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Dec 4, 2012 06:35 PM

Christmas week in Honolulu- help! (tons of questions)

Hello everyone.

I will be in Hawaii (400 Royal Hawaiian avenue in Waikiki) from Christmas Day to New Years Eve. I may rent a car one day to drive to Sunset Beach but will otherwise probably walk or take cabs or the bus. I WILL travel for food.

I am a "serious food lover". My travel companion (Mom) likes to eat but is not a foodie by any stretch of the imagination. We have a moderate budget. No shellfish, crustaceans or pork.

My list so far includes Ono's and Helena's. I have already decided what I'm getting from the menu at both but I would welcome any specific advice or comparison.

Besides these two places, I have nothing in mind.

I thought about dim sum but the reviews are not great and I plan to visit Vancouver next year so maybe I can stick with Flushing until then.

Now I am thinking about Filipino. I have eaten Filipino pastries once but never a meal. Any recommendations? How is Lumpia express? Jesse's bakery?

Are there any good food carts? I am a New Yorker so I eat street food but I do not (I repeat DO NOT) want to get sick. But if there are clean food carts or food stands somewhere, I would love to experience them. I was thinking the International Market or somewhere like that.

Yakiniku Hiroshi is down the block from my hotel. The reviews are good. Is the food good? The menu does not seem very Japanese. What about Marukame Udon? I have no idea about noodle so I would love to go here and stand in line. Anywhere else? We do not eat sushi.

Are the cookies at Swirl cookies worth trying? It is super close to me.

One last question (for now) what are good things to try for breakfast. We are right smack-dab in the middle of tourist central so when I google the address one of the first things that I see is IHOP. Is there maybe something in King's Village shopping mart or in the 123 store? Should I eat "Loco moco" somewhere?

I think that the research is making me crazy. I should just sit back and let you guys give me your tips.

Thanks. I promise to post a report and lots of pics.

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  1. Good American-style breakfast near you at Moose's on Lewers...2-for-1 coupon in the free tourist mags. Wailana coffee house should please your Mom. Eggs n Things better but insanely popular = long lines.

    Not much in the way of street food/carts available in Waikiki, but sanitary standards for any you might find are probably similar to Mainland, not 3rd world.

    I assume the KCC farmer's market will be open Sat Dec 29...your best bet for street food, and Pig and the Lady there is exceptional if you are willing to try a Vietnamese inspired breakfast. Plenty of more mainstream options like pastries at other vendors, if your Mom is not.

    The 4th Friday food truck roundup should take place downtown on Dec 28...again, can't be sure of the holiday schedule, but check
    later in the month...nothing posted yet.

    2 Replies
    1. re: macaraca

      We really enjoyed our breakfast at Moose's with 2 for 1 in the back of the 100 things to do in HNL.
      International Market has some great plate lunches.
      Happy hour at Hula Grill and Dukes are good deals and fab mai tais for $4...excellent calamari.
      Mom would like the old school Top of Waikiki for HH.
      Pineapple room and Leonards for malasadas.
      Christmas is very busy time.

      Aloha and have a wonderful time with your Mom!

      1. re: macaraca

        i'd recommend wailana coffee house hands down over eggs n things.

        again i'll repeat my rec of liliha bakery, or even zippy's.

      2. Yakiniku Hiroshi is great if you like the Japanese style of marbled beef. Expensive, but excellent melt in your mouth A5 rank wagyu from Australia and Snake River Farms in the U.S. The menu isn't "Japanese" because it is yakiniku which is Korean in nature. Marukame is good for fresh, cheap udon. It was exactly like the ones I visited in Japan, so no loss of quality there. On Monsarrat Avenue there is Diamond Head Grill and Bakery. Their plate lunches, scones, & desserts are good. Up Kapahulu Avenue there are many eateries such as Rainbow Drive Inn, Side Street Inn, Tokkuri Tei. Up in Kaimuki on Waialae Avenue there is Town, 12th Avenue Grill, Salt.

        1. As Killersmile mentioned Marukame is great for noodles, even 'local' people eat there, which is saying a lot for a restaurant in waikiki. Mooses is good, especially for breakfast as is Wailana Coffee Shop. Wailana is a 24 hour operation, good to remember if you are out till late sometime without mom there. Teddy's bigger burgers are also good, and I like their chicken selections as well. I'd tend to avoid IHOP, and it is not open 24 hours like some on the mainland are. I'm not fond of cheeseburger in paradise, but other people do like it. Hank's Haute dogs and Puka dogs, both near the International Marketplace are good. Hank's advertises their dogs as all beef, so that should be safe for you. Puka Dog in Waikiki is now or soon to be known as Hula Dog, the polish dog does contain pork, but the veggie dog does not.

          Shorebird and Duke's are my two favorite waterfront places to eat. Dukes is more economic at lunch than dinner, great for watching the water and people. Shorebird is increasingly popular at dinnertime. Azure was good but not great, superb service and prices to pay for it. I'd rather spend the money on appetizers and cocktails (pupus) at the House Without a Key in the Halekulani watching Hula at sunset.

