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Recommendations for Waikiki/Honolulu?

Help please?! We're visiting late Dec/beg Jan and we've got no ideas at all on where or what to chow while we're there. Something unique/local would be great too.

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  1. There are quite a few threads discussing various types of restaurants both in Waikiki and Honolulu/Oahu that have been posted over the past few months. Did you have anything more specific in mind?

    Check out some of these threads (in no particular order):

    (oahu report) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/442201

    (best hold in the wall) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/421684

    (sunday dinner waikiki) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/444640

    (cheap eats Honolulu) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/424931

    (Oahu Cheap & Tasty) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/259032

    (Downtown Honolulu) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/427704

    (Best Fish) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/468012

    11 Replies
    1. re: KaimukiMan

      Thanks KaimukiMan for presenting (yet again) a number of threads about the same subject.
      And I agree that more specifics would assist anyone wanting to contribute! Great job!

      1. re: manomin

        somehow we should create some kind of master list that could be edited, ammended, and otherwise modified. i'm sure it would turn into some sort of 6 dimentional matrix that would be totally unmanageable.

      2. re: KaimukiMan

        Thank you so much. We'll look into these threads. How about great brunch places?

        1. re: omnomnom

          can't beat the Halekulani, hands down. it's one of the few things that virtually everyone here agrees on. check their website for the schedule.

          Aloha

          1. re: KaimukiMan

            I agree. Just returned and we did several different breakfast/brunch locations, including the House Without a Key (Halekulani) on Sunday. Of the group, it was the best, and came in below some others in price. Did the bigger Sunday Brunch at Orchids last year, and while very, very good, decided that it was a bit much for this trip. I'd speculate that the price diff. between it, and its "sister" restaurant is about 2.5x. It was worth the expense, but should be the ONLY meal that day, as it is so extensive.

            Full report on this, plus all others to follow as soon as I can put all the notes together. Mostly fine-dining with some of the "usual suspects." We had plenty of good, with a few mis-steps along the way. Gotta' get the word processor cranked up and get busy.

            Hunt

            1. re: Bill Hunt

              Great! Looking forward to hearing your report! You are always so detailed and have interesting observations! Hope you had a good trip! Melekalikimaka to you!

              1. re: manomin

                Mahalo. Yes, it was a great trip (even a week in "paradise" is great), though there were some aspects, food-wise, that caused me to pause. I'll try to put together the facts, and let the readers do the math and decide. While my dining list was heavily loaded, I had some disappointments and I am having a difficult time putting my finger on the problems - maybe the "season?"

                Still, the trip was great, the food good to excellent and the Aloha Spirit is alive and well. Even when the food was not up to what I had expected, the service did make up for it. I guess that I expect too much, sometimes.

                Hunt

                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  Au contraire.......I have great expectations all the time and am really bummed when they don't happen. My first action is to bring it to the attention of the manager and chef/owner when applicable. It is really a bad turn of events when food is great/good and the service stinks.

                  That said, unfortunately to eat anything relatively interesting I need to go to the other side - to town - to eat which I hate doing. I must say though that I've always had good service at Assaggio in Kailua which is refreshing and they do a heckuva job at tableside preparation of the Caesar salad. I've never missed at Roy's Hawaii Kai or Waikiki either.
                  I'm looking forward to lunch in a day or so at Hank's Haute Dogs where the service is just top notch, friendly, and genuinely concerned about the experience. Start writing your notes!!!!!!!!!! a hui hou!

        2. re: KaimukiMan

          Is Giovanni the shrimp shack that we should go to?
          Also, any recs on unique hawaiian gifts for my foodie friends? I've heard to look for pink salts?

          1. re: omnomnom

            the pink salt is a nice thing. its collected in pools mostly on Kauai, and the red clayey soil imparts a bit of flavor and the pink tint. You never know when the store may or may not have it. As for gifts, few people are familiar with "crack seed" (nothing to do with drugs). Check out "wholesale unlimited" to start with, although longs has a pretty good selection of these asian inspired local treats. I like dried mango, with or without li-hing mui flavor, lemon peel, wassabi peas. never been a fan of ararae (also known as kaki-mochi) but lots of people do.

            a few of the shrimp wagons/trucks are popular, but Giovanni's out on the north shore (Kahuku) seems to be the most consistent and most popular.

            1. re: KaimukiMan

              Did not get to the North Shore for lunch, but got some heavy local recs. for the "red truck," Fumi's, just west of Giovanni's. Strange how different folk from all over O`ahu all said the same thing about it. Don't know if they ALL were "plants," but it was uncanny how everyone was talking it up. I'll definitely give them a try and do a "taste-off" between them, and Giovanni's.

