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May 23, 2012 06:49 PM

best thai in Waikiki

Is there a really good thai restaurant near the Royal Hawaiian hotel? We love good Thai food. looking for something special-not just the average Thai place you get in most U.S. cities. From my research I haven't been able to find anything that seems to stand out as really good. Thanks in advance for any helpful replies.

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  1. Sala Thai- the owner does all the cooking. Best in Oahu

    2 Replies
    1. re: russkar

      Dear russkar,

      Because you have now repeated this recommendation, I must beg to differ. Rosita and I went there based upon your first mention of Sala Thai and we found the food indifferent to outright bad. I don't remember what she had, but my curry was way too salty. Also, Sala is a real dive bar and no fit place for the average tourist, nor is it in Waikiki. Rosita may wish to add more.

      N. Kam told me that she is fond of Malie Thai in Hawaii Kai, which I too found to be quite good e.g. the stuffed chicken wings were meatier than any others I have had. She also cited Thai Herb Garden, which is closer to Waikiki, but I have not been there, so I cannot recommend it personally. We tried to go once, but the owners apparently decided to close a day earlier for their vacation than the posted notice, and we could not get in.

      I have just come back from eating (for the third time) the Whole Snapper in Garlic-Oil Sauce from Thai Lao Rest. in Kapolei, which I would put up against any other Thai/Lao dish on Oahu. Unfortunately for y'all, it is far away from the tourist ghetto, but that's just the way we like it.

      Sadly Sincerely,


      1. re: russkar

        Thai Herb Kitchen is the most authentic Thai near Waikiki

      2. I'm not at all sure we have excellent thai food any more here.

        I like a place on South King named Pae Thai, a Thai friend who used to live here liked it best - not in Waikiki, but not too far for a reasonable cab ride. Spices in Moiliili (mo-ili-ili) is good, a mix of Thai and Lao food. Nice little neighborhood place - but I doubt it would be labeled exceptional. Another one I really like - in spite of the name - is To Thai For. Again not in Waikiki, but different menu offerings and different recipes from most Thai food here, maybe from a different region of Thailand. And their spicy really is spicy.

        The local favorite Bangkok Chef has opened two branches, and as a result all three are poorer for the expansion. Nuuanu is still the best, but thats not near Waikiki and there is virtually no seating. Avoid the one on Nimitz - horrible horrible horrible.

        Once upon a time, long before their Waikiki location opened, Keos was really good. Over time it became more and more mainstream. It isn't bad Thai still, but it's not exceptional. Keoni's started out as a branch of Keo's but it split off, and from what I've tasted, not for the better. Singha in Waikiki has never been anything special. Keo's and Singha both have a nice ambiance.

        Phuket Thai has a bit more selection than many places, but I haven't found any of it to be above average. Mekong II, Chiang-Mai, Champa Thai are all perfectly fine, but nothing unusual. Siam Garden gets reviews from the best to the worst. I've never been, and even from what I've heard, the food is inconsistent.

        5 Replies
        1. re: KaimukiMan

          Phuket Thai used to be our favorite, at McCully, but now they have a second, larger venue near the Ward Theaters, and the one time we went there for lunch we were quite disappointed.

          Recently we have enjoyed Sabai Dee, at University Square, a family run place that is not exceptional, but tasty and reasonable. A newer place has opened in the last few weeks at Market City next to Foodland and we liked it a lot, but like KMan, would not say any of them are outstanding.

          1. re: KaimukiMan

            I had laab at Keo's a couple of months ago, and it was plain bad.

            1. re: Joebob

              While not in Waikiki but not a far drive Siam Garden is consistently fabulous and a real low key atmosphere in the middle of the day. Nice unusual beer selection as well as great cocktails and a fabulous menu! Try them! I've been many times!

              1. re: manomin

                glad to hear a good review on this from you, i've heard otherwise from time to time. i trust your judgement more.

            2. re: KaimukiMan

              bankok chef is very accessible to me in terms of flavors and texture, somewhat different than really unusual and exotic roots and veggies that i've had from a thai friend; i really enjoy it. the nuuanu location took over the convenience store next door and turned it all into seating, so have a nice, comfortable sat.