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Aug 5, 2008 03:12 PM

Birthday Dinner Oahu

My wife, 2 daughters, age 13 and 10 and I will be traveling to Oahu and Maui later this month. My wife's birthday falls during our stay in Honolulu. I am looking for a nice restaurant that would also accomodate my children. I am thinking about Roy's (not sure which one) or other suggestions.

Also, do you have suggestions for good family restaurants on Maui.

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  1. Rats! The server lost my post for you. I'll ty and put this together tomorrow. Sorry that CH's server is so very flakey.

    More later,


    1. OK, let’s try this one more time.

      I’ve not dined at the new Roy’s Waikiki (in the Beachwalk Area. It looks nice, but its hours of operation did not mesh with our schedule, though we were close by. I’ve always had good to great food at Roy’s. However, I find that those venues tend to be a bit noisy. This seems more true for the restaurants on the Islands, than on the Mainland. I’m not sure exactly why this is. In very general terms, Roy Yamaguchi is more closely involved with the Hawaiian operation, than he is with his Mainland restaurants, which have another layer of management. Do not know what the situation is, with his Oriental ventures. For a recent review of one of the Mainland restaurants, see: The review is of the J W Marriott restaurant at Desert Ridge in Phoenix, AZ.

      Now, for some alternates:

      1.) La Mer at the Halekulani - if the young ladies would like to play “dress-up,” you will not find a more elegant restaurant than La Mer. Mom will remember this birthday for decades to come. I’d opt for a table, that overlooks the lower pool stage area, as there is great Hawaiian music nightly. The performers vary by night, but all have been superb. The tables along this east-side of the restaurant are well-spaced, so you feel separated from the main dining area, though you’re really right there. The beautiful music wafting up from below is just the right touch. You will need to make the call, regarding your daughters and whether they would be comfortable in such a setting. This will hold true for some of my other recs.

      2.) Alan Wong’s, King Street - just north from Waikiki (a fairly long walk, short drive or cab ride) is my favorite Island restaurant. Normally, I recommend the “Chef’s Counter,” but with a family of four, I’d strongly suggest a table. The “Counter,” is great, but it’s a bit frenetic there. You are just an arm’s reach from the kitchen. The main dining area still has a bit of hustle-n-bustle, but is more comfortable for conversation, and the food is just as good. It is far differently paced, than is La Mer, but is the hand’s down winner for my choice of best restaurant.

      3.) Alan Wong’s Pineapple Room, Ala Moana Center - just west (Ewa) of Waikiki, and a shorter, more pleasant walk, is the Ala Moana Shopping Center. It sprawls for many blocks. Located on the east side (Diamondhead) of the structure is Macy’s and the Pineapple Room is upstairs (above the first-level parking structure) and attached to Macy’s. The food is very good (almost as good as King St), and the atmosphere is more laid-back. It is a bit down-scale from King St, and decidedly so from La Mer. I’d say that it is more akin to Roy’s, than either of the other two, but without the usual noise. The difference is that you get to sample Chef Wong’s fare (through the interpretations of his exec. chef) vs Chef Yamaguchi’s (also through his exec. chef). I have no reservations making this a rec. for your entire family.

      4.) Mariposa, Ala Moana Center - in the same complex, as the Pineapple Room, Mariposa was new to us last year. I’d read several reviews, and worked it in. It’s more of a cross between La Mer (smaller, less ambitious menu and greatly abbreviated wine list) and the Pineapple Room. Go for seating on the lanai, overlooking Ala Wai Park and the marina. You will hardly notice the busy Ala Moana Blvd. between you. If the ladies would enjoy the idea of walking through Neiman Marcus on the way to dinner, they will love Mariposa. Just take control of the credit cards, as you pass through! Special note below.

