A Resident's Guide to Dining in Honolulu
There are so many choices for Honolulu dining; aside from the typical fast-food joints like KFC and McDonald's and restaurant chains like Chili's and IHOP, you'll find a variety of dining options to suit every tastebud and budget, ranging from the street corner lunch wagon serving local plate lunches to family-style Chinese dining to festive all-you-can-eat seafood buffets to romantic candlelit dinners.
Most places also accept phone orders for take-out (or "take-away" or "to go"), which in my opinion is sometimes very convenient and saves you the hassle of hunting for parking and/or waiting for a table, especially when you have a toddler. (And cheaper too, because we don't have to give gratuity, and we cook our own rice.) You'll see that we order take-out A LOT!
The following directory is a list of Honolulu dining places that we patronize enjoy and/or take visitors to. We don't receive any compensation for writing about these establishments.
Needless to say, buffets are great if you have a big appetite or are really hungry. We always leave feeling uncomfortable from eating way too much!
Camellia Yakiniku (930 McCully St; 808-951-0511) - DIY Korean BBQ. Wide selection of marinated meats, side dishes and desserts. Expect to leave smelling like dinner, and since this is a DIY place, don't be surprised if you don't receive a warm welcome or great service.
Makino Chaya (Aloha Tower Marketplace) - We used to patronize them a lot before they moved to Aloha Tower, when their menu selection and food quality was good. It's been downhill since then, unfortunately. I would NOT recommend checking them out.
Todai Waikiki (1910 Ala Moana Blvd; 808-947-1000) - Great selection of sushi, seafood, hot entrees and desserts! Did I mention seafood?
Tsukiji Fish Market (Ala Moana Shopping Center; 808-237-5444) - This buffet is more Japanese than International, and selection is not as wide as Todai's, but still quite good. My mom enjoyed the shrimp tempura so much we came back twice in the space of a week.
Legend Seafood Restaurant (Chinatown, Chinese Cultural Plaza; 808-532-1868) - Where we take visiting family and friends for authentic dim sum. It is REALLY busy on Sundays at 11am-ish, so go early. Best Honolulu dining option for dim sum!
Little Village Noodle House (Chinatown, 1113 Smith Street; 808-545-3008) - Still a favorite, even if prices have gone up in recent years. Good for vegetarians.
Mini Garden (2065 South Beretania St; 808-946-3828) - Tasty Hong-Kong style cuisine, and big portions. Good for vegetarians. We usually order take-out because sadly, their customer service is consistently lacking.
On On at McCully (1110 McCully St; 808-946-8833) - Another take-out option for when I'm lazy to cook. Best to phone in instead of walking in.
Taipan (Chinatown, Chinese Cultural Plaza; 808-599-8899) - Tasty and fresh dim sum, great prices, great portions! Recently expanded their dining area.
Cafe Maharani (2509 South King St; 808-951-7447) - Probably the tastiest Indian food I've had on the island. Take-out strongly advised, because dining in takes too long (which will make you cranky if you're hungry). We always order the Vegetable Korma, and their Tandoori Chicken is good too. Their take-out containers may look small, but you'll be surprised at how satisfied you are at the end of the meal. Very popular in the Honolulu dining scene.
India Cafe (Kapahulu, Kilohana Square; 808-737-4600) - Actually, they're a good contender for "the tastiest Indian food on the island" award. Apparently they also serve Malaysian cuisine although I'm not sure which ones. A little on the pricey side. It's been a while since I've been to their Kilohana Square restaurant, but I do check out their kiosk at UH Manoa from time to time for a quick lunch option.
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Ezogiku (1010 University Ave; 808-942-3608) - Big portions, very tasty ramen and gyoza, and very affordable. They don't have high chairs, only booster seats. Parking can be challenging.
G Sushi (Market City Shopping Center; 808-732-9661) - Our favorite casual "conveyor-belt" sushi restaurant. Food quality and service is more consistent than Genki Sushi, and definitely cheaper. We love their Spicy Tuna and Spicy Shrimp!
Gyotaku (1824 South King St; 808-949-4584) - Great lunch specials! My mom loves their shrimp tempura.
Sushi King (2700 South King St; 808-947-2836)
- Great early bird and late night specials! They don't have high chairs, only booster seats.
Cho Dang (Ala Moana, 451 Piikoi St; 808-591-0530) - Great all-day specials! They stay open past midnight on weekends and also deliver. We like their seafood pancake and spicy chicken.
Gina's BBQ (Market City Shopping Center; 808-735-7964) - Generous portions and I like their spicy pork and daegu (marinated codfish). Best for take-out!
Palama Food Court (Kaheka Palama Supermarket; 808-447-7705) - Affordable plate lunches with generous servings. Spicy pork is good! Another great take-out option.
So Gong Dong (McCully Shopping Center; 808-946-8206) - Our new favorite! We used to go to their little hole-in-the-wall restaurant on Keeaumoku, and was disappointed with their inconsistencies when they first moved to their current location a few years ago. A few weeks ago, I wanted to give them another try, and was very impressed! Great service (they love kids!) and good value for money. We love their Seafood Pancake, BBQ Chicken (I would try the Spicy version but we kept it regular so my son can have some) and their soondubu (spicy tofu soup with choice of meat, mushrooms, seafood etc) is fantastico! You can choose to have it "white" (aka not spicy, again, for my son) and I didn't even know such an option is possible until our waitress suggested it. Weekday evenings are best because they're not as busy as on weekends, which only means short wait for the food!
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There are so many choices it's hard to pick my absolute Honolulu dining favorites and I do love my curries so! Thai food is my substitute for Indonesian food, which I often crave (most expecially when I was pregnant) but cannot fulfill. Unless I cook, or should I say, cheat, using instant spices! Not the best substitute but I'll make do with what I have.
Mekong II (1726 South King St; 808-941-6212) - My favorite dish here is the Eggplant & Tofu.
Phuket Thai (Ward, 401 Kamakee St; 808-591-8421) - Great place for family-style dinners with family and friends. Generous portions (unless you're in a party of big eaters). Tom Yum soup is great for chilly days!
To Thai For (3571 Waialae Ave; 808-734-3443) - Found this restaurant at random, and while we enjoyed their culinary skill, they're pricier than what we're accustomed to.
They cater too, and their dishes are consistently delicious.
So there you have it... a list of our favorite Honolulu dining options for you to explore. I hope you'll find the dishes as tasty as we do!
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