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Honolulu


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#1 anil

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Posted 19 November 2003 - 02:44 AM

The next annual APA s being held in Hawaii - Imagine 20,000+ (maybe it will be 100,000+) headshrinks decending on HNL - Every table might be taken - Should I be thinking of reserving tables now ? :biggrin: and If so which restaurants would you recommend ?
anil

#2 Sweet Willie

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Posted 19 November 2003 - 06:53 AM

I believe a must for dining enthusiasts while in Honolulu is Alan Wong's Restaurant.

Located at 1857 S. King Street, 3rd floor (take elevator, valet parking $3), Honolulu, HI. Location is west of McCully/King. Phone: 808.949.2526 reservations a must. If reservations are full, you might try to ask for the small (4) person seating at a bar that overlooks the kitchen, did not notice this seating option until we were leaving the restaurant.

Chef Wong is a MASTER at using local Hawaiian food with Asian/French touches.
See a sampling of one of his dinner menus:
http://www.alanwongs...t/ksdinner.html

Everything was perfect except where noted.

For appetizers our family had:
"Hot" California Rolls, Da Bag, Duck Nacho
Main Courses were:
Ginger Crusted Onaga (mainstay on menu, terrific), Mac/Coconut crusted Lamb,
Steamed Bowl of Shell fish(the weak dish on the menu), Seared Yellowfin Ahi

Waitstaff was attentive w/o being intrusive.

We did feel the need to reserve a table in advance of our arriving on the island, so we did so three weeks before.
"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"

#3 The Little Blue House

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Posted 19 November 2003 - 09:44 AM

It is not a foodie favorite like Alan Wong's--but for a nice dinner with a wonderful view and surprisingly cheap drinks, I would spend my Friday night at Mariposa. When my mother and sister came to visit in April, we spent both of their Friday nights there. By the second time, we were smart enough to make a reservation and to request a seat on the lanai so that we could watch the fireworks. (I have no idea if there are still fireworks, maybe your hotel would know?) Moreover, my sister is an extremely picky eater and Mariposa was very accomodating. We hadn't had such an easy time eating since Everest (in Chicago) made my sister her own tasting menu.

Unfortunately, Honolulu is just not a great restaurant town. There are the stand bys, like Alan Wong's, Chef Mavro, maybe the-jackets-required-French-restaurant La Mer. No one is really doing anything all that interesting, or at least, nothing that they haven't been doing for the last ten years.

So, try one HRC place, spend Friday night with a view at Mariposa, and try to squeeze in La Guignol (BYOB, French-ish place that can be quite innovative for Honolulu). Otherwise, this city is about plate lunch.

Or, then again, it is 6:44 in the morning. Maybe I am just grumpy, and the perhaps the state of Honolulu dining isn't quite so dire. Who knows.

-Emily
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http://www.august18th2007.com

#4 KarenS

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Posted 19 November 2003 - 07:55 PM

I
like
Chef
Mavros,
Hokus,
LaMer.

#5 skchai

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 01:27 AM

Anil,

Looking forward to having you and the rest of the APA here - I assume you're talking about the American Psychological Association (not the Psychiatric Association)? The ASA (American Sociological Association - professional bodies have such imaginative names) usually rotates its meetings between Washington DC, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. So does the APSA. Though at one point in the early 1990s the ASA decided to support rust belt cities by holding its annual meeting in Cincinatti and Pittsburgh in consecutive years. Politically progressive as they tended to be, the membership nonetheless rebelled. Oh well.

Edited to remove my shameless repost

My own picks? My tendency when I visit a city is not to look for the 5 or 10 "best" restaurants overall, but rather to try and eat as many different genres of food as possible, focusing on those that are unavailable (at least not in comparable quality) outside that city.

In light of that, I won't add much to the list of East-West Fusion / HRC restaurants already listed here and in guides linked to above (though one place that I think sometimes doesn't get enough credit is L'Uraku).

Emily, I guess I'd differ with your contention that Honolulu is not a great restaurant town. Of course, it undoubtably pales in comparison to Chicago or other great metropolises. However, let's think per capita! In that respect, at least, Honolulu does extremely well by a lot of plausible measures, e.g. Beard / IACP awards per unit population.

