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Best hole-in-the-wall (Honolulu)

i was born and raised here in Hawaii and this is constantly a topic of conversation.... what is the best "hole in the wall" place to eat on Oahu?


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  1. OK... I'll bite. I would like a little more info on what defines a "hole in the wall"... but...

    For Pizza I really like Pizzarina on South King just DH of Keeamoku. In addition to the pizza they have a few pasta dishes, some good "Italian" subs, and the salad (antipasto or italian) are good, but the pizza really is good.

    When it comes to Mexican I like Azteca on Waialae near Koko Head in Kaimuki. Much more like the Mexican food I grew up with in CA, and much better in my opinion than that better known place around the corner.

    The other night I was out for a walk before dinner and it started to pour. I was on South King in Moiliili, and stopped in at Pho South King, just ewa of Kahoaloha Street. Perhaps it was the wet weather outside, or the walk, or maybe I was just hungry...but I thought it was really good Pho.

    I could write paragraph after paragraph about places that have disappeared (like Washington Saimin), places that are no longer a hole in the wall (like Keo's), places that got so popular I don't go any more (like Irifune) or places that used to be really good - but aren't any more (like....no, not gonna name names).

    6 Replies
    1. re: KaimukiMan

      those ARE some good places.... should have wrote more - i would have liked to read it.

      good to know there are actually other people from hawaii on here. i love this website!

      1. re: kimcheesoup

        Would like to hear your fav's too.

        Forgot to include for Japanese that Place just ewa of Longs in Moiliili on S. King, where you sit outside under the totun roof... can't remember the name.

        For Thai I like Pae Thai on S. King down near Zippys, a block or so DH of Piikoi - although it is hardly a hole in the wall any more, been interesting to watch it slowly "upgrade" over the years.

        For Hawaii style Korean take-out Gina's in Market City has it all over that chain that specializes in MSG.

        There are actually a few contributors here in Honolulu. Hope to hear from them too. Has anyone been to the recently re-opened 49er fountain by PearlRidge...was always curious about that place.

        1. re: KaimukiMan

          KM, the place you're thinking about is Yamagen. I prefer Jimbo further ewa on S. King St., and you can find parking there now in the evening since Makino Chaya moved out and Gulick moved in.

          1. re: KaimukiMan

            haha yeah i like Gina's too, but my absolute favorite korean restaurant (here anyway) Is Jang Su Jang.... i dont know that this would classify as a "hole in the wall" but its a GREAT restaurant. better than Sorabol i think....

            for burgers, i like W&M..... i used to like Bigway burger, but unfortunately they closed, for okazuya i like Mistuken (esp. the garlic chicken) and for late nights theres either Taiyo ramen near ala moana or Mickeys in pearl city.....

            i've also been curious about 49er..... i always pass by, but never have a chance to check it out.....

          2. re: KaimukiMan

            its been a while, but im trying something... links to a place as follows

          3. Ah yes, Yamagen, thanks! I also like Jimbo, its just something about sitting "out in the garage" atmosphere about Yamagen that I like. Almost like a step down from a hole in the wall but good food.

            I was at W&M last week tuesday, got the Hank's special, with bbq meat on top the burger...so ono (but not cheap). I also miss the KimChee burger at Big Way. It was a featurre of my "eat your way around Oahu" tour when I was younger. Sort of a counterpoint to the original hole-in-the-wall Kua Aina.

            I haven't been to Ono's or People's cafe in years for Hawaiian Food, not usually downtown to go Peoples, and Ono's always has such a line.

            What is the best hole-in-the-wall for Chinese? I used to love Helen's in Kapahulu, but they finally closed, can't remember what went in there.

            For shave ice I still like the original Waiola store, the one in Pawaa, but the one on Kapahulu is almost as good - parking sucks for both. Of course there is always the Slush Float at Byrons by the airport.

