Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Hawaii >
Feb 26, 2010 06:32 PM

Oahu under $20

Oahu Hounds,

In 2008, I had a great food excursion on your island. My previous trip is here: I’ve listed the places below.

I’m back and would love recommendations for any new under $20 places to add to those below. The ramen here is a cut above what I get at home, so any ramen recs are particularly appreciated. I have a car and will report back. Thanks in advance!

Yotekko Ya – Ramen
Hank’s Haute Dogs
Nico’s – plate lunch
Side Street Inn - pork chop, clams
Leonard’s - Malasadas
Wailoa Bakery – shave ice
Million – korean stews
Gina’s – korean bbq
Shrimp trucks (Romy's, Macky's, Hono's, Blue Water Shrimp
)Tanioka’s – Poke
Maguro-Ya - Sushi

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. It's kind of hard to know where to start, the majority of places I go for "everyday food" are less than $20 for a meal. So here is my overwhelming list (including in Finer Dining and "Nicer". Almost all the rest are less than $20. If you want to know more about anyplace, let me know I will try to reply.

    AMERICAN/FUSION - Finer Dining
    Alan Wong’s
    DK Steak House, Waikiki
    Duc’s Bistro, Chinatown*
    Hau Tree Lanai, Waikiki*
    Hoku’s, Kahala
    Hy’s Steakhouse, Waikiki*
    Mariposa, Ala Moana
    Ninniku-Ya Garlic Restaurant, Kaimuki
    Orchid’s, Halekulani
    La Mer, Halekulani
    Longhi’s, Ala Moana
    Plumeria Cafe, Kahala
    Roy’s, Various Locations
    3660 On The Rise

    Blue Water Cafe, Hawaii Kai
    Buzz’s Steakhouse, Aiea, Kailua
    Cafe Hula Girl, Waikiki
    Chart House, Waikiki (iffy)
    Chuck's Steakhouse, Waikiki
    Cheesecake Factory, Waikiki
    Duke’s, Waikiki*
    Henry Loui’s, Mapunapuna
    Jameson’s, Haleiwa
    Kona Brewing Co., Hawaii Kai
    La Mariana Sailing Club, Sand Island*
    Outback Steakhouse, Various Locations
    Tiki’s, Marriot, Waikiki
    Town, Kaimuki*
    12th Avenue Grill, Kaimuki

    AMERICAN/FUSION - Everyday
    Big City Diner*
    Chili’s, various locations
    49er Fountain, Aiea
    Good to Grill, Kapahulu
    Kakkaako Kitchen, Ward*
    Kit’n’Kitchen, Moiliili
    Murphy’s, Downtown
    Ryan’s Grill, Ward
    Side Street Inn

    Bob’s Big Boy, Mapunapuna
    Eggs ‘n Things, Waikiki
    Koa Pancake House, Moanalua
    Liliha Bakery*, Liliha/Kalihi
    Original Pancake House, Ala Moana*
    Wailana Coffee Shop, Waikiki

    BaLe Sandwiches, various locations
    Big City Diner, various locations
    Buffalo Boys Hoagies, Moiliili (till 3am)
    Burgers on The Edge, Kapahulu
    Da Big Kahuna, Airport* (better before 2pm)
    Hank’s Haute Dogs, Kakaako
    Islands Burgers, Ala Moana
    Kua Aina*, Haleiwa and Ward
    Moose McGilycuddy’s, Waikiki
    Puka Dog, Waikiki
    The Shack, various locations
    Teddy’s Bigger Burgers*, Waikiki
    W&M Burgers (wed-sun, lunch only) Kaimuki

    Asia Manoa, Manoa
    Dew Drop Inn, Lower Makiki
    Duk Kee, Kaimuki*
    Eastern Paradise (Korean Style), King St.
    Happy Days, Kaimuki*
    Legend’s, Chinatown*
    Little Village Noodle House, Chinatown*
    Mini Garden, Chinatown & Beretania
    On On, McCully
    Royal Garden, Ala Moana

