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Need recs near Waikiki for 5 yo and for just hubby and me

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Hi Chowhounds,
My husband has business in Honolulu a week from now, and we decided to join him for a family vacation. We are from San Francisco and have a 5 yo son. I would appreciate recs for two different types of meals: with our son and without. First, without: we were out in March and had a wonderful meal at Alan Wong's and another at Tokkuri-Tei (so yummy!). We'll be hitting Tokkuri-Tei again, but as much as we loved Alan Wong's, we want to try something new. Based on what I've read so far, my top contenders are Mavro's, Town, and Bali by the Sea -- I suppose La Mer, too. While we love views, we see the Pacific on a regular basis in SF (yes, prettier from Hawaii, but still) -- we're definitely in it more for the food. We also prefer innovative food over the same old same old high-end dishes unless the execution is flawless.

Next issue: where to go with our son. No chains, please! Our son has odd tastes. He will not eat a sandwich but will eat each of the components separately. He hates peanut butter but loves goat cheese, Thai chicken with cashews, and pot stickers. At the same time, he'll only eat pasta with butter and parm, no sauce. He likes chicken (white meat), pork (especially carnitas), and beef. He eats fish sticks (and sometimes smoked salmon), but I'm not sure about "real" fish. When we were in here in the spring, we found that we ended up ordering way too many chicken fingers. We definitely would like to avoid that this time. We'll be staying at the Marriott Waikiki and will have a car. Current places under consideration are Ono's Hawaiian Food, Kua Aina, Mei Sum (lunch), Nico's (in case he'll eat fish), Just Tacos Mexican Grill, and Oceanarium (tourist trap?). Please let me know what you think about the places on my current list and what I should add/delete. Mahalo nui loa!

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  1. Town would be a great place with the kid. They treat kids really well and it's so noisy in there
    no one would notice he's there. Seriously, they have great homemade pasta that he could enjoy
    as well as other things. Both chefs are fathers and understand children completely you would be
    in good hands there. Roy's in Waikiki would be another choice children do very well there. Nico's
    has a vast menu (check their website) that would be great for lunch with him as well. I love to eat at Town and can't recommend it enough.

    2 Replies
    1. re: manomin

      Thanks for the info! I had no idea Town could work with a kid. That's great to hear. I will check out the Nico's website, too. Many years ago. my husband and I went to Roy's in Kauai and had an awful meal. Years before that, we went to the one at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach, CA and had a very good meal. Is the Waikiki Roy's better than the Kauai one. I'll check out the Nico's website, as you suggest. Again, thank you!

      1. re: pickles210

        Glad to be of help, no kidding, you and the family would truly enjoy yourselves there! I don't watch the show but plenty of times I've been there "Lost" stars are eating there as well.
        I know Ed or Dave would send out the pasta with parm for your son and you would enjoy
        the rest of your meal as well! They serve Hawaii grass fed beef that is wonderful and the
        broth with the mussels could be a soup of it's own sans shellfish. I would bet you would
        enjoy the Waikiki Roy's, they completely cater to kids and I've had several friends and visitors who have raved about being there with family. Do check out Nico's, it gets crazy
        busy at lunch so I always go early (like 11 or 11:30) you'll be amazed at how it seems empty and all of a sudden it's totally packed with a line out the door waiting to order. You
        should consider Mariposa at Neiman's for lunch as well, I've seen plenty kids in there with
        the local "ladies who lunch" and it's a happy mix. Also try Hank's Haute Dogs on Coral Street great dogs of unusual composition as well as "Chicago Dogs" and wonderful did I say wonderful fries, onion rings and truffled mac & cheese. The owner Henry "Hank" Adaniya is a legend in our time having been the owner of "Trio" in Evanston. Think Gale Gand (her brulee is on the menu), Grant Achatz, Dale Levitski of "Top Chef" fame, and
        others in an all star roster. This is cash only BTW. So Bon Appetit and a hui hou!
        I myself am so psyched to go the the Roy's 20th anniversary celebration tomorrow with
        15 chefs from Nobu to Lee Hefter to Ming Tsai and the list goes on and on!

    2. Manomin had some great recs. For with the kid meals, consider Rainbow drive in or graces - both plate lunch places. Zippy's is a possibility as well, but the food is not quite as good although the selection may be larger.. No, you are not gonna get vegetables, although graces has an "asian cole slaw" he might like. But he can get the chicken or bbq steak (teri) and rice. Pick up some bananas or grapes or whatever and let him eat those separately. Avoid the burgers at most plate lunch places. Big City Diner is also good. Of course most chinese restaurants can "customize" whatever you order as well.

