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Jun 18, 2012 11:40 AM

Frequent visitor to Oahu looking for Must Eats (6/29-7/5)

Hi everyone,

Long time lurker of Chowhound, but I finally signed up for an account because I know you can help. I will be vacationing in Oahu 6/29-7/5, staying through 4th of July, with just 3 family members including myself. We are frequent visitors of Oahu but have never explored different food options on the island - mostly because my cousin (who will be going on this trip) is keen on sticking to familiar places. I, on the other hand, absolutely love trying everything from local eateries to fine dining. I've convinced my cousin to explore more this time around and we've created the tentative list below. Haven't assigned meals to each of the days yet, but please help make any suggestions! We're looking for popular, unique places in Oahu - moderately priced is fine, but not willing to spend on the level of Alan Wong every night. Probably looking for one fine dining option for the entire trip.

Here are the tried and true places we've frequented and will most likely be visiting again:
Leonard's Bakery
Giovanni's Shrimp Truck

New ones we haven't tried and are planning on going:
Morio's Sushi (already made reservation for Omakase)
Helena's Hawaiian Food
Marukame Udon
Side Street Inn
Eggs n Things
Bubbies Ice Cream
Shirokiya food court

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Sorry to hijak your thread, but is the quality of the mochi ice creams at the Bubbies store different than what I get at Whole Foods and many other markets? Reason I ask is I have limited stomach room. So if it is similar I'd rather try something else.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Miss Needle

      I wouldn't go for mochi ice cream. Their macadamia nut ice cream, on the other hand, is worth a visit. Creamy vanilla and whole mac nuts, it's as good as any ice cream I get in LA.

      To the OP: for shave ice, Matsumoto's is more of a tourist attraction. There are better options in Honolulu, Shimazu Store is probably the best, though Ailana is great as well. Waiola gets the most publicity and does a great job shaving the ice, but the portions are smallish and you don't get much syrup.

      Otherwise, you have a good list there. I might recommend Whole Ox for the porchetta. Thangs for the mango smoothie (I would stay with native fruit flavors).

      Rainbow Drive In gets mixed reviews here, but I just love their mixed plate.

      I recently rediscovered Grace's Inn. Great quality chicken katsu.

      1. re: Ogawak

        Thanks so much!
        I agree that Matsumoto's is a little overrated...willing to give Shimazu Store a try! Is it worth a venture to downtown for Thangs? Any restaurants to try in that area?

        I've had Rainbow Drive In and liked it but not enough to go back a second time.
        Any thoughts on Sweet Home Cafe?

        1. re: jjeats

          Re: Thangs, there are two locations. One is in the Mauna Kea Marketplace in Chinatown just outside the food court area. For takeout, I really like Char Hung Sut's chow mein noodles. I wasn't fond of their baos, though.

          The other location is in Kalihi in a small mall that includes Youngs Fish Market, which is actually a pretty good plate lunch restaurant, and Pancakes and Waffles, which is sort of Honolulu's version of Roscoes (Chicken and Waffles) with greater variety. We have enjoyed both places for lunch. The fried chicken at P&W is quite crispy, which is to my liking.

        2. re: Ogawak

          Thanks for the info about Bubbie's. Maybe I'll stop by if we're in the mood for some ice cream -- and a wait. Last time I dropped by the wait was so long that I ended up leaving as I had to be somewhere.

          To the OP: I really liked Sweet Home Cafe. The staff there is super nice and there's a plethora of items to choose from. I especially liked the fish balls with little chunks of bitter melon. Get there early or you'll have to wait. Around 7:00P, I waited for about an hour and a half.

          And if you go to Helena's, make sure you get the pipikaula ribs -- so much tastier than at Ono. I feel that Side Street Inn does a good job on simple food. Nothing is exciting culinary wise, but definitely a good value as the portions are huge. I do think it's kind of tough to go with just three people as it will be difficult to try many items.

          1. re: Miss Needle

            Thanks for the tip on Side Street Inn, it may just end up being a late night place if we're hungry :)

            1. re: Miss Needle

              Sometimes the wait at Bubbies can be painful especially if they have only one person manning the store.

            2. re: Ogawak

              Shimazu has terrible parking so I would opt for Ailana's near Ala Moana center.

          2. Here are some additions:

            Ichiriki - We love the pirikira nabe and chicken karaage is the best. If you go for late night dining (after 9:30) some of the dishes are downsized and 1/2 price, which is a good value.

            Fukuya - My favorite Japanese okazuya. A great place to pick up food before you head to the beach or if you want to do some snacking.

            Goma Tei - Excellent tan tan ramen in a deeply complex sesame seed broth.

            Boots and Kimo - Delicious pancakes w/a macadamia sauce. Kinda pricey for what you get but always very crowded and a good alternative is Cinnamons.

            Kanpai - Similar to Side St and great place to hang out and have drinks and pupus.

            When you go to Side St. make sure you get the pork chops because that's what they are known for. Helena's is good, but Highway Inn has delicious and freshly made lau lau and pipikaula.