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Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (or Good Places to Eat Breakfast)--O'ahu Style

Yeah, the owner seems like a really nice guy, which makes me root for him. The deal with Kit n' Kitchen is value. You get decent portions and quality for the price you pay--which is pretty minimal. It's not a place I would recommend to out-of-towners, but for locals, especially those on a budget.

@Man

Was Kit n' Kitchen open in the 80s? Where was it?

Jun 25, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Friends in Honolulu

OK, thanks. I'll try to check this place out. (Any recommendations besides the pho?)

Jun 25, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (or Good Places to Eat Breakfast)--O'ahu Style

I'm not sure how long Kit and Kitchen has been serving breakfast, but I recently went to check it out. Basically, it's cheap but the quality can be decent (for the price) to not so great. That's the same for the breakfast items we got. (I can't remember most of them now. I do remember the pancakes, which were of a similar quality to microwave pancakes.)

Our family has recently been going to Mocha Java for breakfast--a place made not typically thought of as a restaurant. They have some interesting dishes that are pretty decent.

Jun 25, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Panya?

So, I'm assuming the experience was really good?

I haven't eaten there in a long time. They had some nice desserts and some decent entres--although the portions are typical Japanese. What was good when you went, Kman?

Jun 25, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Friends in Honolulu

Thanks for the report, KMan.Where is HaLong's exactly? I'll make the effort to check it out.

Btw, regarding Hiroshi's most of the food is 50% off at the bar (between 5:30-6:30). Some of the specials are not. For example, they have this hamachi nigiri with hot peanut oil that the discount doesn't apply to. But try it anyway (if you like hamachi)!

Jun 25, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Plate Lunch on O'ahu: Recommendations and Warnings

Don't drive out to Tamura's just for the lau-lau. I'd stick with Young's or even Yama's.

Apr 30, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Plate Lunch on O'ahu: Recommendations and Warnings

We buy a bunch of lau-lau from Young's or Yama's and freeze it. If you use a steamer to reheat, it tastes great! (FWIW, Tamura's in Wai'anae also makes a decent lau-lau--probably not worth the drive just for that, but if you live out there or have family, it's a solid deal.)

Apr 29, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (or Good Places to Eat Breakfast)--O'ahu Style

I think I've only been to one crepe place (next to Serge's in Manoa). I like the nutella, banana crepes, although that's more of a dessert than breakfast food, imo.

Re: Liliha Bakery

I think they make some of the best pancakes (although they might have slightly gone downhill). It's just regular pancakes, but they're really good for some reason. (I think the fact that they come to you piping hot is a factor.) Also, try their grilled butter rolls with "radioactive jelly."

Apr 27, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Food Trucks (not typical plate lunch wagons) on O'ahu

A couple of months ago I went to one of those foodtruck events in the evening. The lines were ridiculous, and I'm pretty sure I'll never go to one of them again. But I am curious about the trendy new food trucks sprouting out. This is a thread to talk about some of the new food trucks. (Note: let's try to stay away from discussing conventional plate lunch wagons.)

Apr 26, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Portuguese Food On Oahu?

I've always wondered this myself. I asked some Portuguese co-workers, but they had no idea.

Apr 26, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Foodie's first time in Oahu

Never been to Suntory, so I can't really say.

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Suntory Restaurant
2233 Kalakaua Ave Ste 307, Honolulu, HI 96815

Apr 26, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (or Good Places to Eat Breakfast)--O'ahu Style

I really like watching Foodnetwork's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" as I love diners and diner food (especially breakfast). Unfortunately, I don't think O'ahu has many great diners. What is specifically disappointing is the lack of creative updates on diner food. It's a bit surprising to me because I think there would be a solid market for this type of food. (The lines for IHOP were pretty long when they first opened up here.)

Anyway, this is thread to discuss some of the better diners and breakfast eating places on O'ahu.I'll try to breakdown and post some of my favorites as well some places I've been to recently.

Apr 26, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

"Secret" snacks, hidden gems, specialities of the mom & pops in hawaii - got one to share?

Perhaps, not all spam musubi are equal, but my sense is that the difference between the best and decent is not very great.

Apr 26, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Mexican Food on O'ahu

I've been there, but it was a while ago. I thought it was decent, but nothing outstanding.