      There is a pretty good Korean take out place in Waikiki on Ulunui St., i believe between Kuhio and Prince Edward. I avoid cheeseburger in paradise like the plauge, but Teddy's on Kapahulu a half block mauka of Kalakaua is pretty good. It's hard to find bad Thai here, Keos is good, I am not as fond of Keoni's, although it is closer to you.

      Town is great, consider 3660 on The Rise as well, probably not as flexible as town for kids.

      12 Replies
      1. re: KaimukiMan

        Thanks, KaimukiMan. Are the burgers at Teddy's better than the ones at Kua Aina? Teddy's appears to be closer, which is nice. Any word on Ono's for kids? Thanks for the warning re: burgers at plate lunch places (and re: cheeseburger in paradise, though i generally avoid restaurants named after Jimmy Buffett songs!).

        For dinner w/ just my husband, how would you rank Chef Mavro's, Bali by the Sea, 3660 on the Rise, and La Mer? Again, our number one criterion is the food (and we went to Alan Wong's last trip). Thanks!

        1. re: pickles210

          In my view Teddy's is WAY better than Kua Aina, I am long over them. Teddy's has a good website you can check out. They have great fries and a good fish and chips as well.
          I don't drink them but have been with people who loved their milkshakes as well.
          Choose Teddy's! I agree with KM about burgers at plate lunch places that was good advice.
          I must add that Town has a fabulous burger on brioche with or without cheese (my choice
          is gorgonzola) and bacon. They have the best fries ever as well they sprinkle deep fried
          herbs all over them and they rock!

          1. re: manomin

            Teddy's it is!

            Any thoughts on where to go for dinner w/ my husband?

            Also, (and this is more for me than my son, embarrassingly enough) what are your thoughts on Puka Dog vs. Hank's Haute Dogs and/or Chicago Dogs?

            I'm so excited to eat at Town!

            1. re: pickles210

              I've never been to Puka Dog and the concept does not excite me anyway. I love
              Hank's - he has so many varieties of dogs and the basic Vienna brand dog as well.
              He ha innovative flavor components in his daily specials. I really like his mac and cheese as well. I was just there last week and had the mac & cheese. He has a location in the International Marketplace that has a bit of a different menu with things
              only in Waikiki. He has fabulous onion rings at the original location.
              I'll think of dinner places for you. I'm in a bit of a rush today as tonight is the Roy's 20th anniversary event and I've got to go swim to be able to make my way through all 15 chefs that are going to be there! a hui hou!

              1. re: manomin

                Lolz! Enjoy the Roy's event! I've been working the treadmill in anticipation of our trip to Oahu. I look forward to hearing your thoughts re: dinner places.

                1. re: manomin

                  Manomin --
                  You were right about the oniion rings at the original location. They "broke da mouth"! Did I get that right??? Off to Teddy's now and the 3660 tonight.
                  Thanks again!

                  1. re: pickles210

                    Great to hear! I just got back from super yummy lunch at Town. Mussels which
                    are ridiculously awesome there were not on the menu ;-( I begged and they
                    cooked up an order for me - I think they were dinner only today. Had the burger which is now served on a homemade potato bun - used to be homemade brioche
                    a nice twis The fries were so good and the various deep fried herbs all over and in them really make the taste fabulous. Don't forget to try to go there! When we were leaving we could smell cinnamon and pumpkin baking. Turns out it was kabocha and cinnamon for the dinner menu don't know what they were going to do with it though. Also had the arugula/strawberry/manchego salad with a piece of grilled mahi, luscious! That and a bottle of rose made for quite the wonderful
                    afternoon meal! We went after the KCC farmer's market and brought a bunch of our stuff in that was not in coolers so it wouldn't get all weird in the hot car ($23.00 worth of tomatoes and a gorgeous orchid). Sounds like you are having a great time! Yep, you got that phrase right! Happy eating!! A hui hou and keep us posted!

                    1. re: manomin

                      We're off to Town on Monday night. A rose sounds lovely in this weather. Hmmm...
                      I'll keep a look out for the mussels; I also love winter squash and that salad sounds divine. Lunch today at Teddy's was phenomenal. Seriously the top burger meal I've had in that price range. Whatever is in their special sauce was super yummy. My son and I had original burgers and my husband had the cajun. The fries were just right -- the outside shattered and the inside was soft and tasty. For dinner we went to 3660 on the Rise and had a wonderful meal. I had the ahi katsu (um, hello; that is a seriously delicious dish) and the lacquered salmon. My husband had a special ahi sashimi starter and the duck breast (my son said his spaghetti was very nice, too) . Everything was perfection -- well except the service, which was friendly but nowhere near on par with the food. We also had a bottle of the 2006 Peay Vinyards Pomeranian (?) Pinot Noir, which I highly recommend if you enjoy a Pinot with lots of structure and finesse -- not a fruit bomb that looks and tastes more like a Syrah (nothing against Syrah, mind you -- it's just that if I want Syrah I'll order Syrah). We were too full for dessert. A big thanks to KaimukiMan, as well, for the 3660 rec!

