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As I mentioned in Part 1, on my most recent trip to Hawaii, I was curious to see if there had been any additions or changes to the local coffee scene. After all, it has been a while since I wrote about the best places for coffee in Hawaii. There are no newcomers to the coffee scene worth mentioning, however, it is worth noting that Honolulu Coffee Company, which is my favorite, has expanded. They have taken over two spots at the Sheraton in Waikiki that were previously used by Peet’s Coffee. Strange but true, Peet’s Coffee did not make it in Hawaii.
So instead of writing about coffee in Hawaii, I decided to ask some local friends on Oahu what their favorite restaurants were. I’ve lived in Hawaii, so I have a few of my own to mention, but let’s start with their recommendations first. In Part 1, I wrote about restaurants you can walk to if you stay in Waikiki. In Part 2, I’m writing about places outside of Waikiki, so let’s start with Chinatown. One of my friends mentioned how many dining options were cropping up in Chinatown. His two favorites are Senia and Fête. I haven’t tried these two places, but the menus look interesting and creative. Fête calls themselves “part Hawaii and part Brooklyn,” so that certainly sounds appealing :) I do trust my friend’s taste in good eats, so I’m letting you know about these places.
Yanagi Sushi, which is pretty close to the backside of Ala Moana Mall, is probably everyone’s favorite sushi place! You might have a long wait, but it’s well worth it. Every visitor I took there wanted to go back again before they left Oahu, it’s that good.
For a celebration meal, try Allen Wong’s. It’s a lovely place and the best of regional Hawaiian cuisine.
I also love Chef Mavro for a celebration. If Chef Mavro (himself) is working while you’re there, you’re in for a special treat. He’s a gem! I still look forward to reading his newsletter each month, even though I don’t get to eat there much these days.
There’s a neighborhood just up the hill from Waikiki called Kaimuki. It’s home to many great places to eat. On my last trip to Hawaii, I ate with a friend at Koko Head Cafe. It’s relatively new on the scene and it was quite good. The menu is creative and I’d say it’s perfect for brunch/lunch. We both had grilled fish sandwiches and let’s just say my friend is still talking about the BEST fish sandwich he ever ate!
I had forgotten about Siam Palace in Kaimuki until one of my friends mentioned it. It’s a great place if you’re in the mood for Thai food. There aren’t a lot of Thai places on Oahu, but another one worth trying if you’re on the North Shore in Haleiwa is Opal Thai. It’s great and a favorite spot for Thai food for people who live on that side of Oahu.
Before we leave Kaimuki, I’d be scolded if I didn’t mention Himalayan Kitchen. Never had anything but a delicious meal here, and for sure you’ll be surrounded by locals who enjoy both the atmosphere here and the great food.
OK, it’s time to mention the shrimp trucks on the North Shore. And I probably shouldn’t tell you my favorite one because the lines are already too long and the wait is usually 40-60 minutes because it’s all cooked as you order, but if you’ve read this far in this blog post, you deserve a treat! Romy’s in Kuhuku is my place. The garlic shrimp are the best!! Been going here for years. Bring cash and don’t forget to ask for a stamp card because you’ll be going back whenever you’re on the North Shore :)
So that wraps up the culinary tour of Oahu. There are lots of great places to eat in and around Honolulu, so I thought it would be fun to pick up some ideas from friends as to where they’re eating these days. Lots of old favorites and new places sprouting up all the time. People in Hawaii eat out a lot, so hopefully with these tips, you’ll have fun eating out when you’re there too!
If I missed any of your favorite places please let me know in the comments below. Aloha!