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Jul 22, 2012 03:55 PM

Oahu Visit Report

I just got back from two great weeks on Oahu and thought I'd give some quick write ups of things I thought were new (to me) or noteworthy. I've been many times over the years but hadn't been in a couple of years.

New Visits:

Whole Ox - Love this place and hit it twice for breakfast. It would actually fit right in here in LA. The smoky pork hash, eggs benedict with foie gras and piggy griddle cakes (a fried patty of pork and steel cut oatmeal) were all great.

Uncle's and Nico's - I'd never made it to either of these places and had heard a lot of raves. They were good but I didn't go nuts for either of them. I'd say I preferred Uncle's. I liked their poke trio (particularly a kukui nut poke) and an opakapaka in garlic cream sauce with crab meat (reminiscent of a dish from the old Sam Choy's on Kapahulu). I had a fish chowder at Nico's that was lacking in seasoning and overall their food was not very memorable.

Shimazu Shave Ice: I know it's the favorite these days but I didn't think the snow and flavors were as good as Waiola. They are so big that the outside gets frozen and crusty without much flavor.

Snow Factory: Shave ice...cream. Fun, but I think I liked the little passion fruit balls that explode in your mouth more than anything.

New thoughts on a few old favorites.

Ono and Helena head to head. Hadn't ever done these old favorites one right after the other. What's to say? They're both great. Helena's Kalua pig is a bit saltier, Ono a bit smokier but I like them both. Helena's lau lau had a bit more flavor in the meat and their prices are much better. Also loved Helena's haupia which is sort of a throw away at Ono. I like that Ono offers day old poi, which is so much more flavorful. Helena didn't offer it but maybe you had to ask (I didn't think to so my bad).

Fukuya: Still my favorite Okazuya. Love the mochiko chicken, various musubis, etc.

Alan Wong: Hadn't been in ten years. Had the classic tasting menu and loved it. I was excited about the kalua pig/foie gras sandwich but it was the tomato soup that accompanied with it that blew me away. Love the haupia sorbet in a chocolate shell and seafood lasagna (lobster and scallop with a cream sauce wrapped in a noodle).

Diamondhead Farmer's Market: Love this place as well. Found some great peri mangoes, the small yellow ones that are about the best fruit ever. Also really liked the "sea asparagus" - salty, cruncy, addictive little seaweed things.

Waiola Store. The service seems to have gone downhill a bit on the Kapahulu (now just off Kapahulu banch) but the ice was still tasty.

Side Street Inn: This was the first time I went to the Kapahulu branch to eat in. It loses some of the divey feel of the original but it was nice and roomy, easy to get a seat and great for kids.

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  1. Dear sku,

    Thank you for your report. Sorry not to have responded sooner. It will prompt me to try Uncle's. Is the food at the new SSI the same as the old?

    Just Wondering,


    2 Replies
    1. re: Joebob

      The new Side Street has more dishes than I remember at the old one, but that's going back a few years. All the SSI classics are there though (fried rice, fried pork chop, lilikoi ribs, yakisoba).

      1. re: sku

        Thanks sku. I've never been to SSI, but now I suppose I will have to go soon.

    2. Great report, especially about Side Street Inn. Going to have to try the Kapahulu one on my next trip.

      I have been a big fan of Shimazu. Curious how you thought Shimazu lacked flavor when I found that the syrup flavors there are amazing. And that's exactly the problem I have with Waiola: no syrup toward the bottom of the cup.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ogawak

        Hmm, I never have that problem at Waiola. I also didn't like their lilikoi. It had an artificial flavor. Their beans were better than Waiola's though; Waiola has always had sucky beans.

      2. Thanks for your report. I'm now convinced to try Whole Ox for breakfast (that is if I have room in my stomach), especially since I love LA's Animal. So sorry to hear about the foie gras ban for you. Their biscuit with foie gras, maple syrup sausage gravy was one of my favorite foie dishes I've ever had.

        Great blog, btw. Looking forward to reading the rest of your trip report!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Miss Needle

          It really did remind me a lot of Animal, and the benedict particularly reminded me of the biscuit with foie dish there, in that it was a souped up traditional breakfast with some foie thrown in.

          And thanks for posting the link, I forgot to and there is a bit more detail there. Also, some pictures here:

        2. great report. i still have a preference for the original SSI, and for the Original Waiola Store for shave ice, but not sure how much of that is real and how much is associative. Glad you had such a good time here for food.