Restaurants & Bars 2

Oahu Report

imrit | Feb 24, 200811:26 AM

Just wanted to get back to people with a report on our meals in Oahu, after having asked for outdoor dining suggesting a week ago. These are arranged in whatever order I thought up.

Tokkuri-tei - For us, this was a highlight of the trip. A cozy, eclectic Japanese restaurant with startling sushi, a wide and challenging menu of sochu and sake, and great service. On our two visits, I tried most of the sushi on the menu, and found it all of extremely high quality, with wonderful rice and fresh fish tasting of not much more than the ocean. I was especially pleased with the uni (sea urchin), which I normally find a little difficult to eat, and was blown away by the Mu, a great sweetish sake suggested by the attentive staff. The place is cool too - tiles signed by various semi-prominent visitors are posted up all over the walls, and the crowd is clearly local, regular, and enthusiastic.

Leonard's Bakery - Warm, crispy, malasadas (doughnuts) filled with banana, coconut, and chocolate. One of the best fried doughs I've ever had, and the fact that the staff runs around in a panic at the idea that you might get your malasadas cold makes the whole experience even more fun. Also, I got a cool t-shirt, with smiling malasadas trying to get out of a box.

Side Street Inn - Well, the back alley location isn't all that promising. Nor is the bleak sports bar you find when you go inside. But then you notice that a lot of tables are reserved, and the menu includes some surprising stuff, and people are eating hungrily. After gobbling two kinds of ahi and smoked organic salmon, I'm a convert. I would have liked to explore more of the menu, but we ran out of time.

The Surf Room at the Royal Hawaiian - So, this is were we were staying, and it's just a hotel restaurant, but the view is spectacular, and the taro pancakes with lilikoi syrup were actually very very good. I wouldn't bother with the buffet, though - it looked fine (probably better, objectively, than the House with a Key), but I wouldn't (and didn't) pass up the pancakes on my two visits.

Mai Tai Bar - Also at our hotel, and not known for food, and expensive, but I got some pleasant coconut crusted shrimp here while listening to some very nice music and sitting outside. I wouldn't completely discount this place if what you want to do is hang out and talk.

Pineapple on Pupukea beach - ok, so not a restaurant, but an actual pineapple I bought from Foodlands supermarket (I also bought a cool-looking fruit knife) that we ate on the North Shore beach of Pupukea. Pineapples in Hawaii are complex fruits, completely unlike what we get in New York, and this was one of the best lunches we had on our trip.

House without a Key - we had a terrific breakfast here, based on chowhound recommendations. The food was good (a full buffet with great fruit, and surprisingly good macadamia pancakes, of which I consumed a large number), but the view and the setting (overlooking the beach and an obviously ancient tree) were the real treats. We loved it.

Keo's - Perfectly adequate thai food in a beautiful room festooned with flowers. Not as good as its reputation (but we're from New York, and a lot of the Thai here is excellent), but we certainly didn't regret the meal.

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