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Oahu Chowdown- A Week in Review

s
socal boy Oct 3, 2008 03:01 PM

Just got back from Honolulu this week. Stayed there for 8 days. Ate a lot of food. Here is a brief review of the places we ventured to.

1. Huli Huli Chicken in Ward Warehouse parking lot. I thought it was pretty good. My SO commented that it was not on a long rotating spit but just bbq'd on a grill.
2. Aiea Bowl- The tasty chicken plate was really good. Loco Moco had its moment but I would return for the tasty chicken. This place was really crowded.
3. Liliha Bakery- Coco puffs and malasadas. They had green tea and regular coco puffs. Malasadas were haupia and lilikoi filled.
4. Diamond Head Bakery for breakfast- Had the pork hash and egg, tried the fried rice. Not too impressed with the pork hash patty- too much potato.
5. Kenele's in Waimanalo- Huge mixed plate of kahlua pig, lau lau and bbq chicken. Lau Lau was good. If you are in the neighborhood, stop by.
6. Costco shoyu poke- the fish is very fresh.
7. Char Hung Sut- Manapua, Mai Tai Soo and Pork Hash. How long has this place been around. Everything was fresh and delicious.
8. Nico's- Furikake ahi and roast pork plate. Ahi was delicious. Pork plate was huge.
9. Pineapple Room for dinner- Service was mediocre. I think lunch is the better option here. They were out of the pork chop and shortrib which left big holes in the remaining menu items. Plantation ice tea is still the best here though.
10. Ruger Market- Pipikaula and Port Sausage/Egg Musubi. They ran out of the pipikaula musubi.
11. Leonards- Guava, Haupia and Chocolate malasadas- this is my favorite place for malasadas.
12. Kapahulu Poi Shop- Plate lunch- Poi, Kahlua Pig, Chicken Long Rice.-this was pretty authentic
13. Ono Seafood- Ahi Poke with everything- This was crazy good. I like the spiciness and all the other ingredients that went into this. Made to order.
14. Rainbow Drive In- Boneless Chicken plate with gravy. I thought they used to cut up the chicken tonkatsu style. This one came in one huge piece. Very good still but hard to cut up when you sitting at the beach.
15. Kua Aina Burger- Cheeseburger was good. Really skinny fries were crispy.. Last time fries were limpy. Huge improvement.
16. Shiro- Saimen of course. Always good.
17. Boots and Kimo- Mac Pancakes and Corned beef/Swiss omelet. Pancakes were still good. I liked the Port Sausauge omelet better.
18. Fukuya- Bento C and D. The Fried Chicken was excellent. Crispy and still warm.
19. Island Snow- a little skimpy on the syrup and the ice was coarse.
20. KaKaako Kitchen- Pot Roast Plate and Chicken Linguine. Linguine was nasty. Pot roast ok.
21. Mariposa Restaurant- ahi tuna sandwich w/ porcini fries. Plantation ice tea. Fries were the best part of the meal. You only get Plantation tea the first time. They fill up your glass with passion fruit ice tea the rest of the time.
22. Side Street Inn- Fried Pork Chop, Pocho Clams, Kim Chee Yakisoba. Everything was delicious. Had to wait about 30 minutes to get in. Service was slow but place was packed.
23. Gulicks Deli- Bento A- Fried Chicken was excellent. Next time I will get the Fried Chicken plate instead.
24. Waiola Shave Ice- This is the best. The ice is shaved so fine. Melts in your mouth.
25. Thelma's Restaurant- Thelmas Special- Lechon, Tomatoes, Onion and Soy Sauce. This dish is the bomb. I would kill for this dish.

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  1. c
    curiousgeo RE: socal boy Oct 3, 2008 04:03 PM

    socal boy, all I can say is wow! I live here and I haven't eaten at all the places on your list. Thanks for the report.

    5 Replies
    1. re: curiousgeo
      a
      Aleka RE: curiousgeo Oct 6, 2008 10:20 AM

      I agree with curiousgeo..... the list of places that you ate within your short vacation time is pretty astounding! Just out of curiosity, did you do extensive research (chowhound?) prior to your vacation to figure out where to go, or did you have a local person guiding you through town?

      If you come back again, try the poke at Tamura's (on Waialae, in Kaimuki) and the ice cream at Bubbie's (off University and King).

      1. re: Aleka
        s
        socal boy RE: Aleka Oct 6, 2008 12:15 PM

        Did some reseach on Chowhound, used a couple of books-Puka Guide and Oahu Restaurants, and have local contacts.

