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Just back from Oahu. We usually rent a house on the North Shore so my report is more focused on grocery shopping than restaurants. Hope this helps others since I had not found much info on Chowhound for grocery shopping.
We love Japan so our focus was stocking up and cooking food that we have a hard time finding on the East Coast.
A membership only grocery store chain. $15 to join. There are also locations in California. Great selection of Japanese kitchen gadgets. We found fresh wasabi in the produce section - something we cannot buy on the East Coast. Large selection of sake, pickles from Japan, and frozen fish flown in from Japan. Multiple choices of Japanese pantry items like yuzu kosho. I was even able to pick up some malted rice to make shio koji at home. The last week we were there they had a Japanese food fair with vendors from the Ehime Region. Lots of fun to sample all the food and attend a fair very much like the one's we have attended in Tokyo.
Don Quijote (Waipahu)
Another Japanese chain. This store is much more organzied and spacious than the branches in Japan. An amazing selection of Japanese household products and appliances. Large grocery store section selling Japanese, Chinese and Filipino products. Large meat selection - much larger than Marukai. Small food court in the store.
The closest grocery store to our rental. OK for picking up a few items when you don't want to run down to Waipahu or Honolulu. Prices seemed a little high (maybe just compared to the mainland). Poke was OK.
Intersting for someone from the mainland to go to a Costco in Hawaii. A few aisles of Hawaiian food like lomi salmon, pork lau lau, butterfish in miso sauce, and poi. Great for picking up gifts to bring home. We bought kona coffee and lots of different macadamia nut products to give as presents. Also, they always seem to have bathing suits, rash guards and board shorts available. Loved, loved, loved the ahi wasabi poke.
We didn't eat out much. We were wanting to stay near our home to watch surfing (the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing was going on).
The Pig and The Lady (Chinatown)
Reviewed on Chowhound more than a few times so all I can add is go. Really, go. We were lucky to be seated next to a chef and his family who knew Andrew Le. We got a chance to sample pork jowls that he brought out just for his friend. I had the porchetta sandwich and hubby had Pho Tai. We also shared the sprouted salad and the Laotian chicken. The food was good and the company at our table was great. Really enjoyed our meal here.
Grass Skirt Grill (Haleiwa)
We stop here at least once on every visit to Oahu. Hubby had the coconut shrimp and I had the Hebi burger (mahi). My fish was a little dry but overall a solid choice from a town with not a lot of options.
Coffee Gallery (Haleiwa)
Best coffee I've had on the North Shore. They make their own chocolate syrup in house.
Gyu-Kaku (Windward Mall)
Got caught starving and with a headache one day and we were near the Windward Mall. Yes, this is a chain. It was fine. Lunch prices were good and we don't have anything like this where I live. Really enjoyed the beef marinated in red miso and the yuzu kosho chicken.
Haleiwa Farmers Market (Thursday 3-7pm, Waimea Valley)
Not like the farmers markets at home. More of a focus on prepared meals than produce. Wow Wow lemondade had great drinks. I enjoyed the lilikoi flavor but a lot of people were recommending pineapple-ginger. There was a Thai food stand that sold coconut pancakes. Had those twice. There was a goat cheese vendor who sold flavored goat cheese. The pesto flavor was good. Other stands included a bar, burgers, falafel, crepes, and pizza. Live entertainment and a great family atmosphere.
MAC 24/7 (Hilton Waikiki Beach)
We only ate here because we had to spend 2 nights in Waikiki before our house was available and because we were delayed 3 hours getting into Honolulu. Going out our first night was not an option. Drinks were fine. We had the Deep Fried Short Rib bites, the Hawaiian inspired vietnamese roll and the pancakes. Appetizers were ok. The pancakes were way too sweet for us. Didn't even make it halfway through the stack. Not many choices in the immediate area for food. Would stick to appetizers and drinks next time.
Hope this post helps someone renting a house on Oahu. Even with two weeks and our 4th visit we always leave feeling like we need to return. Oh, and my suitcase was FULL of Japanese food when I left the island.
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