Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > U.S. Elsewhere Archive >
Jan 22, 2008 10:07 PM

Oahu Bound

My husband and I are going to be in Honolulu at the Ilikai for two nights in February. We are looking for upscale dining Sat. evening (entertainment would be great) near our hotel. We like Hawaiian regional cusine with a good choice in wine. Sun. night we are looking for more casual dining...still like to keep it Hawaiian (fresh fish/preps) or outstanding Asian is good too. A hui hou!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Definitely Le Mer at the Halekulani should fit your bill. Also the new Waikiki Beachwalk-which essencially is Lewers Street has many new restaurants-Roy's and Nobu in my opinion are the best. The others have more of a casual atmosphere.

    1. Bali by the Sea at the Hilton Hawaiian Village also gets good reviews in here. Right next door to the Ilikai. Sarentos is in the Ilikai, but I have no idea if it is any good any more. Once upon a time it was very popular. It has only come up once in recent threads as a possible, but I don't know if the OP ever got around to trying it. In general Italian food is iffy in this town.

      2 Replies
      1. re: KaimukiMan

        I did, and the report is in progress. See below for a brief summary of Sarento's. OK, but not worth a night away from some of the best dining around.


        1. re: Bill Hunt

          Mahalo for all your outstanding advice. I believe it will be Bali in HHV since we can walk from Ilikai and you have recommended it before.

      2. The Halekulani House Without a Key would be a nice place to relax and enjoy Hawaiian music and to dine under the stars at night. Don't know if their kitchen is still being renovated and only offered grilled items but one needs to check. I still prefer the Todai on Ena Road for the vast selection of freshestJapanese dishes at one price. You can also try Tsujiki at the top of the Ala Moana Shopping Center which has became quite popular recently.

        15 Replies
        1. re: Clinton

          Your mention of Todai, reminds me that I cannot recall, and did not write down the name of the coffee shop, just across Ena on Ala Moana from it. Do you happen to know? It was one of those things, that I said I'd not forget, but then, I did.

          Have not eaten at Todai, but considering the huge mobs of Oriental diners there each night (and I mean HUGE!), they must be doing something really good.

          My problem is that there are only so many nights on O`ahu, and too many places where I HAVE to dine. Maybe next trip, we'll do 2 weeks on just O`ahu... no wait, we have already booked a week in West Maui, so maybe the trip after.


          1. re: Bill Hunt

            You may be referring to the Wailana Coffee Shop, been there for ages.

            1. re: curiousgeo

              Absolutely! Mahalo for the memory refresher. I needed that. Now all of the pieces are in place for the updated reviews of the Dec trip.


            2. re: Bill Hunt

              Wailana has been there since time began. It's one of those very few 24 hour coffee houses still operating. Great for relaxing after a late dance or just to hang out. We did that back in the 60s and it's just like time had just stood still.

              1. re: Bill Hunt

                curiousgeo and Clinton are right on the mark. for their short stay, breakfast at least one morning at Wailana would be a great choice. i think the second or third meal i ever ate on Oahu was at Wailana (we stayed at the now demolished Waikikian).

                1. re: KaimukiMan

                  The Waikikian! Now that brings back memories for me. When mainland visitors came in the 1960's, my family would take them to eat at the Tahitian Lanai at the Wakikian, the original Lau Yee Chai on Kalakaua Ave, the old low rise House without a Key, and the Tropics Restaurant at Ala Moana. All places you had to dress up and put on shoes to go.

                  1. re: curiousgeo

                    My family stayed there a couple times and loved the Waikikian. It was a fun place to go! I am so missing their eggs benedict and popovers served poolside for breakfast! Sometimes we'd go sing in the bar with the rest of the crowd with the piano. What fun it was!

                    1. re: curiousgeo

                      Many of you don't remember the old Lau Yee Chai in Waikiki which was the number 1 restaurant in the islands back in the early 50s. I still remember the old koi ponds and the lavish gardens as you entered the restaurant. This was like going to Grauman's Chinese Theater back in Hollywood. Lots of glamour. Another old famous landmark place to be seen was at the old Wo Fat Restaurant on Maunakea and King Street. It's still there but long since closed and now vacant. Attending a nine course dinner there was top hat stuff back in the old days. That was along time ago and lots of good old memories.

                      1. re: Clinton

                        lets mix some new info in with the reminiscing before chowhound deletes the thread.

                        all in all while i miss some of the old faves, food is much better in Hnl now than it ever has been. Places like Mavro, Alan Wong, Roys, etc. just didnt exist. The Maile room was about it back then for fine dining, and it was very mainland (coat and tie).

                    2. re: KaimukiMan

                      In many ways, I missed seeing the Waikikian. It had always been a bit of a time-warp, there on/off of Ala Moana. Now, it is no more, and the HHV is expanding. I guess that that is not bad, in, and of itself, but I hate to see things change so completely.

                      I only hope that the expansion of the HHV will not have a negative impact on the Bali by the Sea. I wonder just how well fine-dining is doing in the Disneyesque setting. For me, it should be the flagship of the place, but it seems to be taking a backseat now - maybe it’s just the construction, and nothing lasting.