              Hunt

        3. 1. Hiroshi in Waikiki (not Restaurant Row) is a trip - it is grill your own Korean BBQ that is somehow always full of Japanese celebrities.

          2. There is a tiny place in Chinatown called the Green Door (4 tables max) that is an awesome lunch.

          3. If you want to spend a lot of money on sushi, Sasabune (just outside of Waikiki) or lower scale, Akasaka (right near Waikiki -get the sizzling scallops.)

          4. Best fine dining - Le Bistro in Hawaii Kai. It is a drive, but worth it.

          1. Had dinner at the Halekulani a couple of weeks ago under the stars. Great food but they're in the midst of renovating. They only had limited signature dishes since the kitchen was closed. Only grilled items were available when we were there.Still was relaxing with the live music and waves splashing in the background.

            1. The food at Sorrento's in the Waikiki Marina Resort is delicious. The view is lovely as well. Neiman Marcus' Mariposa is delicious too. We also had a nicely flavored clam curry appetizer at Alan Wong's Pineapple Room in Macy's (to tide us over until dinner). Enjoy your trip.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Brioche For The Girl

                Just did Mariposa and Sorrento's (along with several others) and definitely would give the nod (between these two) to Mariposa. Full report to follow - soon, I hope.

                Hunt

                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  Did you have dinner or lunch at Mariposa? . I was supposed to go to the party; for NM Corporate Chef Kevin Garvin last Friday night but couldn't make it due to PT appt. I love lunch there and the F&B manager is completely versed in service and style. It's Sarento's by the way, I'd like to go there sometime too. The corporate chef of the company has been a long time follower of local produce/ingredients and such as he was the corporate chef for Jean Marie Josselin back in the day. He retains his influence and philosophy over the many Tri-Star properties.

                  1. re: manomin

                    Thanks for the spelling correction. I just grabbed the OP's reference. As for the Tri-Star properties, first, I did not realize that Jean Maire Josselin was involved - loved A Pacific Cafe, Kapaa, Kaua`i and miss it dearly; and second, had a great meal at Aaron's Atop the Ala Moana on an earlier trip. I'd dined at Sarento's, back in the early 80's (many chefs and iterations ago), and it was good. Because of proximity and our late arrival, I did not hesitate to make a reservation there. It was OK, with "reservations," and not the ones that you make with a phone call.

                    Mariposa was an evening meal and exceeded my expectations in all areas. Maybe not perfect, but a really good dining experience - food, ambiance, service and wine. Well worth my $'s. We'd definitely do it again, for lunch, or dinner.

                    Over the last six months, I've had several restaurants that had previously been graded as A+, that turned in B- meals. None was, in any way, bad, just not up to previous experiences. I guess that this happens when a restaurant sets the bar quite high, and has an off night, or other changes that add up to less than expected - or I have become too jaded to do totally objective reviews any longer. I'm about 3 mos. behind in the reviews, but have been in the air, more than I've been on the ground.

                    Out of curiosity, is the Top of Waikiki (or similar) a Tri-Star property? I've seen requests for reviews of it, but little, or no, followup. Have not dined there.

                    Hunt

                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      Sorry BIll, I think I wrote it wrong. Jean Marie had/has nothing to do with Tri-Star. When he left Hawaii his corporate chef George Gomes went to Tri-Star and still is there overseeing all of their properties and does menu development and such.

                      Top of Waikik is not affiliated with Tri-Star. Their chef is a weekly fixture at the KCC Farmer's Market and does some amazing things. I've had his food at many events but not dined there, I should I have a pile of GC's to the value of $250.00 that I bought at Silent Auction at the Roy's Waikiki benefit opening. I just need to decide when it's time to drive over the hill just to eat.

                      Do tell us about your lunch at Mariposa. I love lunch there and was only there for dinner once a couple years ago the only redeeming thing then was the Friday fireworks from the Hilton, glad to hear of their ambiance now.

                      1. re: manomin

                        We'll be in Honolulu next week and have resers at Alan Wong's (in Ala Moana) and Top of Waikiki. Any special food recommendations?

                        1. re: LesThePress

                          For the Pineapple Room, everything that we had was good, although nothing stood out. It was fairly newly opened and a bit more down-scale (then), than the King St. location. Now, if Greg, the exec. chef, has added his take on pork tamales to the menu, get them! He did these for last year's New Wave Lu`au (held at the Pineapple Room), and they were the hands-down treat, against about 75 other dishes. We urged him to include these, and then talked to the AW corp. folk the next night. When grilled (not over an open fire), we both admitted that the tamales were our favorite dish. That's when we heard that Greg might add them at the PR. Have not been back, since, so I do not know if they made it, but they should.

                          Hunt