            11 Replies
            1. re: KaimukiMan

              i like the shave ice at Waiola to - but, i've found a place that has a simililar texture, and gives way more than Waiola does. the Shave ice is HUGE - but i dont know the name.... because its not a shop. its actually a shave ice and snack cart right outside of Sports Authority in Waikele. weird spot, but the shave ice is really good and the woman who owns it is so nice!

              "You Hungry" near Ala Moana is good too for local plate lunches and hawaiian food and the portions are really big - i've heard Helena's is good, but havent had the chance to go yet.

              for chinese food, theres a great restaurant called Pahke's in Kaneohe - sorry, its not really a hole in the wall, but they do have the best chinese food i've ever had.

              rainbows drive inn has a pretty good slush float too - i guess i have to try Byrons now......

              1. re: kimcheesoup

                so excited to find hawai people on this board! :)

                - andy's in manoa is my favorite for sandwiches (esp the mushroom medley)
                - i second yamagen's...was just there last week!
                - minato's right off king st (curry udon, agedashi tofu...all good). right across the street is ohta wafer factor (i like to pick up green tea and chocolate senbei/fortune cookies there)
                - Karen's Kitchen (near ward)
                - Iyasume in Kapahlu (simple bentos, my favorite japanese curry in town)
                - I didn't enjoy Pahke's very much...maybe we ordered the wrong items? I feel like much better chinese food can be found in town
                - Covenant Cafe in Kaimuki for their soups
                - love going to Bankok Chef on Nuuanu for any noodles or curries...then a quick drive to liliha for chantilly cake (i think i've overdosed on cocopuffs)

                i keep a local food blog: http://www.apassionforfood.blogspot.com :)

                1. re: kathyyl

                  I've always liked Andy's and his freshly roasted turkey sandwiches. He does a good bran muffin too.

                  1. re: kathyyl

                    Very nice blog! You were correct about Town, they have a menu that rocks and we just love their mussels. We went to the mock lunch at Downtown and it was truly delicious, I need to get out of the house and eat there again soon!

                    1. re: manomin

                      thanks for the compliment! :) I've haven't yet visited Downtown...trying to find parking there drives me crazy, hehe, but I've heard it's pretty darn good!

                      1. re: manomin

                        Please: what is a mock lunch?

                      2. re: kathyyl

                        I agree with manomin... great blog. a few places listed Ive been meaning to try and a few I'm glad to have concurrence on.

                        I have a feeling more than a few places will miss you when you move back to NYC. In the meantime look forward to continuing comments.

                        So where to go for hole-in-the-wall chinese? I used to like it when HeeHing was a HITW, and I still like it...but my wallet doesn't like it as much.

                        I am not at all convinced it is possilbe to OD on cocopuffs, at least not long term. For you mainland people, Liliha Bakery has these "cream puffs" filled with chocolate custard and topped with... uhhhh... anyhow, its sweet, delicious, and oh so habit forming. WE are NOT talking about the cereal here folks!

                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                          Liliha Bakery has an excellent mahi mahi plate too. I love sitting at the counter and watch the fry cook work it out.

                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                            Thanks for the compliment! :) I'm excited about nyc, but there are many place I will miss here. I didn't really appreciate all Oahu has to offer till I went away for college...and man, we got a lot of good stuff!

                            Have you vistied Pineland before? (1236 Keeaumoku Street) - it's a super dinky looking place, and there's usually someone asleep at one of the tables. But go for the garlic eggplant, a generous order of rich with wok fried eggplant, lots of garlic in a savory gravy (I usually do takeout)...it's far from healthy, it's so gooood over a hot bowl of steaming rice!!

                            If you're looking for dim sum, make sure you check out Tai Pan in the Chinese Cultural Center. It's a small place (no room for dim sum carts, just point and order from the shelf), and there are always lines, but the turnover is quick and food is always fresh.

                            I'm really liking this thread...keep all the hole in the wall suggestion coming! :)

                            1. re: kathyyl

                              Tai Pan is great! Is Yamagen the same as Yama's? I've always just called it Yama's and never even thought to check out what the real name was.

