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Jul 4, 2013 01:27 AM

Not really feeling it!!

I recently moved to Honolulu from the Middle East and have had to dine out for nearly every meal since being here due to my household items still being in transit. I've been using urbanspoon, yelp and word of mouth to guide my food hunt. I'm not going to trash any restaurants by name but I'm honestly disappointed with dining scene here in general. I've tried the heavy hitters in the following categories: American, BBQ, Burgers, Chinese, Filipino, Greek, Hawaiian, Hot dogs(they're good), Indian, Korean, Latin, Seafood, thai and couple of sandwich shoppes. Don't know if it's just me (it must be) but yeah, just kinda let down by it. The food scene was one of the main reasons I moved here too. The loco-moco's and plate lunches I've heard all about for years are gross; and it seems that much of the food makes up with greasy pork products and a deep fryer for what it's lacking in quality ingredients and cooking skill. To give you an example I recently got a $13 Fish Taco from this supposed must eat and it was a dry flavorless pile of crap with pico and no sauce. I'm not trying piss anyone off here or get flamed by a bunch of people, I need some sound advice to some eye-opening places because this consistent losing streak is making me depressed.

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  1. you should mention which restaurants you've been to so we can suggest others you haven't tried.

    1 Reply
    1. re: indelibledotink

      Good suggestion, I'm sure you can get some alternate suggestions here. Otherwise hang in there, there are some good places to eat locally and once your household items arrive, you can start cooking for yourself again. Best of luck.

    2. You've tried a wide range of cuisines and are not happy; perhaps it's time for you to admit you've made a mistake and move some location more suitable to your tastes whatever they may be. I'm not saying this with any kind of animosity; rather it's based on my experience with two co-workers who left Hawaii after one year's residence. The first, from Kansas City, Kansas, insisted that Yong Sing then one of the longest running Chinese restaurants in Honolulu, didn't know how to prepare shrimp fried rice. The second, who moved from Denver, disliked the food served at Indigo which is basically Pacific fusion, because it wasn't "American." Hawaii is what Hawaii is, and it can be really difficult for a newcomer to be accepted socially. When one thinks about it, eating is a social experience.

      3 Replies
      1. re: honu2

        Honu2 makes some good points. If you aren't able to adapt your tastes to what Hawaii offers you might consider cutting your losses. Aside from a few of the top end restaurants Hawaii isn't necessarily a gourmet place. We don't specialize in locally grown foods, we tend to avoid fruits and vegetables for sugar and starch, and food isn't highly seasoned. But I'm not sure what you expected from a plate lunch or a loco moco. A bowl of plain white rice with a hamburger patty on it, smothered in brown gravy, and topped with a fried egg is pretty basic. I don't know what it is you thought it was going to be. I've had some really good fish taco's here, but this isn't Mexico or California.

        If it's not pushing too much, might I ask if you have been eating alone or with others? Its been my experience that when I eat alone the experience is often diminished from when I have someone that I am sharing the meal with. Just Sayin. I hope things turn around for you.

        1. re: KaimukiMan

          I think it's way too early to be planning to move somewhere else just because you've not found restaurants you like yet. let us know where you've tried, what you think is good from other places you've lived or dishes you like in general.

          I think Hawaii IS a great food destination, and I've lived in nyc which is a mecca for food. foodwise we are starting to evolve.

          growing up, I hated sushi. I had only futomaki, and that's what I thought sushi was. when I was in my early 20s, my friend took me to a real sushi joint, sushi masa (which has since closed and had it's own high and low points), and I experienced real sushi. I fell in love. my point is you should stick it out and you will find something that you like here, maybe even love.

          1. re: KaimukiMan

            I think the OP will be happy when their kitchen supplies arrive. With some great local ingredients and some from the big island meals can be spectacular

        2. What about Japanese restaurants?

          What poke joints have you tried?

          The Pig & The Lady? KCC Farmers Market?

          1. also, when you say you've tried "American, BBQ, Burgers, Chinese, Filipino, Greek, Hawaiian, Indian, Korean, Latin, Seafood, thai and couple of sandwich shoppes," do you mean you've had those in the middle east and liked them, or this is your first time trying those types of foods?

            where did you live before the mid east/what cuisine did you grow up with?

            6 Replies
            1. re: indelibledotink

              In Bahrain there is restaurants from every part of globe but the majority is Levantine Cuisine. Of that region Lebanese seems to be the most popular in the United States. You can't get a lot of those dishes here but I can cook all of them so not a major concern. I've been all over the world and eaten regional nearly everywhere and maybe I need to learn more about the local food here before coming to any conclusions. I did loads of research but maybe not in the right places.


              1. re: ozuye

                Well, you can't get much different in spices/flavorings. Most local restaurants don't serve dishes flavored with zaatar, ground coriander, pomegranate molasses, sumac. (I have yet to find a local vendor of sumac.) Asian cuisine, as you probably have found out, depends a lot on soy sauce (we call it shoyu in Hawaii), fresh ginger, sugar.

                Have you discovered a food truck called ShogunaiTacos? Their menu can be found at Despite the name, it's run by an Israeli. My fave is the French fries with his version of zaatar.

                1. re: honu2

                  'da falafel king' is another food truck run by Israelis. i'm not sure where they are now. I have heard nothing but good reviews.

                  1. re: indelibledotink

                    They now have a brick and mortar location on king St next to Chiang Mai/Peace Cafe, in the old Diego's Taco spot. Not sure if the truck is still active. Good falafel sandwiches.

                  2. re: honu2

                    You can get sumac at India Market, 2357 S Beretania St. However, the zaatar I got from them was sort of old, so I'm not sure about the freshness overall.

                    1. re: Quince

                      Thanks for the info. I'm probably better off with Penzey's products or wait until I hit LA again.

              2. Military 30 years and lived everywhere. Been here 8 years and you are so right! Due to high taxes, almost monopoly Matson shipping et cetera restaurants can hardly make a dime so quality is poor. Inspections for cleanliness suspect as well. BUT try Olive Tree Cafe in Kahala and Le Bistro in Aina Haina and 3660 On the Rise. Take mainland vacations to eat well. Otherwise learn to cook.

                1 Reply
                1. re: cynthiahawaiikai

                  good call on 3660, but it's expensive. i'm surprised you don't like roy's in Hawaii kai. I've only been there once, but it's good pacific rim fusion.

                  i'm not wild about greek food, it's ok once in awhile. what there is here is the same as what I got in ny. (which is probably crap compared to the middle east/mediterrenean.)