But on one thing I agree with you. At the high end, things get pretty monotonous with the nearly exclusive dominance of the East-West Fusion / HRC restaurants. These restaurants have put the city on the culinary map, but they have also tended to push out other possible genres of food. Though I guess that's inevitable for a mid-sized tourist-oriented city, e.g. comparing with Santa Fe or even New Orleans.

An while plate lunch might not be all there is beyond HRC, there is certainly a lot of it. So if you're not adverse to plumbing the low end of the local diet, here they are my favorites in some of the uniquely local genres of food:

Hawaiian Plate Lunch: Helena's

Korean Plate Lunch: Gina's

Traditional Plate Lunch: Grace's

Upscale Plate Lunch: Kaka`ako Kitchen

Saimin (local-style soup noodles): Hamura's (Kauai)

Okazuya (local-style Japanese takeout): Fukuya's

Manapua (local-style fast food Dim Sum): Island Manapua Factory

That's all I can think of for now. . .

Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host


#6 The Little Blue House

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 01:49 AM

Like I said, 6:44 am and grumpy. I have been "supposed to" write this article for a magazine for about six months, so I quit and will just post my list here.

These are 10 of my prefered restaurants in Honolulu, as requested by a mainland editor who said those death-knell words (the contract is in the mail) in June. They are not in any order:

1. Ono Hawaiian Food: Cheap, informal dining surrounded by pictures of local celebrities. Specializes in Hawaiian favorites.

2. Legends Vegetarian Restaurant: Informal vegetarian Chinese dining in Chinatown. Specializes in non-meat versions on popular Chinese cuisine. There are spareribs on the menu—and they really do look and almost taste like spareribs. Actual meat dishes and dim sum are available from the sister restaurant next door.

3. Mariposa: Resort-like upscale dining, centrally located in Ala Moana, with decent food. The trick here is that you can see Waikiki’s Friday Fireworks and the ocean at sunset from the lanai (porch) seating. And, the tropically themed drinks are pretty cheap.

4. Olive Tree: Informal Greek and Mediterranean dining, BYOB, that somehow pulls off romantic seating in a parking lot. Everyone who has ever gone on a date in Honolulu has been to Olive Tree.

5. The Japanese place next to Dave's Ice Cream, the name of which I will not try to spell here: Informal, but mid-range in price. Great group dining with tasty tapas style Japanese food with a wide by-the-glass sake list.

6. Alan Wong: The local seat of Hawaiian Regional Cuisine (HRC). While not as over the top as competitors such as recent James Beard Award winner Chef Mavro, Alan Wong’s food always tastes good. It is a dependable stand-by, and a local favorite because the diner always knows what he or she is going to end up with.

7. C & C Pasta: Mid-range to upscale in price, depending on what you order. Good pasta and meat dishes, but C & C really shines with their Italian cheese and meat selection available as an appetizer or to go from the small deli counter in back. Though Marabella was rather nice this weekend, so C&C might be falling off of my list.

8. India House: It is slightly expensive, but can be quite good. Avoid the meat--or, just see my review in the Honolulu Weekly from January of 2003.

9. W & M BBQ Burger: Cheap, burger joint that only has two things on the menu—both of which are BBQ Burgers. There is no seating, but this place has one of the best burgers in town. Either W & M or Teddy's. I flip-flop daily.

10. Le Guignol: Upscale French with an HRC flair. BYOB, with outdoor seating overlooking a park and the home of the Honolulu Symphony. The hostess/owner is occasionally barefoot.

-Emily
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http://www.august18th2007.com

#7 Kimo

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 04:10 PM

Call the Hilton Hawaiian Village (808-949-4321) for more information on Aloha Friday fireworks (normally at 7:30 p.m. or so). Another great spot for viewing the fireworks: Golden Dragon at the Hilton or Orchids at the Halekulani Hotel.

#8 skchai

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Posted 02 December 2003 - 05:17 PM

Emily, I know this has been a while, but thanks for those rankings! Very interesting, and some unusual choices, though I agree with them all, with one exception listed below. Since I had a few extra minutes, I couldn't help kibbitzing - hope you don't mind!