                              For Garlic Eggplant I love Maple Gardens (also in the Yama's neighborhood) across from Stadium Park on Isenberg. It's no longer a hole in the wall, but is still reasonable and, to keep some of the old spirit going, there are usually mop buckets blocking the way to the bathroom. Their Chinaman's Hat is also out of this world. Another great one at Maple Gardens is their Scallops with Various Kinds of Fungus - scallops and lots of different kinds of mushrooms - that doesn't show up on all their menus all the time but is worth asking for. Unfortunately Robert, the owner, died within the past year of the cancer he'd been fighting for so long. His widow is keeping it going, but I miss seeing Robert sitting at his table and making the rounds.

                              Another place that used to be a real hole in the wall (you had to go out in a dark parking lot to find the toilet) is Sanoya Ramen on King St. Now it's much larger, has ghastly fluorescent lighting and parking is almost impossible, but the food is really good and tastes like the ramen you get in Osaka. Their gyoza are really good, and the cold ramen comes with wakame and other goodies. Great food for a warm day.

                              Hee Hing still has great take out baked maunapua. I was hospitalized for a few months a couple of years ago (had to have my right leg amputated below the knee) and, as we all know, hospital food sucks big time. Friends would come by with boiled peanuts (Ruger Market's are the best!) and other local foods. I finally asked one of my friends to get me some baked maunapua from Hee Hing. He decided to bring me a tasting menu of the best maunapua and pork hash he knew of, told some other mutual friends, they split up to do the shopping, and all met up in my hospital room for a MAJOR pig out! Good fun! The dietitian used to come up to my room at lunch just to see what I was eating and share in the goodies. She knew the food they served sucked, and she could always find good backyard bananas etc. in my room :-)

                              Speaking of Ruger Market, their lau lau are fantastic with a good ratio of luau leaf to fish and pork, with just a small chunk of fat thrown in. They also make poke to order. You just tell them what grade of which fish you want, and then add in your extras like inamona, limu kohu, sesame oil, chili pepper water, shoyu, or whatever to taste. Their fish is really fresh. Their pipi kaula is really good, too, and they almost always have poi to go with the rest of the food.

                              For holes in the wall I mentioned Kikuya in Kane'ohe elsewhere. It really does have some of the best Japanese food around. Home cooking, really fresh sashimi, and reasonable prices, but a dive. It's always swarming with local folks, from infants to the tutu gang, so you know it's gotta be good. Standing around in the parking lot you almost always run into friends so you get to play catch up while waiting for a table to open up.

                          2. re: kathyyl

                            referred this old thread to someone looking for cheap eats and noticed kathyyl's blog. it is still active and she was obviously "home for the holidays", worth checking for some of her more recent posts.

                      3. I also forgot to mention The Crab Tank, in City Square, Kapalama (the old "Gem" location). Pretty much just crab and shrimp, but oh so good.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                          crab tank is gone now.... an empty storefront waiting for someone....

                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                            you should try the Okinawan restaurant in that same City Square - Utage.

                            the Soki Soba, champuru and shoyu pork are great.

                        2. 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.

                          1. there are so many places i still need to try, but just plain never got around to going...

                            town is one of them - i seem to hear good things all the time
                            crab tank was another one...i always pass by, but never get to go
                            forgot to mention, i like Panda Cuisine (NOT panda express like in the food court) across from the Walmart near Ala Moana - for late night dim sum.... but then again, i dont know where else to go.....

                            anyone know of any other late night dim sum places?

                            AND, if you like okinawan food, Utage (in the same City Square as Crab Tank) is really good! they have japanese and local food too, but you gotta try something okinawan like the Soki Soba, its my fav over there.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: kimcheesoup

                              not sure I would classify town or panda as hole in the wall, but both are good.

                              I don't know how late they are open, but the chinese restaurant (Mei Sum?) at the corner of Smith and Pauahi (Downtown) will cook individual dim sum orders after they finish the main dim-sum service (with carts).

                              BTW, where do you go for kimcheechige?

