Oahu- Did research-Need feedback
- natalie.warner Apr 1, 2009 03:06 PM
I am staying in Haleiwa, but I will have access to a car. I am a foodie who likes to taste and expereince it all. I won't have a huge bidget, but will sacrifice if I have to for a great trip with good food.
I have done research and 150+ pages I have copied off Chow, Yelp, Frodor's, personal blogs, etc. I narrowed and collected my food ideas.
What do you know about these places? Good/Bad? Best dishes? Suggestions? Helpful expereinces ? My brain hurts with all the reading, note taking, and highlighting- Help* :)
Teddy's Bigger Burgers
Giovanni's Shrimp Truck
Boots & Kimo
Cha Hung Sut
Side Street Inn
Kapahulu Poi Shop
Mitch's Sushi Bar
Nico's Pier 38
Diamond Head Market Grill
Grass Skirt Grill
Shark Cove Grill
House without a Key
Brasserie Du Vin
Thank You for your help!!!!
I will be on the Oahu May 23-June 1st staying with a local.
you did your homework indeed.
There are a couple of other places in Haleiwa:
I would add Jameson's to your list, there is nothing like sitting on the lanai watching the world go by.
Haleiwa Joe's gets mostly good reviews. I don't think it is as good as Jameson's, but several of my friends really like it.
Pizza Bob's used to have a good reputation, supposedly still OK, but not as good, I haven't been there in years so my opinion would not be up to date.
There are a couple of shrimp trucks that are in Haleiwa itself, both of them have recieved good reviews in chowhound threads.
I would heartily second Jameson's. I was one of those, who panned Hale`iwa Joe's, but we were totally unimpressed and missed Jameson's to fit it in. When one has a poor meal, that's one thing. To miss a place that has always impressed us, for what it is, because of that stop - well, maybe some of that came through in my review. Still, I tried to keep it totally objective, and just did not find anything to like about Hale`iwa Joe's (the Hale`iwa location only).
As far as HWAK, it's a great venue for tropical drinks and experiencing some excellent Hawaiian music on stage. For food, or wines, I'd give them a pass and actually dine elsewhere. Experience them for what they do well, and walk down the street to dine.
I did not see Ola (North Shore at the Turtle Bay Resort). It's upper-middle in price range, and did impress us. There was one mis-step, but they covered it in a heartbeat. Yeah, could have been perfect, but for one screw-up in the kitchen. Still, they were quick to make it all perfect. Stuff happens, and it's how you handle it, that leaves the lasting impression. Their Kahuku Sweet Corn Chowder was something that I shall always remember and will use as a paradigm for all other corn chowders to come. It was also right in the middle of our trip and was one of many. It was still the best of the lot. I'd stay a week at the TBR to taste that dish just once.
Nico's was good, but the ahi was far, far better than their mahi-mahi "fish-n-chips." I would order the former in a heartbeat (wife's order), but would pass on the latter (my order).
Most of all, travel safely, dine wel, enjoy and report back, when you return from paradise.
We ate at Grass Skirt in 2008 and thought it was really good. When I went there in January I thought it was decent but probably nothing I'd go out of my way for.
There's an ice cream place in Hale'iwa that carries the Bubbie's ice cream mochi. I loved them so much I went three days in a row I don't remember the name but the name on the sign out front doesn't match the name on the sign in back (if that helps). There is no comparison between the Bubbie's mochi and the others.
Puka Dog is unique and actually tastes very good, nice cheap lunch. I actually liked this much better than Haute Dog.
If you are in the Waikiki area I would go to Matsugen if you want a world class food experience under $20. The noodles are unbelievable.
There is also a Thai place in Hale'iwa that we found to be reasonably priced. It was my favorite dinner I had on the North Shore.
I agree.. had both Puka Dog and Hank's on a recent trip, I enjoyed Puka a lot more.
