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Jul 15, 2007 12:33 PM

Oahu Hounds Please Help with Waikiki Proximity

Hi fellow hounds... will be in Honolulu for 1 week with wife & 8mo baby and have some specific questions:

> Excellent Sushi in or closest to Waikiki (doesn't have to be the best or too distinct.. just excellent quality).

> Good Day Time Luau (don't curse me... we want to take the baby and have some good pork)

> Well Stocked Supermarket en route from Airport to Waikiki hotel area? (Needs to have good fruit, snacks & baby diapers etc.,)

> Anything else in the Waikiki or Financial Distric area you deem recomendable?

Thank you so much in advance

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  1. you sound like you are from nyc from previous postings-if so , so am i and from oahu-let me know so i can connect to give u info

    1. I don't know of a day-time luau, but if you go up Kapahulu several blocks you will find Ono's Hawaiian food. About the best you are going to do anyplace near Waikiki.

      Depending on your route to Waikiki you might try Foodland at Ala Moana Center (Mauka Side) or if you take H1 to the King St off ramp to Kapahulu, Foodland at Market City just after you get off the freeway. In Waikiki you can find most everything you need between The Food Pantry (a bit expensive, even for HNL) or ABC discount store.

      I don't work downtown any more, so not many rec's for you there. For an upscale lunch might try Duc's Bistro in Chinatown - a bit pricey, but much more reasonable than at dinner, Murphy's Irish Pub at Merchant and Nuuanu, Indigo near Nuuanu and Hotel, Chai's Island Bistro at Aloha Tower Marketplace, Little Village Noodle Shop on Smith in Chinatown.

      For Sushi I would not necessarily stay in Waikiki, but if it is a logistical issue both Nobu's and Kyo Ya are highly recommended, Todai is not - although some claim the quality is better than the average Todai.

      You "have to" make at least one trip to Rainbow Drive-in, just outside Waikiki on Kapahulu. A local landmark. Get a plate lunch... NOT a burger.If you want a burger in Waikiki, Teddy's Bigger Burgers near Kalakaua and Kapahulu or Moose McGillicuddy (forgot the street). You might also check out the restaurants at Ward Warehouse and Ward Center. I like Kakaako Kitchen for casual good food at Ward Center. (couple of blocks ewa - west - of Ala Moana Center).

      In general local people don't eat in Waikiki, too crowded, no parking, expensive.

      10 Replies
      1. re: KaimukiMan

        Thanks KM,

        We are staying right on the "Beachwalk" the new "upscale" shops & hotel development going from Lewers & Kalakua to the beach alongside the Sheraton. Here are some findings:

        > Holokani Grill.... okay food... the Taro Quesadilla with Kalua Pig & Plum sauce was surprisingly good (accompanying Crema, Guacamole & Salsa not so good)... as were the Grilled Cesar Salads. The Burger was unexplainably terrible.... the Poke was a waste of decent fish.

        > Yard House... haven't stopped by but wanted to point out... its there with the same great Beer & Spirits selection combined with decently executed versions of "popular upscale" (think Cheesecake factory type "upscale")

        > Beard Papa's.... the Japanese franchise is in town.. and producing Cream Puffs that are as good as those I've had on the mainland.

        > Mondo Gelato.... solid, solid Gelato (not cheap... $4 a scoop) comparable to just about anything on the mainland (well maybe excluding a couple of bakeries in Brooklyn).

        > Nobu is also in the beachwalk... no interest in it, and the following will explain why.

        Not exactly on the Beachwalk development... but there is a single story hotel on Beachwalk St. that caters to Japanese tourists (pretty much exclusively)... inside there is restaurant called Sushi Koh that is excellent (at least by California standards which might not be saying much). The $22 bento box... delivered an assortment of Nigri & Rolls.... with buttery, sublime fish. The fish was as good as my recent experience at Nick San in Cabo.... they used fresh fish (never frozen)... I wonder if this is the case in Hawaii as well?