                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                kimchee chige? check out Jang Su Jang when you get a chance....

                                their Kalbi is really good too (NOT the california rib... make sure you order the "big bone" kalbi)

                                and the mandoo is homemade, big, and good.....

                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                  whoops, sorry i read one of the other posts wrong (when i referred to Town), and yeah, i know Panda isnt a hole in the wall, but i was just wondering about late night dim sum places..... actually, maybe i should start a new topic board about that..... thanks for the tip about Mei Sum(?).... i think i'll go check it out

                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                    The best kalbi has to be Kim Chee II in Kaimuki. They use the whole bone short rib which is so tender. Char Hung Sut on Maunakea is still my favorite take out dim sum ever since time began. Their ma tai soo is something people rave about. My friend's relatives still own the place.

                                    1. re: Clinton

                                      sorry, but i'm still sticking with Jang Su Jang for Korean food... Kim Chee II is good, but man... i'm tellin ya....

                                2. Do you know the well known--many years ago it was written up in Gourmet- spam specialist rest in or near downtown HN?r

                                  1. Speaking of hole-in-the-wall places in Honolulu...there use to be a place in/at the edge of Chinatown. A real hole-in-wall, I think it was run by a Filipino family. I can't remember the name for the life of me, although I remember what it looked like.

                                    Blue-gray interior, mostly a breakfast place, tiny, 4 tables. HUGE portions as would be expected...full ham steak, 1" thick and stack of pancakes for some crazy price like $7 bucks. Also you could order prime rib for breakfast. Sound familiar?

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: ML8000

                                      Ray's Cafe where you could get prime rib for $11 bucks. He moved to Kalihi, cheaper rent. 2033 N King St. 841-2771 I have not been their since he moved. Give it a try and let us know.

                                      1. re: patrickf96826

                                        Is that the name? Thanks. I've been 4-5 times but never knew. I won't be reviewing it anytime soon however, in Cali. I will check out the new location however.

                                        Hey, didn't Ray's use serve the prime rib with the bone, or am I imagining things?

                                        1. re: patrickf96826

                                          wow, wondered what ever happened to Ray's. Used to eat there when it was in Chinatown, but that was ages ago. Will have to check it out.

                                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                                            I used to eat at Ray's quite a bit myself, that was in the old days, loved it. Sort of the same time when New Eagle was on the corner of Pauahi and Nuuanu as well, we ate there all the time with friends who owned galleries back then. It's not often but I do enjoy the New Eagle recent (a couple years at least) location on Nimitz.

                                          2. re: patrickf96826

                                            Rey's is till great! The opakapaka is fantastic, the steak and prime rib really good, and all the prices are less than half of what you'd pay at one of the more upscale restaurants. And yes, it's still a real hole in the wall and they close at 7:00 so you have to eat early.

                                        2. Being from Kaimuki myself, my favorite places are Big City Diner, Kim Chee II, Sekiya's, and Kua Aina's for starters. Ono's is good but I like People's better. Had good dim sum at Legends but I heard Happy Days is also good in Kaimuki. I think the Todai's in Waikiki is the best of all the restaurants they own. For fast and dirty, Like Like Drive In serves up good local dishes as well as Rainbow's. Sure miss Chunky's by the old Stadium and KC Drive In...sigh! I'd stay away from Zippy's and most of the L&Ls except for the one located in the Ward Warehouse. Their chicken katsu is the best I've had. W&M's have good hamburgers but the parking is terrible. Kua Aina's is way lot better.

                                          8 Replies
                                          1. re: Clinton

                                            Where is the Kua Aina in Kaimuki? How did I miss this???

                                            1. re: Yoshio

                                              There's two Kua Aina's that I know of. One in Haleiwa on the north shore near Matsumoto's Shave Ice and the other one at the Ward Center in Ala Moana I believe on Kaheka. Across the street is Kakaako Kitchen which is also good for plate lunches. Kua Aina's has the best juiciest hamburgers hands down! You won't be disappointed!

