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Apr 2, 2013 09:07 PM

Hawaii Vacation- help! escaping cruise food

hello! I am going on a cruise with many stops- we're staying a few nights in Honolulu, at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani and also in Oahu at Turtle Bay It's my in-laws 50th wedding anni - they are awesome and taking us w/ them. Would love some local food- I'm a noodle fiend, and my Mississippi family counts on me- the DIL from West Hollywood to have tricks (and occasionally noodles) up my sleeve. Also anything great & walkable near cruise line ports @ Kona, Kahului & Hilo... Any assistance appreciated!

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  1. The Sheraton Princess Kaiulani in Waikiki is in tourist central. Probably not what you want if you want to escape crappy cruise food. But, luckily, Honolulu is pretty walkable and the Oahu bus system is great!

    Waikiki feels very chain oriented but there are a few gems, such as Ramen Nakamura, which will be about a 10 minute walk from your hotel. It's a small place that takes both US dollars and Japanese yen, and there's usually a line out the door unless you get there fairly early. Counter seating only, for about 15 people.

    You might want to see my Honolulu trip report from January:

    Outside Honolulu, without a car, gets tricky though.

    > and also in Oahu at Turtle Bay It's my in-laws 50th wedding anni

    Some recent-ish North Shore threads below, however, most people who go up there have a car.

    > Also anything great & walkable near cruise line ports @ Kona, Kahului & Hilo...

    Outside Oahu/Honolulu, you really need a car. Or to take a cab from the port area... It looks like only the Kona port area is near anything.

    6 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      While the hotel IS in the tourist epi-center, there are some great dining options, within walking distance. Depends on what the OP wants.



      1. re: Bill Hunt

        Local food (which I interpret to be poke, plate lunch, etc.) and noodles, apparently. What plate lunch joints are in Waikiki? I couldn't find any.

        1. re: kathryn

          The closest place for a true Plate Lunch would be Rainbow Drive-in, a couple of blocks outside of Waikiki on Kapahulu. South Shore Grill or Diamond Head Market are just a couple of blocks further than that on Monsarrat. There were some luchwagons ('food trucks') near Kaiolu and Kuhio, but in typical idiotic fashion the neighborhood board made sure to get rid of those.

          There are some pseudo plate lunch places in the mauka area of the international marketplace, quite close to the OP's hotel.

          1. re: kathryn

            Well, there ARE variations.

            Let's take Chef Alan Wong, as an example. He grew up in the Islands, and still draws heavily on that background.

            Now, he does not do "plate lunch" proper, but draws on that cuisine, along with his poke, and other influences, to create HIS cuisine.

            One can do "local," without going to a plate-lunch truck.

            Just thinking,


            1. re: Bill Hunt


              Kathryn specifically mentioned plate lunch, and none of the ones mentioned are lunch wagons (the local term for food trucks.) There is a grouping of lunch wagons at the intersection of Kapahulu and Winam, although I haven't been to check it out yet. Humm, maybe lunchtime today . . .

              And as mentioned in my post above, and UES below there are a bunch of take out places in International Market Place. Most of them are at least decent, a few are good, it's worth a walk around, and if nothing there looks good, puka dogs is right down the street on Kuhio.

            2. re: kathryn

              The food court at the International Market Place should satisfy all your cravings for "plate lunches". Many ethnic choices and delicious.

        2. Aloha WeHo Chica!
          Hit up Leonards for malasadas..
          Giovanni's Shrimp Truck in North Shore in O'ahu for da best garlic shrimp with 2 scoops.
          Matsumotos for shave ice
          Maui..Bev Gannons General Store

          No Kauai? Hamura Saimen with a slice of Lilikoi pie is sublime..James Beard nom.
          Tiki Iniki is Todd and Michele Rundgren..
          Tiki bar opens in May.