1. Ono Hawaiian Food: Cheap, informal dining surrounded by pictures of local celebrities. Specializes in Hawaiian favorites.

Ono's is a great place, and it's right next to two other very good Hawaiian food places, Kanak Attack (Eat till you Sleep) and Kapahulu Poi Shop, on the Ewa side of Kapahulu Ave.

2. Legends Vegetarian Restaurant: Informal vegetarian Chinese dining in Chinatown. Specializes in non-meat versions on popular Chinese cuisine. There are spareribs on the menu and they really do look and almost taste like spareribs. Actual meat dishes and dim sum are available from the sister restaurant next door.

Have never been there, but nearly walked in there a couple times by mistake when we intended to go to Legend Seafood Restaurant, which is just across the aisle from Legends Vegetarian in the Chinese Cultural Center. Should check it out for real next time! Wonder if they have the same owner, or if one of the restaurant owners is trying to cause deliberate confusion . . .

3. Mariposa: Resort-like upscale dining, centrally located in Ala Moana, with decent food. The trick here is that you can see Waikiki's Friday Fireworks and the ocean at sunset from the lanai (porch) seating. And, the tropically themed drinks are pretty cheap.

Situated in Ala Moana Niemann-Marcus. As you know, our very own KarenS is the pastry chef for N-M and a good friend of Mariposa chef Douglas Lum.

4. Olive Tree: Informal Greek and Mediterranean dining, BYOB, that somehow pulls off romantic seating in a parking lot. Everyone who has ever gone on a date in Honolulu has been to Olive Tree.

Somehow never made it there either. Must not have had much of a romantic life. . .

5. The Japanese place next to Dave's Ice Cream, the name of which I will not try to spell here: Informal, but mid-range in price. Great group dining with tasty tapas style Japanese food with a wide by-the-glass sake list.

Tokkuri-Tei, right? Kapahulu and the area around there have in recent years become the home of a number of neo- izakayas (Japanese-style bars), including T-T, Izakaya Nonbei, Mr. Ojisan, etc.

6. Alan Wong: The local seat of Hawaiian Regional Cuisine (HRC). While not as over the top as competitors such as recent James Beard Award winner Chef Mavro, Alan Wong's food always tastes good. It is a dependable stand-by, and a local favorite because the diner always knows what he or she is going to end up with.

Dependable is the word. Unlike virtually every other celeb HRC-ers, Wong's pretty much never gets dinged by negative reviews. The consistency probably has a lot to do with it.

7. C & C Pasta: Mid-range to upscale in price, depending on what you order. Good pasta and meat dishes, but C & C really shines with their Italian cheese and meat selection available as an appetizer or to go from the small deli counter in back.  Though Marabella was rather nice this weekend, so C&C might be falling off of my list.

C & C is one of the stars of Kaimuki's "Restaurant Row", which is really saying something. Rustic but honest I guess is the best way to characterize it. There are a number of more upscale and arguably "authentic" regional Italian places (such as Donato's and Sistina) but C & C is more like comfort food. Marabella, whazzat?

8. India House: It is slightly expensive, but can be quite good.  Avoid the meat--or, just see my review in the Honolulu Weekly from January of 2003.

This one puzzles me, at least based on the last time I ate there. India House was as far as I know the first Indian restaurant to open in Hawai`i. Owner Ram Arora took the risk, leaving his job as head chef at the long-gone Third Floor restaurant and starting his own casual but well-kept Mughlai-style place on University Ave. in the early 1980s, in a city where virtually no one was familiar with Indian Food. I ate there fairly often during a period more than a decade ago, and I remember particularly liking his mild but complex lamb shahi korma (with green grapes). I was beginning to become interested in Indian food at that time, and I even developed somehwat of an emotional attachment to the restaurant, hoping that it could stay in business. After than, I was away from Hawai`i for several years, and didn't really have a chance to go back. In the meantime it closed, then reopened across the street from its old locaiton. Finally checked it out about a year ago: The waiters just sat around reading newspapers, barely looking up to notice that some guests had just walked in. The menu seemed a lot less imaginative than I remembered, with very little other than the typical Northern tandoori-curry dishes, and the food quite a bit more expensive. The shahi korma, as far as I could tell, was no longer available. We reluctantly shelled out $25 for a dish of butter chicken with pullao, raita, etc. on the side, hoping for the best. The pullao was actually quite good, with bright highlights of cardomon. But the butter chicken was lousy - lukewarm, rubbery, you name it. We also got a mixed tandoori plate - the chicken was dry and the seafood actually was slightly rank. Overall, the atmosphere was tired and somewhat depressing. I saw Chef Arora in the kitchen but was too shy to go in and ask what had happened! I hope I just caught them on a bad night.

P.S. Is there some way to access your review online?

9. W & M BBQ Burger: Cheap, burger joint that only has two things on the menu both of which are BBQ Burgers. There is no seating, but this place has one of the best burgers in town.  Either W & M or Teddy's.  I flip-flop daily.

W & M's founder, Wilfred Kawamura, passed away just about month ago, but I believe after a short period of mourning they've reopened. Kua'aina Sandwich is another well-known local burger place (it even has branch in Shibuya, Tokyo).

10. Le Guignol: Upscale French with an HRC flair. BYOB, with outdoor seating overlooking a park and the home of the Honolulu Symphony. The hostess/owner is occasionally barefoot.

Would that be Chef Shane Sutton's mom, Leilani? Thought of Le Guignol as more of a bistro-type place - didn't realize it had gone into the HRC direction. . .

Emily

Anyway Emily, I hope I haven't ruined your great list with my pointless annotations. But it was so interesting I couldn't resist. . .

Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host


#9 The Little Blue House

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Posted 03 December 2003 - 09:54 AM

skchai - You will notice that I advised against ordering meat at India House.

Another restaurant to try--possibly my number one pick, but based soley on a lunch I had over a year ago--is Sushi Sasabune on King. Has anyone else ever been there? It didn't make it on my list because I couldn't be sure if it was a fluke or not... But my lunch there was devine.

-Emily
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#10 umetaro

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Posted 21 January 2005 - 06:36 PM

skchai - You will notice that I advised against ordering meat at India House.

Another restaurant to try--possibly my number one pick, but based soley on a lunch I had over a year ago--is Sushi Sasabune on King.  Has anyone else ever been there?  It didn't make it on my list because I couldn't be sure if it was a fluke or not... But my lunch there was devine.

-Emily

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Sasabune is in most probability the only sushi restaurant on oahu worth eating at. The Hawaii location is much better than their West LA one. In fact, I'd say Kumagawa-san has surpassed even Nozawa the "sushi nazi."

#11 machi

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 01:29 PM

#5: Tokkuri-Tei. This place is the best izakaya EVER. It's straight-up authentic. You cannot go wrong, and every time I manage to make it back home I head straight there. I miss it on the mainland, and even the izakaya in Manhattan don't do this place justice...



Like I said, 6:44 am and grumpy.  I have been "supposed to" write this article for a magazine for about six months, so I quit and will just post my list here.

These are 10 of my prefered restaurants in Honolulu, as requested by a mainland editor who said those death-knell words (the contract is in the mail) in June.  They are not in any order:

1. Ono Hawaiian Food: Cheap, informal dining surrounded by pictures of local celebrities. Specializes in Hawaiian favorites.

2. Legends Vegetarian Restaurant: Informal vegetarian Chinese dining in Chinatown. Specializes in non-meat versions on popular Chinese cuisine. There are spareribs on the menu—and they really do look and almost taste like spareribs. Actual meat dishes and dim sum are available from the sister restaurant next door.

3. Mariposa: Resort-like upscale dining, centrally located in Ala Moana, with decent food. The trick here is that you can see Waikiki’s Friday Fireworks and the ocean at sunset from the lanai (porch) seating. And, the tropically themed drinks are pretty cheap.

4. Olive Tree: Informal Greek and Mediterranean dining, BYOB, that somehow pulls off romantic seating in a parking lot. Everyone who has ever gone on a date in Honolulu has been to Olive Tree.

5. The Japanese place next to Dave's Ice Cream, the name of which I will not try to spell here: Informal, but mid-range in price. Great group dining with tasty tapas style Japanese food with a wide by-the-glass sake list.