                                              1. re: Yoshio

                                                Clinton's reply got a bit jumbled at the end, Kua Aina is not in Kaimuki, but W&M is. I agree with all of what Clinton has to say except Kim Chee II. After 3 years living in Seoul, I just can't eat at Kim Chee restaurants any more, it has to be the worst Korean food in Hawaii - even Yummy BBQ (which is sort of a McDonalds of Korean food) is better.

                                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                  True, Kim Chee II is not the best but for Hawaii, too me it's considered above average. I live in LA and the Korean food food here is A+. Especially in our LA Koreatown off Wilshire Blvd. and La Brea. I still think the kalbi at KC II is one of the best tasting next to the ones here in LA. Their meat jun is terrible though.

                                                  1. re: Clinton

                                                    A place I like is O-Bok in the Manoa Marketplace. I think its been around for 20 years or more. Not traditional Korean, its been adjusted to local taste, but good and very reasonable, the kalbi plate being very popular. A mom and pop operation so service is a bit slow, but it doesn't deter the regulars there. Much better than Kim Chee II IMO.

                                                    1. re: curiousgeo

                                                      i've heard O-Bok is good.... but then again, i also heard some sketchy stories about roaches there :(

                                                      1. re: kimcheesoup

                                                        That could very well be true, but I don't think I would really want to see the kitchen of any local mom and pop restaurant anyway.

                                                        1. re: curiousgeo

                                                          Lot's of great post, would you be able to give addresses to some of these places please.Like jang su jang, liliha bakery,gina's in market city.It has been to long sense I have been to the island and driven around,We are coming back soon and would like to try some of these place's. Great to hear about all the good places to eat.Mahalo

                                            2. Seconding Andy's--their Tuna avo is awesomely delicious. Also, when I'm poor (or just hungry for some fresh ahi), I go to Manoa Sushi and get a spicy tuna hand roll for $1.99. It's so good and perfect for a snack. Their spicy ahi maki is a HUGE portion and it's only $5.00.

                                              1. Legend at the Chinese Cultural Plaza: A rather large "hole in the wall" that serves some of Honolulu's best dim sum. Sunrise Restaurant in Kapahulu makes a heavenly oxtail soup and Okinawa style yakisoba, among other things. Jagalchi, just off of Young and Keeamoku, truly defines "hole in the wall," and serves up authentic Korean dishes. Last but not least, the first spot I hit up when I'm back home is Eastern Paradise. It's right across from Cosmo Gas on Keeamoku and specializes in Korean-style Chinese (from the Shandong province) food. Their spicy seafood champong (soup noodle), potstickers, and garlic shrimp are all to-die-for.

                                                15 Replies
                                                1. re: nonbei

                                                  Put us down for fan's of Pah Ke's on Kam Hiway next to the Kaneohe post office. Not a hole in the wall, but good food, fresh local ingredients. Have had fancier, but if you ask the always-present owner, Raymond, he will steer you in the right direction. He makes a point of finding locally-grown vegetables, organic whenever possible.

                                                  As for a real hole in the wall, we like Saigon Noodle House in the Enchanted Lake shopping center (a Safeway, Ben Franklin, McD are landmarks.

                                                  For burgers, we like Teddy's better than Kua Aina, where I always order the grilled mahi, with avocado when they have it, and minus cheese. (Fish and cheese??? Not to my taste).

                                                  Where is W&L and does anyone else have good local spots for grilled fish *burgers* ?

                                                  1. re: MRMoggie

                                                    There is another Saigon Noodle House in Kaneohe as well.
                                                    You sound like you are looking for W&M burgers which is on Waialae Ave.
                                                    in Kaimuki next to City Mill with an always interesting parking lot to navigate in and out of, love their food!

                                                    1. re: MRMoggie

                                                      i like Teddy's, but they're too much of a "chain" restaurant - personally, i like W&M burger the best - local, been around for years, definately hole in the wall, and good.....