      5.) Bali by the Sea, Hilton Hawaiian Village - though my last visit was less than stellar, I would still recommend this bastion to fine-dining in Waikiki. The venue is lovely and the food usually extremely good. I think that we hit a change in chefs. On one visit there, we were seated inboard, at a table on the lower floor. Just above us, was a table overlooking ours. Seated there were two children, about the ages of your daughters, and their governess. I was not pleased with the seating, as this was an anniversary dinner, and having two children just a few feet, and above us, was not my idea of a romantic dinner. However, I have to say that the young lady and gentleman were the absolute paradigm of comportment. I do not recall the meal, nor can I remember the wine, but I still reflect on how well-behaved, and perfectly beautiful these two children were. If all adults, dining around me could behave half so well. It is between La Mer and AW’s King St, in atmosphere. I’d opt for a Friday evening at the railing. The “King’s Jubilee” show will be taking place at the pool, not far away, and fireworks will be shot at about 8:30PM (check time with Hawaiian Village Web site: for the dates of your visit. You will not be able to see the fireworks, as they are directly overhead, but the whole show will be an added plus to your experience. For an experience, the fireworks are very visible from the lanai of Mariposa, but you do not get the music from the King’s Jubilee. This would be your call, but if mom and the ladies do not spend all of your $ in Neiman’s the fireworks just over way will be a mini-spectacular and you’ll have great seats, food and wine.

      This is not a full list of all places that would fit the bill, and you do need to factor in how much your daughters would appreciate the venues. As an aside, we did the Sunday Brunch at Orchids, Halekulani, a few trips back. A couple about our age, were hosting what appeared to be their grand daughter of about 10,or 12. She was elegantly attired in a lovely dress, white gloves and a hat, and was having the time of her life, playing “dress up.” Though dining quietly, and graciously, she was just so excited to be dining in those surroundings with her grand parents. Another experience, that I shall not soon forget.

      As we have no children, I cannot speak definitively on the subject of dining in Hawai`i with two young ladies in tow. Others here can, and will likely add many places, that I might not have considered.

      For some fairly recent reviews, check the links below. You will have to navigate past some of the other Islands, but the O`ahu reviews are all together:

      Have a wonderful trip to paradise,


      Alan Wong's Restaurant
      1857 S King St Fl 3, 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. We were in Maui in June and flew to Oahu for the day. My 13-year-old daughter and I had lunch at the Pineapple Room. We walked up about 30 minutes before it opened for lunch and made a reservation for 11:30 am. We were shown an awful table first (in the back, by the service door), but when I refused it, they came up with something more to our liking at the front of the restaurant. They were totally slammed. I asked our server about one of their signature specials, the Kalua BLT, and he couldn't describe it for me. Ouch! That being said, I ordered the Kalua BLT and subbed their Asian slaw for the fries. My daughter had the hamburger. The BLT was one of the best sandwiches I have ever had. It was just a lot of smoky, porky deliciousness on a bun. The Asian slaw was also very good...crispy with a delicious Asian dressing. I had a glass (okay maybe 2) of sparkling wine which was also a nice addition to our ladies' lunch. We had a haupia dessert of some sort that was very icy and wierd. I wouldn't order that again. There were plenty of other families with children dining there so you definitely wouldn't feel out of place. During our walking tour of the city, we stumbled across one of the several locations of Beard Papa's (a Japanese chain which serves cream puffs), which really was the hit of the day. As for a family recommendation in Maui, we found a place called Cool Cats that is on Front Street in Lahaina that serves burgers, fries, rings, and delicious pulled pork. They also have live music. Our kids love the Gazebo, as well. They make a killer fried rice with portuguese sausage and bacon. Enjoy!

        3 Replies
        1. re: Mimi


          There have been a few others, who had gotten less than stellar service, espcially from the front of the house, at The Pineapple Room. It sounds like your experience is not one of a kind. Not sure what might be wrong there, but it does not bode well. I think that the management will need to address this issue, and it is starting to sound like an issue.

          As for the BLT, I've not had that, but for Chef Wong's New Wave Lu`au, a year ago, his exec. chef at TPR did a tamal with the Kalua pork - it was the hit of that event. Gave mention of it to the corp folk, as we dined at King St the next night, and they wanted to know what we liked most, least, etc. My wife and I gushed over that tamal. Actually we slid back into the line and did "seconds." Hints were made that it "might" make it onto a menu someplace. Here's hoping.

