Hawaii - which island has the best food offerings?
So my DH just said "let's go to Hawaii". I'm game, of course. There are 4 islands we can get non-stop flights to from here (Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Big Island). I've been to Honolulu twice, but he has never been to Hawaii. My last trip was more than 5 years ago. Since food is one of our largest pleasures, I figured I'd ask the experts which island has the best food to offer. This is a November trip, so seasonal restaurants probably won't be open.
So which island, and which restaurant(s) on that island? Price is not a concern, ambience is not a concern, the taste is the concern. :)
Oahu, hands down. Wife, friend and I ate at Alan Wong's last week and found it still good and interesting, though not as we remembered it. We made a reservation for Thurs., but need not have done so. Week-ends, I'm sure they're required. Roy's probably still is good, but we haven't tried it yet (We've just retired to Oahu last week.) We had excellent Dim Sum today at Tai Pan in N. Chinatown, but Legend Seafood close by probably is more popular and it too is v. good with a wide assortment. (Legend also has a branch in Waikiki. both Cantonese.) Tochau (Vietnamese) had a line out the door for hours, so I suspected it might be good and got a card (1007-1015 River St., 808-533-4549). Though it is a dive, we enjoy eating at Fatty's in Waikiki. The Fried Noodle Cake covered with whatever looks good is recommended. (Gwan, get down and dirty for once!) Unfortunately, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel is closing for renovations. Our friend likes La Mer there very much.
Why not take an inter-island flight over to Maui for a couple of nights? Sansei in Kapalua was the most interesting restaurant in all of Hawaii, we thought. (Good luck getting reservarions.)There's also a sectacular hotel up there (sorry not to remember the name, but it offers manta ray feeding every night) that had excellent food.
Hunt is pretty much right on, although I'm suprised Kauai ended up that high on his list. As far as "seasonal restaurants"... uhh??? seasons???
Different people have different desires and expectations when visiting, hence they have different "favorite" islands. Oahu is the most urban (almost 90% of the population), Maui is many people's favorite, very much geared to american tourists, the big island is.. well, it's big, and the most diverse in terms of microclimates etc. Whatever your favorite island it, you are going to find good food there. Focus on the overall experience, then come back and ask for food recs on that part of that island.
Actually, the "seasons," were the tourist seasons, and not some calender events, as in many places.
I think that the last trip to Kaua`i nudged them up a notch. One of my favorite all-times restaurants, A Pacific Cafe, WAS on Kaua`i, in Kapa`a. I was pleasently surprised that a few of the resort spots had kicked it up a notch. Now, this is all Poipu Area, as we have not dined up north in too many years to know what is there, and what anyone is doing.
As for the ranking, after O`ahu, it was rather pull a name out of the hat. Even with the Big Island coming in so low, two restaurants still hold a very high place for me, and a thrid wasn't much less than excellent. Tough call. If I were to do it tomorrow, the latter choices might get shuffeled.
If you are going for the food, O`ahu is the hands down winner. Each island, and each side of each island is different, and they offer great possibilities. With the exeption of Molo`kai, I've had the pleasure of staying on each side of each island (Lana`i is the exception, in that there are really only accommodations in Lana`i City and on the southern coast), and spend a great deal of my time looking for great dining. Historically, I'm going for a fine-dining experience each night, and probably miss a lot of great food, though at mid-level, and below restaruants.
For food only, I'd rank the islands thusly:
Now, this is not to diminish the Big Island, but considering the food that we had on Lana`i (very limited, because of the size and population), I have to rank it above. This said, I've had some wonderful meals on the Big Island, mostly Kona-side, but also very good meals in Hilo and its environs. Again, please remember that I'm mostly looking at fine-dining, so if one is looking for wonderful local "dives," please discount what I have written.
November is a good time to be in the Islands. The main tourist crush is done, and some local events are just starting up. The Aloha Festival (multi-island) celebrations start, IIRC, in October. The weather is usually great - as it really is all of the time. I'd hate to be a weatherperson in HI, as there would not be much to talk about 350 days of the year.
For a recent trip to Kaua`i and O`ahu, take a look at: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/334698
There are also a ton of threads on various levels of dining on most of the Islands. Some good recent threads have been on "local" spots on O`ahu, and on family dining on Kaua`i. Mau`i has received a few threads, on several "sides."
Since good food can be found on all islands, I think you'd be safe to decide, based on other activities. If, however, it is ALL about food - O`ahu, without a doubt.