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Jun 12, 2013 11:53 AM

Windward Oahu Stay

Heading to Oahu in Sept with my wife & another couple to celebrate our 25th anniversaries. Staying near Kaneohe for a week and can't wait to enjoy the food. We plan on buying steaks from the Kualoa Ranch & grilling at home at least one night. Breakfast & lunches we have figured out, it's the dinners the other nights we need help with!! We really enjoy the local spots over the tourist spots. I've heard the Haleiwa Joe's is one of the best on the island,,, but which one,,,,, the one IN Haleiwa or the one in Kaneohe???? Are they owned by the same people/company??? We would like to stay around $30 a plate or under. What about cork charges, (we are bringing some incredible wines from Black Stallion in Napa) or the best wine selections. Also any info on where to get fresh seafood other than the shrimp up in Kahuku?? Can't wait to get there, thanks in advance for all the input!!

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  1. Can't comment on the two Haleiwa Joes except to say that the Kaneohe restaurant is in a beautiful garden setting on Haiku Road.

    Here are two restaurants which don't have corkage fees: Sabrina's is a small Italian restaurant in Honolulu, just off H-1 at Waialae and St. Louis Heights Drive. Sabrina handles the front and her husband is the (only) chef, which means that the entrees come out slowly unless you are having the osso bucco which must be ordered a day in advance. When we there in February, there was one table of Japanese tourists, the rest appeared to be local residents.

    The Food Company in Kailua offers plate lunches during the day, but a pretty upscale, limited but changing, dinner menu. You need to check their website for the daily menu. We had a local abalone appetizer prepared with garlic butter and wine like escargot which was wonderful. They also have good poke, but often it's sold out by dinner.

    Pah-ke's in Kaneohe has mixed Chowhound reviews, although I feel a lot of the adverse comments are due to the reviewer not knowing how or what to order. We recently had
    a whole kumu (a kind of snapper) that had been speared that morning in Kaneohe Bay. Expensive but worth it. The corkage fee is $15 per person.

    7 Replies
    1. re: honu2

      Back in the Chart House days, the Kaneohe location was the best of that chain, that I ever encountered. The setting IS fabulous.

      Now that they are HJ's, I cannot directly comment, but some trusted locals do tout it. We had a very, very mediocre meal at HJ's in Haleiwa, but have never dined at Kaneohe. Still, I trust those sources, and if they say that it is head-n-shoulders above the Haleiwa location, I will have to believe them.

      Been a bit, but we did enjoy Pah-ke's. Maybe we got the orders correct? Very good, though short of great.

      About all of my old Kaneohe haunts are no more, so am always looking for recs. on this board, as that is such a lovely area of the Island.


      1. re: honu2

        Thanks for the tips, I think that we will do the Kaneohe location if we decide to try HJ's. I looked at the websites for the Food Co & Pah-ke's,,, both menus look great!! Any suggestions for fresh local seafood & meat markets, we are wanting to grill at home too??

        1. re: KowboyK

          If you're thinking about going to Pah-ke's, my suggestion for a superior meal is that you call ahead and talk to Raymond Siu, who is the owner/chef. Tell him that the four of you staying in Kaneohe celebrating your wedding anniversaries and want a great meal with the great wines that you have with you. Ask for suggested pairings. He'll love doing it (especially if you plan it for a weekday evening when he's not so busy). Be sure to you tell him how much you want to spend per person if price is an issue for you.

          1. re: honu2

            That sounds like fun. Ballpark price pp for something like that?? Is it strictly Chinese cuisine?? I know you mentioned a fish meal you had there.

            1. re: KowboyK

              It's not strictly Chinese; Pah-ke's has a selection of salads and a rotating offering of desserts that are not normally considered Chinese food. (I like the spinach salad myself) Some of the house specialties, which may or may not be on the printed menu, are also Pacific fusion food rather than Cantonese. For example, asparagus wrapped with beef tenderloin. Our last blow-out meal was $250 for 7 for a Chinese New Year's celebration, not including corkage fees or dessert, which is why you might want to discuss in advance what your price points are.

              Whole fish is always priced at market rate, so varies with the type of fish selected, availablity and demand. As part of the $250 meal, we paid $30 for an onaga, a type of snapper with red skin, because a red fish is customarily served at Chinese New Year. In other words, high demand.

              But most times, the whole fish dish will run in the $20s.

              1. re: honu2

                Man, that sounds so good!! I think we may have to call Raymond!!!! Sounds line a super experience!!

                1. re: KowboyK

                  I hope you do and that you have a memorable meal there. Raymond is very personable and loves talking about how each dish is prepared if he's not that busy. All our visiting guests have found him quite entertaining.

                  The last time we were there we had a dessert based on a key lime pie, only he used calamondin, a small citrus favored in Filipino cuisine, which he had gotten from a small nursery in Waimanalo. His creativity shines through.

                  Also wanted to mention that except for the desserts and the rice, the food is served family style, so, for example, you don't order 4 salads, but one salad that will be divided among 4 diners.

