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Jul 8, 2008 02:28 PM

Adventurous NYC 'hound planning Oahu eats - help!

As I begin to search the boards, I realize that a week will not nearly be enough time to chow (and swim and hike) my way through the island. And so, as I begin planning, I thought it best to throw out a few requests for suggestions. I'm seeking to spend most of my time off the beaten path. That said, here are my priorities for food experiences -

1. local, local, local! Any farms / farm stands/ restaurants known for sourcing 100% local ingredients? Where can I eat something right off the tree/right out of the ocean?

2. New talent - any young up and coming chefs worth checking out (even if a little hit or miss sometimes)?

3. In my experience, the best adventures are often the cheap eats (NYC street vendors, hole in the wall dumpling shops in Chinatown, porchetta sandwiches on a hidden street in Rome, jerk chicken on the side of the road in Jamaica). What recommendations do you have along these lines?

4. Solo dining: I'm a female traveling alone. I love dining at the bar where you get to watch all the action. Recommendations? Fine dining is great as long as it's not stuffy/conservative. Rum shacks are cool, too. I'm pretty adventurous and can handle my own.

5. Authentic/unique - the term is the most used and abused and of course it's always debatable. But it would be great to experience cuisine that is unique to the island.

BONUS POINTS: destination food that I can bike/hike to. Now that's cool!

If anyone has any hotel/B&B/cabana recommendations I'd be glad to receive an email at olninenickel AT gmail DOT com.


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  1. It sounds like LOCAL is the emphasis in your culinary journey.... I highly recommend that you check out the Saturday morning farmer's market at KCC (Kapiolani Community College), right at the base of Diamond Head. It starts at 7:30 and ends before noon, but you should try to be there earlier in the morning than later. Excellent display of local, fresh fruits and vegetables along with lots of fun cooked items (like bento, fried green tomatoes, etc.) If you can't make it then, the Kailua (windward side)Farmer's Market has a smaller version on Thursday evenings. Lychees are in season right now.

    For fine dining (in a non-stuffy atmosphere), check out the chef's counter at Alan Wong's. A really good write-up can be found here:

    You will quickly realize that Hawai'i is truly a place of fusion; it's totally reflected in the food. Good luck with your adventures!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Aleka

      Ah, I should have mentioned that I'll be there during the last week in September. Lychees in season must be so cool.

    2. 1) For local food,* try Town in Kaimuki (or you can try Downtown for lunch and a trip to the state art museum). Both source locally. Also, the KCC market I think ends at 11, unless that has changed recently.

      * note that "local" has a more prominent meaning in Hawai'i, as in "the local culture," someone who is from here, and represents the mix of cultures and ethnicities that is Hawai'i.

      3) For cheap eats, walk around Chinatown and get some char sui on Maunakea street, or try anything in the Maunakea Marketplace food market. Since you get it less out east, try the ong choi (water spinach), which is great with shrimp in thai preparations.

      5) Go to Sidestreet Inn for authentic, souped-up local food in a very local setting -- you can watch the latest game and drink great wine (or beer) at the same time. For authentic Hawaiian food, try Helena's on school street in Kalihi, or, closer to Waikiki, to Ono's Hawaiian foods. Try everything. Especially butterfish (you can get this elsewhere to, and its amazing), a laulau (pork or chicken baked in taro leaf), poke, kalua pig, lomi salmon, and chicken longrice. okay, that's almost everything.

      3 Replies
      1. re: elinw

        Is Helenas still open? I thought I'd read that they had closed?

      2. some of these threads are getting old, but they give some good overviews

        (oahu report)
        (best hole in the wall)
        (cheap eats Honolulu)
        (Oahu Cheap & Tasty)
        (Best Fish)

        Good recommendations have been given above. In addition to Town, I would specifically add Nico's for fresh fish, and Kakaako Kitchen for casual but good local fare.

        1. thanks for the tips so far, 'hounds. I'll work on a real list now and then submit it for review!

          1. 1) The only place I know that makes a big point about this is town (3435 Wai'alae Ave). I like it a lot.

            3) Kaka'ako Kitchen (1200 Ala Moana Blvd) and Hank's Haute Dogs (324 Coral St) are better-than-average take-out places within walking distance of waterfront parks.

            4) I do this all the time, but I prefer a table to the counter. I've never had any problem, except at the Pineapple Room, where the moronic teenage girls at the entrance go out of their way to give you the worst table even with a half-empty restaurant.

            5) Ono Hawaiian Foods (726 Kapahulu Ave.): Chicken or pork laulau plate.

            Leonard's Bakery (933 Kapahulu Ave.): Breakfast malasadas (to go).

            House Without A Key (Halekulani Hotel, 2199 Kalia Rd.): Sunset cocktails with live Hawaiian music and hula dancing on a waterfront lawn.

            1 Reply
            1. re: residenthawaii

              As for HWAK, I can only recommend them for the pu`pus and the drinks in a wonderful venue, with exquisite Hawaiian music live on the tiny stage. I am so much more a fan of upstairs at La Mer, or across the property at Orchids. Dine before, or after. Take this in for the ambiance, which is great.

              Have not had quite the same experience at Pineapple Room, but, unless it's the New Wave Lu`au, it is less of an experience. One MUST do King St. If they are in the Ala Moana complex, I would more likely recommend Mariposa, though I am a die-hard fan of Chef Wong.