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Itinerary Review (Kauai, Oaho, Big Island)

Will be visiting Hawaii next week and would love any input for the food itinerary I've came up with, especially with choosing from the different places listed for Kauai. Anything we should remove/add? I know Oahu is a stretch and we might have to remove some places, but figure I'd include everything that sounds interesting! Background, we are New Yorkers with an affinity for Asian food and baked goods.

DAY 1 KAUAI
Lunch: Mark's Place
Dessert: The Right Slice
Snack: Puka Dog (& maybe Savage Shrimp)

DAY 2 KAUAI
Breakfast: Ono Family Restaurant OR Kountry Kitchen OR Pono Market
Lunch: Kilauea Fish Market OR Hanalei Dolphin Fish Market

DAY 3 KAUAI -> OAHU
After canyon drive: Island Taco
Before flight: The Fish Express (OR Koloa Fish Market)
Late Dinner at Oahu: Side Street Inn
Dessert: Liliha Bakery

DAY 4 OAHU
Breakfast: Iyasume Musubi
Lunch: Marukame Udon
Post-lunch dessert: Leonard's Bakery
Post-hike dessert: Uncle Clay's House of Pure Aloha
Lunch #2: Rainbow Drive-in
Dinner: Alan Wong's

DAY 5 OAHU
Breakfast: Mitsu-Ken
Snack for hike: Kamehameha Bakery
Lunch: Dean's Drive-Inn OR The Food Company
Snack: Agnes Portuguese Bakeshop
Dinner: Sushi Izakaya Gaku
Dessert: Bubbie's Ice Cream
Midnight Snack: Lucky Belly

DAY 6 OAHU
Breakfast: Helena’s Hawaiian Food
Bakery Stop: Ani's Bake Shop
Lunch: Giovanni's Shrimp Truck & Dat Cajun Guy
Post-lunch dessert: Matsumoto Shave Ice
Dessert #2: Ted's Bakery
Before/for flight: Ono Seafood

DAY 7 KONA
Lunch: recommendation for something in the Waikoloa area?
Early dinner (before manta snorkel): Da Poke Shack
Dessert: Scandinavian Shave Ice
Anything open late that'd be really good for a snack/second dinner at the manta snorkel?

DAY 8 KONA AND HILO
Breakfast: Hawaiian Style Cafe
Snack: Tex Drive in
Lunch: Merriman's
Early Dinner; Roy's
Midnight Snack: Ken's House of Pancakes

DAY 9 HILO AND KAILUA-VOLCANO
Breakfast: Cafe 100
Post-lunch Dessert: moonstruck patisserie
Snacks to buy: Big Island Candies, Low International Food, Two Ladies Kitchen
Lunch: Bento from Puka Puka Kitchen for later
Dinner: Thai Thai

DAY 10 VOLCANO TO KAILUA-KONA
Breakfast: ???
Lunch: Hana Hou
Post-lunch snack: Punalu'u Bake Shop
Dinner: Annie's Island Fresh Burgers (closes 8:00)

DAY 11
Breakfast: Island Lava Java
Snack: Umeke’s
Lunch: Ka'aloa's Super J's Authentic Hawaiian Food
Dinner: Rapanui Island Cafe

Thank you!! I know this looks a little crazy =D

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  1. Hey, tofu:

    You picked good places, yeah?

    Humble suggestion: Hawai'i is best enjoyed with minimal itineraries. If you have to (or already have), read up, go for a drive or walk or hike or swim, and think: "Dang I'm hungry! Hey, look over there, that's __________ I read about." Or "Oooooh, I've never tried Kahuku shrimp or akule before, but here it is, right on the road and whoa, that smells good!"

    Make it an adventure, hiki no?

    Aloha,
    Kaleo

    2 Replies
    1. re: kaleokahu

      haha I know I go a bit overboard with the food planning. it's likely we won't follow everything, but I just like to know my options =)

      1. re: tofuavecfa

        Your schedule is extremely ambitious.

        You might also find yourself tired earlier than normal due fresh air, exercise, jet lag, the time change, and unable to fit in those late night snacks.

        Your body will think it's 6 hours later.

