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May 2, 2007 08:29 AM

Chowhounds in Oahu?

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?


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  1. 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. 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.
      -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

        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

          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:
          The Tasty Island:

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

          1. re: Eat_Nopal

            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

              Haha I found a picture of the Mexican Restaurant!

              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                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. 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. 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

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

                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                    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

                      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

                        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

                        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. 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: