Eat Your Way Around O`ahu
Here on O`ahu, Hawai`i, we’ve got great beaches, interesting things to do, rich history, many people from different cultures, and lots of food. In fact, you can learn about our different cultures by eating your way in Honolulu! In this month’s blog post, we’d like to guide you to our “taste of Honolulu” for your honeymoon adventure, family trip or just wander lusting. Remember the word “`ono” (oh no) means delicious, tasty, savory, amongst other things, and is a great descriptor of our island cuisine.
1 Hawaiian Food
Waiahole Poi Factory is on the Windward side of O`ahu and is the go-to for Hawaiian food plates. There’s no seating, only take out, and the food is ono! They offer various plate lunches, with the standard laulau (taro leaves wrapped around pork and butter fish), lomilomi salmon (salt-cured salmon with green onions and tomatoes like a salsa), poi (mashed taro aka kalo which is the staple of Hawaiian food), and chicken long rice (a Chinese influence of bean thread noodles with shredded chicken with hints of ginger). They also have Kulolo (coconut and taro dessert) and ice cream, which is always in demand.
Highway Inn Kaka`ako is a great sit-down (or takeout) eatery in the trendy gentrified area of Kaka`ako, west of Waikiki and east of the Downtown Business District. The Toguchi family’s second location, it boasts homemade Hawaiian food (laulau, lomilomi salmon), as well as smoked meats and fish. They also have traditional American dishes, like hamburger, and delicious Hawaiian-inspired desserts. Parking is limited, so park in the parking garage on Keawe St and Auahi (don’t forget validation!) or street parking.
Harbor Village has good, reliable Cantonese Chinese food (what most people are used to) and is located in the Koko Marina Shopping Center in East Honolulu, on the way to Hanauma Bay and the Blow Hole. They offer dim sum, including char siu bao and various dumplings, and Chinese favorites like Chow Fun (rice noodle dish), Chicken Cake Noodle (stir-fried chicken, vegetables and gravy over crunch-fried egg noodles that are soft inside and cut into “cakes”), Honey Walnut Shrimp and more.
Fun Station is a cute little gem, situated at Market City Shopping Center on the east end of Kapiolani Boulevard, near Kapahulu Avenue. Though they have a limited menu, they offer a fun experience when you order their signature “Flying Noodles.” They have limited seating with a great ambiance. Must-try.
Tokkuri-Tei is a cute little Japanese Izakaya-style restaurant on Kapahulu Avenue, right after the Aloha Shirt Store, which offers a lot of a la cart dishes that you enjoy with sake. The food is fantastic, including various sushi, tenpura, and sauteed Japanese mushrooms. And the sake offerings are really enjoyable! In fact, when you order your sake, you get a 6 oz glass in a 3 x 3” lacquer box and they pour it at your table until it overflows into the lacquer box. Yum!
Seoul Mix 2.0 is a collection of Korea street food in The Lanai food court at Ala Moana Shopping Center’s second floor (next to Macy’s). You aren’t bombarded with tons of food, but a taste of kimpop (Korean sushi without vinegared rice), kalbi, chapchae and the other onolicious dishes. They’re great for going to the beach, taking with you as you tour, picnic or any outing. You won’t be disappointed by stopping in and grabbing some yums.
Sura Hawaii. Love Korean BBQ-style of food? Sura is your place to be to enjoy a relaxing, no-nonsense atmosphere of Korean cooking at your table. They are located at the “T” of Kapiolani and Atkinson Boulevards, catty corner from the Hawaii Convention Center. Each table includes a nice low duct to suck out the grill smell, so you don’t walk out of the restaurant wearing your food. They also boast some uniquely flavored soju (Korean liquor), as well as other “refreshing” beverages. Parking’s limited, dishes are a la cart, but hey, you’re enjoying a cultural experience!
Istanbul Hawaii is the place to go to experience a modern-style Turkish home. Although Turkish people are relatively new to the islands, their food is extremely memorable and integrates in Hawai`i’s multicultural community. The food is exquisite, the ambiance is welcoming, and you get a glimpse of Turkey and its ingredients. Run by mother-daughter team, Nili and Ahu, you feel like you’re part of the family when you dine there. Fragrant. Tasty. Appealing to the eye. The babaganush is so smokey, the hummus on point with a garlicky tinge, and Baba’s kofte will make you feel happy on the inside-out. Be sure to try all of the Turkish oneness.
Remember, a way to get to know O`ahu’s history and culture is to eat your way around the island. Later in the year, we’ll be sharing other ethnic culture delicacies that showcase our island blend of cultures, people, and influence.
By the way, if you’re thinking of having a wedding on O`ahu and want to feature some delicious food from Hawai`i’s diverse ethnic cultures, our wedding planners partner with best-in-class caterers. Go to our website and sign up today to book your wedding at weddingestateshawaiillc.com.