mai tai

We spent ten days just off Waikiki Beach in Honolulu over Spring Break.  I wrote up this food list before we left, based on research off Chowhound and Mike’s friend Dino, who is the King of all things Oahu.  I bolded what we actually did, along with some editorial.  Some places we didn’t visit merely because we weren’t hungry when we drove past.  There’s only so much one can eat…

Leonard’s – malasadas – I stood in line to purchase two dozen malasadas for us and our friends.  In my excitement, I assumed these Portuguese doughnuts were like doughnut holes.  THEY ARE NOT.  They are massively big doughnuts, filled with chocolate, or cream or coconut, made fresh to special order.  The guy at the counter disappears for a few minutes to present a piping hot box of soft doughnut goodness.  I think he thought I was MAD to order 24.  And it turns out I was.

famous leonard's sign, where I bought 24 malasadas

Liliha Bakery – cocoa puffs
Ted’s Bakery – chocolate coconut pie
Honolulu cookie company- little shortbread cookies, some dipped in chocolate.  These pretty little stores are all over Honolulu, with a nice array of samples.  I bought about 8 boxes of cookies back for folks at home.

Matsumoto shave ice

We went to both.  Waiola moved and we had some vague directions from some ladies on the street. It took us about 40 minutes to find the new location, which ended up being about 5 blocks from the original.

I know foodies don’t consider shave ice proper Hawaiian food, BUT I DO. I did a taste test:  Waiola won – fine fine shave ice…add condensed milk on top and ice cream on the bottom.  Can you say YUM.

Matsumoto is on the North Shore, and has a line up right out the door.  It was good, but sticky – get the special holder for an extra few cents to avoid dripping all over the parking lot and attracting a lot of flies.

rainbow shave ice from matsumoto shave ice in Haleiwa

BREAKFAST – we stayed at a condo.  So we never went out for breakfast.  We tried to go for lunch at Boots and Kimo’s in Kailua, but the lineup was too daunting…
Tai Pan – Chinatown cultural centre – dim sum
Boots and Kimo’s – macadamia nut pancakes

Teddy’s bigger burger Yes, we went here in Kailua on the east coast.  Yes, the burgers were good.  I think they were even bigger than the regular burger.  I love the way the Americans serve their burgers medium rare – a bit pink inside – this is NOT ALLOWED IN CANADA.  Decadent.  But sometimes you just need a burger.  We passed on having a milkshake too because of our waistlines, but I’m regretting that decision now.

man eats a hamburger.

Puka Dog in Waikiki (or hanks gourmet hot dogs Kakaako) – hiked up to Puka Dog with five kids in strollers.  Guy behind the counter was a hoot, and the hot dogs were served in warmed buns, with a colourful assortment of relishes.  I had the Polish sausage, with garlic sauce and mango relish.  Warmed buns people!  A very yummy hot dog.

aaron waits patiently for his puka dog.

Rainbow Drive in

LUNCH/Casual dinner
Chai’s island bistro
Fat Boys – east shore

Alan Wong’s – make reservations
La Mer
Town –  It was difficult to pick where to go for our one night out.  It was our anniversary and this was IMPORTANT.  Thankfully, Slow Food Oahu helped me out to narrow down a local, neighbourhood bistro, off the beaten path.  This was Town in a nutshell.  This is like a secret spot that isn’t a secret – in fact, I think there was a table of celebrities who I could not place next to us.

Oh, the food!  I love everything about Town, in mod Hawaiian style, with stainless steel tables, and art on the wall lit by flickering candles.  We share a bottle of wine.  Eat ahi tuna tartare (yes, even Mike).  I slurp up pillowy gnocchi.  Mike has a plate of tender chicken with grapes and pancetta.  We share a salted chocolate tart.  By now my eyes are rolling in the back of my head.  Our server (Jenny) is lovely and paces our evening perfectly. Bravo.

I am so proud of myself for making such a good choice.  Town was our best meal on Oahu, hands down.

Poke stop – sushi, eggplant fries
Akasaka at 1646 Kona Street, sushi
Ono Seafood – I didn’t have a lot of luck finding sushi (travelling mostly with two sushi haters), but I did uncover poke at Ono Seafood, which was a hike from our hotel.  Poke is just chopped fish (as opposed to sliced, a la sashimi), and I ordered a container of ahi tuna.  The lady behind the counter kind of yelled at me because I didn’t know what I wanted (I ended up with the ‘works’ but not spicy) but I held my ground and slowly but surely made my way through a big bunch of raw tuna, seasoned with soya sauce, sesame seeds and green onions.

poke, glorious poke


man by shrimp truck.

The North Shore has lots of shrimp trucks.  Plan your eating well, and stop at one.  We went to the famous Giovanni’s, and I inhaled a huge plate of shrimp scampi, which was garlicky buttery heaven.

i wish i had a big plate of shrimp in front of me right this minute.

Dole Whip – It is corny and touristy to go to the Dole Plantation, but we did it anyhow, goddamnit!  My favourite part was eating a Dole Whip for breakfast.  This is pineapple soft ice cream.

dole whip for breakfast.

We were travelling with two other families and this meant some dinners were chosen by others – like Duke’s on our first night, and P.F. Chang’s on our second last night.  In between, we also consumed a red velvet cake from Diamond Head Market for Aaron’s 7th birthday party (held at Honolulu Zoo!)

red velvet cake from diamond head market

I signed up for a Hole in the Wall Food Tour.  I love going on food tours in foreign cities.  This one concentrated on Chinatown, with a few extra Honolulu stops.

banana scene at the market in chinatown in honolulu

There were about 15 of us on the tour, and a cushy Mercedes van drove us about town.  There was continuous feeding of samples, generous portions and pleasant informative tour guides, Rich and Sahara.  I enjoyed it a lot.  Here is the tour in photos:

rich presents samples...
rice noodles, made by hand. amazing. and hard work.
delights in chinatown grocery store
sweet and savoury from diamond head market. at diamond head.

11 thoughts on “oahu

  1. A Canadian Foodie

    Foodie Tours are my fav while away, as well… and you take in a whole lot of other cultural aspects along the way… loved yours. The Dole tour would be a must for me, too. I love touristy and tacky and never miss anything like this first time round a place.
    Thanks for the peek into your trip!

  2. Dino

    Wow “king of all things Oahu”! lol…

    I guess it sounds way better than “hopless Oahu addict permanently stuck in Ed”…

    Great post, btw. Maks me remember why I love that place so much.

    Who is the hot dude in the Team Canada t-shirt?Local surfer?

    • sue robins

      Oh, code technology, where do I start?

      First, you are a computer guy from Edmonton.
      Second, the waves on North Shore were TOO HIGH for you and that’s why you stayed out of the water and were eating shrimp from a truck.

      Our memories of the events seems to be inconsistent.

  3. sanriela

    I’d go to Hawaii tomorrow with code tech just to hear him talk like that.

    Our wifes would not be seen withing 10ft of us of course, and would whole heartedly deny any association, but it’d be worth it.

    But seriously, when you went for the food tour did you have any dishes that had the SPAM in? No not the inbox kind, but the mystery “lunch meat” type.

  4. Kalani

    I love my shave ice too! Take it from a local, the best (and by far the cleanest and COOLEST) shave ice/apparel store is Island Snow in Kailua. This is President Obama’s spot when in town as well.

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