                      We have driven past many of the places all of you have recommeded. My only complaint is that we won't have time for all of them!

                      Tomorrow night we have a babysitter and my husband and I are off to Chef Mavro's. I'm not sure about lunch, though I'm thinking maybe it's a good day for a plate lunch -- depends on how we decide to spend the day. I am sadly accepting that I am unlikely to make it to Giovanni's shrimp truck. I saw some shrimp trucks in Waikiki (about six blocks west of the Mariott). Does anyone know if they're any good?

                      Sigh...happy eating indeed! Mahalo!!!

                      1. re: pickles210

                        Oh, I have not eaten at 3660 in years, I do remember loving that ahi katsu. It's a nice place to be sure. I do hope they have mussels at Town tomorrow. Yesterday when we were there a family with a small child was having lunch and they were so acommodating to him.(I know I spelled that word wrong.) It was a pleasure to see a small child enjoying himself so much and he was quiet too! The Cinzano broth with all that fennel and tomatoes is just killer with the mussels! The rose was from France and had a wild boar on the label it was only $28.00. I think you will find they have a very nice wine list that is well priced. The farmer's market was fun and although I didn't eat anything there everything smelled good that was cooking. If you get the chance and need wine or spirits Tamura's is right by Town they have a great wine selection. I'm not saying to take to Town although you can BYOB with a corkage fee but if you need something for your room. Thanks for keeping us posted! A hui hou!

                        1. re: manomin

                          They had run out of mussels but had manila clams instead. Given how delicious you said the Cinzano broth is, we ordered the clams and were not disappointed. We were drinking it like soup! I'll give a full report tomorrow when I write my round-up. We ended up not bringing our son to Town because he was having difficulty with the time change (such that he was eating even less than usual and fussing around more), was pooped from our hike in Diamond Head, and loves the woman who sits for us when we're in Honolulu -- everyone wins! In his defense, though he did have a small piece of ahi sashimi (I just said it was fish -- mean mommy!) and he liked it.

                          1. re: pickles210

                            I've had that happen when the offering was only clams. We asked to have the broth served as they normally would and keep the clams on the side in the kitchen. Then when we are leaving they package them up for us and we use them in our homemade dog food recipe, the dogs love them! Town is very very
                            eager to please! I look forward to your review. Last night we went to Vino and had the most sensational meal. They truly are doing a "seasonal" menu and the pumpkin flavors in everything from soup to scallops to gnocchi were just perfection! That and a fabulous wine made for quite a night!

            2. re: pickles210

              Teddys is going to be a lot closer to where you are staying. If you happen to be near Kua Aina, they usually do a really good burger - although manomin is right, probably not as good as they used to be. I can't comment on the dogs, I like Hanks, but they are expensive. Haven't tried Puka dog yet, or Chicago.

              As far as the fine dining, Chef Mavro would be most people's choice. I was there twice, neither time was I as impressed as I would like to have been. On both occasions it was not the food, which was excellent, but the waitstaff. Rather overbearing about how wonderful it all is on both occasions. I seem to be alone in this, so take it with a grain of salt. 3660 is excellent, was there just a few weeks ago and the 5 of us had a great meal. I've not been to La Mer in... wow... lets just say ages. It is by far the most formal of the group, and the most "conservative" menu wise. I can't comment on Bali by the Sea, have never actually eaten there. I have to say that you would probably have a great meal at any of them.

          2. Perhaps your son would enjoy the passing scene while eating Chinese from Fatty's. The cake noodles, in particular, are quite good.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Joebob

              Thanks for the suggestion, Joebob. What are cake noodles? Are they panfried noodles that hold their shape when turned out of the pan, Japanese yam cake noodles, or something completely different?

              1. re: pickles210

                in case joebob doesn't have a chance to get back to you before you leave

                http://www.midweek.com/content/column...

                1. re: KaimukiMan

                  mahalo

            2. My family loves Kua Aina and we eat there quite often. ,It is VERY clean, they have great outdoor seating with tiki torches and the food is always very fresh. I usually get their turkey sandwich and my hubby gets the Avo Burger. It's a great place to eat to get a real feel for the North Shore. Plus, if you feel like a little stroll afterwards, you can head down the street for some yummy ice cream or shave ice.

              Enjoy your vacation!!