Apr 26, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Mexican Food on O'ahu

The fish dish was around $23. Btw, they offer four different preparations. I don't know how Mexican the preparations are, but the one I got (dang, I can't remember exactly what it was) was good. It also came with this sauteed (in chili oil?) vegetables that were also good. I'm not sure it's worth the drive, but if I lived closer, I'd probably go here.

Apr 26, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Mexican Food on O'ahu

I recently visited Luibueno. I liked the fish, but the other items weren't that great (calamari; can't remember what else). Oh, they did have a seafood pot pie that was also solid.

Apr 26, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Plate Lunch on O'ahu: Recommendations and Warnings

My vote would be the tasty chicken at Aiea Bowl, (although I haven't tried all of their items). However, if you've eatend Mitsuken or Sugoi's garlic chicken, you may want to try something else, as it is in a similar vein, imo.

For Rainbows, I guess the mix plate would be best. Loco moco is pretty good (and cheap, too). Also, you might want to try their slush float--which is one of the few remaining places that sell this.

Apr 23, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Plate Lunch on O'ahu: Recommendations and Warnings

I've always had a low opinion of Rainbows, but I have also acknowledged that they were cheap and really get your order out quick. Despite this, I do like their gravy--which has a chilli powder flavor that I like. However, I went there about a month ago, and the food was extremely bland--moreso than I remember, too.

Again, if speedy service and low prices is what you want, Rainbows is a good place to go to. (Their loco moco is good, too.) But I'm thinking most foodies value quality over speedy service and low prices. (Besides other plate lunch places aren't really expensive.)

Apr 23, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Plate Lunch on O'ahu: Recommendations and Warnings

Lau-lau is one of my favorite dishes, and I would say that Young's has one of the best, if not the best lau-laus. Yama's also makes a really good lau-lau (chicken and pork), and they're closer to Waikiki. Most of my friends think Young's makes the best lau-lau, and I tend to agree.

Apr 23, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Comments on plans for foodies on a budget!

Which ramen would you recommend?

Mar 17, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Comments on plans for foodies on a budget!

Wait, I said I didn't know about any ramen/udon place in Kailua, not that there WEREN'T any good places. :)

But while we're on the subject, do you think Sumo is as good as Goma-Ichi's ta tan ramen or Jin Din Rou's version? What about Sumo compared to Tenkkaipin's kotteri? I haven't been tried Sumo, so I'm not saying it's not as good, but I'm just asking.

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Jin's Restaurant
4303 Rice St Ste B6, Lihue, HI 96766

Mar 16, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Comments on plans for foodies on a budget!

Check on the Formaggio's menu online to get a better sense. I like the ambiance at the Kailua Formaggio, though. It's open and casual, but sort of elegant, too.

Don't know about any good ramen/udon places in Kailua or Kaneohe. There are some really good places in downtown Honolulu! (Tan-tan min at Jin Din Rou or the same dish at Goma-Ichi.)

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Jin's Restaurant
4303 Rice St Ste B6, Lihue, HI 96766

Mar 16, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Comments on plans for foodies on a budget!

Last time I checked, there's a Big City Diner in Kailua. Also, fwiw, with both Big City Diner and Zippy's have your standard diner fare, they also serve local foods. For example, Big City serves poke, Hawaiian food on Fridays, and an enormous kim chee fried rice. Zippy's also has a very good won tun min (or go for the zip min which includes more garnishes like deep fried shrimp), imo, and other things like Korean fried chicken, chicken katsu, teri beef, etc. The portions are more on the modest side, though. Still, if that doesn't appeal to you, then you should check out some other place.

As I mentioned, I haven't been to Gaku, so I can't comment. With Mitch's you can order ala carte, and I'm not sure how the prices would compare if you order a sashimi platter with two rolls. However, I do know that the most yummy fish is going to be expensive. The last time I went--and this was several years ago--two pieces of Spanish toro nigiri went for $20. Here's the thing though: they had a special where you pay $75 per person and you get an omakase meal (not unlimited items though). The meal, both times I went, consisted of the Spanish toro and other really good sushi (that would be really expensive a la carte). The meal also included a live, New Zealand lobster--sashimi-ed tail, while the body was used in a miso soup served after! Definitely the best raw fish I"ve ever eaten, especially in terms of flavor.

The thing about Sushi Sasabune and Gaku is that I would go there for the omakase (chef's choice), and in that format, you decide when you want to stop (I don't know if there is a minimum order, though). So you could possibly order a few pieces and just stop within your budget.

