HOME > Chowhound > Hawaii >


Lesser Known Favorites (you've been to recently)

We seem to have a tendency to talk about really well known and upscale restaurants, which is great. At the same time some of the lesser known, often neighborhood places we like to go don't get enough of our attention.

This week one of my friends has been ono for Chinese food. Monday night it was just two of us and we went to Duk Kee up on 12th in Kaimuki. Had the salt pepper pork chops and ong choy with oyster sauce (and rice of course.) Nothing fancy, but really good. I was surprised to see people there with wine, didn't realize they were BYOB licensed (or maybe they were just accommodating regular customers.) Our bill for this simple but satisfying dinner came to just about $20.

Tuesday we ended up at Hung Won. This time there were 3 of us. At the server's suggestion we started with the special soup, winter mellon with chicken and mushroom. We decided we needed to compare the salt and pepper pork chop - even though its not on the menu. We also ordered sichuan eggplant and fried rice. All of it was really tasty and the service was pleasant. Hung Won has a notice on their menu that you can bring your own beverages, be it soda or beer (I assume wine is ok too) Dinner for the 3 of us was just over $40. Hung Won is also well known for its Crispy Gau Gee. Not huge ones like Waimalu Chop Suey, but very good. We were all doing penance for overdoing over the holidays so we (grudgingly) refrained from that as an appetizer.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. In my regular rotation are Richie's Drive Inn or Bob's Barbecue for their barbecue pork sandwich, I-naba for soba, Michinoku, Your Kitchen, pastries & desserts from Fendu Boulangerie. Lunch downtown finds me at Sushi Kahuna for their curry (only Mon&Fri) and oyako donburi (Wed), Ahi & Vegetable or Ahi Lovers, Mix Cafe, Whole Ox if I feel like a long walk, Simply Ono lunchwagon. Looking forward to the opening of Marukame Udon on Fort Street, but I expect it to be very busy when it opens.

    1. Been always wanted to go there (Duk Kee) since my cousin who lives there talks about it often. She goes there for their jai or Monk's food during Chinese New Year and for quick lunches while working at KCC. We always go to Happy Gardens instead when visiting from LA. Another must place to go when we're there is Sekiya's for that old nostalgic ambience of the 50s. What I really like to know is where are all the good plate lunch trucks that used to be so numerous in Ala Moana and the Kewalo Basin area? The one on Cooke Street was so-so.

      1. <<We seem to have a tendency to talk about really well known and upscale restaurants, which is great.>>

        That is entirely my fault, and I take responsibility for it... [Grin]

        Now, and to get serious, mahalo for taking the time to bring some other venues to light. That info should be very useful to many.



        1. today i saw that Honolulu Burger Company has opened in that strip mall across Waialae from Kahala mall (just kokohead of the shell station.) Haven't been yet, but if it is as good as the makiki location hope to visit it now and then, parking much easier than along beretania.

          3 Replies
          1. re: KaimukiMan

            I don't find parking at the beretania location difficult. There's a parking lot right next to the building.

            1. re: killersmile

              i never realized that. shame on me. maybe having a new one makes up for burgers on the edge in kapahulu closing.

              1. re: KaimukiMan

                burgers OTE didn't impress me at all - in fact, i was totally disappointed. i went with high hopes for the wagyu burger with foie gras but ended up with a soggy, overcooked mess and greasy sweet potato fries. that experience cost me thirty bucks. :(

                any high-end burger joint that won't give me a double rare burger doesn't rate.

                i have yet to try HBC

          2. To be fair, I've never been to Nam Fong, the seemingly more popular one. But the roast pork at Fong's is really the best I've ever had as it is served very hot. They only have two items there: roast pork and char siu. There's always a line and they close up when they run out of product. So the chance of getting an older piece of pork is very slim. When I passed by Nam Fong, there was no line and the roast pork looked pretty limp and cold.

            1. Great thread. Tried the new falafal/pita place Shaloha at 3rd and Waialae and came away very happy...huge stuffed pita with yummy chicken/turkey mixed shawarma. Juicy, not dry as some other posts had mentioned. Will definitely be on my regular rotation.

              Was back to Kirin for Chinese last week, and had an unusual and delicious noodle dish...don't remember the name. A friend had recommended it and we previously tried to find it on the noodle menu, but finally noticed that it is located on the appetizer list. Made with mung flour, I believe, and was a fairly sizable dish, not really appetizer-sized A nice addition to our regular choices of their wonderful crispy-skin chicken and the garlic string beans with pork.

              1. nice day on vineyard and liliha is good for dim sum and standard chinese dishes. they are not the ultimate, but each time i eat there (dine in) i leave full and happy. you can get food to go, but choose carefully between using the take out window or going inside to order. no matter which one i pick, the other one is faster.

                also in the liliha area a few blocks mauka is new mui kwai 3. this is my go-to place for takeout chinese food. simple, tasty, quick, and affordable if i stick to just two choices.

                right next to them is omega mandoo (not a restaurant). they make some damn good mandoo! it's as good as my korean grandma's, but very much different. hers is made with a kajillion ingredients and has a firm, yet springy texture influenced by tofu. the mandoo skin is soft when cooked, and is stuffed full of filling. they have a mild taste that is perfect in a soup with a strongly flavored sauce. the ladies at omega, however, make smaller (still a good amount of filling), firmer mandoo. they use a flat crimp, and the edge can be a little hard. the filling is loose, and there is an amazing taste of green onions or chives. there is long rice or some kind of clear noodle mixed in. there is an overall vegetable taste, but there is meat as well. no sauce needed, but it's available. they are lightly and perfectly brushed with sesame oil. bags of 25 used to be $20, but i believe the cost went up. they make a kimchi variety as well, and while very ono, i feel the regular mandoo is the best.

                if you're in the kalihi king st area next to the post office, you can hit han yang next door by the diner. their mandoo is decent, i would order from them if omega was closed. they have a great korean style cut kalbi with the big bone on one end and the meat kind of folded out in a thick slice , not the manini local cut with the three cross section bone pieces in a raggedy ass, paper thin cut of beef. they also have kobe beef for the yakiniku, of which the price is the same or less as other yakiniku places i've been too. some people say teh restaurant is grungy, but the tables are clean, it's well-lit, smells great, and the owner, david, is friendly.

                across the street is palace saimin, the best saimin i've had. the next generation has taken over and now the hours are 11-11 everyday except sun and mon. bbq sticks are expensive now, at $2 a pop, but they switched to bigger, tender pieces of beef and a sweeter sauce. i like.

                jane's on liliha near l&l has a great saimin as well.

                1 Reply
                1. re: indelibledotink

                  The last few times we have gotten take out dim sum from nice day, my family has felt the quality has slipped and it isn't as good as it used to be. The same goes for New Mui Kwai 3 so we no longer go to both places. What do you get on the menu? Since it's been at least 6 months since we last got anything from either place maybe it's worth another try? I agree that the mandoo place, Han Yang & Palace saimin are pretty good.