Natalie - Your list has a lot of the same places that I had on my list. Some of the places I was actually able to make it to:
Leonard's Jr (went multiple times, tried different flavors)
Giovanni's (was ok, didn't really understand the hype; actually enjoyed the hot dog cooked in shrimp butter better)
Zippys ( a few times)
Boots & Kimo (mac nut pancakes were good but not worth the wait on weekends IMO)
Waiola's (very good shaved ice)
Curry House (very comforting on a drizzly night)
I just got back from Oahu yesterday and went to a few of the places you've listed.
Teddy's, Leonard's, Rainbow Drive-In, Zippy's, Puka Dog were all good and fairly inexpensive.
Teddy's serves gourmet customized burgers made of 100% ground chuck so it's high quality. You can get a burger, fries, and a drink for about $7-$9 depending on the patty size and toppings. They allow upgrades on everything including fries, most people recommend cheese fries or spicy fries, whereas the garlic fries are pretty much regular fries since the garlic flavor is almost non-existent.
Leonard's is a bakery that was established in 1952 where their signature items are malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts) and pao doce (Portuguese sweet bread). The malasadas can either be plain (non-filled) with cinnamon and sugar on the outside or filled with options of custard, coconut, chocolate, etc.. and have a special flavor of the month. It was banana for the month of March. The plain malasadas are 70 cents a piece and the filled ones are 90 cents each. I found both types to be very good. They are best eaten right away. I recommend the plain, custard, and coconut ones.
Rainbow Drive-In is a diner with limited, outdoor only seating. They have Hawaiian bbq items like the mixed plate (bbq ribs, mahi mahi, chicken) which comes with two scoops of white rice and your choice of macaroni salad or coleslaw. They also have other items like cheeseburgers, chili dogs, beef stew, shoyu chicken, slushies, etc.
Zippy's is a local fast food chain in Hawaii. I went there once and ordered a chili chicken combination plate which was recommended on Yelp. For about $7 you get two pieces of chicken, a side of chili, white rice, and macaroni salad. They also sell items like Portuguese bean soup, sweet and sour ribs, etc. Most items are available as a "mini" plate where it's a smaller portion and a couple dollars cheaper than the full size. I'd recommend getting a couple mini plates if you're interested in trying a few dishes.
Puka Dog was really good and they even make fresh squeezed lemonade per order. They have two sausage options of Polish and veggie. The buns are all fresh and toasted. There are numerous options for tropical relishes (starfruit, pineapple,etc), mustards (guava, passionfruit, etc) and garlic spreads (mild, jalapeno, habanero). Each hot dog is allowed 3 toppings included in the price. I got a Polish and it was $6.25. Not bad for a quick, great lunch.
I know I have a new account on here, but I also have an established account on Yelp.
I hope this information helps.
I've been dreaming about Teddy's since we went in October. We'll be in Oahu again this month, and I can't wait for more Teddy's. Their special sauce is soo good ( or "ono" I should say). We also really like Tokkuri Tei on Kapahulu for izakaya. The prices are great, but the place gets busy. Make a reservation or get there early if you don't want a long wait prices are good, and the selection of sake is phenomenal. Service is also excellent. I'm torn on Puka Dog. It's yummy in a kind of over the top touristy way. They put a lot of sweet stuff on that dog -- can kinda get to be too much. Worth a try, though. We'll go again this trip and then regret it while we waddle back to the hotel. If you go to Hank's Haute Dogs, be sure to get the onion rings (Maui onion onion rings = super yum). If Town isn't out of your price range, it's worth a trip to get mussles or clams in their Cinzano sauce. manomin got me hooked!
Totally agree on Tokkuri Tei. I couldn't remember the name of it, but was thoroughly impressed. Unfortunately for me, I had just got done doing my Hank's vs. Puka Dog taste test. I had to sit there and watch my wife chow down on some seriously good food.
This place is a must try if you're into Japanese food at a good price.
Glad you love the mussels! I had an order Saturday night. And a note, they are not served at
lunch now, dinner only. Hank's in Waikiki does not serve onion rings or fries so you'll need to
go to the Coral St. location for those things. He also has a new iced tea which is really good
I think it has jasmine and some other fruit flavor, don't remember. I like the original Hank's.
