I just wanted to post the food highlights of our recent trip to Oahu, as we gain a lot of valuable information from this board. There was a lot we didn't get to try, but that will be for future visits.
Bubble Boba in Kaneohe’s Windward Shopping center offers a soy based shave snow. I included lychee and strawberries for my toppings. A tasty and healthy dessert with nice soft snow ice.
Whole Ox: After reading about this on chowhounds Hawaii, I decided I had to try this place. I had the highly regarded porchetta sandwich, while my wife opted for the beef. Enjoyed the crispiness of the porchetta. I had hoped to return this trip to try the burger, but ran out of time.
Ailana: One of my favorites in the increasingly competitive shave ice market, this time around it disappointed a bit. That could illustrated in the better experience I had with Shimazu Store later in the week. It was simply a Wow factor I had at Shimazu missing at Ailana.
Teddy’s Kailua: Still my favorite fast food burger, tho I also enjoy Kua Aina. Teddy’s also serves up a nice crispy fish sandwich.
Shimazu Store has to be the best shave ice in Hawaii. Their small is quite large, and the variety of flavor syrups are nearly unmatched, though Ailana offers up healthier whole fruit toppings. Among my favorites at shimazu: Melon Bar melon, strawberry crème and Georgia peach. All their syrups are made with cane sugar and not high fructose corn syrup. And the ice is shaved very fine. Waiola, which has dropped from my list in recent years, still shaves a fine ice.
We tried Heeia Kea Pier also from CH recommendations. It seems the Windward side is offering more and more decent restaurants. The resto is situated at the very end of the pier where boats are launched. Very popular eating place. Come early, for they seem to run out of choices. I came to try the misoyaki beef, but they were out by 12:30. I settled for the burger, and wife had the guava chicken. We found neither particularly memorable. But if you sit inside the store or outside off to the side, you have a really nice view of Kaneohe Bay and of the fishing boats coming by.
Made In Hawaii: My cousin recommended this place for their strawberry mochi. It’s a mochi fitted around a large strawberry. I chose their strawberry & dark chocolate mochi, wife chose the haupia cheesecake mochi. Both were really delicious. I was taken by the soft and rich quality of the mochi itself. Definitely worth a visit.
Aoki: Honestly Matsumoto’s gets the tourists, but I have found Aoki’s equally good. As a disclaimer, neither are as good as the best in Honolulu.
Rainbow Drive In: Rainbow’s is still my favorite plate lunch, especially the mixed plate, which includes their mahi, fried chicken and teri beef. Good as ever, though the portions were noticeably smaller.
Bubbies has always been a favorite of mine, especially the macadamia nut (whole nuts). Having tried a plethora of artisan and quality ice creams in the LA area, I think Bubbie’s creaminess is right up there with the best LA has to offer.
We did take out for noodles, thin and thick, from Char Hung Sut. Boy if those thin Chow Mein noodles
were to die for. Just delicious. That place needs to set up tables and chairs.
Honolulu coffee: Another favorite which this time disappointed. They only offered 100% Kona brewed French press, which is not my preference. I would have much preferred a drip or a syphon. The coffee tasted burnt and lacked the smoothness I usually enjoy in Kona coffee.
Jung’s: I tried this place based on a CH recommendation. A little eclectic Chinese store on King across from the Zippy’s corporate building. It was probably the unhippest shave ice place, even more than Waiola Store, which probably added to its charm. The ice was served in a Styrofoam cup with standard flavors, but the ice was indeed shaved very well and it was really cheap, as a small came to $2.00.
Kua Aina: My wife’s favorite burger in Hawaii. I like it too, but don’t care for those stringy fries.
Yoony Sun: Actually a very good Korean plate lunch place in Kaneohe. I like their bulgogi, but wish they would slice it thinner. Hawaii seems to serve a thicker bulgogi most places. I like it sukiyaki/shabu shabu style. Good selection of panchan, though.
St. Germain Bakery in Shirokiya: My mother-in-law turned me on to the Excel thick sliced bread here. Toasted in the morning with butter and guava jam, just great. It must be really popular because you often have to ask for it at the counter, where they will slice it for you to your preference.
Thang French coffee & Bubble Tea. Actually a smoothie stand in the Mauka Kea Market foodcourt. And they served the best mango smoothie I’ve ever had. At their Kalihi location, I tried their honeydew, which was not as good. I think the rule of thumb is to stick to local fruit flavors.
Leonard’s Malasada. Always a favorite stop. Mine is the dobash (chocolate), but also enjoyed the flavor of the month, guava.
Agnes Portuguese Bakery in Kailua. They don’t have the variety of fillings Leonard’s offers, and the malasada itself tasted more dense. Leonard’s is lighter and still better to me.
Saigon House in Kaneohe had a nice vermicelli with charbroiled pork. Others in my party enjoyed the Pho.
Grace’s Inn. This is an old time favorite, though I hadn’t been in years. I used to always come for their chicken katsu. The portions were noticeably smaller, but still pretty crispy and tender.
Pancakes & Waffles is in the same strip mall as Young’s and Thang’s in Kalihi, so we gave it a try. The chicken and waffle offerings were pretty good. In LA, my favorite is Pann’s over Roscoe's , but P&W does a very good job. The fried chicken is very crispy outside and juicy inside, just the way I like it.
Windward Shopping Center Farmers Market on Wednesday afternoon is located inside the mall and on both floors. Great prices on produce, plus a good variety of goodies. I came away with macadamia nut peanut butter, guava jam made with honey and a reasonably-priced and smooth tasting 100% kona coffee. The market had stands for Portuguese pastries, Filipino delicacies, poi, etc.
Chun’s BBQ. A local favorite in Kaneohe but flies under the radar, as many Windward places seem to. Really enjoyed the kalbi as it was the thick cut.