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FIRST TIME TO OAHU!

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And Chowhound. I am off to Oahu next week (graduating from Hawaii Pacific University), all the way from New Jersey. I was hoping that some of you Chowhounds could assist me with some great places on Oahu. Or links to some threads that may have already answered this question. My girlfriend and I will be staying at the Outrigger on the Beach in Waikiki.

I love all kinds of food; however my girlfriend is picky and eats really healthy (lots of salads); however she is ok if I am down for trying the best Oahu has to offer.

Of course I want to get to a Luau with some great food. I also love seafood. I plan of renting a car but obviously I will be around the Waikiki area most of the time. How is this Duke's place?

Thanks for your suggestions! If you get to the NYC/NJ area hit me up as I am on a year tour of the best burger joints Jersey and NY has to offer.

Thanks!

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  1. Lu`aus can be a bit dicey. Most, that one will encounter, are very commercialized, but even some of those can be good. I cannot address any on O`ahu, as the only great one was for a special event at Sea Life Park, many decades ago.

    Now, Hawai`i is not the normal bastion of what many would consider "healthy," but three chefs are very big on supporting local produce, and each (along with several close friends) has elevated traditional Hawai`ian cuisine to a new level. They are Sam Choy (I find that some of his preps are a bit heavy), Alan Wong and Chef Mavro. Their individual take on Hawai`ian fare should not be missed. Each is unique in their take, and each is very good.

    For starters, I would recommend that three, and each has a Waikiki, or close by, restaurant. For Alan Wong's, I recommend the King Street location, as he also has the Pineapple Room, at Macy's at the Ala Moana.

    Now, not 100% positive of the exact Outrigger location (there are probably 100 different ones in Waikiki alone), but we have fond memories of Shore Bird Broiler, where one cooks their own main course from the menu. Great location, a bit touristy, but if you can man the grill, you will impress, and the sunsets are great.

    Most of all, enjoy,

    Hunt

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

    Chef Mavro restaurant
    1969 South King Street, Honolulu, HI 96826

    Shore Bird Restaurant
    2169 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bill Hunt

      Hunt,

      Thank you for the reply. I have read some of your other threads and plan on Alan Wong, Sam Choy and Chef Mavro. I also saw some good reviews for Le Mar and may do that as well. We also may still do the Lu'au just for the entertainment. I think Shore Bird may be fun as well.

      Thank you!

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

      Chef Mavro restaurant
      1969 South King Street, Honolulu, HI 96826

      Shore Bird Restaurant
      2169 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815

      1. re: becktheory

        I would make Sam Choy's the lowest priority, unless you like quantity (although I haven't eaten there in a long time). I would recommend in their fried poke if you go, though.

        I second Alan Wong and, while I have been to Mavro once, I really enjoyed it (especially the wine). But this brings up another question: do you have price preferences? (Mavro is not cheap; ditto Alan Wong's)

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

    2. Congrats!

      below is my "short list" of places to consider. the longer list is kind of overwhelming. This is certainly not comprehensive, and others are sure to make additions. Many of these are discussed in other threads in the hawaii board, or you can check reviews on other sites. if you have questions about any of them, go ahead and post them... either I or someone else will definitely comment on them.

      When it comes to Luau's, there simply isn't a great one. The rest range from pretty good to terrible, and they seem to take turns being good and awful. And no, they aren't all that authentic, if they were, you might not want to eat much of it. Sorry to disillusion you. If you want Hawaiian food, there are better options. If you want the 'luau' experience, take your chances and just expect the food to be so-so. Mai-Tai's help with that (but remember, the polynesian cultural center is run by the Mormon Church - no alcohol there.)