                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        Well at HHV the Golden Dragon closes it's doors 2/3 I think that's in another topic. You're right that BBTS should be the flagship.

                        I've not been to the HHV for years now but certainly remember the penguins and other exotics on property. You're right that the Waikikian was a time-warp!

                        1. re: manomin

                          Oh, Golden Dragon going away?!? I was not a fan, after two visits, many, many years ago, but I had considered it their #2 spot. I need to communicate with the management, just to find out the direction, that they are heading. I know that the expansion, and the push for the interval-ownership aspect are at the top of their list, but I got the general feeling, that BbtS might have its days numbered. This will be sad, indeed. Thanks for the property update. Heck, we were just there last month, and I obviously did not ask the right people, the right questions.


                          1. re: manomin

                            This is a little island trivia. The Golden Dragon in the mid 1960's was the restaurant to present the Chilled Ginger Chicken dish that Sam Choy said is on every other table in Cantonese restaurants each evening in Hawaii. It is a great juxtaposition of cold chicken with the smoking hot peanut oil-green onion ginger sauce.

                        2. re: KaimukiMan

                          aloha everyone! =) hahahah

                          kinda back on this board.. been busy planning for the wedding =)

                          i love wailana coffeehouse! they macademia nut pancakes are the best! =) they offer coconut syprup too, but i find it's overkill on the sweetness...

                          1. re: kinipela

                            I agree, and enjoyed the funkiness of the place. Really good food without pretense, fun staff and that "funkiness." I still cannot believe that the name was eluding me! Note to all: do not every get old, as the mind is no longer a steel trap, but a rusted anchor stuck at the bottom of the harbor.


                    3. As others have stated, La Mer @ Halekulani is great for that one over-the-top meal. There is entertainment down by the pool (House Without a Key), and if you request a table on the West side of the restaurant, you will basically overlook that. The food is French, with a strong "regional" note. You will probably not be able to actually see the show, but most of their performers are all about the music, and there is really little to see. The prices are at the top of O`ahu dining, but I've always had great food, and probably the most comprehensive wine list in all of Hawai`i.

                      Bali by the Sea is good for Friday nights, as the "King's Jubilee" is staged just around the corner, with fireworks to end that show. Seating overlooking the ocean is open-air, so you can hear the music, albeit not be able to see the show. Even the fireworks are a bit overhead to view comfortably. However the music will make its way into the restaurant. The show at the Hilton is far more visual, than is the one at the Halekulani, with dancers, etc. The food had slipped a bit, on my last visit, and the wine list seems have become a bit of an afterthought, going from a Wine Spectator Grand Award, not too long ago. I am working up my review of Bali, along with other dining, but have been sidetracked, since I got back to the Mainland.

                      For casual, Island, I think that the new Roy's at the Beachwalk should fit the bill. I have not dined at that location, but would believe that it would be excellent. I'd also guess that Roy Yamaguchi is keeping a close eye on it, since it is brand new.

                      As for Sarento's, we did it last trip (report soon to be posted, I hope), and were disappointed. The food was OK, the service was very good, but they hit enough off-notes to keep me away, next trip. They had a piano player, and he was one of the off-notes. Oh, he played well, but far, far too loudly and his choice of songs (maybe they were all requests) was out of whack with a fine dining experience.

                      We had a great meal at Mariposa (Neiman-Marcus @ Ala Moana), and it was a hit on all "notes." Prices are below the first two, but probably a few $ above Roy's. It is also a very nice walk from the Ilikai.

                      Just out of walking range, unless you like to put in the miles, is Alan Wong's (top notch on last visit to "Chef's Counter - also in upcoming report), and Chef Mavro's, almost next door. These two are in about the same general price range as Bali. Food at both was great, as was the service at AW's. Chef Mavro's seemed to be having an off night, and the service and wine only got an OK, which is atypical.

                      For a step down from AW's, he also has the Pineapple Room @ Macy's, Ala Moana. The food was very good, as was the service, though I still rate it below the King St. location. It is also a few $s less expensive, but within walking distance, as well.

                      Sorry that I have not finished the reviews from Dec., as many of these places are covered.


                      Alan Wong's Restaurant
                      1857 S King St Fl 3, Honolulu, HI 96826

                      Chef Mavro restaurant
                      1969 South King Street, Honolulu, HI 96826

                      La Mer
                      2199 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815

                      Bali By the Sea
                      2005 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815

                      Pineapple Room By Alan Wong
                      1450 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI

                      1450 Ala Moana Blvd # 2101, Honolulu, HI

                      1. i like side street inn too. i hear that the advertiser (or was it the travel channel?) did a story on how the top chefs go there after work. i adore the poke, the ribs, and the porkchop. my friend swears by chicken liver =) or was it the gizzards? i forget... hahaha =)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: kinipela

                          The Advertiser did an article, and it was even picked up by the Phoenix daily - surprise to me. We hoped to do lunch (not their strong suit, I hear), in Dec, but had to pass on this trip. Alan Wong sings its praises, and that is good enough for me.