I've eaten lunch 3 times in the last month and dinner once last week at town and they are
really tearing it up in the kitchen, just putting out awesome food. Having out of town relatives
allows for such numerous visits!
manomin -- i've only been to the Hank's on Coral. i'll have to try that new iced tea --yum! i'm hoping to get a lobster dog, too, this time. i'll definitely stick with the Coral St. location because those onion rings are a must. only a little over a week before we're in Honolulu -- woo hoo! already have reservations for Mavro and Town.
I'm actually 21 as well.
I would recommend Genki Sushi Hawaii.. it's a revolving sushi place, on the inexpensive side, but they have pretty good quality dishes.
I've heard the spicy tuna roll and mayo scallop roll are really good.
I particularly enjoyed the calamari (at only $2.20 per order), CA rolls ($1.50 & $2.20 per order, depending on the # of pieces), inari, garlic chicken, and chicken karaage.
I had ramen at this place called Menchanko-Tei in the Waikiki Trade Center a couple blocks from the beach. They have a signature soup called Menchanko where they have an original recipe and make the noodles and broth from scratch.
I believe they have a chicken based broth and a pork broth as well.
Ok- Iooked at my days and started to plan out an agenda- Being located on the Northside is making it hard to eat everywhere I want :)
Final list of places to try-
Teddy's Bigger Burgers
A Shrimp Truck
Boots & Kimo
Side Street Inn
Mitch's Sushi Bar
Nico's Pier 38
Diamond Head Market Grill
House without a Key(for drinks and view)
I will also probably have a few dinner on the Northside- but I am leaving them up to my host*
Thoughts? Recommendations? Suggestions? Responses? Thanks!
If you manage to hit all those you are bound to enjoy your meals. Much as I like Bubbie's (and have to put it out of my mind because it is only 6 blocks from me), it would be the first to drop off the list. It is a really good list, and you have hit a good cross section of Honolulu food except for the really higher end places. Kinda sad not to see Town or Downtown on the list, but other than that, no real criticisms.
I agree with K-Man about your not including town or downtown they are both really really good although I like town better I always have a hard time looking for parking down there
and I find that a turnoff although the lot on Alakea is a good place to try and I think it's only about $3.00 to park there. town has a parking lot in back as well as pretty good street parking.
I would drop Kua Aina unless it's the Haleiwa location since you are going to Teddy's anyway. I like Teddy's better these days. Definitely Nico's, go early it fills up really really fast after 11:30 which is when we go for lunch. I would also suggest Vino and/or Hiroshi's
as well, those are our "go to" places when we see shows at Blaisdell. I don't have any interest in Puka Dog but favor Hank's on Coral street very much.
Just went to Hiroshi's last night (thanks manomin!!!) and had a lovely meal. Our fav dishes (though it's hard to choose -- we had six as it has a tapas menu) was probably the Moi "en Papillote" (actually in foil, which I'm guessing is the reason for the quotation marks) and the Kona Kampachi Carpaccio. Moi is apparently a fish that was raised here for Hawaiian royalty, and I could definitely understand why. Haven't had Kua Aina burgers but adore Teddy's. We went a few days ago, and I even bought a freakin' t-shirt. I think the last time I bought something like that was when I was a teenager many moons ago. Town is very tasty -- haven't been to Downtown. Re: Puka Dog, it's definitely a novelty. The buns and relishes are almost tooth-achingly sweet, but they are tasty. They get a bit cloying part way through, imo. Yesterday there was a woman standing on the sidewalk (on Kuhio) about 10 - 15 feet in front of the store giving away samples in the early afternoon. You might want to try a sample instead of a whole dog, though my husband would disagree and say get a whole dog. I insisted we stop at Hank's on Coral St. on the way from the airport to the hotel, which should give you a sense of how I feel about Hank's. Driving around/through the island today, so we're going to try to find those shrimp trucks (Giovanni and Roma's, I think), and then it's back for dinner at Mavro's. Yea! By the way, for the OP, Hank's on Coral St. and Hiroshi are about two blocks away from each other if that helps with your planning any.
if you do go downtown, then just be careful your surroundings, like any big city.
i agree with previous posters, any shrimp truck in north shore should do the trick....
rainbow i love the loco moco or beef steak
side street- porkchops and fried rice. yummy ahi tuna poke.
ono hawaiian food- kahlua pork. it's a small mom and pop place. so you can't wait for your table inside. you have to fall in line outside the resto. there are signs.
i would also agree with kc's rec for waiola shave ice. and for cupcakes, cupcake couture in aina haina... yum.....