      AMERICAN/FUSION - Finer Dining

      Alan Wong’s

      Duc’s Bistro, Chinatown*

      Hau Tree Lanai, Waikiki*

      Hoku’s, Kahala

      Hy’s Steakhouse, Waikiki*

      Orchid’s, Halekulani

      La Mer, Halekulani

      Roy’s, Various Locations

      3660 On The Rise, Kaimuki

      AMERICAN/FUSION - Nice

      Duke’s, Waikiki*

      Jameson’s, Haleiwa

      Town, Kaimuki*
      AMERICAN/FUSION - Everyday

      Big City Diner*
 Various Locations
      Kakkaako Kitchen, Ward*

      Side Street Inn, Kakaako & Kapahulu



      BREAKFAST KINE PLACES

      Eggs ‘n Things, Waikiki
      Liliha Bakery*, Liliha/Kalihi

      Original Pancake House, Ala Moana*

      Wailana Coffee Shop, Waikiki

      BURGERS, SANDWICHES, & SUCH

      BaLe Sandwiches, various locations
(bahn-mi)
      Burgers on The Edge, Kapahulu

      Da Big Kahuna, Airport* (better before 2pm)

      Hank’s Haute Dogs, Kakaako

      Kua Aina*, Haleiwa & Ward

      Puka Dog, Waikiki

      Teddy’s Bigger Burgers*, Waikiki


      CHINESE

      Happy Days, Kaimuki*

      Little Village Noodle House, Chinatown*

      Mini Garden, Chinatown & Beretania/McCully

      On On, McCully

      Royal Garden, Ala Moana

      DIM SUM

      Legends, Chinatown

      Mei Sum, Chinatown

      Panda Restaurant, Keeamoku

      Royal Garden, Ala Moana

      FILIPINO - 
Thelma’s, Waipahu

      HAWAIIAN

      Haili's, Kapahulu

      Ono’s, Kapahulu

      The Willows, Moiliili

      JAPANESE/RAMEN/SAIMIN


      Goma Ichi, Keeamoku
      Ichi Riki, Keeamoku

      Goma Tei, Ward Centers

      Shiro’s, Aiea

      Sekiya’s Kaimuki*

      Yamagen, King St.*

      KOREAN

      Sorabol, Keeamoku/Lower Makiki

      Choi’s Garden, Lower Makiki

      Cafe Million, Lower Makiki

      MALASADAS

      Agnes Portugese Bake Shop, Kailua
      Champion, Beretania St

      Leonard’s Kapahulu

      MANAPUA

      Char Hung Sut, Chinatown

      Libby Manapua, Kalihi

      Royal Kitchen, Chinatown*

      PLATE LUNCH

      Bob’s bbq, Kalihi

      Grace’s Inn, Various

      Rainbow Drive-In*, Kapahulu

      Zippy’s, Various

      SEAFOOD

      Kincaids, Ward

      Nico’s*, Kalihi Kai (till 5pm, earlier weekends)

      Sam Choy’s BL&C, Nimitz

      SUSHI/SASHIMI

      Genki Sushi (various)

      Kats Sushi, King St/Makiki

      Mitch’s, Airport

      THAI

      Chai’s (Thai inspired), Aloha Tower

      Keo’s, Waikiki

      Spices (Thai inspired), Moiliili


      VIETNAMESE

      Hale Vietnam, Kaimuki

      Pho97, Chinatown

      VEGAN
- Hale, Kapiolani (makai of Walmart)

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

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

      La Mer
      2199 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815

      Rainbow Drive-In
      3308 Kanaina Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815

      Side Street Inn
      1225 Hopaka St, Honolulu, HI

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

      The Original Pancake House
      1221 Kapiolani Blvd Ste 103, Honolulu, HI 96814

      Char Hung Sut Restaurant
      64 N Pauahi St, Honolulu, HI 96817

      Libby Manapua Shop
      410 Kalihi St, Honolulu, HI 96819

      Yamagen
      2210 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96826

      Hale Vietnam Restaurant
      1140 12th Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

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

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

      Kats Sushi
      715 S King St Ste 105, Honolulu, HI 96813

      Jameson's
      62-540 Kamehameha Hwy Ste 1, Haleiwa, HI 96712

      Happy Day
      3553 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

      Royal Kitchen
      Chinatown Cultural Plz, Honolulu, HI 96813

      Hoku's
      5000 Kahala Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

      Halekulani
      2199 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815

      8 Replies
      1. re: KaimukiMan

        Great list KaimukiMan! You answered so completely!

