Monday, May 23, 2011


Aloha! According to Wikipedia, Aloha in Hawaiian language means affection, love, peace, compassion and mercy. It also has been used as an English greeting to say goodbye and hello since the middle of the 19th century. In this case, the Aloha greeting in the start of this post is a Hello to you all.

Porgy and I did a quick 5 days trip to the island of Oahu a couple weeks ago. We had been looking forward to this trip... the idea of relaxing on a sunny beach and eating good Hawaiian and Asian (mostly Japanese)-influenced food made us (well, mostly me) super excited. I researched a couple of books, online and asked our foodie friends for places to go and local restaurants to check out and tagged them on a paper map (yes, I’m old school!) to help me plan our trip better.

The weather was super gorgeous on the day we arrived in Oahu alas the weather for the rest of the days in Hawaii was not that great as it was rainy, windy and pretty cold most of the time. Although we were disappointed because we couldn’t relax on the beach as much as we wanted to, we still had a great time in Oahu. We went to several fantastic restaurants and, unfortunately, also a couple not so good restaurants.

Here are some quick recaps of the restaurants that we went to.

Highly Recommended:
  • Ramen Nakamura – a ramen place in Waikiki that specializes in Oxtail Ramen. It can be a bit messy gnawing those oxtails but it’s so worth the effort.

  • Sushi Izakaya Gaku – a sushi restaurant near Waikiki. Fresh and innovative sushi, great sake selection, friendly servers & sushi chefs!

  • Mitsu-Ken – a hole in the wall take out place around Kahili area that is famous for its garlic chicken.

  • Helena’s Hawaiian food – somewhat a hole in the wall Hawaiian restaurant (also in Kahili, almost across Mitsu-Ken). It was pretty crowded since it was featured in Travel channel’s Man vs. Food segment earlier this year. Helena (the owner) and her staff are very friendly. Love the Pipikaula- ribs (although a bit salty), the Kalua pig and LauLaau.

  • Fukuya Deli – a great place to buy boxed/take-out food to bring to the beach near Waikiki.

  • Mikawon Korean Restaurant – a Korean restaurant in Waikiki by the International Market. We wanted to eat at the restaurant but there was a wait and it’s so smoky inside so we decided to do take-out instead. Pretty good food, huge portion, friendly staff.

  • McDonald's – the best breakfast ever - Portuguese sausage, scrambled eggs and rice. I wished they have this in the mainland.

Thumbs down:

  • Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin – we went to this restaurant with high expectation because we had a fantastic experience at a Tonkatsu-specialized restaurant in Tokyo and this restaurant got 4.5 stars on Yelp. Unfortunately, the food here was not good. Period.

  • Dillingham Saimin – it is supposed to be the #2 saimin place in Oahu, after Palace Saimin. We didn’t go to Palace Saimin Stand because it was closed on Sunday and Monday. Unfortunately, it was not good – the wonton skin was chewy and the broth was too salty. It’s definitely nothing compared to Hamura Saimin in Lihue (Kauai).

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