      2. Haleiwa is a LONG drive from Kaneohe, albeit a beautiful one. Its actually faster to take H3 to Aiea then H1/H2 to the North Shore than taking Kamehameha Highway. Haleiwa Joes are the same company, and you should be OK with your budget. Not sure what their BYOB policy is. Allowing BYOB is more the exception than the rule in Hawaii. You CAN google a list of BYOB restaurants.

        I didn't know Kualoa Ranch sold steaks or meat in general.

        In general Kaneohe isn't known for their restaurants. But it's only 20 minutes or so over the hill to Honolulu.

        11 Replies
        1. re: KaimukiMan

          If HJ's was on my list, I would definitely do the Kaneohe location. Driving the Kamehameha Highway, after even one glass of wine would not be my choice.

          As for that "drive over the Pali," our Kaneohe friends do that to dine with us in Waikiki, and then usually get a room for the night - they are like us, and enjoy their wines.

          I agree about BYOW - call and inquire. Do not plan on bringing a wine on the list. Tip the sommelier, and offer a glass.

          I seldom think of BYOW, but have done it on the Big Island, and friends have done it in two Waikiki restaurants, though we also did some wines from the list.

          Only time that I had an issue was on Maui, but things have changed there fairly recently.



          1. re: KaimukiMan

            Haleiwa Joe's in Kaneohe is the only game in town for locals to celebrate, enjoy, go out. They have Aloha Hour which always has a line. It's a beautiful setting, lovely. A problem I have is that when it rains a lot during the day the evening atmosphere is perfumed with the smell of old cushions on the chairs and stale carpeting. I don't mind carry out. Their prime rib is amazing! Go for that. I have always had good service with sincerity. We just got a Teddy's Bigger Burger and that is a welcome addition. Sumo Ramen is always solid and consistent. Heei'a Pier is a good choice as well, I I know there is not a lack of consensus on this but I give them 2 thumbs up.

            1. re: manomin

              if you want the Haleiwa joe's prime rib, come early (Kaneohe location). it regularly sells out fast. cuts are LARGE. great view of a pond/garden, which you can explore.

              try nearby Kailua for other restaurants/beaches. stop at agnes' bakery for malasadas.

              1. re: indelibledotink

                Yep, in Kailua Agnes Bakery and - I hate to say it because it has become over-popular - cinnamon's for breakfast or lunch.

                1. re: indelibledotink

                  FYI to the OP, Agnes is closed Mondays.

                  1. re: indelibledotink

                    This is absolutely correct regarding the prime rib. Great tip!

                2. re: KaimukiMan

                  Thanks K-man, looks like there are several BYOB restaurants, and some food trucks. What do you know about "Dat Cajun Guy"?? I love me some cajun food, most of the reviews I've seen have been good. As for the Kualoa Ranch, they sell their grass fed beef, but it is only available at the ranch, no shipping. $12.49lb for New Yorks & Ribeyes. I'm more of a grain fed beef kind of guy, but grass fed will do!! Would love some freshh seafood to go with it, any suggestions??

                  1. re: KowboyK

                    Tamashiro Fish Market in Honolulu has a great fish selection and is kind of a fun experience in itself.

                    In Kaneohe, your best bet is probably Foodland Supermarket, although last Sunday there was a roadside vendor selling ahi across the highway from the Toyota delership. You might want to keep an eye out for other roadside fish vendors on your way up to Kualoa Ranch from Kaneohe, although keeping fish properly refrigerated/chilled is always a problem on long drives.

                    There is a farmers' market on Wednesday afternoon and Sunday mornings inside the Windward Mall in Kaneohe. Always a great place to get local produce, but once in awhile there will be a fish vendor there too.

                    1. re: honu2

                      As for fish, almost any supermarket on Oahu will have a fish/seafood counter that would shame a mainland market. People in Hawaii know fish, so they don't get away with selling bad stuff. Tamashiro mentioned by honu is a local institution. You might also check out the open markets in chinatown, for fish and for fresh meats. In addition to Tamashiro and Oahu and other open markets you might check out Monarch Seafood, Young's Fishmarket, Alicia's Market, and Fresh Catch, but most of those are in town (Honolulu). There is a Fresh Catch on the windward side, which would also be a good source for poke. In general Whole Foods has a good seafood counter, but I haven't been to the Windward Whole Foods. The Foodland fish counter in Kaneohe has a very good reputation. And again as honu2 mentioned the farmer's market at Windward Mall on wednesdays always gets good reviews.

                      Aside from what you find in Chinatown you won't find a real meat market here except for a place in Kalihi called Aala Meat Market. I've never been and it gets VERY mixed reviews on Yelp.

                      1. re: honu2

                        The farmers market sound great, where can I find the hours, I would assume the earlier the better for best selection.

                        1. re: KowboyK


                          as honu2 said, mostly for fruits and vegetables, sometimes there is seafood, sometimes not.

                          also think about some of these:


                          or if you really want to get into it read this article, but be sure to re-verify the times and locations, the article is from 2008, some things have changed since then