    Happy Days, Kaimuki
    Legends, Chinatown
    Mei Sum, Chinatown
    Panda Restaurant, Keeamoku
    Royal Garden, Ala Moana

    FAST FOOD (mainland chains)
    Burger King
    Carl’s Jr.
    Mc Donalds
    Pizza Hut
    Taco Bell

    don’t know any

    Haili's, Kapahulu
    Ono’s, Kapahulu
    The Willows, Moiliili

    Cafe Maharani, King St.
    Cafe Tajmahal, Kaimuki
    Himalayan Kitchen, Kaimuki*

    Assagio, Various
    Auntie Pasto’s, Lower Makiki
    Bella Mia, Kaimuki
    Pizzarina, King St.*
    (Romano’s) Macaroni Grill, Ala Moana
    Verbano Waialae.* (&maybe King St.)
    Zia’s, Windward side

    Gyotaku (various)
    Ichi Riki, Keeamoku
    Irifune, Kapahulu
    Sekiyas, Kaimuki
    Yamagen, King St.*

    Gina’s, Market City
    Sorabol, Keeamoku/Lower Makiki
    Choi’s Garden, Lower Makiki
    Cafe Million, Lower Makiki

    Buffalo Boys Hoagies,Moiliili
    Sanoya, noodle/ramen, King St.
    Sorabol (24/7) Korean, Keeamoku
    Zippy’s (24/7) Various Locations

    LUNCH ONLY PLACES (or breakfast/lunch)
    Honey Glazed Hams (tue-sat), Moiliili
    Waioli Tea Room, Manoa
    Monarch Seafood, Lunch Take Out, Kalihi
    Nico’s, Pier 38 (lunch), Nimitz*
    Yama’s, Moiliili (Lunch)
    W&M Burgers, Kaimuki

    Champion, Beretania St
    Leonard’s Kapahulu

    Char Hung Sut, Chinatown
    Libby Manapua, Kalihi
    Royal Kitchen, Chinatown*

    The Fat Greek, Kaimuki
    The Greek Corner, Moiliili
    Olive Tree, Kahala
    Pyramids, Kapahulu*

    Azteca*, Kaimuki
    Caliente Del Sol, Kapahulu
    Maria Bonita, Downtown/Chinatown
    Mexico, Liliha/Kalihi
    Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, Ward

    Bob’s bbq, Kalihi
    Byron’s, Airport
    Grace’s Inn, Various
    Mitsu-ken, Liliha/Kalihi
    Rainbow Drive-In*, Kapahulu
    Tsukenjo’s, Kakaako
    Zippy’s, Various

    Boulevard Saimin, Liliha
    Ezogiku, Moiliili
    Goma Ichi, Keeamoku
    Goma Tei, Ward Centers
    Sanoya, King St.
    Shiro’s, Aiea
    Sekiya’s Kaimuki*

    Kincaids, Ward
    Nico’s*, Kalihi Kai (till 5pm, earlier weekends)
    Sam Choy’s BL&C, Nimitz

    Genki Sushi (various)
    Kats Sushi, King St/Makiki
    Mitch’s, Airport
    Zippy’s (Kahala & Aiea Only)

    Chai’s (Thai inspired), Aloha Tower
    Champa Thai, Various locations
    Keo’s, Waikiki
    Pae Thai, King St./Makiki*
    Spices (Thai inspired), Moiliili
    To Thai For, Kaimuki*

    Green Papaya, Kaimuki
    Hale Vietnam, Kaimuki
    Pho Mai, King St./Makiki
    Pho South King, Moiliili
    Pho97, Chinatown
    Saigon, Kaimuki

    Hale, Kapiolani (makai of Walmart)

    Chef Mavro - Once was enough, look up “obsequious”
    IHOP - Once was too much. (at least at Windward Mall)
    I Love Country Cafe, used to be good, what happened?
    L&L drive-in - just don’t like it. Want some mac in that mayo salad?
    Likelike-drive-in: not after the last two visits
    Mac 24/7 - for bad service there are better options.
    Wendy’s - When they apologize to Ellen I will go again (who's holding a grudge?)