                                                      1. re: kimcheesoup

                                                        I'm with you on W&M. They've got the best burgers and I think they even won a year or 2 ago when the Advertiser or Star Bull ran a contest for the best burger in town. We used to go there when they were on 9th (?) Ave. in Kaimuki and I was in high school. We'd sit on the poor neighbors' lawns eating our burgers and "crab" salad.

                                                        When living in Kailua and working in Kane'ohe, however, it was just too far to go for a burger so I started frequenting Teddy's as soon as it opened next to Liberty House. They make good burgers, but not nearly as good as W&M's. When Kua Aina first started out in the mid 70s their original place was in Kailua and I went there often. Now if I'm out Haleiwa way I'll stop in just for the burgers with avocado, but I've never bothered with the one in Ward Warehouse (Center? I always get those 2 shopping areas confused).

                                                        The parking for W&M is always an interesting challenge. One way around it is to go to City Mill, buy something (a bag of nails or something equally cheap but ultimately useful) then walk over to BBQ Burger and get your food. If you leave your City Mill bag in a conspicuous spot in the car the guard will leave you alone.

                                                    2. re: nonbei

                                                      May I please have more info. about Eastern Paradise because I have a friend who grew up in China near the Korean border. E.P. sounds like the place to take her for sure.

                                                      1. re: Joebob

                                                        I used to go there more often, but I'm sure it is still good. Korean style chinese food, just like i used to have in Seoul. About the best place I know for cha-jyoung-min in Honolulu. Although I'm sure someone will know of better. Getitng hungry.....

                                                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                          Try the Mandarin Cafe for Korean-style Chinese. Here's a review: http://hawaiidiner.com/reviews/review...
                                                          The owner is Chinese but raised in Korea. Heed the information in the review regarding which menu to order from to avoid disappointment. The weak point at this spot is the kim chee is rather lame, but then it is suppposed to be Chinese...

                                                          1. re: Yoshio

                                                            Looks good Yoshio, I'll have to give it a try sometime when I'm near there, Thanks

                                                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                              Yes, thanks Yoshio. Can you (or any other Hound) compare and contrast Mandarin Cafe and Eastern Paradise (the address of which I still don't know)?

                                                        2. re: Joebob

                                                          The address for Eastern Paradise is: 1403 S King St. I would recommend Eastern Paradise over Mandarin. Being Korean, I've frequented both restaurants for years. Mandarin used to have phenomenal Korean-Chinese food, but they changed ownership in recent years and the food has not been the same. The Champong wasn't as spicy, the homemade potstickers were so-so, and their signature garlic shrimp was lacking in flavor. I hope the new owners can get it right, but my last impression wasn't a good one. A lot of the regulars from Mandarin are now going to Eastern Paradise. The standouts at Eastern Paradise are the Spicy Seafood Champong (soup noodle), the Chajangmyun (black bean noodles), the homemade potstickers (drool emanating from my mouth), garlic shrimp, and tangsuyok (sweet and sour dish with your choice of pork, chicken, or beef). The kimchee they serve with your meal is great as well. Your friend will definitely appreciate Eastern Paradise and I think you will too.

                                                          1. re: nonbei

                                                            Thanks, nonbei for the comparison. I'm surprised to hear that ownership changed as Mr. Liu (who opened the restaurant many years ago) has been in the restaurant each time I've been at Mandarin. The last time I was there was maybe three months ago. I will definitely try Eastern Paradise.

                                                            1. re: nonbei

                                                              THANKS MUCH, nonbei. Meixia will not vsit until April, but I will try E.P. before then for sure

                                                          2. re: nonbei

                                                            i heard Sunrise is good, but i've never been there... have you tried Utage? they also have Okinawan food - its GREAT!

                                                            1. re: kimcheesoup

                                                              Sunrise is really good. It's a true "hole in the wall," and when they get busy, you'll see regulars running food to tables. They've got great Okinawan style yakisoba (using a wider type of noodle), Oxtail soup (only on Weds, I think), and several types of Champuru. The owner/chef Katsu-san is also an Itamae with decades of experience, so the sushi is also a good bet.

