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Oahu trip report -- May 2012

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Many thanks to the Hawaii board for great feedback and suggestions while we were visiting Oahu.

Here are some our our "best bites" from the trip:

Mai Tai bar at the Royal Hawaiian -- These things must be 1200 calories each. I liked the scratch mai better than the Royal. The alcohol was more harsh, which somehow better offset the sweetness. As touristy as it gets, but super satisfying.

La Mariana -- Totally on atmosphere and a zombie that dropped me to my knees only half-way through. It's jungly and campy and boaty and plain old fun. Like a time warp to the '50s.

Roy's -- We much preferred the Waikiki location to the Hawaii Kai one. Thought the cooking and service were sharper there. My two favorite dishes were the clams with black bean butter sauce and red peppers (fantastic combination of flavors) and the Sichuan baby back ribs.

Leonard's -- Wow -- nobody mentioned that the malasadas are the size of baseballs. I practically went into a swoon after biting into a coconut haupia-filled one. And a bird actually flew up and bit my malasada while I was eating it. Clearly it was worth the risk!

Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas -- Hands-down the best fish dish I had on the trip was the Crispy Skin Kona Kampachi with Mrs. Cheng's tofu, fennel, edamame, Kahuku corn, and Hau'ula dried tomato-hijiki broth. Perfectly cooked, great textures, wonderful tofu, delicious broth. This restaurant seems under-appreciated?

Hakkei -- Somebody's got a great palate over there. We weren't turned on by the hotpot, but all of the little dishes -- shrimp and ahi avocado poke, spinach salad, eggplant and squash, rice balls w/miso -- were beautifully prepared, very fresh, and delicious. And we adored the peanut butter-banana-red bean mochi.

Fresh Catch -- Best poke we had in six weeks. Also, their smoked tako was excellent, chewy and exceedingly sweet-salty flavorful. The ahi katsu was totally decadent. I felt like I was eating cake and filet mignon at the same time. A lot of people told us this place was too expensive, but I think their food quality justifies it.

Goma Tei Ramen -- This place has quite good, but not great food, yet something about the counter seating, the chunky beer glasses of ice cold Asahi, and the cozy yumminess of the soup -- made it a repeat stop. Very pleasant.

Jimbo Udon -- Same thing. Food was pretty good, not fabulous, but we kept coming back. My favorite was the udon with grilled mochi and chicken (yum, yum, yum). The servers were really nice too.

KCC farmer's market -- Oh my goodness, is it possible to OD on papayas? We simply do not get those glorious Kahuku papayas anywhere else. They actually drip with nectar. I also had a tasty kalua chicken sandwich on buttered roll with cucumber kim chee one morning.

Miyabi Sushi -- We ate at a lot of sushi places, including the much applauded Sushi Izakaya Gaku, but somehow this place stood out. The flavors in their sushi were really well balanced and the textures in the "Clunch" roll were fantastic.

3660 On The Rise -- There may be better in town, but I thought their Soy Sake Fillet of Butterfish was awesome. Great crispiness around the edges and wonderful flavor.

Epic -- I had a really nice cioppino here with slices of grilled, buttered bread that were dangerous. Our server was very cool too. Present, attentive, but not solicitous.

Those are some of the highlights. Thanks again for the suggestions!

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  1. Hiroshi's Tapas menu looks pretty good. We are only going to have two nights out for dinner this summer on Oahu, this place might be a contender. How would you compare it to Roy's Waikiki in food, atmosphere and overall experience?

    Thanks for the report, always good tor read about some different places that don't get as much attention.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mwest9

      Roy's is a classic experience, right in the center of the action, and fun. If I could only go one place, I'd make it there. But I think Hiroshi's would make a good #2. I think the food is just as good (if not better than) Roy's, but the atmosphere and location aren't as good.

    2. Aloha and thank you for the report!
      Roy's Waikiki is one of the best restaurants and cannot compare to the resto's on the mainland.
      Diva, the GM is incredible with her Aloha spirit.
      If I recall, Hiroshi's was a bit of walk from the Royal Hawaiian and after swimming all day, just wanted something close but have heard nothing but raves from the locals.

      1. Thanks to you for a mouth-watering report. Tell your friends: we need all of the tourist dollars we can get!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Joebob

          You know we have been traveling all over this past year...Thailand, South America, Australia...and compared with those places, we thought Oahu was a great value. Solid food, beautiful natural environment, nice people, and an easy-to-use infrastructure. We really wish you guys well and do hope those tourist dollars keep flowing.