Natalie, here's another set of thoughts (even though you've gotten many!)
From your list:
Teddy's Bigger Burgers - we went, and maybe we were just jaded but while these were good burgers, I wouldn't go out of my way for them
Leonard's - Yes! After repeated vists we think we like the haupia best, but you might get lucky on the "flavor of the month"
A Shrimp Truck - I know Giovanni's gets most of the press, but we like Romy's, just up the road. If they have the prawns - get them. They also do pineapple in li hing mui which is great. Stop by the Kahuku Superette first and get drinks/beer and some poke as an appetiser to take with you.
Boots & Kimo - I want to resist the mac nut pancakes, but I can't ... but the omelettes are always good, so we usually get pancakes to share. And a huge glass of POG.
Rainbow Drive-In - My husband loved it, I didn't - but he is a loco moco fan and I am not, so...
Nico's Pier 38 - Some of the best kahula pork I've ever eaten, but also great fresh fish on salads.
Puka Dog - I was dubious, but our last trip we ate there twice. Be adventurous with your mustard/fruit flavor combos and you will be rewarded!
Places not on your list...
Hanks - not "hawaiian" but really excellent dogs
Poke Stop - this is a must do for us on every trip, and I love love love the poke selection there. It is always really fresh too which, um, yeah.
Matsumotos - for the experience. I agree that Wailoa has a finer shave, but there is just something fun about going to Matsumotos
La Mariana Sailing Club - for the cheez factor of old school and lethal tiki drinks
Liliha Bakery - for the cream puffs, and the 24 hour open
Enjoy yourself! We go to Oahu every January and basically eat and relax... doesn't get much better!
Just returned from O'ahu this weekend. From your original list: Teddy's Bigger Burgers -- delicious as always; Puka Dog -- share one for an unusual and tasty (though quite sweet) hot dog experience but go to Hank's on Coral St for a better dog; Leonard's -- yes, yes, yes, as long as they're direct from the hopper -- yum!!! cin/sugar dusted, haupia filled and choc filled all divine -- litterally have box from Leonard's as my profile pic on fb right now; Giovanni's -- the roasted garlic in the scampi sauce ramps up the flavor but the shrimp were rediculously overcooked even though they were cooked to order and we were the only ones there at the time (3:30 on a weekday) -- maybe get a hot dog there or try a different truck -- major disappointment. Highly recommend Tokkuri Tei (on Kapahulu in the Papa John's parking lot) for izakaya and sushi, Wailoa Bakery (near TT on Kapahulu) for shave ice (better than Matsumoto in Haleiwa, imo -- lighter texture and no off flavors from food coloring); Hiroshi's Eurasion Tapas was tasty and had a wonderful wine list; and if you are looking for a really nice dinner out, Chef Mavro was delicious yet again. Have a terrific time!
Thanks to all for the recs. I've been lurking and rechecking, and just got back from a week on Oahu with two kids (12 and 15). We had some really good food!!:
Allan Wongs- a little over the top, but the kids both liked it all.
Winoma Diner- several breakfasts. The pancakes were great, and a good value. My son loved the coconut syrup. Eggs were great, too
Giovanni's- nice flavor, but have to agree with above posters about over cooking- really FIRM shrimp. We went late in the day, perhaps the problem. The hot dog was terrific, though.
Matsumoto's- a big hit. loved the POG (pineapple, orange, guave) over ice cream
Dean's Drive Inn- a great find. My kids favorite meal- we had ahi cakes, beef terriaki, and chicken katsu- all great.
Top of Waikiki- nothing great- but a nice view for our last dinner.
One find I hadn't seen mentioned. We were sent by a Japanese concierge to Kaiwa on Lewers St in Waikiki. http://www.kai-wa.com/oahu/index/ Really, really good sushi and tepan. My son loved his Wagyu steak, my daughter had lobster tempura, and I had great baby abalone and tuna rolls.