                                                            2. re: nonbei

                                                              if you like Okinawan food, check out Utage - its an Okianwan restaurant (808) 843-8109
                                                              1286 Kalani St

                                                              they have really great Okinawan food (oxtail soup, soki soba, etc.) and they have Japanese and Local food as well. so good!

                                                            3. Kapahulu Poi Shop is our favorite place for Hawaiian food, and it is beyond hole-in-the wall and it seems like almost no one has heard of it.

                                                              1. I used to love Helen's on Kapahulu but they retired and closed up. They had the best duck noodle soup. Another hole in the wall I love is Peppino's in Kailua. I'm not quite sure when they'll be open or whether they'll still have sausage (it's homemade) but when they are it's so worth it to make the drive over the Pali.

                                                                1. Do not know if it's been mentioned, but Irafune's on Kapahulu, right off the Park, used to be good and it WAS a real hole-in-the-wall. Back when, one had to wait in a "beauty salon," repleat with those bullet-shaped hair driers, over vinyl chairs, to get a table. Do not know if it's still around, or if they have changed.


                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                    still around -- and a great place where you can always get a full load of garlic ahi presented in many ways. fun for groups. still has the beauty salon.

                                                                    1. re: elinw

                                                                      Glad to hear that they are still going. Besides good food, this place had as much "funk," as I can recall experiencing.



                                                                  2. I'm a fan of Brasserie Du Vin if you like French. Then again, I've found some funky little hole in the wall places by clicking randomly around http://www.gatheringguide.com/event_d... and trying a new one every time. Kind of like Hawaiian Roulette!

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: emmabean44

                                                                      New to me. Mahalo for the link. Maybe we can fit it in on the next trip after Dec '08. We DO love FR, in cuisine and wines. Good selection? Fair prices by Hawaiian standards?


                                                                    2. I just got back from Oahu and went to the Side Street Inn. I heard that's where the chefs from area restaurants go to eat after hours. The food was great. It was in the middle of an industrial area and had a bar atmosphere. It's a place I'll go back again.

                                                                      1. Try Jin Joo in Waimalu shopping center, 2 doors down from shiro's. Best kalbi and homemade kimchee! Ono! Best hidden secret in central oahu!

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: hawaiisrfn

                                                                            my family actually knows the owners of Jin Joo.......

                                                                            i'm korean, and really, no other korean food compares to my grandmothers, BUT, i'm sorry to say, i really think they're great people at Jin Joo, but honestly the food isnt that good. i much prefer the food at Jang Su Jang in Waimalu Shopping center (next to City Mill in the same shopping complex as Safeway). its 1000 times better than Jin Joo. sorry!

                                                                            try it - i'm sure you'll like it. the kalbi (the one with the big bone, not the small bone that everyone is used to - i mean the REAL kine kalbi) is great and so is the kimchee chige. the banchan (the small side dishes such as kimchee, bean sprouts, etc.) are home made, fresh and really good. the seaweed soup is made from scratch and made daily. and the beef tongue is great.

                                                                            seriously - its very good korean food.

                                                                          2. We went to Jang Su BBQ. As you said, the big bone kal bi was pretty good, but I was not impressed by the seafood and green onion pancake, which was fried and heavy. Also, the pieces of scallion were too big IMO. We prefer the pancake to be steamed, which makes it lighter.

                                                                            Another (rather attractive) hole in the wall, Kookie's Thai Kitchen, 326 Middle St., 847-7176, just got a very favorable and fair write-up in the Weekly. The Thai sausages were a little dry but nicely fermented. Quite authentic.

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Joebob

                                                                              actually, i recently found out they changed owners, as well as cooks at Jang Su - so the food is NOT the same..... i went to eat there recently and was a little disappointed to find that the dishes i previous liked (and mentioned) have changed not only in taste, but in price. the kimchee pancake USED TO be very good.... but now..... you're right - it is not the same. so i correct myself - the OLD Jang Su was good...... the new one.... not so great :(

                                                                              1. re: kimcheesoup

                                                                                So, which, in your opinion (which I trust) is the new best Korean restaurant? One of those near east Kapiolani street?