          Aloha and Mahalo

          9 Replies
          1. re: Beach Chick

            Absolutely second Beach Chick's advice to visit Hamura me the best noodle house in the islands. I've been a travel agent for 30-plus years and know NCL's Pride of America schedule well (and have sailed it in a penthouse suite personally with hubby for our 30th anniversary) and the ship overnights on Maui and Kauai both. On the Big Island it does Hilo and Kailua-Kona. We rented cars on both Maui and Kauai, as the ship docks in Kahului and we wanted to get to the leaward side of Maui, and on Kauai we wanted to get up to Hanalei and Princeville as our friends had never been to the islands. It cost us $5 to park the car overnight on one island and parking was free next to the pier on the other but I can't recall which was which. Would do that cruise again in a heartbeat. Have cruised the islands three times now -- American Hawaii Cruises, Aloha Pacific Cruises and NCL -- and it is a wonderful way for a first-time visitor to really get a feel for Hawaii in a short amount of time without packing up, turning in rental cars, clearing security, waiting for flights, taking flights, running across the new airport to pick up a new car, driving to a new hotel, checking in, unpacking, yuck, yuck, yuck!!!

            1. re: pilotgirl210

              palace saimin on oahu > hamura's on kauai

              1. re: indelibledotink

                Never said it wasn't :=) The ship docks overnight on Kauai so a visit to Hamura Saimen is easy to do. That was my point.

                1. re: pilotgirl210

                  you said of hamuras, " me the best noodle house in the islands."

                  i've had both hamura's, which was ok, but palace really has their recipe perfected. i also like jane's fountain and zippys.

                  hamura is on kauai, palace and jane's are on oahu, and zippys is a chain all over hawaii, dunno if they are on kauai, tho.

                  did you come for their anniversary yet?

            2. re: Beach Chick

              Just visited Tiki Iniki site in Princeville Center about two hours ago. Four guys workin' away. One of 'em told me that planned opening is July 15. A view of the outside and part of the bar behind some scaffolding.

                1. re: kathryn

                  Wish we were gonna be here in July. Will have to wait till next year.

                  1. re: beantowntitletown

                    Aloha and thanks for the pics.
                    Looks like I'm gonna have to take one for the team in Sept.

                    1. re: Beach Chick

                      It's a dirty job but someone's gotta do it....

            3. Really? No Kaua'i? That's odd. But if you are there the Feral Pig is very close to where you will be in port, I highly recommend it! If you have a car and drive to the north shore I just had lunch (and wrote a post) about Luibueno it was really good. I do not like Haleiwa Joe's there - I have one near the 'hood and only carry out in Kaneohe. Yes, most people go to the shrimp trucks but I just cannot get behind sitting at a picnic table (unless it's Whole Ox in Kakaako) with a bunch of strangers and lots of flies. That's just me. You are very lucky to go on the cruise! You will have lots of fun I'm sure! Welcome to Hawaii! Since you are in Waikiki I would go to Roy's. I've been there a lot in the last few weeks and every time I'm completely absorbed in the menu and have a hard time deciding what to have.

              13 Replies
              1. re: manomin

                Aloha bruddah..
                Roys Waikiki is the only Roys I go much is our beloved Diva doing?
                I gotta play drums with Roy..

                1. re: Beach Chick

                  Actually I'm female! But she's doing great! Saw her a week ago. The kitchen just poured out the love and creativity. I gotta say that Duroc pork chop is just amazing. If you go try the lobster appetizer with port syrup and rosemary butter! It's baked in an escargot dish, piping hot and needs bread to just soak up all that yummy sauce! I've been once a month so far this year. Also pictured the blackend ahi and the misoyaki butterfish. I remember back when Roy and his band would play events, such fun!

                  1. re: manomin

                    Aloha Sistah!
                    Apologies to you..
                    Great pics!
                    Drooling over the Ahi..

                  2. re: Beach Chick

                    I always thought manomin was a bruddah as well-lol

                      1. re: UES Mayor

                        Well only when I have to be!