For the kids we also had good standard tepanyaki (with a nice Hawaiian comedy chef) at Tenaka of Japan at the Ana Moana mall.
Thanks for all the tips. Missed the Waiola bakery shave ice this trip. Next time
thanks for the great posting. I know after a few days the Hawaiian language can get overwhelming, and when you start throwing Japanese, Chinese, Korean, etc. in the mix it gets really crazy.
I think you meant to say Tanaka of Tokyo at the Ala Moana Center, and I'm guessing the several breakfasts were at Wailana Coffee Shop in Waikiki?
Glad to know you enjoyed your stay here so much, and nice to see a posting on Kaiwa here (I think you are the first.)
Exactly right on all points. I'm a little jet lagged.
It was Tanaka of Tokyo, my kids enjoyed it, as at the same grill with us were a couple from Japan who spoke no English, and an Hawaiian couple who were joking around with the chef.
We wouldn't have found any of the places without CH, especially the Wailana Cofee Shop and Dean's Drive Inn. So thanks, all
Once I found the correct spelling for Kaiwa, I did find some other references to it, but not many. It seems to be more known among the Japanese visitors, but I think its a really great place. Sit at one of the seats along the tepan grill, the chefs were very pleasant and helpful!
We also did the Luau at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, not bad luau chow, and a nice performance, but the venue on top of the hotel was lacking. I think if I had it to do over, I'd go to the one at the Polynesian Cultural Center or at Ko'Olina.
Any recs for the next trip? and aren't you up a little early KaimukiMan?
Just a heads up for anyone thinking of trying Dean's Drive Inn. It's closed on Saturdays, which I already knew, but forgot about the other Saturday while in Kaneohe. So like a dummy I pull into the lot at lunch and go, wow lucky me, plenty parking!
Since you like Japanese, a place getting lots of attention is Izakaya Gaku on King Street, a few blocks mauka (mountainside) of Ala Moana Center. I'm hoping to go there soon to try it out.
@natalie.warner: Town is really wonderful, showcasing fresh, local ingredients in a fun but upscale feeling (though not fussy or pretentious in the least) environment. I've never been to Mitch's but have been to Town three times and have had a wonderful experience every time.
@natalie -- highly recommend Town, though have never been to Mitch's. The atmosphere is definitely fun and buzz-worthy in a decidedly non-cheesy environment -- much more hip feeling. The food showcases seasonal, local ingredients, and the preparations are top-notch. You will have a very nice dinner w/out the slightest bit of fussiness or pretention.
We're going to be on Oahu in another 2 weeks. This is my first trip to the island and for years been curious about the infamous 'Loco Moco'. I've been trying to find an 'objective,' local's opinion for where to find the best 'Loco Moco.' One site named a chain restaurant (L&L) as the best place for Loco Moco. But there has to be a local Mom and Pop place that's better.
Also, a friend told me she drove half way around Oahu for what sounds like a Shrimp Truck mentioned here previously. She was describing it as nothing short of what we call a 'roach coach' that serves breakfast and lunch to work places without a cafeteria. Am I getting these two things mixed up?
One of the local food blogs that I like to checkout is WOW Grinds where I found a loco moco review for Nicos at Pier 38: http://www.wowgrinds.com/index.php?op...
Nicos is a casual outdoor restaurant where you order from a counter and wait until they call your number.
I've been tempted by the loco moco at Nicos... but they do such an outstanding job on fish that I don't want to waste the opportunity. Rainbow drive in has a "classic" loco moco, but if you are looking for gourmet, that's not gonna be it. Small thawed patties (I think they put on two), and gravy of questionable provenance, but for locals it's what a loco moco is all about.
You mentioned Aoki's for shave ice. although my favorite shave ice are at Topicana and Waiola in Honolulu, you will be staying on the North Shore. If I remember, there were three main shave ice places in Haleiwa: Matsumoto's, Aoki's and Miura's. Matsumoto's is the most famous, but I cannot taste a real difference between that and Aoki's. I go to Aoki's when on the North Shore because of much shorter lines, but they are just as good.