        1. re: Eat_Nopal

          If it is Ahi it might be fresh, otherwise it is supposed to be frozen, just like the rest of the US. Thanks for the recs EN. Hope Hawaii is treating you well.

          1. re: KaimukiMan

            Been good so far.... will have a better chance of exploring the local food scene today.

            1. re: Eat_Nopal

              Not sure of your schedule, as always lots of events, but there is a Arts festival in Haleiwa this weekend. You can try the famous Matsumoto's shave ice, as well as look for the shrimp truck at the hardware store (new to me too), Cholo's is supposed to be some of the better mexican on the island, Kua Aina used to be one of the best burgers -still good but not AS good, Jamesons is great for the view, and a friend strongly recommends Spagettini, down near Jamesons (Across the old bridge).

              1. re: KaimukiMan


                We want up to Kaneohe... then swing up Kamehameha to Haleiwa... we opted for Spagettini's but changed our minds when we realized it had no bathroom... so we tried Cholo's.... big dissappointment, I do not recommend it.

                1) It bills itself as Homestyle Cooking... but outside of the Chile Verde (which I did not taste)... there were no Homestyle dishes on the menu whatsover.

                2) The construction of the dishes was more like 1950's Faux Mexican chains (i.e. the El Torito's of the world) than Authentic Mexican cooking. Specifically they had:

                > "Taco Salads" served in Tostada Shells
                > Hard Shelled Tacos
                > Nachos made with yellow cheese sauce and weird additions like beans, olives etc.,
                > Soft tacos served with yellow cheese, tomatoes & lettuce

                We opted for Shrimp Tacos and Guacamole. These were preceeded by Chips & Salsa... the Salsa was almost good but they screwed up some of the ingredients just enough to ruin it for me.

                > It was a smooth fresh tomato-jalapeno salsa... onions are good but garlic is a no-no on this type of salsa.
                > They over did it with the jalapeno pickling juice & didn't have enough jalapeno pieces (lacked the green, grassy component way too much vinegar... had the wrong type of spicing)
                > Cilantro was practically non-existent

                The thin chips were decent. The shrimp tacos were very light on shrimp (5 of the 40 per lb on a 4inch tortilla)... it was locally farmed shrimp that was well seasoned, fresh & tender but there was no special sauce for them... overall not much to be excited about at $5.50 per taco. Of course... if you don't ask differently.. they will load the taco up with fake cheese, lettuce & tomato.. completely ruining it.

                Guacamole was quite mediocre.... just pureed Avocado with a little bit of institutional Taco onions, no cilantro etc.,

                Its one of those places that might be a step up for tourists coming from the Toledo, Ohio etc., but a big step down relative to most taquerias in California.

                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                  sorry to hear. also sorry to let you know...for the most part mexican food doesnt get any better than that here. they make what sells.

                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                    if you want to get what i think is about the only "authentic" Mexican food here, try Azteca in Kaimuki. Mom and pop place, they speak what sounds to me like "Mexican" Spanish, and it is the closest I have found to the kind of Mexican food I grew up with a long time ago in Northern Ca.

                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                      Great... one of my contacts on the island just vouched for Azteca last night. Also spotted a colorful Taqueria along Kalakaua / Diamond Head Rd.... it looked kind of right.... any good?

                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                        Its not bad, was there once a year or so ago. There is also an emerging "chain" of Taqueria named Diego's which I have seen in a few places around the island. Probably more to your liking than the restaurant you visited this weekend. There is also a Mexican restaurant on Sand Island Access Road, named El Charro. I was there once and thought it was pretty good.

                        On the other hand, coming to Hawaii for Mexican food would be kind of like looking for Hawaiian food in Los Angeles or New York. Yeah, you can find some, but its not really "endemic" and probably not going to be the best you ever ate. You are gonna be happier trying Seafood or Asian and Fusion foods here.

                        (I do not recommend ChaChaCha in Waikiki, although one or two of the items were not too bad last time someone insisted we go there).

