Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Hawaii >
Feb 16, 2009 06:21 AM

suggestions for waikiki, maui

Hi everyone, My family (husband and 10 year old son) are planning a trip to Honolulu and Maui in April. In Maui I believe we will be staying at Eva Villa near Wailea and will be there for approx 3 days. In Honolulu we will be staying at Hilton Hawaiian Village for approx one week (business meeting for my husband so we will probably not be travelling much).

I'd love recommendations re: local food (locally grown possibly!!) not too expensive, sort of funky, that sort of thing. We love sushi and seafood. Also, any farmer's markets??

Also, I know this is a food board but if anyone has experienced the interisland ferry from Honolulu to Maui I'd love to hear about it - we are thinking of taking it.

Thanks for any suggestions - this is my first post but I LOVE this website!


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. kandreaus,

    I will let others speak to Maui, but for Waikiki, I have a few pointers.

    Starting in reverse order, the "best" farmer's market is the Saturday Market at Kapiolani Community College (KCC), located on the back side of Diamond Head, not far from Waikiki. A smattering of produce, flowers, and "produced food", but all of it local.

    Next is the "people's open market". not as good as Saturday morning at KCC, you can still find a variety of local produce, although some mainland stuff is mixed in depending on availability, etc. The closest to Diamond head is the Kapiolani Park (Diamond Head end of Waikiki, just past the zoo which is open from 10 - 11am on Wednesdays

    Finally is Chinatown. Located on the west (ewa) side of Downtown there are several markets and shops that have a good variety of largely local produce. Best part is they are open 6 days a week.

    If you search the Elsewhere In America boards for sushi you will find quite a few threads. In waikiki itself ALL your food is going to be noticeably more expensive. As you are going to be at the Ewa Side, Ala Moana center is quite close. On the upper level (level 4) Tsukiji Fishmarket has gotten pretty good reviews. It is not going to be cheap, but not outrageously priced either. There is also a Genki Sushi at Ala Moana, one of the more popular "chain" sushi places in Honolulu. This is not gourmet sushi, but its quite acceptable. The Foodland Grocery store in Ala Moana Center has pretty decent sushi if you want to take it back to your room, and even the Food Pantry in Waikiki can have some sometimes. Todai in Waikiki, just across Ala Moana Blvd. from the Hilton had a pretty good reputation, but I have heard that they recently cut the selection by almost 1/3, and it is not nearly as good as it was. Of course there is always Nobu's, but that is going to be stretching anyone's budget. Further from Waikiki there are a lot more choices, and I really suggest you do some serching on the Elsewhere in America Board.

    For local food, especially prepared with Local ingredients at a fairly reasonable price I would recommend the Pineapple Room in Macy's at Ala Moana Center, Town Restaurant in Kaimuki (closed sundays), and Downtown (across from the Capitol). All of these are going to be more reasonably priced for lunch than dinner. You can also try Kakaako Kitchen in Ward Centers. More local style but not necessarily local ingredients is Big City Diner, a pretty typical diner with a local twist. Most of these places have websites. Of course if you want some down and dirty local food, there's nothing like a plate lunch from Rainbow Drive just up the road from the Diamond Head end of Waikiki.

    As for your off topic question, a few of my friends have taken the Interisland Ferry, for the most part the reviews have been positive. Don't expect anything decent to eat on board.

    6 Replies
    1. re: KaimukiMan

      We're headed to Oahu for a couple of weeks in May from NYC (very long time chowhound on Outer Boroughs board if anyone cares). I notice that no one talks about the Farmers Market behind Ward's Warehouse and I was wondering if it's still there. It's been a regular stop for poke and crack seed for us every time we've come to the islands and I'm hoping it isnt gone. If it is (or if you know somewhere better), where should we go for pounds of poke? Obviously, we'll have a car. Thanks.

      1. re: Steve R

        yes, farmers market is still there, and occasionally shows up here but not often. The poke there is still good. Other places to consider checking out are Ruger Market near KCC, Yama's on Young St. in Moiliili. There is also a place in Kapalama/Kalihi but I can't remember the name (youngs?) and it is hard to give directions to.

        1. re: Steve R

          Steve: The Farmers Market is presently the home for Marukai, which is primarily a Japanese-Asian supermarket. Haili's Hawaiian Foods and Lin's Market are still there, but the rest of the stores closed because General Growth Properties had a grand design to develop the area, now on hold because of their financial problems. Haili's and Lin's will have to move or close because of Ward Center store changes, but I don't know the time table. Hopefully they'll be in business when you're here:

          Wow Grinds is a fun Hawaii food blog that had blind tests on shoyu and limu poke:

          1. re: Moanalua

            Thanks to both of you for the responses. I'll check out the websites and probably the other poke locations.

            1. re: Steve R

              Tamura's on Waialae has great poke and a superb selection of wines and spirits and
              other foods.

              Wholesale Unlimited has a great selection of local favorites and is very popular with
              locals their prices are great too.

            2. re: Moanalua

              Kandreaus - Yeah, definitely DO check out - - for examples of some great local dishes and the places that do them well. Also, try - for reviews of a bunch of different places around town as well as other site/blog recommends.

