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First Visit to Hawaii...and I don't want to miss anything!

I am vacationing on Oahu in October. I was already looking forward to the trip - and after reading the yummy posts - I am even more excited! Any must do culinary experiences while I am in town? I am looking for anything from great local food trucks to high end dining experiences - and I would really appreciate a place to get a Spam breakfast...or is that just way too touristy? ;-) Thanks!

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  1. When I'm in the mood, one of my favorite cheap breakfasts is from Rainbow Drive In just outside of Waikiki in Kapahulu. Portuguese sausage, eggs, rice with a side order of chili over it and macaroni salad. It may sound gross, but you'd be surprised how many people comment how good it looks when my order comes out and order it too. You can get it with spam as well.

    2 Replies
    1. re: curiousgeo

      That sounds pretty good. Actually, if they threw in a hamburger patty (becoming a chili moco) that sounds really good.

      Speaking of which, ksueroy, other breakfast item (the conversation has triggered breakfast recs.) is Zippy's chili moco: It's a hamburger patty, chili (Zippy's chili is popular among Hawai'i people), a fried egg and a little bit of mayo--all over a bed of rice. Actually, I've never tried this particular combo (I've tried Zippy's chili), but it sounds good.

      1. re: curiousgeo

        Block away from Rainbow Drive is Waiola Shave Ice and further up the street is Leonard's Bakery for the best malasadas.

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        Leonard's Bakery
        933 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

      2. If you don't mind my asking, where are you coming from? I ask because there are certain places I wouldn't really recommend if you come from a city that has better quality of certain styles of cooking (e.g. Korean if you're coming from L.A.).

        What kind of restaurants do you like or interested in trying? Do you want to experience what locals eat, or are you primarily interested in quality?

        I'm assuming you'll have transportation to go wherever you want?

        As for a spam breakfast, I can't think of any notable place to get a breakfast with spam. (A lot of places probably serve it, though.) It's actually probably the opposite of a touristy breakfast: most locals probably make fry some spam and eggs and eat with rice (the wet, sticky type). The other popular local breakfast meat is portuguese sausage. That reminds me: consider getting fried rice with your breakfast. Big City Diner has a solid kim-chee fried rice (pretty huge portions), although there may be better ones.

        I'll try to suggest other places, after you give some details

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

        3 Replies
        1. re: Jazzaloha

          Jazzaloha - thanks for the interest and probing questions. Details are below:

          I lived in DC for the last 6 years and just moved to the Boston area. While in Oahu, I want to try foods that are unique to Hawaii - but I am primarily interested in quality. The New York Times had some recommendations that looked really great - I like that many of the recommendations were asian restaurants of the variety I don't see everyday. They are below.

          Green Door Café
          Little Village Noodle House
          Nico's

          Transportation should not be an issue - we are renting a car.

          Thanks again!

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          Little Village Noodle House
          1113 Smith St, Honolulu, HI 96817

          1. re: ksueroy

            Just a few comments on the NYT's recommendations.

            I've been to Green Door Cafe once, and I thought it was OK, although people seem to really like it.

            I liked LIttle Village Noodle House the first couple of times I went there, but I was a bit disappointed by the last two visits (although I was trying new things). I imagine if you get specific recommendations on what to order, it might be worth the trip.

            Nico's does have fresh fish, but I think their menu is a little limited. (Usually, they have a fish special and maybe one or two other fish dishes. This is essentially a plate lunch place, btw.)

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            Noodle House
            69-201 Waikoloa Beach Dr Ste F5, Waikoloa, HI 96738

            1. re: ksueroy

              For lunch, Nico's is a good choice, and the fish is fresh.

              Do not know the other two, so cannot comment.

              Hunt

          2. You can get a Spam & eggs, Portuguese sausage & eggs or even saimin at McDonald's.

            1 Reply
            1. re: monku

              Hm. I didn't know McDonald's sold spam and eggs.

              Btw, if I prefer Jack-in-a-Box's portuguese sausage, eggs and rice meal. I like the sausage and the way they cook their eggs better than McDonald's. If you're looking for something fast and cheap (under $4), Jack's is decent.

            2. For breakfast go for the portuguese sausage eggs and rice combo available almost anywhere (including McDonald's.) It is the definition of "local" breakfast. If you want spam with something, get a spam Musubi - even the ones at 7-11 and or ABC stores are good. A great snack!

