Sample Restaurant Reviews
Dining in Hawaii…
The image forms in your mind. Delicious, healthy island foods such as fresh fish, sweet pineapple and papaya, macadamia nut pie and a tropical drink. Well…maybe. Unlike other guidebooks which lead you to believe that every meal in Hawaii will be a feast, we are here to tell you that you will have ample opportunity to have hideous food served by uncaring oafs, as well as great meals served in the ambiance of a lifetime.
We probably receive more letters of appreciation from readers about our brutally honest restaurant reviews than any other subject. Here are just a few of the reviews from the 3rd edition of Oahu Revealed.
Please note: The sample reviews here are in no particular order here, but are categorized in the book. Recommended restaurants are highlighted by an symbol.
Eggs ’n Things
343 Saratoga Ave. • 923–3447
2464 Kakakaua Ave. • 926–3447
They’ve been around since 1974, and there’s probably been a line outside from day one. Expect a wait. That’s because they have a good breakfast selection of pretty tasty and hearty food with huge portions for relatively cheap prices. But what you don’t pay with dollars, you often pay with your time. Open 6 a.m.–2 p.m. for breakfast, there’s usually no wait the first hour. Inside it’s cramped and worn. They’re also open for dinner, but their DNA fingerprints are all over it with items like steak and eggs or chicken fried steak. $10–$15 for breakfast. $11–$15 for dinner (double if you get dessert, which is made from pancakes.) Their other location is on Kalakaua and Liliuokalani. Same menu, but you’re better off getting it to go instead of dealing with the lines.
2301 Kuhio Ave. • 924–7887
Similar to pigs in a blanket, it’s an unusual way to deliver polish or veggie dogs. They are inserted in a bread sleeve with their “secret sauce” (though I’m partial to their spicy garlic pepper cheese sauce) with a number of tropical relishes on top. Pretty tasty. To drink, you have lemonade, water or whatever you brought with you. $7–$11 for lunch and dinner. At the corner of Kuhio and Nahua at the Waikiki Town Center.
Mai Tai Bar at the Royal Hawaiian
2259 Kalakaua Ave. • 931–8383
A good place for an afternoon cocktail since it’s right next to the beach. (Oddly, their mai tais are wildly inconsistent—sometimes way too sweet, sometimes like gasoline.) Nothing’s great here. Not the food (overpriced thin pizzas and burgers), not the service and not the drinks. (Overall, we’ve had bad luck with their tropical drinks here, though out of a sense of duty we’ll keep trying.) But what a great location to overpay. At the Royal Hawaiian, Waikiki. $20 burgers and $18 salads—that’s the pricing scheme here.
2250 Kalakaua Ave. • 924–6744
Thanks to the reader who tipped us off to this find. It’s in the Waikiki Shopping Plaza food court on Royal Hawaiian next to Kalakaua Ave. Forget your perception of Top Ramen (where they deliver the flavor with a bucket of sodium). These bowls of thin noodles in broth are far more authentic Japanese, and their description of how they make the soup stock (which you might not want to read) conveys it. Most of their clientele are Asians who appreciate the flavors. Take your time to analyze the different combinations, then take a chance and jump in. We recommend the miso sauce. (They won’t let you take it to go because “it won’t travel well.” Gotta admire the pride.) Prices are cheap for the quality. $10–$15 for lunch and dinner. (Closed 2:30–5 p.m.) Only beverages are tea, soda and beer in cans or bottles.
2446 Koa Ave. • 924–3366
It’s a bit gutsy naming a restaurant La Cucaracha (which literally means the cockroach), but don’t let the name fool you. The atmosphere is bright and festive. Food is pretty authentic with good tamales, an extensive selection of Mexican items such as carnitas, chile rellenos and tortilla soup, and some nice tequilas. Lunch and dinner are $14–$30. Pretty good, but not an ono. On Koa Avenue near Kalakaua and Ulunui Avenue.