                                                                                1. re: Joebob

                                                                                  honestly, right now, i don't have any that i can suggest... there are a few restaurants i'm am waiting to try out though. i hear many good things about a lot of good korean restaurants, but haven't had time lately to go b/c of work. i will definitely keep you posted once i get a chance to go. the last place i went to was Choi's Garden near Ala Moana. the only thing i liked there was the pumpkin rice. i also had the kalbi, which was good, but i didnt think was anything special, the pancake which was very very plain, the spring onion salad, which had good flavor, but you really need to like green onions to like this dish, the chigge, which really, could have been better - not enough flavor for my liking and the mandoo, which was o.k. the spicy pork was not spicy at all, and looks were deceiving for that dish. also, pretty much ALL of the portions (except for the pumpkin rice) were horribly small for the price you pay. this place, for me anyway, was over priced and not really worth it. the only thing i MIGHT go back for is the pumpkin rice, but thats it. i havent found a dish there i actually really like and i've been there three times now.....

                                                                                  i will keep searching....

                                                                                  1. re: Joebob

                                                                                    well, after a long weekend, i finally got a chance to try TWO new places (to me anyway). i went to Buk Chang Dong on Makaloa street (next door to Green Papaya) - the restaurant is small, but after all this string IS about hole-in-the-walls. they are supposed to be known for their soon do bu, so that is exactly what i tried. i had the soon do bu and kalbi combination with a side of dukboki. the tofu in the soon do bu was nicely soft and the soup seasoned well. the kalbi was ok, but not great and a little too fatty for my liking, but edible. the dukboki was very good. cooked perfect and not too much filler like vegetables and such. i also tried some bulgogi from my friend, and much like the kalbi, it was ok, but not great. the next day i went to So Gong Dong, upstairs in McCully shopping center. they are also known for their soon do bu, so i tried theirs as well. i liked the flavor of theirs better, and they give you a raw egg with the dish, unlike Buk Chang Dong, which adds so much more to the soon do bu. their dukboki was good as well, but they had too much filler in the dish and there was a lot of fishcake left over when we were done. the sausage fried rice was a basic fried rice, but not with sausage - it looked and tasted more like a plain ol' hot dog. the sang chu mu chim was good and fresh, and the seafood pancake was my favorite part of the meal. tasty and not skimpy on the seafood. the tofu chigge was very very sour b/c of the sour kim chee - so its good if you like sour kim chee, but can be overwhelming if you're not used to it. the yakiniku part was nice as well b/c they use charcoal in their grill, so it adds more smoky flavor. both place served barley water, which i like very much. over all - i would go back to so gong dong, but i'd probably only go to buk chang dong if i was hungry and it was near by.

                                                                                    hope this helped a little - i'll probably visit more restaurants soon.... if you visit any good ones - keep me posted as well! thanks!!

                                                                              2. Downtown lunchtime on weekdays there are so many I can hardly mention them all.

                                                                                --CG's in the alley next to HECO building, for Hawaiian plate lunch.
                                                                                --Golden Bowl in the alley at Queen/ Alakea has the best roast chicken and cake noodles.
                                                                                --A Vietnamese place in the same alley --can't remember it's name.
                                                                                --Jim Bo in the alley between Merchant and Queen near Bishop St. for Chinese
                                                                                --Le Taqueria on upper Fort Street Mall for Mexican.
                                                                                --Little Village Noodle House on upper Smith St.
                                                                                Outside Downtown:
                                                                                --Green Door behind Kahala Mall next to Olive Tree (another great one)
                                                                                --Bale places all around town for Vietnamese sandwiches and salads.
                                                                                --Hale Vietnam

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: punalei

                                                                                  Green Door has closed there and is moving. Does Golden Bowl have better cake noodles than Fatty's or Golden Wheel?