    2. Since this a long list, I'm going to remark by island. I do travel to all these islands frequently for work and have eaten and over 90% of the places you have listed. For Kauai, I would recommend these changes:

      DAY 1 KAUAI
      Lunch: Mark's Place (good)
      Dessert: The Right Slice (never been)
      Snack: Puka Dog (& maybe Savage Shrimp) (go a little further down the road to Brick Oven Pizza in Kalaheo. Puka Dog is nothing special other than the "tropical" condiments. At Kalaheo Pizza, at least the pizza is good. Another option across the street is Kalaheo Cafe and Coffee (sandwiches and baked goods)

      DAY 2 KAUAI
      Breakfast: Ono Family Restaurant (I would stay with this one)
      Lunch: Try Kilauea Bakery (they serve lunches here and have great baked goods and coffee to boot).

      DAY 3 KAUAI -> OAHU
      After canyon drive: Try Ishihara Market (Spicy Tuna Bowl). The best seafood in Hawaii will always be of the raw variation
      Before flight: Try Kalapaki Beach Hut. Casual and decent burgers
      Late Dinner at Oahu: Side Street Inn (very good)
      Dessert: Liliha Bakery (very good but 20 minutes from Side Street. Maybe get some mochi ice cream from Bubbies on this night. It'll be 10 minutes from either Side Street location)

      9 Replies
      1. re: Sushi Otaku

        I'm a NYer and I like Puka Dog; it's something I can't find at home and it's fun.

        Not sure I would really be sending a NYer to find pizza in Hawaii.

        Ishihara Market after Waimea Canyon is a good call. You can get takeout and eat it at the picnic tables outside.

        1. re: kathryn

          Also: no visit to Hamura's Saimin?

          1. re: kathryn

            O-Ver-Rated! (Clap clap clapclapclap)

              1. re: kathryn

                If it's for saimin, I would wait until you're back on Oahu and go to Santouka Ramen (Kaheka). If it's for the Lihue area I would recommend Mark's Drive Inn II, pick up a bento box and take it to the airport.

                With that said, my friend and I were just talking about this place last weekend and he said that if you ask for the noodles "firm", that makes all the difference. I'm doubtful but willing to give it another go. I'm actually going to be on Kauai next week so maybe I'll stop by.

                  1. re: Sushi Otaku

                    So I haven't been to Hamura Saimin, and honestly I like but do not love saimin as a whole (it's comfort food to me, I grew up eating it, but the only time I crave it is when I am sick)...

                    That said, saimin is NOT the same thing as ramen and in my mind are not interchangeable. OP said they are from NY, and if they meant NYC, not only are there much better ramen places in NYC, there is an actual Santouka in the Mitsuwa in New Jersey.

                    My recommendation would be to try saimin somewhere while they are here as it is unique to the islands, even if it's not the most amazing dish. Just set your expectations accordingly :)

                    1. re: Sushi Otaku

                      Forget the Saimin at Hamura's... it's all about their Lilikoi Chiffon Pie... BEST DESSERT EVER!!! Seriously. :)

            1. re: Sushi Otaku

              And ssince this was posted the second Liliha Bakery has opened on Nimitz in the old Sam Chois accross from City Mill.

            2. DAY 4 OAHU
              Breakfast: Iyasume Musubi (if you're staying in Waikiki this day, wake up early and go to Eggs & Things instead)
              Lunch: Marukame Udon (good)
              Post-lunch dessert: Leonard's Bakery (not bad but very crowded. Champion's Bakery is a better quality malasada as it's owned and operated by one of the original Leonard's Bakery bakers)
              Post-hike dessert: Waiola Shave Ice (since you're heading back to Waikiki anyway post-hike)
              Lunch #2: Ono Seafood (1 minute walk from Waiola and they mix their poke only after you order it)
              Dinner: Alan Wong's (very good)

              DAY 5 OAHU
              Breakfast: Mitsu-Ken (good)
              Snack for hike: Kamehameha Bakery (good)
              Lunch: In He'eia Kea Pier General Store (still in the area you're going to be in anyway). Kealoha Hawaiian Food (if you are going to be in Kailua
              Snack: Agnes Portuguese Bakeshop (good)
              Dinner: Sushi Izakaya Gaku (excellent)
              Dessert: Bubbie's Ice Cream (good)
              Midnight Snack: Pig & the Lady (open until 1130pm on Friday and Saturday (they just received their first James Beard Nomination after just being open only 5 months)

