Well, this started out as a post of all of our favorite spots on Oahu, and then we realized things were getting out of hand. What can we say? We like food. So, here is a list of our favorite places to munch on Oahu. For our favorite non-food spots, keep your eye peeled for Part 3.
*We apologize for all of the missing photos. We swear we have taken pics of these things over the years, but apparently our filing system is flawed. We will try to remember to take new ones the next time we are there.
Before we dive in, we think you should know what you are getting yourself into. You may have heard some negative things about Hawaii not having good food. We disagree! Here is the truth. Hawaii loves meat, sugar, white rice, and salt. They do not love vegetables, and there is not as much fruit as you would think. Being on an island, most produce needs to be imported, which is expensive. That is why they have adapted to go without. If you want these things, you will have to actively seek them out. While this surely isn’t great for a lifetime diet, at least according to the now defunct food pyramid, eating on your vacation probably won’t give you a heart attack. Everything in Hawaii is relaxed, unpretentious, and about feeling good. We think if you realize this going in, you won’t be disappointed. Oh, and pack some fiber supplements, or eat lots of yogurt. Your body probably isn’t used to this…
Yummy Korean BBQ
Yummy Korean BBQ: Yummy’s is a local fast food/take-out chain which can be found all over Oahu, and in the Ala Moana food court. Two Words: Meat. Jun. Oh, sweet heavens above, what is this Korean goodness? Found only on Hawaii, as far as we can tell, meat jun is beef marinated and coated with an egg batter. It is Butters’ favorite meal in Hawaii. At Yummy’s you can get it as a meal, with several sides to choose from. They have large (shareable) portions.
Don Quijote: Don Quijote is this supermarket/grocery store/souvenir shop. They have everything, and cheap. Okay, maybe not nice clothes, but they DO have muumuu’s and the like, if that is what you are in the market for.
Waiola Shave Ice
Waiola Shave Ice: Waiola is an unassuming shave ice shop located in Moilili, near Waikiki. We think it is the best shave ice on the island…yes, better than Matsumotos. Their super fine ice will leave you wondering how?! and why does any one eat snow cones? They have opened other locations, but we can only vouch for the original, located on Waiola St. Our favorite combo is Melona and Li Hing Mui with a scoop of ice cream. Mmmmm….
Jimbo Restaurant: A local Japanese restaurant with homemade noodles. Mmm, comfort food. Butters loves the Jidori Oyako Curry Udon (Japanese curry soup with egg, chicken, and udon noodles) and Mookie’s favorite is their Beef Curry Rice Combo with hot udon. Expect a line at dinner time. Sign in, and wait.
Jesse’s Bakery: Coco Pan. While we usually pick these delectable buns up in the bakery department at Don Quijote, Jesse’s has their own store. Sometimes Don Quijote is out of stock, so it’s good to know where to go for backup. Call us crazy, but these little coconut filled buns are to die for, and Oahu is the only place we have ever been able to find them. So soft on the outside, sweet coconutty goodness on the inside. MMMmmmmMMmmm…. This location also serves food, but judging from the reviews, maybe just pick up your baked goods and go.
Leonard’s: Leonard’s is quite famous, and for good reason. They serve up piping hot malasadas all day long. These Portuguese pastries are a fried doughnut-like treat with sugar on the outside. You can buy different flavors of sugar and fillings, but we think the original is still the best bet.
Bubbies: Bubbies makes delicious ice cream, and mochi ice cream. Mochi ice cream is a small scoop of ice cream surrounded by mochi, a sweet Japanese rice cake. The texture is similar to a marshmallow. If you haven’t tried it before, this is a great place to start! They have a wide assortment of flavors. Some of our favorites include Lilikoi (Passion fruit), Mango, Peanut Butter, Green Tea, and Coffee. Don’t worry, at 3 for $4.00 you can try a few. The new (and only) location is perfect for hitting up after snorkeling at Hanauma Bay!
Royal Kitchen: Located in Chinatown, this unassuming Chinese dim sum take-out spot has the best manapuas we’ve ever had. We’ve had a lot of manapuas. What the hell is a manapua? It is another name for a Chinese pork bun. We recommend the Char-Siu (bbq pork) flavor. You can buy them steamed or baked, and both are tasty, even though the steamed aren’t quite as visually appealing. This is apparently a stop on the “Hawaii Food Tours”. Look, you just saved money by reading this!
Via Gelato: Gelato more your speed? While, not exclusive to Hawaii, sometimes gelato just hits the spot. Via Gelato features a variety of handcrafted artisanal gelato. Oooh, fancy. The flavors change daily, but every one we have tasted has been delicious. Some flavors you might see include: Salted Caramel with Oreos, POG (passion orange guava), Peach cobbler, and Haupia Pie. (Haupia is a coconut flavored Hawaiian dessert.) You can check their website for the current flavors.
Ono Hawaiian Foods: If you are looking for an authentic Hawaiian meal, this is the spot. This little hole in the wall is no secret, and therefore usually has a line. Hawaiian food is somewhat polarizing, if you are adventurous try the Lau Lau with poi. If you like to play it safe, order the kalua pig and/or chicken long rice. Make sure to finish off your meal with some haupia. It is a creamy coconut flavored dessert that looks similar to a jello jiggler. Go early if you want the Lau Lau.
Kozo Sushi: Kozo is a fast food/take out sushi joint. We know that sounds sketchy, but it has never failed us. We like to pick up a few tuna hand rolls (canned tuna with mayo), inari, and oshinko maki, and head to the beach. This is a great option for a cheap, and light lunch, which is hard to come by in Hawaii.
7-Eleven: Stay with us here. As we discussed in our Denmark post, not all 7-Elevens are created equal. Swing by any 7-Eleven, they are everywhere, and pick up some surprisingly tasty spam musubis for the road. Spam is a staple in Hawaii, and musubis are Butters’ favorite way to consume it. Mookie will eat Spam in any form, as long as it’s cooked. They also sell an assortment of bento boxes filled with Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, and Hawaiian comfort foods. Think fried noodles, garlic chicken, teriyaki, etc.
Curryhouse Coco Ichibanya: If you haven’t ever tried Japanese Curry, you should. It is slightly sweet and very mild, so even if you “don’t like curry”, you may like this. Japanese “spicy” is nothing near anyone else’s spicy, so you don’t need to worry about breaking a sweat. If you don’t know what to try, the beef curry is always a safe bet. Be sure to top with the little pickled radishes that are on the table with the other condiments. YUM!
Ray’s Kiawe Chicken
Ray’s Kiawe Broiled Chicken: If you happen to be on the North Shore on a weekend, hit up this delicious huli huli chicken stand in the Malama Grocery Store parking lot. This is some juicy, legit bbq chicken. You can buy by the whole or half, and they will cut it up for you if you like. There is rarely seating, so take your chicken to one of the many beaches around for a picnic.