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Jul 20, 2012 03:51 PM

Lunch in Kailua/Kaneohe recs?

We are looking for a quick weekday lunch spot in Kailua or Kaneohe for next month. We are going on an outrigger canoe tour in Hawaii Kai that lasts until about noon and then after lunch we are visiting friends in Kaneohe. There didn't seem to be too much interesting in Hawaii Kai. Roy's is fancier than we want to do for this meal. We don't have to have alcohol. The view at He'eia Pier sounds very nice although the seating isn't that appealing, but if the food is very good, that would be a place we'd be interested in. We could eat fish, teriyaki plates, ramen/pho/saimin and stuff like that.

I am considering the following:
He'eia Pier
Kalapawai Cafe
Pho Viet Thai
Uahi Grill
The Food Company

I am concerned that by the time we get up there all the specials will be gone at He'eia Pier and it sounds like the regular menu is not as impressive as the specials. I still cannot find their menu anywhere online.

It looks like Kalapawai Cafe is the most gourmet of the bunch.

Does anybody have any comments on these places or others not listed?

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  1. just so you know, Mark Noguchi left He'eia Pier and they are transitioning back to a simpler menu supposedly because they were losing the local regulars who didn't care for the higher prices due to the sourcing of primarily local ingredients, so you won't find the more interesting specials.

    When i'm in Kaneohe, I always head to Dean's Drive Inn for a plate lunch. Their fish plates are good. Actually, I liked pretty much everything I tried so far.

    2 Replies
    1. re: killersmile

      Is Dean's still cash only? I have enjoyed "Fresh Catch" in Kaneohe. If you are referring to Roy's in Hawaii Kai they are not open for lunch. Roy's Waikiki is for bar service with a menu featuring classic Roy's dishes as well as sushi and a great burger. I've never eaten at Uahi but I know several people who like it there is no view whatsoever from there on Hekili St.

      1. re: manomin

        not sure because I always pay with cash when i'm there. if my bill is under $20, I usually pay in cash.

      1. I had a nice meal at Tokoname the last time I was in Kailua. Kalapawai was extremely disappointing - really SLOW service, overcooked seafood, etc. There's a new place across the street from them that one of their former chefs opened up. It's supposed to be good, but I didn't get a chance to try it. If you want something REALLY informal, I enjoyed the plate lunch at Fat Boys. In Kaneohe, Pah Ke is a good choice.

        Of course, when I am in Hawaii Kai, I usually have a progressive lunch in the Hawaii Kai shopping center of Kozo sushi, zippy's chili (maybe throw in a fried chicken thigh for good measure) and some mochi ice cream from Bubbies. We also usually stop in for a pint at the brewery.

        2 Replies
        1. re: akq

          Cactus Bistro is across the street from Kalapawai. The food there was pretty good, but portion size is a little on the small side. You can check out their menu online.

          1. re: killersmile

            Thanks, folks, that's just the kind of local info I was seeking. Very helpful. I'll report back next month.

        2. This might be too late for you, but I just got back from Kaneohe/Kailua and can tell you what I liked. I totally agree with Joebob, Pah Ke's was terrific; BYOB. I'm still dreaming about the dinner I had there. The bigger the group the better. The Grove in Kailua was excellent, especially the small plates. Specific recommendations: fries, poke, fried shisito peppers, brussels sprouts salad (squee!) fish sandwich, and fisherman's stew (dinner only). Aikahi Shopping Center has two gems: 1) Willow Tree Korean restaurant (I had the spicy pork, kalbi, cold noodle salad, amazing kimchee) , and 2) Tamura's Liquor Store which has a fresh poke deli in the back of the store. Good selection, free samples, best poke I had on the island.

          1. We ended up eating at Uahi Grill and it was pretty good plate lunch. Kahlua pig was pretty salty, but tasty still. I had seared ahi salad. It was a reasonable collection of greens and veggies (with edamame) and the ahi was fine. Standout of the meal was the lilikoi-orange iced tea they make in house, delicious! We ate fast because we were running late and very hungry, but I'd go back again if I were there, although I wouldn't go out of my way for it.