              Another morning (or lunch) get a real loco moco (big scoop rice, hamburger patty, fried egg, all smothered in brown gravy.)

              Other must do's are:

              Shave ice: Matsumoto's in Haleiwa or Waiola Store just off Kapahulu (across / around the corner from safeway) I like mine with ice cream and azuki beans.

              Malasadas: Great for breakfast or a snack. Leonards near the top of Kapahulu (the other end from waikiki) Champion on Beretania near McCully, and Agnes Bake Shop in Kailua are among the best.

              Plate Lunch: Zippy's isnt bad, but Rainbow drive in (mix plate, gravy on the rice), Grace's (chicken katsu or Hawaiian Plate on Fridays), or L&L drive in (not my fave, but some people swear by it), Bob's Giant BBQ (Dillingham @ Waiakamilo Road), especially if you want a 'meat' fix.

              Shrimp Trucks: There are several from Haleiwa to Kahuku, do a search here or on yelp to get a take on the discussion on which ones are best. If you don't make it to the north shore (gasp!), Blue Water near Kuhio and Kaiolu is really pretty decent.

              Fine Dining: If you want one really nice meal consider the following: Alan Wong's, Roy's, Mavro. Not recognized among the best, but also great: 3660, Hau Tree Lanai, Town. Duc's Bistro (chinatown), Chai's at Aloha Tower.

              Hawaiian Food: Ono's, Helena's, People's cafe. These places sell endemic Hawaiian, not contemporary local food. Lau Lau, Lomi, Squid Luau, Chicken Long Rice, Poi, Kalua Pork (thats Kalua, not Kahlua) Hawaiian Sweet Potato, Haupia.

              Crack Seed: This is an increasingly underappreciated segment of local food. Crack seed are essentially traditional chinese snack/medicinal items and include dried and pickled plum. mango, and other fruits, dried squid and other fish, and various types of senbei (which is japanese). Crack Seed Store on Koko Head near Waialae, Crack Seed Center (ala moana), C-Mui on the edge of Chinatown (Bethel Street) are among the more popular old time places. More contemporary is Wholesale Unlimited (various locations.) Most supermarkets and drug stores sell some crack seed items. Look for "local snacks."

              If you hit at least one of each of these categories no one will be able to say you shirked your gustatory duties while you were here. Yes, there will still be things you missed. I've lived here almost 35 years, and I still drive past places all the time and think, "I really need to get there one of these days."

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              Duc's Bistro
              1188 Maunakea St, Honolulu, HI 96817

              Alan Wong's Restaurant
              1857 S King St Fl 3, Honolulu, HI 96826

              Waiola Store
              2135 Waiola St, Honolulu, HI 96826

              Hau Tree Lanai Restaurant
              2863 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815

              1. I enjoyed eating fish plate lunch at Nico's, and really loved the Hawaiian food at People's Cafe. Ono Hawaiian Food is also consistently delicious. Someday I will make it to Helena's, but they were closed for vacation the last time I was on Oahu.

                Another must-do for me is a visit to an okazu-ya. Fukuya was good, but I have a feeling there's better around somewhere...probably in Kalihi, which seems to be the epicenter of great local eats on Oahu.

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                Ono Hawaiian Foods
                726 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

                Fukuya
                2710 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96826

                3 Replies
                1. re: Quince

                  Quince, try Gulick Deli on Gulick Avenue in Kalihi, about a block makai of Tasty Chop Suey. There is another branch on King Street, but they don't serve that ono lumpia there like at the Gulick Avenue location.

                  1. re: curiousgeo

                    I really like the lumpia at Gulick's, too. If I'm not mistaken they have slivers of potato, which is something I like.

                    Unlike most okazu-yas, Gulick's is not really oily, and the food is well-prepared. However, it's not cheap. Btw, Okazu-yas sell pre-maid items a la carte, so patrons "build" their lunch by selecting items. The food is local-Japanese based, but you can find non-Japanese items occasionally as well (e.g. lumpia, pork gisantes, etc.)

                  2. re: Quince

                    Fukuya is good, and I've heard good things about Gulick Deli. If you are in the downtown area you might give Nuuanu Okazu-ya a try. Pretty big variety of items there, but they close early (2pm?) and start running out of some items during the lunch rush.

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                    Fukuya
                    2710 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96826