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Headed back to Honolulu

We did an extensive study on Chowhound a year and a half ago for our visit to our son in Honolulu. Has anything changed, such as previous stars falling or closed or new entries arriving on the scene. We are especially looking for suggestions within walking distance of the Aloha Tower.

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  1. There really isn't much within walking distance of Aloha Tower. Your choices are pretty much limited to Chinatown, Aloha Tower, or Restaurant Row.

    1. Are you talking about the condo high rise vs. the marketplace?

      On Lewers, you can catch breakfast at Moose's on Lewer's..they have a 2 for 1 coupon in the back of the 101 things to do and saves you about $10 and the breakfast is pretty good..

      1 Reply
      1. re: Beach Chick

        ah, you mean the Aloha Towers condo? The difference a single letter makes is significant. That would make more sense than the marketplace.

      2. If you mean the area around the Aloha Tower Marketplace, I cannot comment over the last 18 mos. Going back, Scott's was good, but they have been gone, replaced by a "cookie-cutter" themed restaurant.

        In other areas, East of Aloha Tower, one major closing/reopening was the Bali by the Sea, at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. At one time, it was good, but is now a "steakhouse," and I have no experience with it.

        I agree with Killersmile, that around the Aloha Tower Marketplace, one is a bit limited.

        In Chinatown, Indigo has proved good, over the years.



        1. It would be a big help if you specify whether you are looking for recs for downtown or Waikiki.

          1. My son actually lives at 1088 Bishop and you can see the Aloha Tower (no "s") from his balcony, so I figured that would be a central monument to use as a starting point. Last time we ate at Indigo, Little House and Chai's. It is really nice not to have to drive. There was also a French Bistro across the street from Indigo but we couldn't get a decent table last time. Are there still two Alan Wong's and is one better than the other?

            2 Replies
            1. re: bleen68

              don't really think there's much great food at aloha tower besides Chai's.

              how about a chinatown food tour? http://www.waltereatshawaii.com/tours...
              that tour is kinda pricey, but its pretty good (did it many yrs ago) -- besides that intro, i frequent the markets etc and i know my way around pretty well, always take visitors on a brunch tour > i'll do it for much less if you're interested ;) lemme know! i'll send you my contact info...

              Duc's bistro does solid, if kinda boring french/vietnamese fare

              for lunch, maybe hit up Bruno's Forno? (might be open for dinner?) believe it or not, a lasagna joint in chinatown. really good, sharable small lasagnas, housemade noodles. not the giant multi-layered ricotta globbed meaty disasters that are typical american lasagnas. these are refined, tasty, even light lasagnas. 4 or 5 kinds. can buy a decent bottle of vino as HASR wine around the corner (BYOB), share a salad and some lasagna...nice lunch. same guy also runs Mix Cafe, a lunch joint downtown that has really nice sandwiches with house roasted meats, nice salads, couple pasta dishes.

              hit up otto cake in chinatown for some cheesecake - all he does, great stuff.

              brasserie du vin is an always solid french bistro/wine bar....tuesdays i think are half-priced bottles

              lots of stuff open downtown during lunchtime on weekdays, but i dont work down there or make it too often - maybe some folks have some favorite weekday lunch haunts (besides Mix)? Oh, in the Hawaii state art museum (HISAM) is a cafe called 'Downtown'...same guys own a great resto called "Town" in Kaimuki. can do sit down or cafeteria style lunch here, all super fresh, local ingredients. meditteranean inspired fare with a local twist. good stuff. plus, museum is free.

              hmm, bangkok chef up nuuanu is walkable...cheap, solid counter service thai food out of a converted garage.

              you should pick a vietnamese joint in chinatown for some pho (beef noodle soup) one day for lunch. pho to chau will have a line out the door, but i dunno, the neighboring ones are just as good. maybe.

              into coffee? Beach Bum Cafe -- that guy uses only hawaiian coffee and "microbrews" it all to order.

              there's hukilau, on bishop. people like it, i've only been once, thought it was ok. hawaiian-style kicked up sports bar grub. http://www.dahukilau.com/honolulu/menus

              out of ideas for now....


              1. re: bleen68

                fatstern's list is pretty good and covers most of the options available. Let's see, to add to that list there is Hiroshi, Vino, & Kinchan Sushi in Restaurant Row/Waterfront Plaza. Soul de Cuba and J.J. Dolan's on Bethel Street. Maybe you could hit up the Eat the Street food truck gathering on the last friday of every month for some variety. To Chau is usually too crowded so I end up at Cuu Long instead.

