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Good Cheap eats on west side of Oahu

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We are staying at the Ihilani on the west side and are hoping to eat at good local places if possible rather than expensive resort food. If any of the Marriott's restaurants are really worth the price I'd like to know that too. We'll go to Honalulu and Waikiki for one day, Pearl Harbor and Hanauma Bay for a day each too, but otherwise will mostly be on the west side.
Also plan to do the shrimp trucks, the KCC Farmers Market, shave ice at Matsumoto. Traveling with a 14 year old boy who has big appetite but not too discriminating tastes. I know Hawaii is expensive but hoping to get away with spending $10-15 each on lunches and $40 apiece on dinners (no alcohol or dessert). Can you tell I am cheap? Yes I am staying at expensive resort but got a screaming deal! Is this possible without eating garbage (aka franchise fast food)?

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  1. Welcome to West Oahu.... Kapolei is the second city, and it is only about 5 miles from Ko Olina. There are several restaurants in the area:
    1. Chinese (5)
    2. Thai-Laotian (1)
    3. Vietnamese (3)
    3. Korean (2)
    4. Italian (2)
    5. Organic Deli (1)
    6. Japanese curry / noodle house (at leasat 3)
    7. Pizza (Brick Oven, Pizza Hut,, Papa Johns)
    8. Local food (several)
    9. Chain restaurants (Chili's, Denny's, Ruby's)
    10. Sushi restaurants (at least 3)
    11. Mexican (1)
    12. Other fast foods restaurants...
    13. Starbucks (2)
    14... others that I miss....

    Of course in a hurry, there is the Ko Olina Village with several restaurants as well... though not too much varieties.

    These restaurants are mostly located in the various shopping centers in Kapolei. And, if you want to venture further, Waipahu City is only about 12 miles from Ko Olina and they too have several ethnic restaurants. Have fun!

    Please visit these paces...

    1 Reply
    1. re: roro808

      If you do make it into Waipahu, Tanioka's is famous for poke as well as take out bentos. Highway Inn for real Hawaiian food as opposed to a commercial luau. Also Elena's for Filipino food, love their lechon (crispy roast pork), sari sari and fried rice omelet.

    2. Oops...need to add: We have two grocery stores in KapoleiL Safeway and Foodland, and of course, Costco -- where you can purchase food from their deli's. And, favorite restaurant for residents: Zippy's - a chain local food where you can dine in a clean and friendly atmosphere, and they also have bakery -- their coconut pastry is to die for. Try them.

      4 Replies
      1. re: roro808

        I adored Zippy's. Wish I tried the Korean chicken and the chili and rice. I wanted to go back for a 3rd time but we decided on Daichi ramen. It was nice comfort food, nothing fancy but superior to hotel breakfast. We did the character breakfast at the Aulani once, it was $100 for 2 adults and 2 kids and the food was so so so sad, except the island fried rice.

        1. re: Ela0427

          Next time, try the Napoleon' Bakery's coconut pastry... it really is delicious. Haven't had it for a while since watching my calories.....LOL

          1. re: roro808

            I think we tried it. Got a box filled with pastries, one of each. They were all really good, even the leftovers then next day.

            1. re: Ela0427

              Next time try Thelma's breakfasts in Waipahu.

      2. You might be interested in the "Good food in Kapolei" thread of 6/8/14 and similar threads on this board.

        1. We just got back from Ko Olina this weekend. Kapolei will be your friend. we had 2 kids with us.
          1. Thai Lao was really fantastic. Loved the beef larb and the evil jungle curry. Drunken noodles with beef were super tasty. Bring your own beer or buy it at the gas station next door. He encouraged us to do so and brought cold beer glasses. A cold Kirin and spicy Thai food was heaven
          2. Zippy's...we went twice for breakfast. I can describe it as a hawaiian Denny's. We really liked it. Chicken and waffles (LOVE), wonton saimin, eggs with rice and Portuguese sausage, moco loco. Great donuts at the Napoleon bakery located in the front of Zippy's. Quite busy with locals in the morning and the donuts sell fast. Very reasonable!!
          3. Foodland has nice basics and the poke counter was tasty and $11.99/lb but previously frozen. Regardless the spicy poke was really good
          4. Costco has great items including poke. We went there the first morning to get some essentials. Delicious pineapple and great fruit selection.
          5. Daichi Ramen next to Foodland was OK and very well priced. Free gyoza with ramen before 5. It was $40 for 4 of us
          4. 10 min away in Waipahu you have the Leonard's Mobile Malasada Truck...YAYYYYYY and the Montain Magic Shave ice. Both are excellent!!!!! We went twice for Leonards. I cannot emphasize enough how good a warm malasada can be.
          5. Pizza corner across from hotel was surprisingly very good (we were really hungry). $30 for pizza (meat and veggie special) and garlic knots
          6. Monkeypod for happy hour 3-5. Pizza's are discounted and the cocktails are $8 vs 12.50. 1/2 off appetizers, excluding the poke. I loved Merriman's version of saimin there ($14 and very very filling). The Mai Tai there is potent! Dinner is packed so make a reservation, they have music outside on patio.
          7. The Island Market across the street (fancy ABC store) had yummy Spam Musubi and other basics..close to hotel but more expensive.
          8. Everything at Aulani is crap, maybe go for an evening drink and listen to music...avoid the food at all costs.
          9. We did go to Roy's and had a fabulous meal.. They do have a $45 prix fixe meal. I had the miso butterfish and it was delicious.
          10. Sunset drinks at House without a key was a lovely experience, traffic coming back was crappy because H1 was closed at 8 pm.