    16 Replies
    1. re: KaimukiMan

      KaimukiMan, you are a CH treasure.

      1. re: KaimukiMan

        Wow! Thanks sharing your list. I have about a week of eating, so I'll only get to a few best bets or outstanding places within their category. I noticed you have astrisks next to some of your listings, does this mean that those are your favorites places?

        I am curious about Yamagen, what would you recommend from their menu?

        1. re: wanderlust21

          ive got a bunch of picky friends, and unless i look at my list, we always end up at the same few places again and again. . . drives me nuts.

          yes, the ones with asterisks are my favorite in that particular category. and yes, a few names show up in more than one category.

          yamagen is great, especially if you sit outside on the 'lanai' (more like a converted carport). I enjoy the bbq/teriyaki chicken, and the tempura. I often get the Tempura Donburi, but if you only get to go once, get one of the teishoku combos. Im always tempted by the katsu curry too, but somehow never get around to it, im told its really good. The noodles are good too. So I guess I'm not helping any huh? There are some good reviews of this place on yelp also.

          It is easy to miss, and there are only two (yeah, 2) parking stalls. Most of us locals park in the upper deck Longs lot, then do our longs shopping after eating.. you can always find something you need at longs.

          1. re: KaimukiMan

            Which of your favorites are BYOB ?
            And how bad are the dui road blocks?

            1. re: tansu

              I know you can BYOB to Hank's and have done so in the past.

              1. re: tansu

                I'll have to take a look at which ones i even know are. The roadblocks vary depending on where you are going and when. it is difficult to get thru waikiki on a holiday weekend without coming under scrutiny, although the roadblocks themselves are mainly focused on people leaving waikiki headed toward the freeway.

                BYOB from my favorites:
                himalayan kitchen, i believe it is
                pizzarina, yes it is byob
                yamagen, i doubt it but possibly
                pae thai, i believe it is
                spices, i believe it is

                1. re: KaimukiMan

                  For your ramen list, we love Jimbo's on S. King..well they are udon, but hey, house made as is the broth.

                  1. re: MRMoggie

                    thanks MRM

                    i tried it a LONG time ago (like when it first opened) I should give it another try, they must be doing something right.

                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                      We go to Jimbo every so often when in the mood for noodles. Very consistent quality. I like that you can get full meals like tempura, donburi rice bowls, hot udon in soup or cold udon with dipping sauce. A nice selection of items.

              2. re: KaimukiMan

                I'll be in Oahu in July. I know i am going to eat way too much, so i wanted to have a couple of lower calorie lunches...sandwiches, soups...that kind of thing. Of those sandwich shops you listed, which do you like best? Which are the healthier ones and also, i would like it to be a local sandwich shop...something unique to Hawaii. Thanks!

                1. re: iluvtennis

                  Poke is very lo-cal, being nearly pure protein, but, of course, if you get the eggplant fries from Poke Stop, there goes your calorie counting!

                  1. re: Joebob

                    Thanks, lol! I will have to try some of husband can handle the eggplant fries!

                  2. re: iluvtennis

                    first you have to remember that sandwiches are not a big deal here. so you won't be finding many local sandwich shops, i don't think there is a real "deli" left on the island. just a note, there are a few japanese okazu style places that are referred to as deli's. Good places to go, but you wont find a pastrami sandwich there or any other kind of sandwich - and you won't find a good pastrami sandwich anywhere on the island.

                    hawaii just isn't a bread place. you want starch, you eat rice or noodles. A lot of my local friends say 'if there's no rice, its a snack, not a meal'. Having said all that....

                    BaLe Sandwiches, various locations: these are vietnamese style (bahn mi). the bread is a great small french roll with a crunchy crust, you can also order it on a croissant in most of the locations.

                    Big City Diner, various locations; Big City is one of my default places. They have really good salads, and a variety of sandwiches. They do have an on line menu.

