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Sep 9, 2013 06:20 AM

Is Ono Hawaiian Food (Honolulu) still good?

If note, any other recommendations for laulau, poke, and other traditional Hawaiian fare?

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  1. I really liked it on a trip this past January, especially the laulau, kalua pork, and pipikaula. It was recommended to me by a foodie/food blogger friend who grew up in Honolulu. She still goes there on a regular basis.

    I know there's at least one poster on this board who doesn't like Ono Hawaiian.

    I think in general, though, Helena's is probably the board favorite, but their hours may not work for your schedule. And unlike Ono Hawaiian, it's not a short walk/bus ride from Waikiki. Depends on where you're staying and if you have a car or not.

    Also, really you should look poke specialists as *totally* separate from the plate lunch / Hawaiian food joints.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kathryn

      that's me that hates ono Hawaiian. I was so disappointed after all the hype.

      I like people's café near longs on pali hwy/bishop st and vineyard blvd.

    2. I haven't been to Ono's in a LONG time. It gets very mixed reviews.

      Not far up the street on Kapahulu at Palani is Haili's. I will get my neck chopped for this, but I think for the most part its a better experience than Ono's, if not as venerated.

      Another long time favorite is People's cafe by Pali Longs. Note, parking in the safeway/longs parking lot is not recommended. nuff said. I think People's is still cash only.

      Yama's in Moiliili and Young's in Iwilei/Kalihi also have strong followings. And as Katherine mentioned Helena's is very highly regarded.

      Going much further afield, Highway Inn in Waipahu has a loyal following as well. And for more of a take out place, Alicia's market is an experience. Very good food. Impossible parking, no place to eat. The poke is broke da mout.

      4 Replies
      1. re: KaimukiMan

        Have you eaten at People's Café recently--after they closed for renovations in 2012? Recently, three of us had variations of the Hawaiian plate and ended up NOT being impressed with any of the dishes except for the pipikaula. I used to be a fan, but no more.

        I think the lunch/dinner buffet at the Willow's, which features Hawaiian food plus prime rib, is the more enjoyable dining experience, what with the koi pond and waterfall, the thatched roof open air seating, and Hawaiian music at night.

        1. re: honu2

          I agree the setting at Willow's is hard to beat, short of being on the beach. The last time I was there for the "Hawaiian Buffet", probably two years ago, it left much to be desired. Laulau was dried out, the poi was thin, the haupia grainy, the kalua and cabbage oily and wet, and the rice had been in the rice cooker way too long. I was terribly sad.

          It has been some time since I've been to People's, certainly not since the renovation. Sad to hear it has gone downhill.

          1. re: KaimukiMan

            people's café got new owners/new dishes. I've been happy with the food there several times since the renovation. it's funny, the one dish I didn't like was the pipikaula - it was just a piece of steak!

            you can park in the longs/cvs lot in the non-angled stalls under the trees, or in back of the restaurant downstairs.

            1. re: KaimukiMan

              My experience at Willows was last week (as a substitute for Indigo which had closed without notice). The laulau was ok, not wonderful but not dried out; the chicken long rice, and lomi slamon were very good (probably because the tomatoes were actually ripe); and the ahi sashimi and various kinds of poke were much in demand. There were, however, a lot of offerings which were scarcely touched, so it may be that customers (the crowd was mainlylocal) are selecting only the best items or gravitating toward the raw fish items.