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short stay on oahu - feedback for dining options please!

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i'll be taking my wife to oahu for the weekend, we are very adventurous and will literally eat anything. i am most interested in local flavors, whether that's indigenous hawaiian or fusion food not found elsewhere. i love to first sample the food at its 'roots', like at a street stall or mom and pop shop, then visit a more upscale place where those same flavors and influences are elevated.

it is our first trip to hawaii and we are staying in waikiki. we usually like to stay in more 'quirky' places but hotels were much easier to book in the city on short notice. i will rent a car.

here's what i've come up with so far, suggestions would be much appreciated:

friday: land around 9pm. still need a place to grab a bite.

saturday:

breakfast: kcc farmer's market

lunch: ono's hawaiian? side street inn?

dinner: i have reservations at alan wong's but they are only doing the valentine's day menu, which doesn't look as interesting as their normal tasting menu. i'm open to better options. there is also the honolulu night market going on, which might be cool either as dinner or as post-dinner activity.

sunday

breakfast: need suggestions. i thought it might be fun to do a driving tour of the island on sunday, go up to north shore and come down on the east coast.

lunch: ???. i would like to find somewhere to do a short hike while driving around the island, we might just grab a bite at any place that looks interesting. shrimp trucks? plate lunch?

dinner: i have reservations at morimoto's for omakase. it was kind of a 'back-up plan' to ensure we had at least one upscale meal, in case alan wong's didn't work out. again, alternate suggestions welcome.

monday

breakfast: this will probably be close to the hotel since we fly out around 11, but i'd still like for it to be an interesting meal if possible.

come on chowhound, hit me with what you've got!

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  1. Side Street for late arrival?

    Nico's at Pier 38 for a late breakfast half-way to the airport?

    1 Reply
    1. re: macaraca

      sounds like late night side street might be the way to go!

    2. Late Friday arrival I would do Side Street Inn, Salt, Tokkuri Tei or Izakaya Nonbei.
      Saturday lunch maybe Nico's Pier 38, Lucky Belly, or Pig & the Lady after exploring Chinatown?
      Maybe change the saturday Alan Wong's dinner to sunday instead since you aren't that interested in the valentine's menu? Other options are Chef Mavro or Roy's, maybe Azure?
      Monday breakfast maybe Diamond Head Market & Grill?

      10 Replies
      1. re: killersmile

        The Pig & The Lady is at the KCC Farmers Market, though, just FYI, might feel repetitive.

        1. re: kathryn

          They have a different menu at the restaurant though. Especially for Saturday brunch or dinner. Late night is also different.

          1. re: killersmile

            Yeah I was just wondering if it would feel repetitive on such a short trip or not.

        2. re: killersmile

          alan wong's only had a slot available for saturday, i'll check with them again today but i'm not betting on it.

          out of the other options [chef mavro, roy's, azure] which would you say has the most creative/unusual menu? it can be difficult to decipher just from reading text, as a lot of menus don't include all the ingredients, and a vanilla-sounding description can often turn out to be a rather interesting dish.

          i'll check out all the other suggestions you posted, much thanks!

          1. re: krappyappy

            Depends on where you're coming from and what types of food you are regularly exposed to. Someone from California compared to someone from Idaho might have a very different definition of creative/unusual.
            Let me also mention MW (Alan Wong alumni) and the Pineapple Room (Alan Wong's more downscale restaurant) as options for upscale takes on local food.
            I would say take a look at the menus yourself (they all have websites), check out the pictures on yelp and decide based on what interests you the most.
            http://www.chefmavro.com/english/
            http://royshawaii.com/menus/
            http://www.azurewaikiki.com/cuisine.html
            http://www.alanwongs.com/pineapple-ro...
            http://mwrestaurant.com/menus/
            Since you mentioned Nanzan Giro Giro in a post below, i'll say that I love that place. While it isn't fusion and is strictly japanese kaiseki, it is very good for the price. If you haven't experienced that type of food before it can seem unusual/creative.

            1. re: killersmile

              great, thanks for the tips!

              for japanese restaurants, between morimoto and nanzan giro giro, which do you prefer?

              to answer your question, we both have fairly experienced palates, and unusual is becoming difficult to find at this point.

              1. re: krappyappy

                Have you seen my review here? They served us cod milt!
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/885453

                1. re: kathryn

                  i did! in fact your review was one of the reasons i wanted to go there.

                2. re: krappyappy

                  definitely nanzan giro giro. the food totally reminds me of some of my meals in japan.

                  1. re: krappyappy

                    you can go to morimoto in several us cities
                    http://www.ironchefmorimoto.com/resta...

                    for a first, short trip to HI, i would stick to things you cannot get elsewhere

            2. If you land around 9pm, by the time you get off the plane, get any checked baggage, get your rental car, and drive into Waikiki from the airport, it might be quite a bit later.

              Are you coming from the Mainland? You might not actually be hungry that late since you'll be tired and jetlagged. It's also possible you'll be so tired you won't want to go out to eat.

              Don't do the Morimoto omakase on Sunday. Their sushi is not that good judging from what I've had at the NYC one, and their omakase isn't worth it -- go a la carte and order the cooked / composed dishes if you want to go to Morimoto.

              Also - we can help more if you post what hotel you're staying at.

              2 Replies
              1. re: kathryn

                you're absolutely right, we're flying in from seattle and while it's a 6 hr direct flight, we could very well be too tired to bother.

                the hotel is vive hotel in waikiki.

                regarding morimoto, i'm not wedded to going there at all. i've been reading up on nanzan giro giro and it seems like an interesting experience. i'll call them and see if there are any spots left for either night.

                1. re: krappyappy

                  Nanzan GiroGiro is excellent and a great value for the price.

              2. Go to KCC market as early as possible!! It gets very crowded w tons of tourist. I pigged out on Big Island abalone. Why don't you try Rainbows for lunch after KCC market? It would be such a local thing to do and a 10 min. drive from KCC market.

                2 Replies
                1. re: UES Mayor

                  That's also a good suggestion, but wouldn't you be a bit full after eating at the market then going a mere 10 min. away to eat again? Unless you throw in a hike up Diamond Head in between or a trip to the beaches in Waikiki or Kahala to work some of that food off.

                  1. re: killersmile

                    I'm always hungry. Or if you aren't perhaps a little detour to the Auquarium might work up an appetite again.