          Walk over to Lagoon 2 and it will be a much calmer and more relaxing.
          Lagoon 3 has Longboards at the Marriott Beach club. Food was OK but cannot beat walking from the sand to lunch and having a great frozen Mai Tai.

          11 Replies
          1. re: Ela0427

            This, obviously, is the post of someone who really has done their research. HATS OFF TO YOU!

            1. re: Joebob

              Thank you! There is a fine line between over prepping for a trip and being informed. I have 2 small kids and when they are hungry, they ARE hungry. Goal was to know where the good stuff is and to avoid fast food. This board is awesome. I also knew we would be in a limited resort area and would have to venture out. We stayed in a condo and at the Aulani so I also wanted to avoid cooking at home and eating the Aulani food that I read so much about. Happy to report all the reviews are true and I included a food review in my post Disney stay survey.

              1. re: Ela0427

                do you mean the food at the Aulani wasn't very good? we are going in September...no small kids but we do like good food :)

                1. re: toncasmo

                  No! it was not good, you can read all the Tripadvisor reviews too and the reviews on this board. We did not try Ama Ama but everything else was mediocre. BUT BUT BUT everything else was fantastic, it was fun, gorgeous, great cocktails, great rooms, service etc. Typical Disney, they do everything well except the food..in general. There are so so many other options around the island that it is worth getting out. I was expecting it so we planned accordingly. Just a quick walk across the street you have several options. You will have a great time! One of the poolside shacks had good coconut shrimp, the poolside menu had the typical dry burger, bland chicken fingers, some salads. It does not matter, you are in paradise and it will taste better.

                  1. re: Ela0427

                    thank you, can't wait, and thank you for this list..sounds amazing. i just know some times you just want to go somewhere without getting into the car (from California so we spend our lives in cars!!) so where is best place to get cocktails and which ones are best?? you can see where i'm headed...adults at disney!! :)
                    thank you agan

                    1. re: toncasmo

                      haha, we came from So CA too. Happy hour at Monkey Pod!!!! Great drinks for $8 and good apps and pizza. Aulani has a downstairs bar where they had music at night, good drinks there too and specials on pupus. I think a walk to Longboards at lagoon 3 is worth it for the frozen Mai Tai, i was skeptical but that baby was orgasmic in the middle of the day.

                      1. re: toncasmo

                        Oh and for maximum relaxation with a cocktail in hand (add $9 to have it in a pineapple) get one of the lounge chairs that faces the beach instead of the pool. See the difference in the two views!!

                         
                         
                        1. re: Ela0427

                          love it! thanks...might have to spring for that pineapple

                          1. re: toncasmo

                            Yes, I did once too. I even got one for the kids..a $6 strawberry smoothie in a $9 pineapple= priceless joy

                    2. re: toncasmo

                      I would def suggest a walk to Roy's and Monkeypod. A burger at the poolside lounge at the Aulani was $18 and came covered in onion rings and BBQ sauce. At Monkeypod for $14 you get this amazing flavorful saimin, local veggies, local family made noodles. An entire prix fixe dinner at Roy's was $45.. appetizer, entree and dessert.

                2. re: Ela0427

                  Great report! If you want to avoid crowds and just relax,, the west side resorts are the places to go...and relax (or Turtle Bay Hilton on the north shore...). Unfortunately these resorts can't compete with the Waikiki resorts--foodwise, that is.

                3. We did go to North shore but did not eat at one of the shrimp trucks. Instead we went to Breaker's (found parking, did not know anything about it). I had a delicious garlic shrimp plate with mac salad and rice. And their poke was really really good, a nice version with the sea asparagus. Good food and the soccer game to watch. The line at matsumoto's was soooooo long in the middle of the day, husband said NO f'ing way. It is worth stopping on the way to North Shore at the Dole Pineapple Plantation for a Dole Whip. tourist mecca but the frozen treat was good.

                  1. One last comment, we did North Shore to Turtle bay one day. Next day we drove through Pali highway to lookout and came down into Kailua, then went to Lanikai beach. That was the beach highlight of the trip. Afterwards we drove by Hanauma bay.
                    Kailua General store had fantastic shave ice with some house made delicious syrups. Lunch at Uahi Island Grill was very reasonable and excellent. Fried lemon grass shrimp and garlic chicken...yuuuuummmy

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Ela0427

                      Ela427- thank you for these tips- this is exactly what I was slookign for. LI love my food- I bosess over it, but I hate wastign good mony on bad,mediocre or wildly overpriced food. Your tips are all things that my son (and I) will enjoy eating and places to avoid are just as important. And an orgasmic cocktail to boot? you speak my language. Thanks to other posters as well- I will report back when I return in a week.

                      1. re: Ela0427

                        Obviously I did not proofread my spelling. How embarassing. Ela427- thank you for these tips- this is exactly what I was looking for. I love my food- I obsess over it, but I hate wasting good money on bad, mediocre or wildly overpriced food. Your tips are all things that my son (and I) will enjoy eating and places to avoid are just as important. And an orgasmic cocktail to boot? you speak my language. Thanks to other posters as well- I will report back when I return in a week.

                        1. re: Foodienancy

                          You will have a great time, I am still suffering from post vacation depression and withdrawals from daily fruity/girly/island cocktails.