        1. re: UES Mayor

          Thanks UES, but its just a list (and a little light in some areas, like japanese) But there sure are a lot of good places to eat here! Still looking for the best cake noodle.

          1. re: KaimukiMan

            Tried cake noodle at Golden Wheel yet?

        2. re: KaimukiMan

          I wish to second that list. While I have not done even half, I have no issues with the ones that I know.

          Job well done!

          Mahalo nui,

          Hunt

          1. re: Bill Hunt

            Hi All,

            Just got back from my trip. I did not make many of those on the list; however I did hit up Alan Wong's, La Mer and Town. By far and away, my girlfriend and I were impressed with Alan Wong's the most. Our taste buds are not as mature as probably many of you or have we been to many fine culinary spots; however we loved Alan Wong's. I ordered the five course tasting menu. Every dish was fantastic minus the fish and noodles (I forget the name of this dish). I felt that it was bland fish wit rammon noodoles. Every other dish was simply fantastic. The seafood lasagna was simply great!

            La Mer was great too. Again, our tastes may not be mature enough for this plave; however the service was extraordinary as was the bill. The view of the water was fantastic. I was espcecially impressed with the wine expert. He spoke with us for about ten minutes and I got a great bottle of a California red Pinot Noir. My menu was ala carte and my gf got the vegetarian menu. Thought the cheeses was a nice element; however one cheese was very strong and the grapes did nothing to soothe the taste.

            The final high end place we visited was Town. This was late at night and they got us a seat at a moments notice. They seemed to be out of a few dishes and drinkes; however the servers were pleasant. I loved my risotto. Nice atmosphere.

            Besides these places I hit up some more casual places, some numerous times (Dukes). I will write up a more lengthy review later.

            I want to thank you all again, especially for Alan Wongs. The place was simply fantastic.

            Regards,

            Dan

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

            La Mer
            2199 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815

            1. re: becktheory

              Glad you enjoyed Town. I had a wonderful lunch there yesterday! They were prepping for a completely booked house.

              1. re: manomin

                We just gotta' get to Town. All I need is a few extra days on O`ahu.

                Hunt

                PS - and a day of golf with you guys!

              2. re: becktheory

                In the end, it's about how much total enjoyment one derives from any restaurant.

                I've left with a giant smile on my face, from a dive, and also from the restaurant of a Michelin "starred" chef.

                It should always be about the enjoyment factor, and little else.

                On the Phoenix board, there are three big favorites, and with many, many subscribers. I have dined multiple times at each, and just do not get it. We have always had mediocre food, lousy FOH service, and pretty poor dinner service. After our initial visits, we have always been guests, or we would never have gone back. In one case, we were dining at a special function, hosted by the CEO of Xerox, and my wife was her "special guest." Still lousy, from the FOH to the BOH. Still, to hear others talk, you'd think they were talking about Per Se, or similar. It is in the eye (or on the palate) of the beholder.

                Glad that you enjoyed. That is what we all shoot for, especially on this board. Lot of great food, and truly across the spectrum. Something for almost anybody, and at many, many levels from "plate lunch trucks" to La Mer, and similar.

                Aloha,

                Hunt

                PS - we did AW's on a recent trip (reviews in the works), and it was good, but not the "great," that we have come to expect. They just seemed a bit off to us, so very glad that they made it up to you. We will always return, so a few hiccups will be overlooked by us, as we've been dining there from the first month that they opened, and have hardly missed a trip. Maybe that is how we could pick up on the little hiccups?

                -----
                La Mer
                2199 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815