6. Alan Wong: The local seat of Hawaiian Regional Cuisine (HRC). While not as over the top as competitors such as recent James Beard Award winner Chef Mavro, Alan Wong’s food always tastes good. It is a dependable stand-by, and a local favorite because the diner always knows what he or she is going to end up with.

7. C & C Pasta: Mid-range to upscale in price, depending on what you order. Good pasta and meat dishes, but C & C really shines with their Italian cheese and meat selection available as an appetizer or to go from the small deli counter in back.  Though Marabella was rather nice this weekend, so C&C might be falling off of my list.

8. India House: It is slightly expensive, but can be quite good.  Avoid the meat--or, just see my review in the Honolulu Weekly from January of 2003.

9. W & M BBQ Burger: Cheap, burger joint that only has two things on the menu—both of which are BBQ Burgers. There is no seating, but this place has one of the best burgers in town.  Either W & M or Teddy's.  I flip-flop daily.

10. Le Guignol: Upscale French with an HRC flair. BYOB, with outdoor seating overlooking a park and the home of the Honolulu Symphony. The hostess/owner is occasionally barefoot.

-Emily

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#12 laurenkusa

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 03:35 PM

I just ate at Tokkuri-Tei last week and cannot recommend it enough. Although I did not get a chance to try a wide variety of menu items, what I did have was delicious.

I also tried Little Village Noodle House and enjoyed that as well. Ordered from the items on the blackboard and enjoyed the flavors very much.

Lauren

#5:  Tokkuri-Tei.  This place is the best izakaya EVER.  It's straight-up authentic.  You cannot go wrong, and every time I manage to make it back home I head straight there.  I miss it on the mainland, and even the izakaya in Manhattan don't do this place justice...



Like I said, 6:44 am and grumpy.  I have been "supposed to" write this article for a magazine for about six months, so I quit and will just post my list here.

These are 10 of my prefered restaurants in Honolulu, as requested by a mainland editor who said those death-knell words (the contract is in the mail) in June.  They are not in any order:

1. Ono Hawaiian Food: Cheap, informal dining surrounded by pictures of local celebrities. Specializes in Hawaiian favorites.

2. Legends Vegetarian Restaurant: Informal vegetarian Chinese dining in Chinatown. Specializes in non-meat versions on popular Chinese cuisine. There are spareribs on the menu—and they really do look and almost taste like spareribs. Actual meat dishes and dim sum are available from the sister restaurant next door.

3. Mariposa: Resort-like upscale dining, centrally located in Ala Moana, with decent food. The trick here is that you can see Waikiki’s Friday Fireworks and the ocean at sunset from the lanai (porch) seating. And, the tropically themed drinks are pretty cheap.

4. Olive Tree: Informal Greek and Mediterranean dining, BYOB, that somehow pulls off romantic seating in a parking lot. Everyone who has ever gone on a date in Honolulu has been to Olive Tree.

5. The Japanese place next to Dave's Ice Cream, the name of which I will not try to spell here: Informal, but mid-range in price. Great group dining with tasty tapas style Japanese food with a wide by-the-glass sake list.

6. Alan Wong: The local seat of Hawaiian Regional Cuisine (HRC). While not as over the top as competitors such as recent James Beard Award winner Chef Mavro, Alan Wong’s food always tastes good. It is a dependable stand-by, and a local favorite because the diner always knows what he or she is going to end up with.

7. C & C Pasta: Mid-range to upscale in price, depending on what you order. Good pasta and meat dishes, but C & C really shines with their Italian cheese and meat selection available as an appetizer or to go from the small deli counter in back.  Though Marabella was rather nice this weekend, so C&C might be falling off of my list.

8. India House: It is slightly expensive, but can be quite good.  Avoid the meat--or, just see my review in the Honolulu Weekly from January of 2003.

9. W & M BBQ Burger: Cheap, burger joint that only has two things on the menu—both of which are BBQ Burgers. There is no seating, but this place has one of the best burgers in town.  Either W & M or Teddy's.  I flip-flop daily.

10. Le Guignol: Upscale French with an HRC flair. BYOB, with outdoor seating overlooking a park and the home of the Honolulu Symphony. The hostess/owner is occasionally barefoot.

-Emily

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Lauren