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Best Hole-in-the-Wall - HNL Chinatown

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Been away from the islands for quite a long time and decided to venture down Chinatown for lunch. Looked kinda familiar but noticed many changes over the past years. Observed a couple of places with lines of people on Maunakea Street waiting to get in but decided finally on a very small place called Happy Noodle House located inside the Oahu Market on King and Maunakea. Waited for about 15 minutes for a table which was sort of cramped sitting elbow to elbow with another couple next to us. The food was quite good but would like other opinions of where to eat the next time and what to order. We, both of us, went for the beef stew won ton noodles, fish jook, and half a roast duck that day. The prices were very reasonable for the amount of food.

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  1. I used to live in the Chinatown area for 5 years and I liked going to the Eastern Chinese Food Center (or something like that) on the mauka side of King Street, near the Oahu Market. Part restaurant, part take-out with roast duck, pork and chickens hanging in the window. Reasonable and good, stuff like ox tail soup, pigs feet soup, noodles and rice plates. Another was the Hong Kong Noodle House in the Chinese Cultural Plaza for stew beef noodles, won ton mien, etc.. I think these places are still around, but I haven't eaten there for quite a while. These were places that are good if you are in the area but not somewhere I would go out of my way for.

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    1. re: curiousgeo

      Thanks curiousgeo. We ventured down an open street market with lots of produce displays just like how I remembered many years ago. Saw several small places where people were waiting to eat lunch that held no more than a few tables. All looked tempting but some had long waits close to 45 minutes or more. Settled on this one place that looked clean but not too long of a wait. The food was great compared to LA and surprisingly very reasonable by Hawaii standards. Will try something different the next time but like you said, I wouldn't drive out of my way just to eat specifically there. It was just something to do at the time. It hit the spot!

    2. When one mentions Chinatown in Honolulu for food, my first thot is go for the Vietnamese PHO. And the place we always go to (sorry, I can never remember the name) fronts Maunakea Street in the Chinese Cultural Plaza and is directly across the street from Honolulu Tower. We have tried pho elsewhere but feel the flavor does not equal our favorite, above. Granted, every taste bud is different so just judge for yourself.

      There is another pho place on River Street that attracts throngs of people and I have friends who swear by it - I have never been because I do not care to fight the crowds and I understand that you are packed in that little place and its setup cafeteria style where you are elbow-to-elbow with other customers.

      Both of these places are very reasonably priced.