Recommendation near Kahala Resort on Oahu
We will be spending a night at the Kahala Resort on Oahu (the address is 5000 Kahala Avenue, Honolulu). I would appreciate any information about the onsite restaurant and recommendations for offsite restaurants. We would prefer something relatively casual but with really good, inventive food. Thanks.
I'm trying to put myself into somewhere who I think would probably define "upscale casual" for a person who's staying in Kahala to be. My first inclination was to suggest Roy's, Alan Wong's, or Sam Choy restaurants on the high-end side. But if you're looking for more "local casual", I would suggest Big City Diner or Kakaako Kitchen for more layed back environment. Another local hangout would be Rock 'n Roll Sushi near the Ward Warehouse across Sports Authority. For more higher-end Japanese cuisine (for trying variety of dishes), I like either Todai's or Tsujiki for someone with a big huge appetites. Just my personal favorites. Yours may differ.
We are currently staying in Kahala . We have been here many times and usually stay at The Kahala but we are renting a condo on this visit. We were skeptical about revisiting the restaurants at the hotel since the hotel ownership has changed but we had a great, casual, outdoor dinner at the Plumeria Beach House on Sunday night. I had their monchong in a black bean sauce and my husband had the short ribs, both were excellent and the service outstanding. The entire menu is on their website, http://www.kahalaresort.com/dining/pl...
The upscale restaurants in the hotel are Hokus and Tokyo-Tokyo. I haven’t been to Tokyo-Tokyo but have enjoyed many great meals at Hoku’s. We will be dining there on Thanksgiving , our first visit this trip. I’ve heard the prices have increased significantly hopefully the food is still outstanding. You can find both menus online:
Off-site but not too far (closer than Roy’s) is Le Bistro, french influenced food in a comfortable, sophisticated dining room full of mostly locals. We have been there several times and have never been disappointed. Here is a link http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/spe...
Another great restaurant is 3660 On the Rise, a short drive from the Kahala, it is the place for innovative fusion cuisine. The dining room is casually elegant (more contemporary than Le Bistro) and the food has always been wonderful. http://www.3660.com/
I also appreciate that these restaurants are not noisy. I like Roy’s food but the noise level makes it impossible to carry on a conversation. The next time we go, we’ll request a table in the downstairs bar area were the noise level is manageable.
Just returned on Thanksgiving Day from a week in Honolulu, staying at the Kahala. My wife and me and two teen-age sons enjoyed (consumed?) four high-end dinners. Dinner at Hoku's in the Kahala Resort was disappointing. The service was fine and Fiji bottled water was poured relentlessly (at least no extra charge) but the food was mediocre at best. The menu was trying hard but none of the dishes or their flavors impressed. Fusion wasn't working. One of the desserts ordered was a warm chocolate cake. It was dry as if over-baked. Throughout our stay, the coffee served at the hotel was of marginal quality. The after-dinner coffee at Hoku's was the same bland stuff. With three cocktails, a couple of beverages for the boys and no wine, the check was over $350 incl. tax and tip. Incidentally, we looked at the menu of the other in-house restaurant called Tokyo-Tokyo. It was a predominantly Japanese menu. I just couldn't bring myself to pay $27 for tonkatsu, even if it was kurobuta.
Another dinner was at Micels (sp?) at the Colony Surf Hotel. It was recommended by the concierge at the Kahala. Tuxedoed service, etc. Seafood was stressed. Unfortunately, most of dishes were just bland. My wife and one of the boys were in the mood for shrimp. There were no specific shrimp dishes on the menu but the kitchen was willing to saute some shrimp in a simple sauce with garlic and butter. Four medium-sized shrimp (21-25 size range) for $38 was pricey. At least the shrimp had their heads on! I had a Hawaiian style bouilabaisse though I couldn't figure out what the "Hawaiian style" was supposed to be. The bowl had a 1/2 lobster in it. It was so small, I wondered if it was legal. This was $42. Again, dinner for four without wine, was in the $350 range incl. tax and tip.
Things at Alan Wong's improved a little. Attempted flavors were decent, albeit too strong. My wife had ordered a short rib dish braised Korean style. The beef itself was overwhelmed by the soy sauce-based braising liquid. Not a bad idea but poor execution. All main courses could be accompanied by plain white rice. Being of Japanese descent, we all opted for the rice. We were shocked at how poorly the rice was cooked, not to mention the quality of the rice itself. We had better rice at the local plate lunch places. This restaurant's attempt at Hawaiian regional food and fusion was OK, but again, for the $350 price range, I expected a lot better.
Tired of experimenting with all the hyped places, we had one dinner at Ruth's Chris. Everything was true to form as at the other locations we have been to in California. The one disappointment was that I was looking forward to a bowl of gumbo. Apparently, neither of the locations in Honolulu have the gumbo on the menu.
We also tried an izakaya called "Izakaya Nonbei." A little pricey ($180 for the four of us) for the quality of the ingredients and cooking. On a previous trip, we had gone to another izakaya called "Tokkuritei." As I recall, the prices were lower and the overall quality was much higher.
The best food we had were at the modest, unassuming places where the locals eat. We knew that and just didn't listen to the little voices in our stomachs and wallet. I particularly remember Jurison's Deli in the Waikele Shopping Center, Shiro's Saimin Heaven in Pearl City and Mei Sum Dim Sum in Chinatown. Each of these restaurants were in the $30 range for the four of us.
There will probably be some comments about prices. Obviously, price alone does not determine how good a restaurant is or isn't but I'm a strong believer in the price to value ratio.
Except for Ruth's Chris, none of the other high-end restaurants delivered.
The Kahala is at the very end of Kahala Avenue, and about a mile from the nearest commercial area, Kahala Mall. In spite of its location in one of the most expensive residential areas in Honolulu, there isn't much in the way of great food there, with the possible exception of Olive Tree (not Olive Garden, we don't have those here yet). Other than that, 3660, Town, and perhaps Cafe Miro or 12th Avenue Grill all in Kaimuki would be on my list - in that order, but with only 1 night, 3660 would be your best choice. As far as casual vs. formal, I am not sure, but I believe that LaMer at the Halekulani is the only restaurant on Oahu that requires men wear a coat. Casual here is a place that doesn't require a collared shirt - which is almost anywhere.
They said they wanted "relatively casual with really good innovative food" Zipply's is not even CLOSE to their request. Yucko for their whole menu and that godawful chili. I am asked so often to purchase it for fund-raisers I just tell the person take the money and keep the chili or give it away to someone who wants it. O.K., I'll be nice the Napolean's Napples from the bakery are quite good. The only "innovative" food in my recollection was when they had selections from Dr. Shintani's diet which was a good thing and too bad they don't do this anymore, although I didn't eat them it seemed like a great idea his books are really good.
Torta is right on the money. Distance wise it isn't that far, but its not a great walk. Part of it is up two pretty steep sections of hill, and unless you detour another part is under the freeway viaduct at kahala. Take a cab, and save the walking for looking around Kaimuki a bit as Torta Suggested. 3660 is just at the Koko Head (east) end of the retail/dining area.
We had a great meal at 3660 on the Rise. The service was perfect and the Ahi Katsu appetizer is the stuff that dreams are made of! It appeared that most of the people eating there were locals and we enjoyed eating somewhere "real" after being tourists for a week. We were visiting friends who live on Oahu and thanks to torta basilica we found nice hostess gifts in the form of beer and wine from home (Oregon) at Tamura's. Thanks again.