              It would be helpful if you mentioned a range of what you were looking to spend $ wise as well=)

        2. kandreaus,

          My wife and I just got back from Honolulu a few days ago. We had a terrific time there with plenty of opportunities to eat. KaimukiMan is certainly spot on regarding prices in Waikiki. Personally, I don't care if I ever see Waikiki again--too commercial, too many tourists, too much traffic.

          Anyway, if you're willing to do what we did, purchase a 4-day bus pass for $20 that can be used over any four consecutive days. That way, you can go wherever you need to, including Ala Moana Shopping Center. The bus system is quite extensive in Honolulu and will get you wherever you need to go. You can call the customer service number anytime and get very friendly suggestions on how to get from point A to B. Bus passes can be purchased at any of the ABC Stores that you'll see in proliferation in Waikiki (cash or check only).

          I don't know how far out you're willing to travel (I'm guessing not too far), but here are a few places we went to:

          Chart House. This is a good place to have happy hour (before 7 PM) on the cheap, and good drinks. Specialties include fried calamari, Firecracker unrolled, ahi limu poke, garlic chicken, kim chee fried rice, Paniolo baby back ribs, and more. The mango margarita rimmed with ground li hing mui was fantastic. Better yet, it's not too far from where you'll be staying. And the view is pretty good, too. 1765 Ala Moana Blvd.

          Saturday Farmers Market. I completely agree with KaimukiMan. This is the place that must be visited by anyone who wants to try local food and produce. It's only open on Saturdays, 7:30 to 11:30 AM. The food choices are just awesome. You'll have a hard time deciding what you want. We finally settled for kim chee fried rice with Portuguese sausage, topped with a fried egg, and garlic-butter shrimp. And, if you want a really refreshing cooler, stop by the Pacifikool booth which has several kinds of tropical drinks (non-alcoholic, of course). Their ginger cooler made with ginger syrup, mulled basil, lemon and carbonated water is really good.

          Shirokiya Department Store at Ala Moana. Like a typical Japanese department store, one floor is devoted entirely to food. You will find all sorts of great things to eat here. While we were here, there was a Sapporo Festival going on, which featured food products from that part of Japan. The festival ended yesterday (Feb. 15), but perhaps another one will take its place in April when you go. Check it out. It is well worth your time. If you want to try some unique desserts, try the mochi creams on the floor below. There are a multitude of flavors.

          1. I have a couple of suggestions for local food. For real Hawaiian food, Helenas or Ono's Hawaiian food are two of the best. The decor is non existent but that's all part of the adventure. Order delicious dishes like lau laus, kalua pork, poi, lomi salmon. Inexpensive and definitely off the beaten path if you havent tried it before.

            Down the street from Ono's is Tokuri Tei. It's a small Japanese restaurant that has fantastic sushi but also little dishes that you can share. I can't remember the Japanese name of these little tapas style dishes but some of our favorites are portebello mushrooms in a miso sauce, pork with asparagus and this great grilled rice on a stick. They wrap rice around a chop stick and grill it so the outside is crunchy and brown and the inside is still moist.

            The other fantastic inexpensive place is called Bankok Chef on Nuuanu Ave. It's a hole in the wall with a roll down garage door but the food is fresh with wonderful curries, salads, etc.

            2 Replies
            1. re: duck confit

              Duck, can you specify which island your recommendations are? The OP asked about two different islands. We'll be in Maui and are definitely interested in suggestions for local places, not high end/tourist places.

              1. re: PeterL

                the places he mentions are on Oahu

            2. okay we are in Waikiki now. Although we are foodies we hadn't done adequate preparation re: figuring out places to eat. We're on our 3rd day and we finally had food that we thought was worth the price we paid. We went tonight to Pineapple Room at the top of Macy's at Ala Moana mall. Excellent! We highly recommend it. If you like sushi (the take out variety). We went to Kozo Sushi, a take out place in Hawaii Kai. It was very good too! I'm going to continue to read the posts and see where else we want to go. It's definitely hard to find reasonably priced good food in Waikiki.

              1. On Maui, the best place for locally-sourced cuisine is the Hali'imaile General Store. More to the point, it's the best restaurant on the island. It certainly isn't cheap, but IMHO you get good value there. Upscale, but still slightly funky.

                For local (as opposed to locally-sourced) food, try plate lunch from Da Kitchen in Kihei. One combo meal will probably be enough for your whole family.

                My favorite sushi place on the island is Paradise in the Azeka marketplace on South Kihei Road (the strip center with Long's Drugs). It's the anti-Sansei: small, traditional, family-run, and somewhat spartan, but with excellent fish and reasonable prices.

                And be sure to stop at Eskimo Candy (on Waiwai Place, near the Kihei Safeway). It's a wholesale fish company, but they have a great retail fish counter tucked in one corner of the building; even if you don't have cooking facilities you can pick up poke and sashimi. And there's plate lunch, too. Fried fresh mahi, mac salad, two scoops rice - you're good to go.