond Head (Kapiolani Community College) farmers market is good, I am not quite as enthusiastic as myrrhine about it.

                            Having said all that, I think you would be shortchanging yourself if you don't at least come and check it all out for yourself before you make a final decision. Its true... Hawaii No Ka Oi

                            1. re: myrrhine47
                              Eat_Nopal May 31, 2007 07:53 AM

                              Thanks.... how would the commute be from North Shore to say the Airport area?

                              1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                KaimukiMan May 31, 2007 09:29 AM

                                The north shore is a fairly long strip of road, but once you get to Haleiwa it will probably take you about 10 - 15 minutes to get to Wahiawa/Schofield where the H-2 Freeway begins. If you are trying to get to work by 8am (normal workday here is 8-5) it will take you about 50 minutes to get to the airport, if you had to go downtown add another 20 or so. You would be driving in some of the worst traffic on the island. If you are not going during commute hours (6:30-8:30am) then it is about a 20 minute drive on the H2/H1 from Wahiawa. Going home would not be as bad. Maybe 30 - 40 minutes from the Airport to Wahiawa. If there is an accident all bets are off.

                                1. re: KaimukiMan
                                  Eat_Nopal May 31, 2007 10:01 AM

                                  Thanks a lot. Let me ask you a question.... say my housing budget is around $3k per month, and I would prefer to live in a smallish but nice looking 3 bedroom home in a slightly rural area, want a smooth commute to the Airport area (30 minutes or less), and not be more than 1 hour from urban life. Would prefer an area with white collar professionals & decent schools (I grew up in East L.A. and have already had my life ration of poor neighborhoods), but I am turned off by gated communities & snobbish people.

                                  Does this sound like any of the communities you have mentioned?

                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                    KaimukiMan May 31, 2007 09:27 PM

                                    No such community exists within 30 minutes of the Airport during commute hours. I would reccomend you look at some of the areas in the Pearl City and Aiea neighborhoods, that would give you the shortest commute from a decent middle class neighborhood. But it will be suburban, not semi rural. For all intents and purposes Semi-Rural doesn't exist on the urbanized side of the island. And you sure are not going to be in a gated community for 3k a month. A two bedroom condo "in town" goes for 1000-1500/mo.

                                    I don't want to get too far out of bounds for Chowhound discussion you can e-mail me: Kaimukiman@hotmail.com

                                    1. re: KaimukiMan
                                      h
                                      honu2 Aug 21, 2008 11:19 PM

                                      Pockets of rural do exist in urban Honolulu, but they are tucked away and hard to find. I can think of: end of sixth avenue in Palolo;valley; Maunawili valley, that part of Round Top/Tantalus not served by public water, Pauoa Valley, end of Kalihi valley. All are relatively close to the airport and some luck would be needed to find a house to rent in these areas.

                                2. re: Eat_Nopal
                                  u
                                  UES Mayor Jul 12, 2007 04:35 AM

                                  I do that trip-no problem.........once a year!!! too far for daily living-move closer

                              2. e
                                electricpink May 31, 2007 08:06 AM

                                i'd absolutely recommend nicos if you like fresh fish. inexpensive and delicious, right next to the pier so it has this chill summertime atmosphere. it's a little tricky to find the place, but once you get there you must try the furikake ahi, served with a side of fresh nalo greens.

                                also, try liliha bakery, known for their cocoa puffs. if you eat one, you will be converted. and while i'm at it -- pick up a haupia pie from ted's bakery in the north shore. if you're a little lazier, you can pick it from times supermarket, but if you're new here i'd recommend the trek just to see the other side of the island:)

                                1. y
                                  yehfromthebay Jun 1, 2007 04:35 PM

                                  A great job in Honolulu?! Hook a sista' up, why don't you? ;-) I just got back from vacation there and just love the pan-Asian-influenced cuisine. The low-end sushi tasted like some of the best of the Bay. The markets and lunch plates were to die for....yum, yum. If I could figure out a way to relocate (would even take another bar exam), I would be soooo on it.

                                  1. e
                                    emu48 Oct 14, 2007 04:29 PM

                                    If you like Thai food, and you like to cook, Honolulu can be heaven. Local farmers produce fresh Thai ingredients that are rare in a few other American cities and don't exist at all in most of America. Kaffir limes and leaves. Several kinds of Thais basil. Tiny round Thai egglants. Galangal. Young coconuts. Thai sausages. Cooking Thai for yourself is one of the things, like surfing, and that's better here than it is anywhere else in the USA. Thai restaurants are another story. You won't find the diversity of regional Thai cuisines you find in, for instance, the San Francisco Bay Area or L.A. But having said that, there are some very good Thai restaurants here.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: emu48
                                      j
                                      Joebob Oct 19, 2007 04:35 PM

                                      Your elaborating on "...some very good Thai Restaurants..." would be sincerely appreciated. Also, where does one purchase those Thai sausages (with lemon and basil flavors, yes?) of which you wrote?