                    Da Big Kahuna, Airport* (better before 2pm) These sandwiches won't save you any calories. they are the size of a dessert plate and piled high with kalua or bbq. Tasty, filling, wonderful, but its a lot of food. Gotta get a plate of the garlic cheese balls to go with them... oink

                    Hank’s Haute Dogs, Kakaako; an interesting variety of specialty dogs. This and puka dogs in waikiki will pretty much fill any hot dog craving you have.

                    Kua Aina*, Haleiwa and Ward: a local institution. burger style sandwiches, but some are relatively healthy.

                    Moose McGilycuddy’s, Waikiki: one of the better burgers in waikiki and not bad prices.

                    The Shack, various locations: Good burgers and such... especially the one wiht the portuguese sausage split on top of the burger. They also have decent salads and such.

                    Teddy’s Bigger Burgers*, Waikiki: they will do your burger bunless. good sandwiches, aside from the burgers i like the cajun style chicken, although i doubt it would pass muster in new orleans.

                    Cafe Laufer: In kaimuki, a couple of doors from big city diner. They do really nice smaller sandwiches, salads, soups... probably closer to what you are thinking of. Very nice, light. But there is a catch, you order your sandwich while standing in front of one of the most attractively filled pastry cases in honolulu. i think you can gain weight just standing there waiting to order.

                    hope this helps

                    Big City Diner
                    3569 Waialae Ave Ste 3, Honolulu, HI 96816

                    Cafe Laufer
                    3565 Waialae Ave Ste 107, Honolulu, HI 96816

                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                      Thanks for the info! I had previously looked at Cafe Laufer's website. It looks really good, so i think i will try that out. Also, Kua Aina looks like it will satisfy me for something healthy and my husbands desire for a good burger. We are trying to eat on the cheap for lunch and splurge at prices for that one looked really good.

                      Cafe Laufer
                      3565 Waialae Ave Ste 107, Honolulu, HI 96816

              3. re: KaimukiMan

                KM - do you remember a small coffee shop on Lewers across from Pieces of 8 -- we're talking the '80's -- bet both are gone, but dying to know the name. Enjoyed many b-fasts there.

                1. re: Sarah

                  wow, that does take me back. i'm rarely in waikiki at breakast time any more, but i do remember the place you are talking about, have no idea what it's name was any more.
                  i remember they had good burgers at lunch.