Re: Shave Ice

Ice Garden seems to be different, as in more Asian (maybe Taiwanese?). They don't put very much syrup on the ice and they have unusual ingredients like oatmeal, green beans (not what you think), custard, etc. So I don't know how "Hawaiian" it is. If this is a high priority, I'd recommend Waiola or the Strawberry cream or haupia cream at Ailana, near Ala Moana.

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Big City Diner
3569 Waialae Ave Ste 3, Honolulu, HI 96816

Ice Gardens
Aiea Shopping Ctr, Aiea, HI 96701

Sushi Sasabune
1419 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96814

Mar 16, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Comments on plans for foodies on a budget!

The one time I went there the 50% discount did not apply to a hamachi sushi special that . (I ordered it anyway because it sounded so good--it was.)

Mar 16, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Plate Lunch on O'ahu: Recommendations and Warnings

Ah, K-man's post reminds me of an important caveat I forgot to mention: I've only tried a few things at this place. The mixed plate (which I think comes with the boneless chicken, teri-beef and fish) and the loco-moco. (I didn't care for the bbq beef, however. )They are also one of the few remaining places that serve slush float--strawberry slush with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Also, while I agree with K-Man that the food here is not upscale, I sort of feel like you can get better quality of this blue-collar type of food. Yes, there's the "white collar" version at places like Kakaako Kitchen, but I'd choose Grace's Inn for their chicken katsu or HK's for the teri chicken (or teri bbq anything). That's just my opinion, of course. There's no right or wrong. (Hopefully, more people will weigh in with their opinions, as this will give readers good information to make up their own minds.)

K-Man, I'll keep their roast pork in mind the next time I go here.

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Kakaako Kitchen
1200 Ala Moana Blvd # 135, Honolulu, HI

Grace's Inn
2919 Kapiolani Blvd Unit 20, Honolulu, HI 96826

Mar 16, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Comments on plans for foodies on a budget!

Comments:

The thing about Formaggio is that it can get pricey--especially if you order a bunch of small plates and drinks. Big City, Zippy's and Teddy's are pretty cheap in comparison.

Agree about the napples at Zippy's--which are flaky, buttery apply turnovers (although if you have really great turnovers in Chicago, you can pass on this; they also have blueberry cream cheese and coconut napples, too.) People like Zippy's chili and fried chicken, too. Solid and maybe different, but probably not earth-shattering.

FWIW, agree with K-Man that Teddy's has one of the best burgers on the island.

Mar 16, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Plate Lunch on O'ahu: Recommendations and Warnings

OK, here's a key question that needs to be answered for all out-of-towners--and I would like all the people who have eaten at this place to respond--positive or negative, because I think this is a relatively important question when it comes to plate lunch. And the question is:

Should you go to eat at Rainbow's Drive-In?

If you've done research on plate lunch, you've heard of this place, and if you're interested in trying a plate lunch, you've probably heard that this is the place to try. Here's my response. If you really value cheap and speedy service (this is a take out place, though), this is a place to try. But if quality is more what you're about, then I don't think Rainbow's is worth the stomach space. It's not terrible (although I went there recently and the food was surprisingly bland, even for their standards); it's fine. But if you're a foodie flying in to O'ahu, I don't think it's the top priority plate lunch place.

I encourage others to weigh in--agree or disagree--so that you can help out-of-towners make a decision on this question.

Mar 16, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Plate Lunch on O'ahu: Recommendations and Warnings

I'm not necessarily saying the other entres are terrible--just that I expect the quality to be similar to many other plate lunch places. I don't think I've tried their sweet chili/korean chicken, but I think that could be good. Have you tried their lemon chicken? I think it was unique and one of the better lemon chickens I've tried.

Mar 16, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Comments on plans for foodies on a budget!

OK, some comments off the top of my head:

Monday:
Formaggio has a nice vibe and if you can get good happy hour deals, it'll probably be worth it. However, I'd guess you could get similar food in Chicago? You know, if you're in the mood for something simpler like burgers or diner food, I'd recommend Teddy's (burgers) or Big City Diner, where you could get local style food. Zippy's is another place--which is *the* diner spot in Hawai'i. You probably could get slightly better food at Big City, but the quality at Zippy's is solid. Both are relatively inexpensive and very casual dining.

