Honolulu & Oahu Tops
I'm spending a week in February in Honolulu and am looking for the not-to-miss places on the island for lunch and dinner. I'm interested in contemporary haute cuisine for dinner (Hawaiian / Asian / American / French, all are fine, just nothing tired, touristy, or pretentious) and authentic local fare for lunch. Willing to fork over my mortgage payment for epic dinners, but prefer cheap to reasonable lunches. I will have a car and time to explore, so places need not be in downtown Honolulu. Thank you.
You have plenty of time to do some research and Kaimukiman has done much of the work for you with the links provided in this thread.
Also, keep your eye out for Bill Hunt's upcoming (long promised and much anticipated) report on his most recent visit to the Islands.
For "can't miss" Hawaiian cuisine, you must do Allan Wong's, King St. See if you can get the "Chef's Counter." It is not as romatic, etc., as the regualr tables, but an experience that you are not likely to forget.
Chef Mavro's, just down the street from AW's, is the second rec. Here, I'd opt for the bigger tasting courses (we did the eleven, and reprot IS forthcoming), and the portions are excellent.
At both, I'd opt for the sommelier's pairings for the wine, and I am a certified wine-geek. You cannot match everything, even if you do four bottles. The ligher pours match perfectly and you do not need to leave the rental car, and cab it back to the hotel.
For a French take on Hawaiian Cuisine, I'd recommend La Mer, Hanekulani, though we did not do it for the first time in decades, because of some bad wine service on the last trip. The food is excellent, and the sommelier, Randy Ching, is very good, so long as he's not distracted by clients who brought their own bottle of Opus. For the food and the ambiance, it is hard to beat La Mer.
Alan Wong's Restaurant
1857 S King St Fl 3, Honolulu, HI 96826
Chef Mavro restaurant
1969 South King Street, Honolulu, HI 96826
2199 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815
Gina's BBQ (Market City Mall, 5 min. drive from Waikiki) is a must for their massive Korean plate-lunches. The Gina's Special (Kalbi,BBQ Chicken,and BBQ Bulgogi plus rice + 4 sides) will feed two people. If you're a ramen fan, Goma-Ichi on Keeamoku serves some of the best ramen this side of Tokyo. Their Tan-Tan Men has a spicy sesame based soup that is making my mouth water as I write this. This is one of the first places I hit when I'm back in the Islands. For a nice dinner, the original Roy's in Hawai'i Kai is one of my faves. Roy was one of the Pioneers of Hawaii Regional Cuisine and the food at his flagship does not disappoint. Another dinner spot that isn't mentioned often enough, is Imanas Tei. It's a cozy Japanese Izakaya tucked away behind Puck's Alley (near the University). First rate sushi and an extensive menu of authentic Japanese dishes and nabe make Imanas Tei, IMO the best Japanese restaurant in Hawai'i. Go early, as this place fills up quickly (lot's of Japanese tourists and Japanese ex-pats should tell you something).
Another quick option for you would be Kaka'ako Kitchen in the Ward area. They usually have a fish-of-the-day dish that's usually pretty good. It's a order-at-the-counter-and-they-bring-it-to-you kind of place so it's not that expensive.