              4. The list below is BYOB in Honolulu. Russkar

                Antonio's Pizza / 4210 Waialae Ave. #109B, 737-3333

                Burgers on the Edge / Kapahulu Ave fronting Safeway

                Cafe Taj Mahal / Indian- 3036 Waialae Ave, 732-6496

                Casablanca / Moroccan - 19 Ho'ola'i St. Kailua, 262-8196

                Champa Thai / Thai - 3452 Waialae Ave. 732-0054

                Chao Phaya / Thai - 45-480 Kaneohe Bay Dr. Kaneohe, 235-3555

                Dew Drop Inn / N. Chinese - 1088 S. Beretania St. 526-9522

                due Divino's / Italian - 432 Ena Rd. 955-4242

                EAT Cafe (Lunch Only) / 560 N. Nimitz Hwy. 538-0597

                Grand Cafe / Pauahi St - 531-0001

                Green Door Café / 1145 Maunakea, 533-0606

                Himalayan Kitchen / Himalayan - 1137 11th Ave - 735-1122

                Indian Café / Indian - 1016 Kapahulu Ave. 737-4600

                Irifune / Japanese - 563 Kapahulu Ave. 737-1141

                Kakaako Kitchen / 1200 Ala Moana Blvd. 596-7488

                Kotobuki / Japanese - 617 Kapahulu Ave. 732-1630

                La Pizza Rina / 1425 S. King St. 941-6634

                Le Guignol / French - 1010 S. King St. #108, 591-1809

                Los Chaparros / Mexican - 2140 S. Beretania St. 951-6399

                Luigi's Place / Italian - 442 Uluniu St., Kailua, 263-5678

                Maharani / Indian - 2509 S. King St. 951-7447

                Mekong I / Thai - 1295 S. Beretania St. 591-8841

                Mekong II / Thai - 1726 S. King St. 941-6184

                Mitch's Sushi

                Ono Hawaiian / 726 Kapahulu Ave. 737-2275

                Sabrina's / Italian - 3036 Waialae Ave. 739-0220

                Shillawon / Korean - 747 Amana St. 944-8700

                Spices / Southeast Asian - 2671 S. King St. 949-2679

                Sunrise / Okinawan - 525 Kapahulu Ave. 737-4118

                Sushi Land / 1610 S. King St. 945-2256

                Tatsuo's / Japanese - 2224 Alahao 988-2134

                Tea at 1024 / Nuuanu Ave. 521-9596

                The Fat Greek / 3040 Waialae Ave 734-0404

                The Olive Tree / Greek - 4614 Kilauea Ave. #107, 737-0303

                Town / 3435 Wai'alae Ave. #103, 735-5900

                Zaffron / Indian - 69 N. King St. 533-6635

                Zia's Caffe / Italian-Kaneohe- 262-7168

                Los Chaparros
                2140 S Beretania St, Honolulu, HI 96826

                Irifune Restaurant
                563 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815

                Kakaako Kitchen
                1200 Ala Moana Blvd # 135, Honolulu, HI

                Burgers on the Edge
                890 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

                Dew Drop Inn
                1088 S Beretania St, Honolulu, HI 96814

                Olive Tree Cafe
                4614 Kilauea Ave Ste 107, Honolulu, HI 96816

                69 N King St, Honolulu, HI 96817

                Le Guignol Restaurant
                1010 S King St Ste 108, Honolulu, HI 96814

                Zia's Caffe
                45-620 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaneohe, HI 96744

                La Pizza Rina
                1425 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96814

                Champa Thai Restaurant
                3452 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

                2224 Alahao Pl Ste 200, Honolulu, HI 96819

                4 Replies
                  1. re: russkar

                    We just got back from Honolulu and really enjoyed The Green Door in Chinatown. It is a hole in the wall with 2 tables and one person to cook, cashier, and take your order. The reports on google maps say she is surly, but I thought she didn't seem surly at all-- just busy and efficient. And the food was really quite delicious. I had tofu with lemongrass. I have to say I enjoyed my 7 dollar meal here more than my $28 meal at the Alan Wong restaurant in Macy's at Ala Moana.

                    I had the "hot ginger chicken" at Alan Wong's and it was a nice poached breast with your standard ginger scallion sauce and a broasted leg that was dry and overcooked. It came with some glass noodles in overly salty broth with some wintermelon. My husband had macadamia encrusted pork chop on top of pumpkin puree, topped with balsamic sauce. He liked it a lot. The lemonade tasted like minute maid with seltzer in it. Blech. The 6$ japanese citrus soda was delicious.

                    The malasadas at Leonard's were unbelievable. I've never had anything like it. They are beyond compare to any other donut. We ate them in the car, splitting each one between three people, polishing off 7 of them. Loved the filled puffs like crazy.

                    We had really wonderful ice cream mochi's at Bubbie's. We ordered 4 and then went in and got 3 more! The mochi dough was actually deeply flavored-- not just colored. I loved the coffee one and the raspberry dark chocolate dipped one. If I had to ration calories I would choose the mochi over the cocoa puffs at Liliha's.

                    Tacos Rico in the old Waiola's building had the best carnitas tacos I have ever had in my life. They were crispy, and soft, juicy and rich tasting. I sprinkled them with the chopped purple onions and cabbage they had at the condiments bar-- 5 tacos for 9 bucks. The husband had the half chicken which was average or a little below. Dry and not very flavorful.

                    And of course we had shave ice at Waiola's. Yummy-- but I just wish I had gotten the eye popping rainbow cone a little kid sitting next to me had. We had so many desserts in Hawaii, we should probably have skipped the meals.

                    1. re: Tumkers

                      Did you have the "egg rolls" at the Green Door? If not, you gotta come back!

