By: Revanche

Good Eats: Food in Oahu

June 10, 2013



From top left, going clockwise…

Our three across the top are Happy Hour appetizers from a little place called Cactus, in Kailua.  The waitstaff looked to be shorthanded: they were a bit harried and slow, though very nice. We never make it to Happy Hour anywhere on the mainland but took advantage of our slightly more relaxed schedule on “vacation”. They had both indoor and outdoor seating, and moderately good food. Our friend didn’t like half the dishes we order (by consensus, mind you!) but since I’ll eat just about anything once, it was good enough for me.

Happy Hour beer was a Negro Modelo for $3 (staff took the initiative to substitute it for the foamy and warm Dos Equis) and frozen margaritas were $4.

Meal for three: 7 appetizers and 3 drinks for a total of $32, tax and tip included.

Cactus (tripadvisor reviews)
767 Kailua Road Suite 106, Kailua, Oahu, HI

Lower right corner: sauteed mushrooms.

Honestly, I’m selfish. I don’t even want to tell you about this place because the wait is long enough now if you don’t get there early enough. But it’s pretty amazing. We did a family style dinner, ordering WAY too much food for two people: sauteed mushrooms, pan fried pork chops, fried rice. I don’t even like mushrooms and I would eat these every day and twice on Sunday.

This was much pricier than our usual meals up to that point, having eaten rather frugally, generally speaking.

Meal for two: 2 beverages, 3 entree sized dishes for $59.50, including tax and tip

Side Street Inn on Da Strip Kapahulu Ave (tripadvisor reviews)
614 Kapahulu Ave, #100, Honolulu, Oahu, HI

Middle bottom: plate lunches

We were searching for a musubi specialty place and ended up here. Ironically? Stupidly? The place we couldn’t find was actually called Iyasame Musubi. And Sugoi didn’t have any musubi at all. What the hell.

Anyway, we got great lunch plates anyway: an amazing garlic chicken and chicken katsu curry. Mmm.

Neither of us was a fan of the mac salad though, it was absolutely glued together with mayo. I’m a fan of mayo but not in that quantity.

Meal for two: 1 beverage, 2 mini lunch plates (1 scoop of rice, 1 scoop of mac salad, entree) for $15.50

1286 Kalani St. #B-106, Honolulu, HI

Bottom left corner: Taiwanese style shave ice

This is why I hate paying cash (aside from not getting points): I can’t remember where we went for shave ice and I have no credit card statement to refer back to. It was pretty good though.  It was walking distance from the Hawaii Convention Center though.

We picked the mango combination flavor and shared between three people.

Middle left: Hot pot!

We were told that we couldn’t leave Honolulu without trying this hot pot restaurant. You get to pick your broth which is prepped and brought to the table, order meats from the servers, and fetch everything else (vegetables, seafood, seaweed, etc.) from the two fridge units. They also had a sauce station with about a dozen sauce options for you to mix and match. All my mixes were terrible.  Turns out you really can go wrong when experimenting. But it was good.

Oh, and the funny thing? They get so much business that they actually put you on a dining clock. You’re allotted 90 minutes to eat and git! We didn’t keep very good track of our time so we overran by about ten minutes. The one server was pretty grumpy about it.

Meal for three: water all around, about 12 plates of meats, vegetables, noodles, mushrooms, seafood balls, tofu for ~$50.

Sweet Home Cafe
2334 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96826

Other great foods:

Leonard’s Malasadas: A dollar for either a sugar or a cinnamon sugar pastry. Absolutely AMAZING. We’ve decided a hot, fresh malasada is basically the best dessert in the world. [feast your eyes]

Rainbow Drive-in: A bit of a classic recommendation for plate lunches.

Honolulu Cookie Company: they have yummy shortbread cookies and bins of samples in their stores. Mmmmm….

Garlic shrimp trucks: You can find these on North Shore, there’s one in Waikiki and a great one on the way down to Lanikai from PCC.

PCC: If you’ve never done a luau, the Polynesian Cultural Center’s supposed to have a good one. I didn’t feel the need to go to another luau this time because I really just want the food and not the show, but they also have (rather expensive but good) Dole whips here.

Over to you: have you got any favorite Hawaii foods? Did I miss any crucial Must Eats in this list? Or favorite travel foods you’d go the distance to eat? 

8 Responses to “Good Eats: Food in Oahu”

  1. Linda says:

    Oh, it was so long ago when I was in Honolulu (2002) that I can barely remember where we ate. I recall eating at a place in Chinatown on the last day and going to the Polynesian Cultural Center for a day excursion that included the luau. Unfortunately we had to leave the luau before it was over so we could catch the bus back to Waikiki. I enjoyed taking the buses on Oahu. They went everywhere and we easily skipped renting a car!

    • Revanche says:

      I had heard good things about their bus system – I would be interested in trying them but since we always had two people (or more) traveling together, and going to a lot of destinations, it made economic sense in the end. Only because our rate was really low, though.

  2. Sense says:

    Malasadas, check, shave ice, check, plate lunch, check! There are awesome Thai places (MeKong and Phuket thai) and a pizza place (Boston’s in Manoa Valley) we always went to but no one really goes to HNL for thai and pizza…you hit the highlights! My fave place to eat in the islands is Duke’s, which is cheese-y Hawaiian touristy but I die for their Huli Huli chicken and the atmosphere is perfect: people wandering around with uke’s, barefoot bar, the sand and sea right outside…it was always my go-to spot for a drink and dinner, post-sunset surfing. Magical!

    You have given me the HI bug. Oh, why did I ever leave?! 🙂 I MUST visit soon to get my fix!

    • Revanche says:

      Remind me how long you were in HI? I don’t think we got to try Huli Huli chicken, we should next time!

      • Sense says:

        I lived there for almost four years after college. I didn’t advertise it very much on my blog–you know, anonymity and all. I curse the day I left, but it has gotten even more expensive since I lived there, (they now have a Target, though…progress!)
        My friends still talk about the birthday I hoovered the huli huli chicken in about 10 seconds flat. I guess I was hungry?! Glad you got to enjoy the islands and relax a little bit on your working vacation. 🙂 hope the islands showed you lots of aloha.

  3. Bookmarked! Thank you! 😀
    My tummy is greatly appreciative too.

  4. Clare says:

    I went to school at the University of Hawaii and after the climate and scenery, I miss island food most of all.

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