                Hiroshi's Eurasian Tapa's
                500 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI

                Cuu Long
                175 N Hotel St Ste 2, Honolulu, HI 96817

                Soul De Cuba Cafe
                1121 Bethel St, Honolulu, HI 96813

              2. 1.5 yr. ago there was a good Chinese Rest. in the Aloha Tower area, but it closed.

                1. Thanks, great suggestions. We are not limited to that area, it is just our first choice. I am sure we will want to go down to Waikiki one night for dinner just to absorb the ambiance. Who has the "best fish in town?" Or is that a silly question in Honolulu?

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: bleen68

                    "Best fish in town" is definitely not a silly question, and unfortunately, not an easy one to answer. Since Nick's Fishmarket in Waikiki closed, and John Dominis (which I felt was overrated) also went under, I don't think there is any go-to for best fish dinner. Probably deserves a post of its own. Easier to suggest Nico's at Pier 38, but that is lunch only, so for dinner there are more options but less certainty. Near Aloha Tower I would say Hiroshi's might be one of the best choices, and then probably Chai's, but I'm interested to hear what others think.

                    All of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine regulars (Roy, Alan Wong, etc) and fine dining spots will have fresh fish on the menu, and you will probably enjoy whatever they offer, but their menus are diverse and none stand out as "best fish in town."

                    1. re: macaraca

                      macaraca --- Nico's just opened another resto, supposedly right across the street on the same pier, thats got a full bar and is open for dinner. so -- this could be an option. but you are also right in that we don't really have "seafood" restaurants.....seafood/fish is so ingrained that every resto worth their salt will have a handful of fresh, local fish options....who does it best? i dunno. If you are looking to drop some coin, La Mer in the halekulani is supposed to be top notch....nobu and morimoto would prob get a nod here. if you want to do local sushi joints that will have some local fishes, you might consider Mitch's, Sasabune, izakaya Gaku, izakaya nonbei, imanas tei....

                      1. re: fatstern

                        Actually, Nico's didn't open another restaurant, they moved the restaurant one building over into a larger space and expanded service. Although, I have been hearing a lot of mixed reviews about inconsistency in food with the expansion.

                        1. re: killersmile

                          Even in the old location, there was some unevenness. Last trip, wife had outstanding (outstanding even by Hawaiian standards), but my "Fish-n-Chips" were marginal, at the very best. It seemed to depend.

                          Glad to know about the new venue.


                      2. re: macaraca

                        Well-stated - "good question, but without an easy answer."

                        For seafood, my suggestions range from - Nico's to Alan Wongs (I like King Street), to La Mer. That is a very broad spectrum.

                        Now, I love to walk, and have no issues with walking to/from Waikiki to/from Aloha Tower, however many might not enjoy an evening's stroll, as I do. Note: getting from/to AW's King St. might not be an ideal choice, as there is a narrow bridge between it, and Waikiki, though from Aloha Tower, one can skirt that, though with a longer walk.

                        BTW - while there were some negative aspects of John Dominis, we loved the seafood, and just overlooked the negatives, though they WERE there, and too often "in your face." For just the seafood, we miss it.



                    2. We like Chai's Bistro in the Aloha Tower. The food is okay and they have the best of the local singers.

                      In Chinatown we like Duc's Bistro, Restaurant Epic, Indigo and Mei Sum Dim Sum.

                      Be sure to visit the Reyn's Rack on Merchant St.

                      There is a lot going on in Kaimuki in the dining scene. There are fancy and casual places and it is a hot food scene.

                      Look at Salt Kitchen & Tasting Bar, 3660 On the Rise, Cafe Miro, 12th Ave Grill, Sabrina's, Hale Vietnam and Town.

                      1. Our office recently relocated to 1132 Bishop and so I have been trying out various restaurants all of which would qualify as "within walking distance of Aloha Tower." The ones I like so far are: Brasserie du Vin, Soul de Cuba, Indigo, JJDolans (pizza) and Epic all close to the Hawaii Theater. Also rediscovered Murphy's--it has great comfort food like pies (Fridays) Sheperds Pie and a lot of different draught beers. Also liked the fixed price Saturday (only) dinners at Cafe 81/2 on Alakea next to Mandalay; reservations required. Downtown at the State Art Museum is good for lunch.

                        Cheaper (but still good) meals can be had at: Mailee which is a Thai stall at the Maunakea Market Place, Bruno's Forno on Maunakea, Mei Sum (dim sum) on Nuuanu; Maria Bonita on Hotel St., which is a 8 table Mexican restaurant; Little Village, Duc's Bistro.

                        And don't forget you can take out Chinese Roast Duck from Nam Fong and feast at home.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: honu2

                          I had Murphy's Shepherd's Pie last week-end and wouldn't call it fine dining or even very good.