But when in Honolulu, Tropicana or Waiola are my choices.
Thanks All. Great suggestions. Didn't know that the shrimps on the shrimp trucks are locally grown. I've tasted live, locally grown shrimps in Malaysia and what a difference from frozen. The meat was 'crunchier.' They were simply steamed with nothing else and you dip it in a salt/pepper/chili lime mix.
We've never seen the lure of the shrimp trucks .. frozen shrimp cooked in gobs of garlic, but go figure. A couple of spots actually grow their own shrimp in the ponds, a spot with a Japanese name (truck and tent) south of Kukuku that advertises them live as well as cooked, and Romy's, a stand a little further south. We prefer to buy the shrimp *live* (from the truck) and cook them ourselves at home.
For malasadas, the best, after rigorous tasting, is Agnes' in Kailua. Closed Monday's. Made fresh and to order. Only one kind, no *flavors.* or filling.
Jameson's is OK for drinks at sunset, so you can see the sun setting over the water on the other side of the highway, but the food is decidedly mediocre. The old saw about no good food in a place with a view holds true.
No so for House Without a Key at the Halekelani. Our favorite spot for a sunset mai tai in Waikiki, along with the Mai Tai Bar at the Royal Hawaiian (which you'll want to visit, just to walk through). House Without a Key has decent food but I'd stick to pupus and eat elsewhere and enjout the setting, view and the music.
We like Teddy's burgers better than Kua Aina, but Kua Aina has very good grilled mahi mahi sandwiches, esp. with avocado. And the lemonade is OK, too.
We love Helena's, the pipkaula short ribs and kalua pork especially.
Not sure that I can buy into the Jameson's bit. Their calamari is no. 4 on our all-time list of great squid. Maybe other dishes fall behind, but then if one is on the North Shore, I'm not sure that they could choose a spot like Alan Wong's, or La Mer to compare. Guess that we have just ordered correctly.
I do agree with you on HWAK. The venue is great, as are the appetizers and the drinks. I'd not likely go there for the food, or the wine list.
re: Bill Hunt
I am back! Thank you so much for the help! I made it to:
Teddy's Bigger Burgers - regular burger with onions- reminded me of Red Robin burger- not a bad thing
Leonard's * - 3 cinnamon and sugar and 3 huapia - best fresh
Macky's Shrimp Truck * - spicy shrimp
Aoki - Tropical mix of three flavors- smooth ice
Boots & Kimo * - Macadamia Nut pancakes and a simple spam, egg, and hash brown breakfast
Rainbow Drive-In * - mixed plate- chicken, bbq beef, fried fish with rice and mac salad
Bubbie's * - mochi~ papaya*, strawberry, green tea*, chocolate peanut butter*, chocolate mint, chocolate coffee*
Side Street Inn * - Market price pesto ahi + Korean ribs on sautéed Asian veggies
Kua Aina - Fish burger + burger + turkey sandwich + good fries
Nico's Pier 38 * Cilantro seared ahi plate lunch
Helena's * - Menu D~ Salmon, ribs, squid, and kalua pig with poi + app + dessert of huapia
Ted's Bakery * - slice of chocolate huapia pie
Diamond Head Market Grill * - Loco Moco
Haleiwa Eats * - Green Curry, Red curry, Garlic noodles, Eggplant app
Grass Skirt Grill - hebi grilled sandwich - very fresh and tasty
Puka Dog * - Polish with mango salsa and mustard
House without a Key * - Drinks
Kono * - Biscuits and Gravy + Wendy Breakfast burrito
Jameson's- for drinks
Turtle Bay Resort * - for drinks- need pass to get on property or pay for parking
Breakers- for drinks
Haleiwa Starbucks * - morning coffee!
A Haleiwa neighborhood graduation Luau *
I also ate a lot of cut fresh fruit (mixed and pineapple)* and poke (shoyu and spicy) by the pound from Foodland and Haleiwa Supermarket~
There was some great places and some just good places- Those with a * are my favorites
I feel like I am forgetting something... we will see :)