                                      1. re: Joebob
                                        e
                                        emu48 Aug 15, 2008 04:56 PM

                                        Many -- maybe most -- Thai restaurants in Hawaii seem influenced by the earliest and most successful ones here, which were/are run by Laotians or Thais of Lao ancestry, of whom there are many, especially in northern Thailand. The food is quite wonderful, but it's only one of several major regional cuisines in Thailand. I've always found that a lot of the dishes I could find in California are scarce or nonexistent here. Locally made Thai and Lao sausages, as far as I know, are sold only by one or two vendors in Honolulu's Chinatown. One lady who makes them sells them hot off her grill in the Maunakea Marketplace food court. These are the esan (northern Thai) type, very spicy and very good. She even makes a low-fat one, due to popular demand, although she says the regular kind is tastier (and she's right). They're pork flavored with lemongrass, galangal, chilis, kaffir lime leaf, maybe cilantro, maybe basil and maybe shallots too.

                                        1. re: emu48
                                          j
                                          Joebob Aug 18, 2008 04:00 AM

                                          Thanks, emu48.

                                    2. Eat_Nopal Aug 18, 2008 06:29 PM

                                      Talk about sticker shock... our first foray into Safeway was $300+... by far the most we have ever spent on a grocery trip... granted there were a few pantry items... but the main reason was that many things are about twice as expensive as in CA. It really makes the mainland versions of Whole Paycheck look like the 99 Cent Store... what makes the sting worse is that we are talking lower quality, mass manufactured products!

                                      With that said it doesn't take that much effort to cut down expenditures... Mainstream Packaged Goods (Granola Bars, Cookies etc.,) seem to be the biggest culprits, along with imported, low turnover Green Vegetables (Collards were $4.50 a bunch, Tomatillos $4.99 / lb etc.)... the Asian vegetables were more reasonably priced, as were meats, milk etc.,

                                      I can't wait to try Don Quijote, Asian markets & the KCC farmer's market.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                        Eat_Nopal Aug 18, 2008 06:32 PM

                                        One other observation... dining out seems to be a relative bargain. For lunch today, I ate at a very casual, strip mall sushi place... quality eqivalent to some of the better Sushi in Northern California... a Spicy Tuna Bento Box for $8 would have been quite a bit more expensive in CA.

                                        1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                          j
                                          Joebob Aug 18, 2008 07:12 PM

                                          $300?! Wait 'till you shop at Costco! Yes, cookies, etc. are much more expensive. You may find yourself waiting more until wants come on sale. Was it Kozo Sushi? They are good value for the money. Check out the People's Open Markets too.

                                          1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                            tsays Aug 18, 2008 07:31 PM

                                            Aloha- welcome to paradise. You will soon hear that the cost of things here is the "island tax" and I can assure you, having moved here in Feb '08 from Scottsdale, AZ (read: very affordable, comparatively) that you will be more and more willing to pay the island tax. I find that we cook more here b/c we can get great, fresh local ingredients and we love fish. If you haven't already - get familiar with COSTCO, especially for items that don't spoil. My husband and I can only do limited shopping there b/c it is just the two of us, but for packaged foods (granola bars, cereal) and frozen foods, its good to go. Make the farmer's markets (KCC is the best on the east side, but depending on where you are, you will find some smaller ones for quicker trips) your regular haunts and go to the Safeway for the staples..although the fish there is actually pretty good. When you are in the mood for a fish splurge, hit Tamashiro fish market, just Ewa of Chinatown. You'll also find good Asian products there. I am not at all impressed with Don Quijote, as it reminded me of a scary WalMart with a fish market - I prefer Tamashiro. Dining outside of Waikiki takes some creativity, when you find a place you love, be sure to frequent b/c we all have to support our local restaurants as its getting harder for privately owned, intimate places to compete. On the other hand, if you can get into the "local" cuisine, good lunch eats are not hard to find. When you are craving a good 'dog, check out Haute Dogs, its a hoot and yummy to boot. Go to Sam Choy's and order the plate lunch (its not on the menu) huge portions of good food.
                                            I'm assuming you are on the east side of the island, just based on your comments. There are some great Chowhounds in Hawaii - stay in the loop, you'll find your favorites!

                                            1. re: tsays
                                              manomin Aug 18, 2008 08:04 PM

                                              Regarding Hank's Haute Dogs - it's cash only! Try the "fatboy" it's ridiculously good!

                                        2. Eat_Nopal Aug 18, 2008 08:25 PM

                                          Thanks all for the advise. All I can say is Honolulu is expensive by S.F. & N.Y. standards (maybe not by European & Japanese standards)... seems to me to be the most expensive place in the country.

                                          10 Replies
                                          1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                            Bill Hunt Aug 18, 2008 08:44 PM

                                            EN,

                                            I agree with you. We have always lived near "resort areas," and often travel to them. Same for our UK/European travels - the US$ is still sinking.

