Loco Moco at Pineapple Room
There are lots of nice places to eat in Honolulu, but after awhile, we gravitate to the same places over and over again. Our favorites are easy, casual places since Honolulu is always a trip with the kids.
Mom's choice: the Mahi-mahi sandwich. Comes with a teriyaki dipping sauce
1. Alan Wong's Pineapple Room. We order the plantation iced tea, then have a few of their bestsellers: the Loco Moco, Kalua pig BLT, Kalbi Ribs and the Mahi-mahi sandwich. I love the relaxed ambience. It's also perfectly located on the second floor of Macy's Ala Moana so right after lunch, I can easily do all my Macy's-related "errands" while the kids test-drive the new gadgets at the neighboring Apple store.
Maine lobster, Chinese-style at Legend
2. Legend Seafood Restaurant in North Beretania, downtown. Delicious Chinese food in typical brightly-lit setting. Service is also very good. We recently celebrated mom and dad's 54th wedding anniversary with dinner here. Legend is also very popular for their scrumptious dimsum at lunch time.
3. Maple Garden for equally delicious Chinese food. They have really good hot and sour soup and crispy fried noodles. My cousins Mike and Maria love to take us to here. They also bring us to Chiang Mai on South King St. for authentic Thai cuisine.
Flavorful soup stock with clean-tasting cilantro at Asahi Grill
4. Asahi Grill on Ward Avenue. Asahi has one of the best ox-tail soups in Honolulu, according to Calvin, our local family friend. The exterior is unassuming, interiors very basic, but the ox-tail soup hits the spot every time. Wonderful comfort food.
Kalbi ribs plate lunch. Photo from here
5. L and L Drive Inn. Typical Hawaiian plate lunch which is a whole lot of grilled meat, a scoop of macaroni salad and two scoops of steamed white rice stuffed in a styro clamshell. Lots of stores around the island, but the in-store branch at the 24-hour Walmart on Keeaumoku Street is open up to about 11 pm. The serving is huge so hubby and I usually share an order, then we get another one for the kids--then we eat theirs too! :) L&L is a very successful Honolulu chain that is owned by a Filipino. They have branches on the mainland too.
6. Panda Express, quick Chinese fastfood for when we've been out the whole day and the kids need to eat ahora mismo! Branches all over the island. Their dishes are flavorful and consistent: orange chicken, beef broccoli, tofu and eggplant. The girls like collecting the sayings from the fortune cookies so I usually buy a whole pack to take home.
Roy's Macadamia Nut-encrusted Mahi-mahi. Photo from here
7. Roy's in Hawaii Kai. The few times I've eaten here has always been a great experience. Good east-west unpretentious fusion food. There is now a branch right in Waikiki on Lewers street, but we haven't been able to go back there in a while. Too many things to do, so little time!
Ribs and iced tea at the Canoe Club
8. Outrigger Canoe Club. Dad loves to take us here and although there is nothing we really crave from this place, it's wonderful terrace dining. Atmosphere is typical Hawaiian, relaxed and casual. We've had a private dinner function here in the past, and it was cozy and intimate.
The Canoe Club has its own little beach that allows us to avoid the Waikiki crowds, and offers a good vantage point to watch the sunset as well as the Friday night fireworks of the Hilton Hawaiian Village. It's a reciprocal club of the Manila Polo Club, and you can get a letter of introduction for $30.
Kua Aina in the North Shore
9. Kua Aina Sandwich Shop for their legendary burgers, but only on the rare occasions we are at the North Shore. The shop is typical North Shore--casual, retro and ranch-like. With everyone, including the food courts at the malls, making angus burgers, I don't feel the need to check out Kua Aina any longer (so maybe this should not be on the list!). My nieces swear that the best Angus burger is at McDonald's (!) but their brother who lives in Honolulu likes Burgers on the Edge on Kapahulu street.
Bento boxes are convenient for an impromptu picnic. Photo from here
10. PICNIC! When we're feeling up to it (meaning energetic and motivated), we like to picnic outdoors. Honolulu has the perfect weather for a picnic, but we have to eat American-style--meaning at 6:30 pm. Anything later than that and it's already a bit too windy. With Vancouver-based Tita Lita, we are good to go with burgers on our portable grill--or with bento boxes from Don Quijote or Shirokiya.
Mom-style picnic: lamb, chicken, shrimp...
But with mom, that's not a picnic. No, with her it's always a feast. We have extra-thick lamb chops from Costo, grilled shrimp, made-on-the-spot salad and a whole paella, with matching paellera, brought from the house! Then no one can move after the picnic (except roll--haha).
In Honolulu, after a full day out on the beach of going about other fun stuff, it's hard to get moving again for dinner, even if we had previous plans to have dinner. Before we even decide where to go, we've all sunken into our couch positions engrossed in a new toy, like the iPad. Then we'll end up having a home-cooked meal by mom.
The view from the balcony on a Friday night
We'll probably have left-over Thanh Long-style Dungeness crab, lamb adobo, salmon sinigang, or left-over roast! Sometimes I wonder why we even bother to go out with all this nice food at home. (Oh yes, dad spoils us and wants to relieve us of doing the dishes when we are on vacation! :)
Ps. For places you may want to try, if you don't have small kids with you: 3660 On the Rise, Orchids at Halekulani, Chef Mavro.