                      1. re: Tumkers

                        Just tried Waiola's...loved it! I got the azuki i don't know how they compare to other shave ice places, because this is the first shave ice with azuki beans and mochi that i've ever eaten. My shave ice experiences growing up just consisted of blended ice with sugary syrup poured on top, which was never a favorite dessert of mine. But the azuki bowl is something i could get addicted to.

                    2. for ramen: tenkaippin in kapahulu. i crave it all the time!

                      1. Here are my truncated trip report/cheap eat recs:

                        Sweets - Leonard's for malasadas (be sure to get at least one unfilled one. I had one with li hing sugar, which was very tasty, but I would also recommend trying just a regular sugar one first).
                        Liliha bakery is famous for its coco puffs, but I preferred the regular cream puffs - and the adzuki bean turnover was awesome.
                        Bubbies for mochi ice creams. The lychee was my favorite. Wait for them to thaw a little before digging in (tough to do, but worth it!)
                        Shave ice - we checked out Shimazu...I would not recommend any peanut butter flavor - there's something playdoh-y about them. But everything else - I think I sampled the red velvet, green tea cream, melon bar, and cream brulee - was excellent. Texture is just right. We also went to Island Snow in Kailua, which was better than I was expecting (maybe it was the kayaking? I find the deliciousness of shaved ice to be closely linked to the situation - I don't like Matsumoto's, but maybe that was because it was cold and rainy the day we were there). Flavors were spot on.
                        Li hing mui sour gummies. Yum.

                        Hawaiian - I prefer Helena's to Ono, but both are good. At Helena's, definitely get the lomi lomi salmon and the squid luau (looks kind of gross, tastes heavenly)

                        Sushi - in Waikiki, there's a health food store called Ruffage during the day and has melt-in-your-mouth sushi, great value.

                        Ramen - we went to Ezogiku. I'm not a ramen expert, but the spicy seafood ramen I had (with egg) was tasty and satisfying. Everyone seemed happy with what they got - except the chicken wings. I would avoid these.

                        Korean - I reviewed Choi's Garden on another post. Would definitely recommend, especially if you're looking for something a step up from hole-in-the-wall. Meat jun and the panchan weren't great, everything else was.

                        Breakfast - Eggs and Things is good. Pancakes and fried rice were solid. There's a coffee place next door that serves very smooth coffee...good for the inevitable wait.
                        Acai bowls at Jewel or Juice. Awesome. Velvety blended acai with fresh fruits and granola on top. Could eat this every day.
                        Boots and Kimos - pancakes are delicious. The mac nut sauce tastes like melted ice cream, which borders on too sweet (even for me, and I have a serious sweet tooth).
                        Cinnamons - guava chiffon pancakes. again too sweet, but flavor is good otherwise.

                        Misc - Puka Dog - quite fantastic for the first 2/3, then a sweet, soggy mess at the end. If you like it spicy at all, get the hot hot. I had veggie, hot, lilioki mustard, and papaya relish - needed more spice! Worth it if you're in the area.
                        Poke - Still haven't made it out to any poke-specific places. That being said, Foodland has some pretty tasty poke. Pick up a couple of tubs of poke, some spicy edamame, and some fresh sliced papaya and you've got yourself a awesome picnic lunch. Would not recommend underseasoned, overpriced poke at beachside resorts. Boo.

                        I'm sure I'm forgetting places, and there's still a ton of places we need to try. Next time! :)

                        Choi's Restaurant
                        1303 Rycroft St, Honolulu, HI 96814

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: manta

                          Kaimuki--your each type of list on the top: not in order of preferance, but alphabetically?

                          1. re: kel

                            im gonna have to update that list pretty soon. its alphabetical, asterisks generally indicate preferred places.

                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                              Hey did anyone mention Max's for filipino food even tho it's a chain?


                              By the way great list...

                              1. re: flylice2x

                                Max's gets strongly mixed reviews. There is a lot of regional variation in Filipino food. Most of Hawaii's Filipinos are from the northern Philippines (Illocos Norte especially), Max's food is typically more Manilla (Tagalog) style.