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Jun 6, 2007 01:43 PM

Steaks in Hawaii

I came out to Honolulu for a turn around business meeting in downtown Honolulu this week. I was taking the red eye back to LA so I thought getting a steak in me might help me sleep on the plane on the way back. I went to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse which I had been to before on the mainland. My ribeye was terrible. Not only was it overcooked but had an odd flavor to it. As I was waiting for my car, I mentioned to the valet how dissapointing my meal was. He mentioned that on the Island, steaks are cooked differently and I would have the same result at any other steakhouse or with any steak I would order at almost any restaurant.

The balance of the meal including sides, wine and dessert were on par with any other upscale restaurant. I am not trying to bash Ruth's Chris but am more curious if what the valet said is true. Was this an abberation or is it really different? Does anyone have any insight on this?

Thanks Chowhounders! Or, I should say, Mahalo!

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  1. That has to be the biggest load of BS I've heard in a very long time. Steaks are cooked no differently here. You got a bad steak. Next time bring it to the attention of the manager, not the valet!

    14 Replies
    1. re: Yoshio

      I agree completely with Yoshio. I mean, how/why in the world are we going to cook it differently here? RC is a national chain, they cook the steaks the same way across the country. In the future you might want to consider Mortons or the old Waikiki stand-by, Hy's.


        1. re: Jeet Yet

          Hy's is on Kuhio close to the Diamond Head end of Waikiki, 2440 Kuhio (Mauka of the Hyatt Regency) Try not to get seated in the back, the front room is nicer. I see they have a website:

          1. re: KaimukiMan

            Thanks KM. I will need to check out next time. Is it a good place to have a closing dinner with clients?

            1. re: Jeet Yet

              Depends on your relationship with them. If you are trying to impress them, probably do better at Mortons - it is the "in" place to go for steak now, with RC in second place. I actually prefer the food at Hy's to RC. It has been a couple of years since I was at Hy's but the ambiance could use a bit of tweaking - especially in the back (large) room. If they like the atmosphere of a sucessful steakhouse that has been around a while (in a good way) then sit in the front room (near the roasting area), Hy's would be a good choice.

              1. re: KaimukiMan

                is morton's fairly new? isn't it a chain?

                i prefer hy's as well... ruth chris over at restaurant row (which i never understood why they called it restaurant row.. it's more of a circle, and well... i find the restaurants to be slim pickins... but i dont like the bar in the middle and of course.. oceans ;P)

                i believe hy's is over at the continental surf hotel. i love the steaks over the kiawe wood. it does give a really good smokey flavor.

                the set up reminds me of an old library... lots of dark wood everywhere.. depends on what your clients like if you are trying to impress them. compared to other locations, it almost has this stodgy atmosphere, in my opinion... and the tables in the back are pretty close to each other.

                however, i thoroughly enjoy the food there. besides the "simple" steaks themselves, my favorite is the steak neptune... it almost melts in your mouth! the creamed spinach is also very good... and the desserts are very popular... as you can tell, i like this place... i can't go very often though 'cause i think it's a bit pricey for me...

                and actually, here's the website...

                1. re: kinipela

                  Mortons opened here about 3 years ago (watch someone gong me on this) and yes it is a chain. They are also well known for their happy hour cocktails where servers wander around with trays of little roast beef sandwiches. Too bad there is no view (at least from the bar area).

                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                    ack.. in my posting, i meant i DO like the middle bar (i forgot what it's called) and of course ocean's.. and they have half price pupus for happy hour.. yum... and there's always pirranha room nite =)

                    where is morton's? i guess i'm not "in" 'cause i don't know where it is... is it diamond head side by ws? i havent been there at all... how does it compare with hys?

                  2. re: kinipela

                    kinipela -

                    You are thinking of the Row Bar at Restaurant Row. And yeah earlier on that is a fun place, as is Oceans later on. I'm a bit past my prime nightclubbing years myself....

                    Mortons is in Ala Moana Center, Ewa side, almost down to Sears, but you have to enter from the Makai Side. I've not been for dinner, but pau hana cocktails are good. It is on the pricey side. I'd be surprised if they didn't have a website.

                2. re: Jeet Yet

                  Hy's is a wonderful place for any occaision. Food is great and I love the nights when the ukulele guy is there entertaining. Contrary to what someone else said-I think the back room is best for scene. The guy who cooks the meet is in this glass cage so u have full viewing which adds a little drama. Kids love it. And don't forget the bannana Foster-they flabee it tableside which kids love-make them feel very rich!!