        I went to Tamura's on a weekday in the morning. They do not make poke until 12 noon. I never heard of Bubbies until recently. I will try on my trip next year.

      2. re: curiousgeo
        k
        KalihiSnob RE: curiousgeo Oct 6, 2008 10:31 AM

        I totally agree w/ curiousgeo, haven't been to a few on the list, and now I must!

        Char hung sut is my FAVORITE manapua place! They make the best mai tai soo (can you find it anywhere else?)!

        Next time you're at Diamond Head Market, try their blueberry cream cheese scones! To die for!!!

        Liliha Bakery's under new management. The jury's still out on the quality level. But at least now they take credit cards!

        1. re: KalihiSnob
          s
          socal boy RE: KalihiSnob Oct 6, 2008 12:20 PM

          I had a bite of the blueberry scone at Diamond Head. That was great.

          I saw someone mention mai tai soo at Char Hung Sut on chowhound. Not knowing what they were, I ordered a few the first time we went there and ordered them again the next we went. These were unique and delicious.

          Do you think the coco puffs at Liliha are getting smaller? It might be me, but I remember the coco puffs were as big as the palm of my hand. Was I imagining this?

          1. re: socal boy
            c
            curiousgeo RE: socal boy Oct 6, 2008 12:41 PM

            I think there may be regular and mini coco puffs now so that might be what you notice. Also to answer your question below on the fried half chicken at Rainbow Drive In, I like it and switch between that and the boneless chicken plate. But it is kind of plain, just salt and pepper seasoning, so I usually get a side of gravy with it. Also if they overcook it the meat can be a bit dry. The boneless is pretty consistent there.

      3. manomin RE: socal boy Oct 3, 2008 04:43 PM

        I wish I was lunching at Mariposa right now - lobster club deconstructed by me you're right the fries are
        excellent. Often they'll sneak up some of the tobacco onions for me that are now only on the
        Mermaid Cafe' menu - used to be on Mariposa's too and, a Neiman
        Marcus martini with Jamison as my waiter he's the best.

        Keneke's - yum! Wish I had some of the gisantes! Our dog used to love their pork we'd give
        her a nibble at the beach.

        Rainbow's - Oh man, "boneless gravy all over!" my mouth is watering!

        Nico's - wish I were there now too! All this is making me very hungry and makes me think I
        should take the big drive over the mountain more often! Thanks for your notes, sounds like
        you had a great time!

        1. KaimukiMan RE: socal boy Oct 4, 2008 11:19 PM

          You shua you not local braddah? What a list!

          7. Char Hung Sut has been there forever. Arguably the best steamed maunapua around, for baked go to Royal Kitchen
          14. Rainbow has never cut up the boneless chicken, you are probably thinking of the chicken Katsu at Grace's.
          15. Kua Aina can be iffy on the fries. I sent them back once, they diddn't argue about it.
          20 Kakaako Kitchen is always good... except for the linguine. I only had it once, it was bad then, and I know two other people with the same experience.
          24. Wailola Rocks, both locations, popular (and good) as Matsumoto's is, it cant compare to Waiola's shave ice.
          25. Where is Thelmas?

          1 Reply
          1. re: KaimukiMan
            s
            socal boy RE: KaimukiMan Oct 5, 2008 09:49 PM

            7. I am going to add Char Hung Sut to the must have list when I go to Honolulu.

            14. I saw that there was a fried chicken plate the day I went. to Rainbow Anyone tried this?

            20. It's funny because the menu at Kakaako Kitchen says that the chicken linguine is an island favorite or something like that.

            25.Thelma's Restaurant
            94-366 Pupupani St
            Waipahu. HI 966797

          2. o
            Ogawak RE: socal boy Oct 7, 2008 09:40 AM

            Terrific post, socal boy.

            I visit Hawaii once a year and wil definitely try some of the places you mentioned. I agree about Pineapple Room. I'd like to try Side Street and Char Hung Sut. I use this board to help plan all my trips.

            If you like Waiola, you might also try Tropicana for shave ice. It's in St. Louis Heights, where Kapahulu and Waialae meet, just mauka of Leonards.
            Definitely try Bubbies for macadamia nut ice cream.
            Also for breakfast we like Koa Pancake house in Kaneohe, but only for breakfast.

            1. l
              lilikoigirl RE: socal boy Oct 18, 2008 02:48 AM

              Nice to see Kapahulu Poi Shop getting a mention, it's our favorite for Hawaiian food, but not many people (even locals) have ever heard about it.

