1. Ichiriki, on Piikoi
Ichiriki is an assortment of healthy shabu shabu and nabe, izakaya, pupus, sake and beer selection and an upstairs lounge that serves exotic cocktails and daily drink specials. Try the shiso mojito or guavatini, it is to die for! They have a barefoot policy in the lowered flooring section, and the decor is dark and traditional with private curtained booths, and shoji screen partitions. This is my favorite restaurant to dine at, and it even falls within my strict diet guidelines.
2. Bogarts Cafe, on Monserrat
Haupia pancakes, acai bowlsomelets, sandwiches, pasta’s, they have it all. My favorite is the breakfast bagel which comes with your choice of bagel flavor (garlic), choice of meat (bacon,) egg, spinach, tomato and cheese. A lot of athletes, joggers from Kapiolani park, and people health conscious stop in Bogarts. Be careful, sometimes there is a long line, and wait for a table, as this place is a small mom & pops place, run only by a few employees, but has a comfortable surfy feel with surfboards and upbeat paintings on the wall.
World renowned chef Nobu had to make this list. A regular diner at Nobu, I’ve tried almost everything on the menu. My favorite is the Matsuhisa Martini, a shoju, and vodka martini with a splice of ginger and cucumber. Champagne 95’s are also a sweet and fruity cocktail to try. Everybody’s favorite is the miso cod butter cups, which are no longer on the menu, but you can request them. And the yellowtail (hamachi) with cilantro, jalapeno, and ponzu sauce, another top pick among friends. Apart from the sexy atmosphere and lounge house music, this is a swanky, trendy restaurant, or a good “panty dropper” spot. Check it out!
4. Mom’s Soul Food & Crab Wings, in Pearl City
I love their smothered steak with mac n cheese, corn bread, and rice. Can’t say with my strict diet, I’ll be going back there anytime soon. The service sucks, and the girl who worked there was super rude to me, apart from the horrible decor, I love their peach cobbler, so I guess I put up with it. Often, I will just grab a plate to go on the way to work.
5. Naru Izakaya, on King St.
I stumbled across this place open late (till 2 am) last week. Itching for some late night Japanese food , I have never had such an original assortment of Izakaya in my life. With everything from fresh ginger hi-balls, to sashimi, udon, ume fried chicken, avocado ahi summer rolls, and stone pots. A dark and small, intimate nook on King St, this place is definitely one of my new favorites.
6. Alan Wongs, on King St.
No explanation necessary. Local fusion food. My favorite is the lobster mousse sushi rolls, and the house riesling. I usually go an order all the appetizers, and not an entree, because they are yummier. 😉 But I had the kalbi and shrimp before and it is to die for! With it’s white walls, track lighting, and a bright upbeat atmosphere, it is comparable to Roy’s and Pineapple Room, their spin off restaurant at Alamoana.
7. Dong Yang Korean BBQ, in Wahiawa
My diet mostly consisted of Dong Yang while I was pregnant. The prices recently went up, but it is still super cheap, and 2 sharing could barely finish a single plate. The portions are huge, prices cheap, flavor +. Easily the BEST Korean BBQ on the island! Dirty and cockroach infested, it’s still damn good!
8. Mitsu-Ken Okazu, in Kalihi
Avid Ozaku eater, this is the best ozaku on the island. You have to try their famous garlic chicken. I usually grab the mitsuken bento, but they have a variety of okazu from musubis to chow fun and potato hash. Just a booth, and no where to sit, this is a to go spot.
9. Kakaako Kitchen + Mocha Java Cafe in Ward
It’s a tie between Kakaako Kitchen and Mocha Java in ward. They are right next to eachother. Kakaako having daily specials, fresh fish specials, and a mouth watering menu. I love the Wednesday special, country fried chicken. A fried chicken, covered in country gravy. Sometimes you can get furikaki crusted kajiki on special, and if you are feeling more healthy, taro rolls, brown rice, and salad instead of mac. As for Mocha Java, just inside the doors is a little cafe that sells everything from macadamia nut french toast, to omelets, chicken curry crepes, sandwiches and acai bowls. Both places so delicious and so close to each other.
Eggs Benedict from Mocha Java Cafe
10. Mei Sum, in China Town
Best dim sum in town. I was disappointed to see their prices recently go up. They just recently moved a block from Smith Street, to a smaller, but still large spot. It’s still awesome. The char siu bao, shrimp dumpling, and mochi rice balls are my favorite.