          Your reluctance(?) to eat shellfish crustaceans and pork look kinda like a kosher thing, so I won't push you on that. If you head up to Ono's or Haili's on Kapahulu for Hawaiian food, be sure to let them know so that you don't inadvertantly get some. I know that Haili's makes chicken lau lau as well as pork, not sure about Ono's. Some of the best Shave Ice (please NOT shaved ice) is also on Kapahulu across from Safeway at Waioli Shave Ice. A little further up is Leonard's Malasadas. Not far up from Waikiki is Rainbow drive-in. Far from gourmet, but a local favorite for plate lunch.

          Over on Monsarrat, not far from Diamond Head Grill is South Shore Grill. The fish tacos or the fish taco and kal-bi combo are both great (the combo is VERY filling.) Pioneer Saloon incongruously serves japanese/japanese inspired food in a wild west themed room. Pretty good and not too expensive.

          Unfortunately there is no bus connection from Waikiki to upper Kapahulu or Kaimuki. The best you can do is take the #2 or #4 from Waikiki to King Street. I think the #4 is faster by a little bit, and there are a few places near University and King worth checking out including Fukuya's, one of the last old time Japanese style deli's (Okazuya), The Spot - healthy curries and the like, Majarani Indian food, Kit n Kitchen moderately priced fusion cuisine. Two excellent japanese places are there, but I don't think they fit your food profile, Akinono and Yamagen, along with a few others.

          Taking the #1 east from there (towards hawaii kai) you get up into Kaimuki with a host of restaurants from Zippy's to 3660 on The rise. Himalayan Kitchen, Big City Diner, To Thai For, Town, Hale Vietnam, Duk Kee, Cafe Miro, Champa Thai, Happy Day, Cafe Laufer, Maguro-Ya, etc. etc. etc.

          2 Replies
          1. re: KaimukiMan

            As always! Leave it to K-Man for a great post! I too like Teddy's, love their fries. And he's right their chicken sandwiches are good, I had the fish and chips once and enjoyed it. I of course always opt for a visit to Roy's so that would be close to where you are, they are excellent at accommodating dining requests, they also do great vegan. Last night I totally enjoyed a wonderful bottle of Gruner Veltliner and those awesome potato chips at HWAK with the esteemed Hunt. If I weren't going to Star Chefs I would have certainly wanted to try whatever was cooking with fabulous aromas in that area of the restaurant. You should definitely go there for a drink and to enjoy a lovely sunset and the entertainment.

          2. you mentioned food carts, they are not allowed by local zoning here. We do have 'lunchwagon's" the precursors to the food trucks that LA seems to think they invented. Although not as plentiful as before there are still a few around. Some of the best known are the shrimp trucks along the north shore, but there are a few in Honolulu, some not far from Waikiki. They tend to move around now and then, so it might be best to check yelp when you are here. Among the most popular are Soul, Tsukenjo's, Koi, Haili's, and Blue Water Shrimp (the best known shrimp truck in town). All have to be inspected by the state department of health and are likely to be as safe as a restaurant.

            5 Replies
            1. re: KaimukiMan

              Do any of these trucks serve non-shrimp dishes? OP does not eat shellfish.

              1. re: kathryn

                most of them are not shrimp trucks.
                tsukenjo's is famous for it's roast pork... LOL

                most of them have chicken, fish, or beef dishes along with some of the foods not permitted by the OP's food profile. Even Blue water has some other fish dishes. I wouldn't guarantee that the other dishes didn't come in contact with the shrimp or pork, or utensils that were used for those, but if you aren't at a Kosher establishment I think thats true anywhere. I am not aware of any Kosher or Halal restaurants in Honolulu - Brent's Deli used to serve bacon cheeseburgers . . .

                1. re: KaimukiMan

                  The way you wrote it sounded like they were ALL shrimp trucks.

                  1. re: kathryn

                    yep, my bad indeed.
                    thanks for catching that kathryn!

              2. re: KaimukiMan

                Don't forget Camille's on Wheels. Most Tuesdays she's parked by Pfleuger downtown, this week she had pot pies, always a fast sell-out! She also does amazing catering gigs if you need a party catered. And I agree that Soul is both popular and delicious!

              3. Avoiding dim sum is probably a good idea--especially if you can't eat shellfish or pork. I'm not sure what you would end up eating (tofu, taro cake, sweets?).

                You said you don't eat sushi but would you be willing to try poke?

                4 Replies
                1. re: kathryn

                  Legend Vegetarian Dim Sum (also called Buddist Vegetarian Restaurant) is well known for their food and would be a good option for the OP, except they crossed dim sum off their list already. I was wondering the same thing about poke, but guessing it would probably be off the list unless it was fried poke or taco poke (octopus, but that's a crustacean isn't it? - or is it a cephalopod?) Either way it's got no fins or scales.

                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                    Poke is so delicious and so hard to find in NY, I hope the OP tries it at least once!

                    1. re: kathryn

                      we had a visitor here last month who thought the poke at Nico's was bland and tasteless. I've had their poke sampler, its very good poke. Different strokes i guess. I'm thinking the best possibility is for the seared poke.

                      1. re: kathryn

                        my mom had the chance to obtain ahi straight from the fish auctions and made the most delicious shoyu poke with it. it really is about the freshness of the fish and some hot pepper flakes.