              DAY 6 OAHU
              Breakfast: Helena’s Hawaiian Food (very good)
              Bakery Stop: Liliha Bakery (5 minutes from Helena's)
              Lunch: Giovanni's Shrimp Truck (this one)
              Post-lunch dessert: Matsumoto Shave Ice
              Dessert #2: Ted's Bakery (chocolate haupia is a must)
              Before/for flight: Ono Seafood

              1. DAY 7 KONA
                Lunch: recommendation for something in the Waikoloa area? (good luck. this area is a culinary desert. Merriman's Cafe is probably your best bet)
                Early dinner (before manta snorkel): Da Poke Shack
                Dessert: Scandinavian Shave Ice (never been)
                Anything open late that'd be really good for a snack/second dinner at the manta snorkel? (In Kona almost everywhere closes at 8pm. Best bet is Kona Brewing Company

                DAY 8 KONA AND HILO
                Breakfast: I'd recommend Waimea Coffee Co instead
                Snack: Look for a Farmer's Markets that you can pick up stuff
                Lunch: Merriman's (or Yong's KalBi - best Bi Bim Bap I've ever had)
                Early Dinner; Roy's (this is a franchise Roy's with terrible food. I highly recommend not going here)
                Midnight Snack: Ken's House of Pancakes (You're having dinner in Waikoloa then driving to Hilo 2 hours away? )

                DAY 9 HILO AND KAILUA-VOLCANO
                Breakfast: Cafe 100 (Koji's Bento Korner has the superior Loco Moco. Cafe 100 is ok)
                Post-lunch Dessert: moonstruck patisserie
                Snacks to buy: Big Island Candies, Low International Food, Two Ladies Kitchen
                Lunch: Bento from Puka Puka Kitchen for later
                Dinner: Miyo's (Japanese). Other than Japanese food, Hilo doesn't do other good Asian food.

                DAY 10 VOLCANO TO KAILUA-KONA
                Breakfast: Go to Island Naturals and make a breakfast plate. While there, buy your coffee beans here as they stock some great beans from farms that you won't see anywhere else. My favorite is Rusty's Coffee Beans.
                Lunch: Hana Hou (never been)
                Post-lunch snack: Punalu'u Bake Shop (never been)
                Dinner:Manago Inn (local family style. Get the pork chops). Annie's Burger is so-so if you want a burger with dry crumbly buns.

                DAY 11
                Breakfast: Island Lava Java (never been)
                Snack: Umeke’s (good)
                Lunch: Ka'aloa's Super J's Authentic Hawaiian Food (good)
                Dinner: Rapanui Island Cafe (never been)

                18 Replies
                1. re: Sushi Otaku

                  thanks so much for your suggestions!! regarding roy's, I thought their franchises were only for the non-island locations? I know everyone recommends the one in waikiki instead but with only two dinners in Oahu, that means I'll have to give up Sushi Izakaya Gaku...

                  1. re: tofuavecfa

                    A choice between Gaku and Roy's would be easy for me. While I like Roy's and have eaten at the Hawaii Kai location many times over the years, Gaku is special.

                    1. re: tofuavecfa

                      The Hawaii Kai and Waikiki Roy's are by far better than the others. If you stick with the classics then it is hard for them to screw that up, but otherwise the one in Waikoloa is a mixed bag. You have a nice list, but I like Sushi Otaku's suggestions. It seems like I have a food double out there.
                      I would not give up Gaku for Roy's. Also, while I think Champions malasada is good, I still prefer Leonard's. Champions is less crowded and cheaper though.
                      I never would think of bringing pastries as a snack for a hike. I would switch Kamehameha Bakery to breakfast and bring the Mitsu-ken bento on the hike or go to another okazuya and pick up stuff for the hike like musubi.
                      Other options that you might want to consider especially if looking for something to eat after hiking Diamond Head are Diamond Head Bakery & Grill, Pioneer Saloon & Monsarrat Shave Ice.

