Food scene in HonoluluPosted: March 19, 2021
Our post about the food scene in Papeete, Tahiti was one of the most popular posts ever on this site. The obvious conclusion: I should become a South Pacific food critic. You may think I’m not qualified, because I’ve spent no more than 25 days or so in the South Pacific, and that’s generously assuming we count New Zealand and Australia. You may think a South Pacific food critic should be a big jolly rotund character who loves food, not a picky eater with a skinny frame. But, we must follow where called, so here is our latest dispatch, on the food scene in Honolulu.
Above are the dumplings of the day (a spiced beef, on this particular day) at Koko Head Cafe, Lee Ann Wong’s (of Top Chef) brunch spot in the cool, chill Kaimuki neighborhood. Fantastic for post-hike feasts.
The Don Buri Chen is no joke, and the fish eggs are serious as well.
Shave ice, of course, this is at Kokonuts:
Obama’s flavors are said to be Lemon Lime and Cherry, went with Lemon Lime and cocoanut, maybe because they were toasting cocoanut inside which aromated the strip mall joint in a most pleasing way.
Musubi, Japanese seaweed and rice-wrapped pyramid sandwiches, very solid. I’m not into the classic spam musubi, ground beef and tuna both solid and satisfying:
That’s from Mana Musubi, which was sold out by Friday around 11 am. What a packable food!
Piggy Smalls, offshoot of The Pig and the Lady, is making incredible new Vietnamese food in a former burger joint location:
Failed to photograph the Burmese Tea Salad before devouring. We intended to visit the legendary shrimp trucks of the North Shore, but were stopped by torrential downpour, luckily this hit us just as we rolled up on Aloha Shrimp Truck in Hauula. (Remember when pronouncing Hawaiian words: there are no silent letters).
Simple? Yes. Excellent? Yes.
A beloved Oahu institution is Zippy’s fast food, which has a pretty extensive menu and some baked goods as well. Had to try the Zap Pak and the Surf Pak.
Look, is it delicious? Kind of. Is it convenient? Also kind of.
Fête in downtown Honolulu rules:
Ridiculous Italian food with local Hawaiian-raised meats and ingredients.
The queen of Oahu foodstuffs however must be the poke you can buy by the pound at the counter in the back of Tamara’s liquor store, there are several locations:
You eat that on a cracker and you’re having a great time. This is the classic tuna in Tamara’s sauce. I became a poke convert.
For some Hawaiian food/plate lunch classics, Highway Inn, several locations.
A good poi introduction.
The Oahu institution we failed to try was Leonard’s for malasadas, but Pipeline, around the corner from Koko Head, seemed excellent.
For freshness, invention, and wild array of influences, Honolulu gotta be in the conversation as a food destination. The cuisine skews a bit fatty and decadent, I must say, a salad seems harder to come by than a mai tai, but if you’re cutting loose on vacay and pairing with some outdoor adventures, it’s pretty grand.
Maximum mahalo to friend and local guide Kim H. for knowing all the spots!
Hawaii has kept low Covid #s in part by taking great care in letting people in, you must produce a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of departure. And not just any Covid test, a Hawaii-approved test. Don’t be like this knucklehead and take the wrong kind of test!
Look, once you get the original Hawaii 5-0 theme in your head, it’s hard to get out, but man, is that the best TV opening ever?