                        No need for apologies Beach Chick! Only Hunt has met me IRL at the Halekulani.

                        Did you see the news, Bob McGee has left the Whole Ox. Good luck to him in his new ventures. I totally loved that burger! I did not like the whole onion slices so they would mince them up very finely for me and it was so good!

                        On another note I have to say that Haleiwa Joe's did not show well last week. Their burger was less than memorable and their baked potato was just a microwaved soggy specimen. The spinach salad was still good however.

                          1. re: manomin

                            Speaking of that Halekulani event, I just found out that one of our favorite chefs from Blackberry Farm was there - dang!



                            1. re: manomin

                              Hunt mentioned what a fab time he had with all you islanders!
                              Wish I was there..hopefully, next time.

                              Only heard rave's about Whole Ox but never been..heard the falafel was excellent in a meat centric place.

                              Aloha and Mahalo

                              1. re: manomin

                                Saw the announcement about Bob McGee. Change is unavoidable. Heaven knows they were doing lots of business.

                                Sorry to hear that Haleiwa Joe's didn't measure up. I'm starting to think the problem there is a lack of consistency. Was there a month ago, made a dinner of various pupus and it was quite good.

                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                  Well it's the "only game in town" for our side especially for local people. I live down the road and only go there if someone is going to the airport early in the evening and a fast close meal is needed. I do like their prime rib but was not feeling well so that was out. I don't like the smell of the place when there is rain as everything absorbs the moisture and it smells musty. The people who work there are nice and that's a plus. They always have a line of people waiting to get in at happy hour or I think they call it "aloha hour." You are right, change is unavoidable.

                              2. re: Beach Chick

                                Don't forget to have the Lava Cake at Roys. Absolutely decadent.

                            2. As one Mississippian to one who has that family geographic background, where will you be to celebrate the anniversary? That can be very important.

                              For the North Shore, at Turtle Bay (unless there have been some changes recently), the best dining is at 21 Degrees North, and Ola. They are totally different, with 21 Degrees being the more upscale. Ola is unique, though much more laid back. It can be up, or it can be down. We have encountered both ends of that spectrum.

                              21 Degrees has always come though for us, and we have had few complaints - really tiny little things, that could have been done better. The food, and the wine, have always been the best on the North Shore.

                              Back in Honolulu/Waikiki, I would have several "special occasion" restaurants for you, and all are quite "up-scale." While great, if the "big day" is elsewhere, you might, or might not want those recs.

                              Please let us know a bit more.



                              1. Hi - OP here- wow! You guys are awesome. I'm going to sort through all the recs and keep it all at hand. So to answer some questions...
                                -We will have a car on Maui.
                                - Also, we will be going to Kaua'i, I just left it off the run-down in my haste to get the post up.
                                -The actual anniversary is going to be celebrated at a luau outing coordinated by the cruise ship. But- I'm happy to know about everything. (Husband and I may sneak off to one of those North Shore spots by ourselves. shhh.)
                                My in laws are world traveled and open minded. All thoughts on what's good to try are welcome.They love seeing the real side of places as opposed to "Tourist Central." Thanks so much to you all! Gotta love the internet.

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: wehochick

                                  In Honolulu this past January, we loved Ono Seafood (closed Tuesdays), Leonard's, House Without a Key (drinks/atmosphere, not food), the Saturday morning KCC Farmers Market, Ono Hawaiian Foods (closed Sundays), Chef Mavro (prix fixe/tasting only), Nanzan GiroGiro (kaiseki, reservations required), Morning Glass (breakfast), Sushi Izakaya Gaku (reservations highly recommended), Ramen Nakamura. Honolulu is a Japanese food heaven due to the many tourists who come from Japan.