                                            Maybe that is why I do not need oxygen, when shopping in Hawai`i. I've faced that sticker shock for many years. Think about a US$25 ski-hill burger (we're NOT talking some Kobe gourmet burger here) on the slopes. You do get over it.

                                            Now, I'm never stocking a home in Hawai`i, only our suite for the week, so the shock is lessened. Just think, in a year, you'll be so numbed, that you'll not notice.

                                            Thanks for the reports. Hope all goes well for you. Please keep us posted.

                                            Aloha,

                                            Hunt

                                            1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                              KaimukiMan Aug 18, 2008 08:57 PM

                                              Yes, the "price of paradise" is high. And don't forget that with our climate things spoil fast. I keep lots of stuff in the fridge and freezer that I would never think of on the mainland including flour, sugar, pasta, bread, oils. Not only to keep them away from the humidity, but so that they are not a temptation for the insects (cockroaches). Keeping tomatoes, bananas and other fruits that are best not refrigerated away from critters can be a challenge as well.

                                              1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                j
                                                Joebob Aug 19, 2008 05:47 PM

                                                KMan,
                                                Are you implying there are no ANTS on the East side?

                                                1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                  Eat_Nopal Aug 19, 2008 07:09 PM

                                                  The thing that stings about Paradise Tax... is that intuitively... I don't think the price differences should be THAT great... I see a lot of sub-optimal Retail practices. I think the fact that Wal Mart seems to keep prices somewhat under control points to the fact that the Safeways & Foodland's of the world just can't manage much value from their supply chain.

                                                  I hope others will join me in a rain dance, so that the Retail Gods will grant us a Trader Joe's

                                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                                    tsays Aug 20, 2008 01:04 AM

                                                    I second the plea for a TJ's in Honolulu. I have several requests in through their website =) not sure anyone is listening, but its worth a regular visit. On another note, as if food prices here aren't enough of a shock - we have WholeFoods on the horizon. BTW - the "Paradise Tax" does not equate to a level of freshness, its more about the cost of getting everything. Thus the excitement over Farmer's Mkts here.

                                                    1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                                      j
                                                      Joebob Aug 20, 2008 01:09 AM

                                                      A propos supply chains, consider buying things at the start of the sale week. Quality can be poor by the end of the week.
                                                      A propos TJs, I wouldn't hold my breath. Whole Foods just cut back their planned store here by 50%.

                                                      1. re: Joebob
                                                        tsays Aug 20, 2008 02:29 AM

                                                        Great advice from JoeBob about buying early in the week (I favor Monday's after the weekend rush, everything seems stocked and fresh). Think maybe TJ's might actually do BETTER in a slowing economy (as opposed to WholeFoods)? I digress, and its probably a topic for another posting..but just a thought.

                                                        1. re: Joebob
                                                          Eat_Nopal Aug 20, 2008 11:55 AM

                                                          FYI... I have it from good authority the reason WF cut their size was to reduce their build out cost. Apparently, they experienced some delays due to Arquelogical finds during the excavation... they have already exceeded their budget for that particular store. As a secondary reason... I think they realized its smart to "right size" it.

                                                          I have hopes that WF will not be as Relatively Expensive in HI as in the mainland. One of the problems with Safeway is that they depend so heavily on the big name CPGs (Kellogg, Coca-Cola, Frito Lay etc.,) and are basically obligated to carry full lines... even if some flavors / versions don't do well locally. Their typical lineup requires a very large footprint of slow turning products... which is one of the main culprits for high retail prices. The other is usually labor... are Clerks in HI still unionized? WF & TJ on the mainland pay more on the $10/hr range, with some Medical, 401k etc., but this about half the compensation from the old school union jobs.

                                                          1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                                            tsays Aug 20, 2008 01:26 PM

                                                            Hi EN -

                                                            I heard the same as you did re: WF. As far as pricing goes, we shall see. In the months that we have been here, nothing and certainly not food has gotten cheaper. Have you (or anyone else reading) been to Marukai Wholesale? I only recently learned of it and would love to hear more about it. Think I will do a separate posting; love to hear some feedback.

                                                            1. re: tsays
                                                              Eat_Nopal Aug 20, 2008 04:32 PM

                                                              We just got here last week... so I haven't had a chance to get around to all the various places or see patterns. One thing I do understand, from someone who is very well connected here, is that Small Scale Farming had been growing tremendously... basically Hawaii is no longer a competitive global exporter of its major cash crops (Sugarcane, Pineapple, Coffee)... so many of the Plantation lands lie fallow... small players have been able to buy them & profitably grow produce for the local market. There is still a lot of arable land out there... but the owners are holding out, as they are trying to them them re-zoned for residential development... fortunately the local government has been slow to act... and so we may see more farm land come up for sale.. and thus more locally grown produce (whose prices will be less dependant on energy costs). You combine that with flat housing prices for a decade or so... and all of a sudden HI cost of living might ease up etc.,

                                                  Show Hidden Posts