          Thanks for your report and for the Maui tips. The Gazebo has been a fav. of ours for many years, but have not heard of Cool Cats. Almost died after dining at Cheeseburger In Paradise, so I swore off all burgers, when in Hawai`i, especially on Maui.


          1. re: Mimi

            Ooh the Pineapple Room's Kalua BLT is one of my favs! I think it's the goat cheese that makes it over the top.

            The dessert you ordered is called Haupia Halo Halo, I believe, it's my absolute favorite there. It's based on the Filipino dessert, Halo Halo, but classed up 100x Alan Wong's style. It's coconut tapioca, shaved ice, azuki beans, corn (!), cubes of mango kanten (like jello), haupia, and fresh fruits. It's so refreshing and not too heavy. I order it every time i'm there and I sometimes will treat myself to one as an afternoon snack!

            1. re: KalihiSnob

              I have had the PR halo halo, and also found it very refreshing. Love the chilly crunchiness. If you didn't know what to expect, though, I guess it would seem kind of weird.

              Sorry to hear people are having trouble with the service at PR. I've always found it especially nice.

          2. House Without a Key, at the Halekulani view in Waikiki, the best mai tai's for you and your wife and the menu has enough options that your daughters will find something to eat. Great entertainment and view...go during sunset, relax and enjoy the will not be disappointed

            1. BillHunt has some great suggestions, and I dare say, he knows Waikiki dining better than anyone else on the board, but if I can - Roy's (Hawaii Kai and BeachWalk too <I believe>) actually has a children's menu. If your children aren't adventurous eaters, you will appreciate the very basic options (pasta, chicken fingers) on the children's menu. The staff there also totally "gets" families. We recently took our nieces and nephews to the Roy's in Hawaii Kai, (two sets of twins, aged 4 and 6) and we were so pleased at the service and special touches for the kids. They also had the good sense to seat us in the back of the restaurant so as not to bother the other guests - appreciated by all, I can assure you!

              For many reasons I prefer the Hawaii Kai location - I wrote about it at length on another post, so I won't go on and on and on (again) =)

              Foodies will kill me for the following suggestion, as it isn't a "fine dining" option, it is however, memorable for all: a Luau. Luau's are the ultimate family option; your girls will probably love it and if you haven't done it, you should. Although it is the TOTAL opposite of the many fine, fine options BillHunt suggested, there are upgraded seated and dining options at both Polynesian Cultural Center + Paradise Cove - our guests have enjoyed both shows. PCC is a BIG drive from Waikiki though. Your hotel will probably have one as well.

              Enjoy Oahu!

              3 Replies
              1. re: tsays


                Thanks for the additional info. Much of this thread is out of my relm of knowledge, so I, and the OP, greatly appreciate the perspective. Since we have never traveled to the Islands with children, I am at a real loss.

                It's also nice to see Paradise Cove mentioned, as we've seen it many times, but have never been. I love the PCC for everything, except the food - hence my rec. to visit and enjoy, then leave the property for dining.

                Again, a big mahalo for the post and the info. I wish that I was more than a "one trick pony," but as it's usually just the two of us, and we gravitate to the higher-end places, there is so very much that I cannot comment on. I've attempted to add new (to us) lower-end spots, and have reported on each one, when we've done them.


                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  Thanks to all for the suggestions. I wound up going to Roy's at the Hawaii Kai location. I have been to a number of the other Roy's locations in NY and Phoenix and always had a great meal. First, the drive there was very nice, passing Diamond Head and then along the water. As tsays mentions they have a great kids menu - 3 courses - in fact my daughter asked for extra carrot sticks to dip in the ranch dressing which she has never done before. The staff were very accomodating including bringing an extra dessert for my wife's birthday gratis. I really enjoy the food - alot of choices including dishesthat allow you to sample 3 different "Roy's Specialties". And of course you can not go wrong with the Chocolate Soufle Cake at the end. Overall, it was a great choice.

                  1. re: mrosenw120

                    Nice report. I have read and heard that they have overhauled that location, since my last visit. I was underwhelmed, and am a fan of Roy's. Now, it seems that I must go back.