                                  In Maui, we love Local Food in Lahaina, Ululani's Shave Ice (multiple locations), Kihei Caffe (in Kihei), Mama's Fish House (good food, great atmosphere, near Paia), Lahaina Grill, Eskimo Candy (Kihei, closed weekends). We also love buying Golden Glow mangoes from Yee's in Kihei (check hours before you go). We tend to stick more to where we stay in South Maui than West Maui, etc. as driving back is not terribly attractive after dinner. You'll probably want to look into Star Noodle.

                                  For the local food type places, always call ahead to confirm hours. Lots of plate lunch & poke places are more lunch oriented and run out of food by the end of the day. Shave ice places in general are more of a mid-afternoon treat. Also a fair number of poke places aren't open on weekends/certain days of the week. So you'll need to make sure you plan ahead to get your fill of local food (plate lunch, shave ice, etc) and all the fruit you can eat. The fruit is amazing in Hawaii... Pineapples, passionfruit, guava, mangoes, coconut....

                                  1. re: kathryn

                                    my advice is to stay away from ono hawaiian foods on oahu. crazy inflated prices, miniscule portions, hassle to park nearby, and the absolute worst food, not worthy of being called hawaiian food. fortunately, you are going to a luau, so you can get a better taste of hawaiian food.

                                    you may also like to try liliha bakery for their coco puffs, like cream puffs, but filled with chocolate pudding and topped with their very sweet and buttery chantilly frosting. the chantilly cake is also a favorite. most of the other baked goods are a pass, but the diner food is tasty, especially their grilled butter rolls topped with a specialty neon pink jelly.

                                    1. re: indelibledotink

                                      My husband and I hate the combo laulau and kalua pork plate, it was more than enough for two people, and a reasonable price. I thought the laulau and kalua pork were excellent. I also really enjoyed the pipikuala. You can walk from Waikiki if you are staying more towards the Diamond Head side.

                                      Where else would you recommend going for laulau and kalua pork near Waikiki (when we visited we did not have a car)?

                                        1. re: kathryn

                                          there is a place called haile's on kapahulu, but i have never eaten there. i am sure it's better than ono's. ono's was some of the worst food i have ever eaten. it's probably part of the reason why so many tourists think hawaiian food is a turnoff.

                                          i really like people's cafe in the downtown/pali area, which is accessible via bus. new owners have really fixed this place up.

                                          helena's in kalihi is a favorite for many, but i have not eaten here either.

                                          laulau and poke can be bought at the supermarkt and kalua pig is easy to make at home, like lomi salmon. the quality is much better than ono's. so are the portions and price!!!! i did a critique on ono's about two months ago. terrible.

                                          OP is going to a luau, however, so the food should be ok.

                                          1. re: indelibledotink

                                            Haile's is quite good for Hawaiian food, and probably has a lot of things that won't be present at the luau.

                                  2. re: wehochick

                                    How long in Kauai?
                                    HIt up drinks and app's at the St. Regis, Tiki Iniki, Tahiti Nui, Hamura Saimin's and maybe pay some respect to Duke's with a fresh lei and a mai tai.

                                    Will you go to Kiribati too?

                                    1. re: Beach Chick

                                      Does Tahiti Nui still their their luau on Wednesday nights? That was my one and only luau, way back in the mid 80s. It happened to be a birthday of a local mom, also. It was nice and low key. The little daughter (maybe 6 or 7) did a hula for her mom. Food was basic, but so much fun to be eating among the locals on a special night.

                                      Since the OP is a noodle lover, I'll suggest the Marukame Noodle House on Kuhio, just behind the IMP in Waikiki. Fresh udon noodles, made in front of you. Several preparations of the noodles. Then there's various tempura items you pick from. It's "cafeteria" style and it's bad form to have someone save a table! I really loved the noodles (I got the hot one with the soft egg on top) and the pumpkin tempura. A bowl of udon with 4 pieces of tempura and a drink was under $10.

                                      1. re: chowing kat

                                        i've never been, but their website says wednesday night luau night is back.