                      1. re: killersmile

                        Agreed on the hiking suggestion. Since you're staying in Waikiki, make a stop at Gulick Deli (King Street). They open at 6am and have lots of items that are "hike friendly".

                      2. re: tofuavecfa

                        Roy owns all of the Hawaii locations. The mainland are franchised through another corporation. This I know from the horse's mouth as it were.

                        1. re: manomin

                          Good to know. Nevertheless, having eaten at every Roy's in Hawaii I can truly say that the Waikoloa one is the absolute worst of the bunch.

                        2. re: tofuavecfa

                          Don't give up Gaku. That is the crown jewel of your list.

                          1. re: tofuavecfa

                            thanks everyone! will definitely keep Gaku based on the consensus here. If anyone has been to NY, how does Gaku compare to top sushi places in NY? I'm really intrigued by all the rave reviews it gets here!

                            1. re: tofuavecfa

                              It doesn't and it isn't trying to. Gaku is an izakaya and what it does, it does very well with a lot of attention to detail. Just don't expect to compare it to a top NYC sushi restaurant where one can easily spend $300+ per person.

                              1. re: curiousgeo

                                If you want "blow your mind" sushi, go to Sasabune. Be warned though, that it's all Omakase at the chef's discretion. This means that you have no say in what to order. You get whatever is good for that day. Your own choices are what you want to drink and when you want to stop. I've been here several times and have never been disappointed. Runs about $125/person

                                  1. re: kathryn

                                    That's right, I forgot about that.

                              2. re: tofuavecfa

                                Apples to oranges comparison. Don't try to compare Gaku to a 15 East, Yasuda, etc. I'd try mostly non-sushi dishes there.

                                1. re: kathryn

                                  got it! will set my expectations accordingly. I'm a huge fan of izakayas in general so i'm definitely excited to try their non-sushi dishes regardless.

                            2. re: Sushi Otaku

                              Island Naturals is in Hilo and thus 45 minutes or so backtrack in the wrong direction assuming the OP is staying in Volcano the night before as the itinerary implies. Options are fairly limited in Volcano, but many accomodations include breakfast, probably for that reason. Or try the Kilauea Military camp: open to the public and getting good reports, although I've never been.

                              Regarding Hana Hou: I've never been but you will be there too early to want lunch unless you hang out a while in Volcano before going over to the Kona side. You might want to consider lunch at Super J's this day instead of day 11, as it is very much out of your way once you are in Kona proper, your itinerary is too ambitous already, and you won't want to backtrack to go there. We really liked it, but as a stop on the way to Volcano, not as somewhere I'd drive back from Kona to go to after spending a week doing way too much driving already.

                              Regarding Punalu'u Bake shop: first of all, it isn't very far from Hana Hou, so the only reason to stop there would be to get food for later. I wouldnt bother. We stopped there on our last trip, and were so overwhelmed by the touristy nature of the place, number of people (around lunch time) and LOUD music that totally destroyed what little 'out of the way' ambiance the place had, that we used the admittedly very nice and clean (and large, they get tourist bus traffic) restrooms, and left. You've been warned. I refuse to believe you can't get snacks just as good elsewhere without the hype.

                              1. re: susancinsf

                                If you're staying at the Volcano park, consider going to Kau Coffee Farms to pick up your beans. It's a newer farm but they do a great bean to take home

                                1. re: Sushi Otaku

                                  yes, I concur. A better stop than Punalu'u in my opinion.

                                  1. re: susancinsf

                                    thanks! I am staying in volcano that night so i'll definitely do that instead!

                            3. You've done a lot of impressive research and I know you want to experience as many great food stops as possible. But you are wise in thinking that some of your days are a too ambitious food wise. I would rather eat a bit less during the day and savor those Oahu dinners at Side Street, Alan Wong's and Gaku, eating to your hearts content there.

                              Good call on the Manago Hotel in Captain Cook, an old time island favorite. Check on times for Helena's. I don't think they are open for breakfast and I personally really wouldn't want to eat lau lau, kalua pig, pipikaula, naau, etc. first thing in the morning.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: curiousgeo

                                Helena's opens at 10:30 am and is only open Tuesday through Friday.

                                1. re: kathryn

                                  Four words on breakfast

                                  Liliha Bakery Loco Moco