1 Aloha Tower Dr. • 599–4877
A well-run restaurant with a nice menu selection of fish, steak medallions and flat iron frites, pizzas (which make a nice appetizer for two), great burgers, stir fry, salads and sandwiches. Their lobster and shrimp mac and cheese is really likable if you can get past the $20 price. They also brew their own beer here (the Märzen is excellent), but the cocktail selection is bigger. The views overlook busy Honolulu Harbor, but they’re occasionally blocked by a large ship if it docks in front. Good desserts. Live entertainment some nights. Not cheap, but you get your money’s worth. $15–$30 for lunch and dinner. A couple miles north of Waikiki at the Aloha Tower Marketplace at Ala Moana and Bishop Street. Make sure you have them validate your parking.
500 Ala Moana Blvd. • 521–3511
Disappointing Thai food served by an uncaring staff. Hmm, makes it hard to justify driving to Restaurant Row at Ala Moana and Punchbowl St. It’s also uncharacteristically unkempt for a Thai restaurant. $10–$15 for lunch.
Murphy’s Bar & Grill
2 Merchant St. • 531–0422
Irish—This bar has had its liquor license on O‘ahu for 150 years, and has been an Irish pub since 1987, annually hosting the St. Patrick’s Day block party. If that’s not Irish enough for you, may we suggest the corned beef and cabbage? Their Blarney Burger is the best burger on the island. They also have steak, salad, and fish and chips. Lots of stained glass, an ornate wooden bar and real Irish beers on tap make this a popular place to bend an elbow. $9–$20 for lunch and dinner. On the corner of Merchant and Nuuanu.
Bubbies Ice Cream
7192 Kalanianaole Hwy • 396–8722
1010 University Ave. • 949–8984
Treats—Locally made ice cream, plus an unusually good selection of ice cream-related items like the wonderful hand-dipped mochis (you gotta get one) and cookie ice cream sandwiches. Flavors like dark dark chocolate chocolate chip are delicious, and prices are more reasonable than many gourmet ice cream places. They sell by weight (61¢ per oz.), starting with a “fetal-dip” at 2 ounces, going all the way up to a whole bucket. $2–$5. In Koko Marina Center off Hwy 72, Hawai‘i Kai. They also have a location closer to Waikiki on University Ave. (Take McCully, right on King; left on University; near Coyne Street.)
600 Kailua Rd. • 262–3337
American—Good sand-wiches and cheesesteaks. Try the sausage sandwich—they chop it up and mix cheese, pepper and onions in it. Excellent! Hot dogs and baked potatoes also. They are kind of slow, but you can call ahead. $9–$13. In Kailua Shopping Center in Kailua on Kailua Road near Hahani Street.
K & K BBQ Inn
130 Kailua Rd. • 262–2272
Local—It’s a hole in the wall with a disheveled look and the food quality varies considerably, but the selection is huge and they are within walking distance to Kailua Beach Park. Local foods such as chicken katsu, teri steak, sweet and sour spare ribs, saimin and other noodle dishes, plus burgers, fish sandwiches, etc. In short—no great food to be had, but it’s convenient for Kailua beachgoers. Nothing more. In Kailua Beach Center on Kailua Road near Kalaheo Road. $7–$12.
Hale‘iwa Joe’s at Haiku Gardens
46-336 Haiku Rd. • 247–6671
American—Located in a lush garden setting at Haiku Gardens, it’s nice to do a pre-meal stroll in the garden and pond area if you arrive before sunset. In fact, we strongly recommend getting there for an early dinner (they open at 5:30 p.m.) since the view of the Ko‘olau Mountains is so exquisite in the afternoon. (Plus, the garden setting might bring flying bugs later in the evening.) We like the tables near the railing the best. The food is generally very good. Try the wonderful Thai calamari for an appetizer. Dinner is steak and seafood, plus ribs, pork chops (excellent) and sometimes lobster. The decor includes lots of attractive koa wood. Service can be slow at times, and they don’t take reservations. $20–$40 for dinner. From Hwy 830 (Kamehameha Hwy), turn toward the mountain onto Haiku Road near the Windward Mall. You’ll see it on the left a while after Haiku Road crosses Hwy 83.
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