Tues:
Helena's is very good for Hawaiian food. (Definitely try the pipikaula; they have good squid luau there, too, although unless you're into coconut milk spinach-y type of leaf, you don't have to try this). If quantity is a bigger issue, I'd consider Ono Hawaiian in Kapahulu (near Waikiki and Manoa). Quality is solid here and portions are significant.

Here's another suggestion. If you go to Helena's right down the street is a place called, Mitsuken. Go there and pick up some garlic chicken--even if you get a few pieces, it's worth trying! (It's basically a fried boneless chicken in a crispy batter with a garlicky soy sauce.)

Wed:
Can't help you with any lunch places near Hanauma Bay.
I've been to Hiroshi's once for the 50% off, and I loved it--although you have to sit at the bar to order the happy hour. The 50% doesn't apply to a few dishes. To me, if you like fish prepared in a neo-Japanese style this is a place to try; and it's a good deal. The place is clean not a dive too.

Thurs:

Ice Garden is good, although I wonder if people who have grown up eating shave ice will appreciate it more. They have different toppings that one doesn't normally see with shave ice (custard, oatmeal, etc.).

If you drive off the base, I'd consider going to Young's Kal-bee, a Korean plate lunch place. It's very close to Pearl Harbor and across the street from Ice Garden. (So you could go to Young's then get shave ice for dessert). For Korean plate lunch, I think they're very good--and if you haven't been to a lot of great Korean places or almost never eat Korean food, this might be worth it. It's not expensive, and the portions are huge.

Or you could drive over to Waipahu and try some poke at Tanioka's and/or Poke Stop. If you've never had poke, but love sashimi, I think you should try this. Tanioka's has good poke, plus musubis and other stuff that you can order ala carte. (It can get a little pricey--at least for lunch food.) Poke Stop is also excellent for poke (they let you sample). The creamy ahi poke is very good, and they have a lot of seafood plate lunch. I think Joebob loves their eggplant fries, too.

OK, here's a suggestion. If you take a lunch break and leave Pearl Harbor, you could drive down to Waipahu (approx five-seven miles) and hit Taniokas, Elena's or Thelma's and Poke Stop. You can get a little bit of everything from each place. If you go to Elena's or Thelma's definitely try the lechon--which is roast pork that's fried with a semi-crisp outer layer. You could also hit Ice Garden on the way back. Oh, there's also a place in Waipahu called Hula Boba, which has some pretty good shave ice. They use ice milk instead of plain ice and they use fruit preserves instead of syrup. All these places are really close together and off of Farrington Highway! Boom, boom, boom and you're good to go!

Friday:

OK, I've only been to Ah Lang, once, and I didn't really care for it. Some people find the grouchy lady endearing, I sort of didn't.

Yanagi is decent. (I bet you could get butterfish there, too. In my experience, you can get decent butterfish at almost any Japanese restaurant on O'ahu.), and if you're going for sushi/Japanese food on a budget, the choice is understandable. But for better sushi you should consider Mitch's (Spanish toro is like butter!), Sushi Sasabune and Gaku. (I haven't been to the latter, but my Japanese sister-in-law says it's great.) These places aren't cheap, though. I've been to Doraku once, and I thought it was fine--sort of creative fusion sushi.

If you're going to Waikiki, consider Sansei, which has a 50% special like Hiroshi. To me the quality is not spectacular, but I'd go for that deal. They have solid wine selection, too, but I'm not an experienced wine drinker.

Sat.

Lunch in town. Not sure. (I think my brain is fried. :)
I like the Town choice for dinner, though. They definitely try to use locally grown foods. Not pricey for the type of food you get, too.

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Big City Diner
3569 Waialae Ave Ste 3, Honolulu, HI 96816

Ice Gardens
Aiea Shopping Ctr, Aiea, HI 96701

Sushi Sasabune
1419 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96814

Mar 16, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii

Plate Lunch on O'ahu: Recommendations and Warnings

I never tried their teri chicken and I don't think I ever would. My feeling with Grace's is that besides the chicken katsu and lemon chicken--everything else is basically typical plate lunch quality (which is not that great, when you think about it; I do like their roast pork with brown gravy, though). However, to be fair, I haven't tried a lot of other things on the menu, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

Mar 15, 2011
Jazzaloha in Hawaii