                  1. re: UES Mayor

                    that is what I think of as the front room.... the back room is (or used to be) behind that and pretty devoid of character.

            2. re: KaimukiMan

              yes, i also agree! Hy's is the place to go! i miss the steaks, but even more, the bananas foster flambe!

            3. re: Yoshio

              Thanks for feedback but you being a little harsh here. The rest of the meal and service was great and I had to catch a plane so I chose not to complain it to the manager (who did come up to our table to ask us if all was well). I chose to let it go. As I mentioned this post is not a bashing on Ruth's Chris and I only mentioned it in passing to the valet. Was more curious about his comments.

              1. re: Jeet Yet

                jeet -

                I think you were clear, but thanks for the reply. No, we don't cook our steaks here any differently, especially food prepared in a local outlet of a national chain. Rare is rare, well done is well done. I can think of no reason it should have had an odd taste either.

            4. Ruth's Chris dry-age their steaks. If someone's not used to it, the "odd taste" could be, as variously described by some, as "intense", "nutty", "gamey". I've eaten the ribeye at Ruth's in Honolulu many times. Normally, they're great. But I did noticed an off-flavor once -a bit gamey, like it was on the shelf too long.

              Agree with the others, steaks in Hawaii are cooked same as anywhere else. I like Hy's too, my favorite is their prime rib. They use native kiawe wood which gives their steaks a smokey, unique richness.

              1. I do not know exactly what the valet was referring to. The best steak that I have ever had was on Kaua`i, at a higher-end Italian restaurant, Dondero's, Grand Hyatt, Poipu, Kaua`i. Now, that said, I have not had any above the 80% mark, at the rest. I have not been to the Ruth's in Honolulu, and do not normally go to them on the Mainland, or to Morton's, etc.

                Even Chef Mavro, who was serving Big Island "Kobe" filet, on the night that we dined with him, missed the mark a bit. It was good, but not great, especially compared to the week before, and the filet at Dondero's.

                I've had some good Big Island beef in the Islands, though most have not been great, only good.

                Wish that I could offer you some insight, but other than my personal experiences.


                3 Replies
                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  So how to rank steaks in Honolulu:( Since we are very displeased with Morton's in other locations): 1-Ruths Chris; 2----Hy's; 3--Morton's.
                  Any others?

                  1. re: kel

                    In Honolulu, I usually am going more for seafood. I am also not a fan of the chain/mini-chain steak places (Mainland, or otherwise), so have not done the Morton's or Ruth's in Hawai`i. Hy's gets a lot of good recs. from respected CH posters, many of them local. I'd have to think that they are doing something correct.

                    Last time I went on a "beef jag," in Hawai`i, I got started at Dondero's (Kaua`i) with one of the best pieces of beef, that I have ever experienced. Carried this theme to the North Shore, O`ahu, and had some good beef there too. Ended with the Kobe Tenderloin at Chef Mavro's (a favorite restaurant of ours), but it was the weakest beef of that trip. In Honolulu, I do not have any good recs.

                    On the Mainland, I'd put Ruth's over Morton's, but do not do either with enough regularity to feel that I know either. It's always on an invitation from others, and on their expense account, but I still have not been wowed by either.



                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      DK Kodama's has gotten some good comments locally. I haven't been there yet, so I can't speak firsthand, but it would be worth checking out. DK is the owner of Sansei which also has an excellent reputation.

                      check out the other thread about great steak in Hawaii as well.

                2. Is it possible that the OP had grass-fed beef as opposed to grain-fed? This is what I attributed the difference in taste to when I was on Oahu recently.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: madgreek

                    ^ Does this not make sense to everyone? I'm surprised there are no replies to my previous comment. Is it a ridiculous statement, or was it just overlooked?

                    1. re: madgreek

                      i dont think ruth chris serves grass fed, and the beef they serve here is not island raised.

                      1. re: madgreek

                        I'm not sure of this idea. Some of the best beef that I have had, has been in Hawai`i and featured "Big Island" beef. I do not know the producers, or what might have been fed, but know that some of what I have had, was great. Still, some of the other great beef dishes have been Iowa/KC/Chicago beef, on the Mainland.

                        You may have something, but I have not been able to totally differentiate the differences.

                        As for the Morton's, Ruth's, et all, in Hawai`i using local beef, I kinda' doubt it, but do not know for sure. Anyone in the industry have a clue?