You’ll find many types of restaurants here, from Asian to Middle Eastern, to Italian and French, and so much more. Of course all done with a local flair.
It’s not unusual to sit down at one type of restaurant to find dishes from a different cuisine on the menu; like a Japanese noodle house featuring a plate of Filipino adobo next to their Saimin – a noodle soup developed in Hawaii’s plantation days influenced by Japanese Ramen, Chinese Mein, and Filipino pancit.
Whatever you’re in the mood for you’ll find it in Hawaii. We have most of your mainland fast food franchises and mid to high priced chains like Red Lobster, Outback, Morton’s, and more. But if you’re looking for something a bit different from all the chains you probably have at home here is a list of my favorite restaurants on Oahu.
Dining in Cafe Sistina on King Street is like dining in Rome’s Sistine Chapel. The owner/chef Sergio Mitrotti not only cooks up authentic Italian food from his home country, he hails from Turin, Italy, but this modern day Renaissance man has painted every surface of his restaurant with replicas of the parts of the Sistine Chapel. So you dine on his lovely linguine ala puttanesca surrounded by murals in the style of the Italian Renaissance great masters Michealangelo and Raphael.
My grandson Dion loves the Gnocchi, they have great desserts too.
Expect to pay $25+ per person.
Also on King Street is Mediterraneo Ristorante Italiano. It’s a small trattoria where owner/chef Fabrizio Favale serves up Italian home-style cooking from his hometown of Frascati, Italy.
The menu is small and they have daily specials. A family favorite is the Scampi served over fresh pasta.
Expect to pay $25+ per person.
One of my favorite places for pizza, pasta, and sub sandwiches is La Pizza Rina also on S. King Street. It’s a small and simple place; what it lacks in ambiance it makes up for with great food at great prices. You can get a small 12″ cheese pizza for $8.75 or a 6″ Meatball & Cheese sub on fresh baked bread for $6.35.
I get greedy and order a medium pizza and a 12″ sub to split with my husband, we never finish it so we take most of the pizza home for the next day’s lunch. My grandson Devon loves their cinnamon toasts, crunchy buttered slices of baguette sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. We always take a bag or two home with us.
The Royal Garden Chinese Restaurant is located on the 3 rd. floor of the Ala Moana Hotel.
The place is clean, service is okay, and the food is good.
We love going for lunch when they have the dim sum carts out and you can choose items as the ladies pass by. My grandsons love this!
I don’t really have a favorite, I love it all!
Kan Zaman on 1028 Nuuanu Ave opened it’s doors in 2013. The chefs/owners serve up traditional dishes from their native countries of Morocco and Lebanon.
The portions are big and the prices moderate, are beef kebob dinner plate is $18.95. Try the chicken Shawarma, it’s very good. And don’t forget dessert, the Orange Blossom Cheesecake is excellent!
The restaurant is small with some outdoor seating in the back.
A belly dancer performs every Wednesday night.
Greek Marina is our hands down favorite for Souvlaki and other Greek specialties.
They’re located in the Koko Marina Shopping Center in Hawaii Kai. 7192 Kalanianaole
The outdoor seating is right on the marina.
Service is friendly and the food is great. Try the Saganaki it’s yummy!
We learned about Leo’s Taverna when my daughter was attending Hawaii Pacific University in Downtown Honolulu, this small fast food restaurant is located on Bishop Street.
They serve Rotisserie Chicken with a white garlic dip as well as Greek and Armenian specialties. Their Kebobs are excellent and the prices very reasonable, a kebob plate with rice, salad, and hummus is $9.95.
The service is what you can expect from a non-chain fast food joint, not the best, but they are pretty friendly. They have 2 locations, downtown and in the Ala Moana area inside Don Quijote.
Gengki Sushi has many locations on Oahu and on the other islands.
Sushi is served off a conveyor belt and diners just grab what they want as it passes by. The kids love this! If you don’t see what you want you can order and they will bring it to you.
The newly renovated location in Waikele has cool new features the kids will love even more, personal touch screen pads to order your favorite sushi that’s delivered on the “express track” on race cars!
If you’re not into sushi you can always order this boneless beef kalbi bowl or the garlic chicken bowl. They’re only $4 each and oh so good!
The plates are color coded and when you’re done the server stacks them up, tallies it up, and presents you with your check. Prices start at $1.65 for a plate of 2 small spam musubis.
Kunio Japanese Restaurant in the Waikele Center on the Leeward side of Oahu serves sushi and other Japanese specialties.
They have set combos and ala carte choices that is served in a cute bento box. My favorite is the Ten Don – Shrimp tempura and egg served over rice with their special sauce and sprinkled with seaweed.
Service is good, prices can be high depending on what you ordered. A seafood lunch for 3 adults was almost $100 with tax and tip.
For Japanese Curry we head to the Curry House Coco Ichibanya, a Tokyo based franchise.
They serve mild or spicy curry sauce over your choice of meat or seafood.
My favorite is Chicken Katsu with cheese!
Prices are reasonable under $10 for a plate, they are very busy, expect a line.
They have many locations on the islands.
Ramen Ya is one of my favorite lunch spots. They serve big bowls of Ramen soup and other yummy stuff. Huge portions at very good prices. One of my favorites is The Combo Set of Wanton Soup, 4 pcs. Gyoza, and a mini plate of Mochiko Chicken (includes 1 scoop each of steamed white rice & macaroni salad) You get all this for $9.25! I usually end up taking the Gyoza and chicken plate home and have it for dinner.
4 Locations on Oahu: Hawaii Kai, Kapolei, Waipio, Pearl City
1 Location on Maui: Kahului
Elena’s in Waipahu serves up Filipino food that comes close to home cooking. Being Filipino I’m always reluctant to eat at Filipino restaurants as they always seem to disappoint, they never even come close to what my grandmother, aunties, or even I can make, but Elena’s comes close.
We like their fried rice omelettes. Prices are reasonable.
Max’s of Manila has been a popular franchise in the Philippines since 1945, it has expanded to Hawaii and other foreign markets.
Food is served family style and they have all the Filipino favorites such as Lumpia (egg rolls), Pancit (noodles) and more. My favorites are their Boneless Daing na Bangus (fried marinated Milk Fish) and Kare-Kare (braised beef stew in peanut sauce)
Kua’aina Burgers has 3 locations on Oahu. Burgers and other sandwiches are cooked to order. It’s really my favorite burger joint here.
Prices are reasonable and burgers come in 2 sizes. I love their homemade french fries, thin and crunchy!
678 Hawaii is a Korean Yakiniku restaurant on Kapiolani Blvd. just across the street from the Hawaii Convention Center.
The food is great and the staff is very friendly.
We ordered the 678 Combo which came with rice, soup, salad, sides, and 3 kinds of very tender beef. The waitress helped us cook the meat (actually she cooked it for us) then showed us how best to eat it, dipped in one of the sauces and eaten together with the salad.
You get a pitcher of cold iced tea as soon as you’re seated and once you order they start bringing the food to your table.
The combo we ordered was just under $60 but it was enough to feed 3 people – we were just 2 so we were stuffed! I am looking forward to taking my kids and grandkids here this summer.
Aiea Manapua & Snacks on the Leeward side has great char sui manapuas (meat bao) both steamed and baked. They also have local faves like pork hash and half moon dim sums all at very reasonable prices.
99-149 Moanalua Rd
Aiea, HI 96701
The Alley Restaurant inside Aiea Bowl is one of my favorites. They serve up many local favorites including Tasty Fried Chicken and Boneless Kalbi. Their Lemon Crunch Cake is to die for!
Aiea, HI 96701