        2. re: KaimukiMan

          yeah it's foodland.. those are the most convenient ones...

          i like the green enchilada with chicken and spinach at cholos... it's good..,

          anyway, the purpose of this opsting is that i've heard the same thing re the todai in waikiki... i wonder why it's better? odd....

        3. Update.....

          > There is a "NY Style Deli" on Beachwalk near the Beard Papa's. Its actually much "fancier & upscale" in that Cheesecake Factoryish petty burgeosie way than any Deli I have ever been to in NY. Food was pricey for a deli but quite good. The $7 Matzo ball soup was very nice.... nice fresh chicken flavor throughout the tender Matzo, Noodles & broth. However, it only came with two teaspoon size bits of carrot... so if you are looking for some vegetables... this aint it. The $13 Pastrami was packed with flavorful briney spices... and a delecate pork flavor... very lean (at least compared to Johnny's in West L.A. which I happen to really like), and it was served on a very tastey, light & soft Rye sliced bread (which I normally hate).... portions were a bit light by NY standards but overall good. The big dissappointment is that they don't make their own pickles (or provide any for that matter) or their own hot (horsradish) mustard.

          Overall.... its excellent for someone living in Northern California (where its nearly impossible to find good Pastrami) ... but not quite there by NY or L.A. standards.

          > Dukes.... yes its on Waikiki beach... touristy & all that stuff. But I have liked Duke's in even in Malibu.... solid meals, with some creativity at mid scale diner prices (think Houston's & Cheesecake Factory but superior execution). The wife had the Opah in some kind of Macadamia, Parmesan & Caper sauce.... excellent! I had Coconut Shrimp (not particularly good... a huge disappointment relative to a recent Cabo experience)... Crab Stuffed Won Tons (good)... Poke Rolls (very, very good but substantial) we shared Kimo's Hula Pie (okay... they use Vanilla ice cream here as compared to the Malibua version with Coffee ice cream... doesn't even compare).... its best to share among 4 people at least.

          1. Just wanted to note we had lunch at Mitch's yesterday. This is a fish monger in the industrial area near the airport. Looks quite dumpy... as most eateries in the area do... but its possibly THE MOST expensive hole in the wall in the WORLD.

            We paid $85 per person for various raw seafood delicacies including lobster sashimi from a poor crustacean killed before your eyes... abalone, various fish. All super quality ingredients and superior to what you get at most very high end sushi places.

            However... I don't know that for my palette I would shell out my own money here.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Eat_Nopal

              You must have gone crazy - we split the lobster van Van & several varieties of sushi - nothing all that exotic, though, had just gotten off the plane, and I want to say it was around $60 total w/ 2 iced teas.

              1. re: torta basilica

                We got the daily special.... which was $85, It doesn't seem like much has been reported on this place here on CH... anything you can add as more of an insider?

            2. Atlantis Seafood on Kalakaua.... had an okay but underwhelming Loco Moco of Opakapaka (Grilled fillet served over steamed rice, topped with a fried egg... and a lobster-butter sauce). Don't exactly know much about the fish... but it reminded me ALOT of true Red Snapper.... although Atlantis' version had a bit of skin that reminded me of smoked marlin.

              Don't know if KM might have a suggestion for an outstanding version of this traditional dish.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                Have you been to the fish market in Kakaako yet? don't miss! all kinds of local food-not a restaurant but go there and sample the best poke selection and real Hawaiian food. Ask for side scoops of rice and take outside to tables and just pig out!!!!! My favorite lunchtime place.

                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                  I'm afraid when it comes to LocoMoco's I'm not much help. I have never been a fan of fried eggs (even in bi-bim-bap), but an opakapaka w/lobster sauce sounds pretty good to me. I wonder what Nico's (?) over at pier 39 (38?) could wip up? Don't think they cook to order. Many places here do variations of eggs benedict with fish for breakfast (good way to use up leftovers???).