              1 Reply
              1. re: lilikoigirl
                TonyC RE: lilikoigirl Nov 5, 2008 07:45 AM

                this is BEYOND excellent. starting with Socal boy's list, I concurrently sought opinion from a local grubbin fiend and came up w/ this map:

                http://sinosoul.com/?p=483

                added are 2 Japanese places, and in ( ) are the running commentary from my HI informant.

                thanks so much!

              2. s
                socal boy RE: socal boy Mar 3, 2009 12:04 PM

                I'm coming back in June 2009 for a week. I probably am going to hit some repeat places- (Side Street, Shiro's Saimen, Alan Wongs) and some new ones (Bubbies for ice cream and Tropicana for shave ice, and La Mer). Anything new on the radar from you island hounds. Looking for new deliciousness to try. Thanks.

                As always, will report back on the food.

                6 Replies
                1. re: socal boy
                  Eat_Nopal RE: socal boy Apr 14, 2009 03:11 PM

                  Burgers on the Edge is worth a visit... certainly on another level compared to Teddy's Bigger Burgers (which I like) and some of the others.

                  Champa Thai out on the Pearlridge side... very tasty and different approach to Thai then what is available in Southern California... I enjoyed the Bittermelon Curry with Shrimp... ask for extra spicy.

                  1. re: Eat_Nopal
                    j
                    Joebob RE: Eat_Nopal Apr 15, 2009 02:53 PM

                    Have you tried Kookie's Thai Kitchen (1326 Middle St.) yet?

                    1. re: Joebob
                      Eat_Nopal RE: Joebob Apr 15, 2009 03:03 PM

                      Not yet... but I see its pretty close to the office... might try it for lunch this week. Any recommendations?

                      1. re: Eat_Nopal
                        j
                        Joebob RE: Eat_Nopal Apr 16, 2009 01:26 AM

                        It's mostly homestyle. My principal recommendation is call before you go. I've heard that, for whatever reason, she closed early on at least one occasion.

                        1. re: Joebob
                          Eat_Nopal RE: Joebob Apr 23, 2009 07:14 PM

                          GREAT CALL!

                          I have never been to Thailand but have eaten at maybe 50 or so different Thai restaurants in Hawaii, California, Chicago & NYC from Mom & Pop places to Glitzy, Stylish, Fusiony joints... this was simply THE best executed Thai I've had to date... and she serves dishes that I haven't seen on menus before.

                          The fact that its a neat, clean, pretty (if modest) dining room right in the outskirts of the Kalihi "ghetto" is even better. My only criticism on the setting is that the local graffiti is too plain & uninspired.

                          Ordered about 8 dishes off the admittedly disorganized menu. I didn't have the raw shrimp dish because the hostess didn't inspire me about the provenance (when I asked her about sourcing she just said 'the give us frozen shrimp' and didn't go into greater details)... but that was the only hiccup as the for the rest of the choices she was very helpful as to what their best ingredients are... when I asked about Green Beans she said they were out, didn't find anything good when they went shopping (which is a great sign that they really care about what they serve)... THEN she sent somebody out to buy some after confirming their local market had gotten in a new shipment today... yeah they care that much.

                          Highlights

                          There is an Eggplant salad... with smokey flavored chunks of tender Eggplant served with lime marinaded chicken (nice succulent strips of dark meat).... red onions & other ingredients similar to what goes in Larb

                          Another star was a "Pudding" that had mussels, shrimp & Bok cooked in this thick pudding of coagulated eggs & coconut milk... it looked a little strange but was intriguingly delicious.

                          Cashew Chicken (more of a Chinese Thai dish) was excellent with succulent pieces of boneless, dark chicken unlike the gnarly shaped dryish strips of Chicken breast offered at most joints I have been to.

                          The Green, Red & Panang curries are all good with Al Dente veggies (such as Palm Hearts, Green Beans etc.,) that are normally served mushy from the can.

                          The Chicken Soup in Coconut Broth was great with lots of Thai Basil, Kaffier Lime Leaves, Galangal(sp?) etc.,

                          The stir fried beef was the single let down... given the toughness of the meat.

                          Consider this one on my list of Oahu must haves. (And there isn't much on the list just yet).

                          1. re: Eat_Nopal
                            j
                            Joebob RE: Eat_Nopal Apr 24, 2009 12:24 AM

                            You are most welcome. In the unlikely event you are going to Fort Worth or Dallas, TX, I'll give you the address of a really great Thai restaurant. Could you email j.bobich@tcu.edu with some of your Oahu Mexican restaurant thoughts?

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