Top Restaurants: H to M

Oct. 10, 2010 | 4 Comments
  • PICS: Top Restaurants: H to M
  • H

    Ha Long Pho Noodle House
    A cut above most pho restaurants in decor (clean and contemporary) and in the making of Vietnam’s signature noodle soup, in broth slow-simmered for hours on end. Recommended: Pho tai chin (round steak and brisket); Bun Thit Nurong (rice noodles with barbecue beef).
    City Square Shopping Center, 1286 Kalani St., 845-3687; www.halongnoodle.com. Lunch, dinner. $

    Hale Modern Macrobiotic Cuisine
    Don’t be put off by the “M” word; chef-owner Moco Kubota’s gorgeous plates are nothing like the tasteless, good-for-you food you may have tried elsewhere. Kubota returned to culinary school in Japan to learn the art of cooking seasonally, in balanced harmony as envisioned by macrobiotics creator Michio Kushi, and she learned well. Recommended: Kuruma-Fu Cutlet with Apple Miso Sauce, Mabo Tofu, the crunchy whole grain bread.
    1427 Makaloa St.; 944-1555; www.halemacro.com. Lunch, dinner (closed Mon). $$

    Hale Vietnam
    The restaurant that introduced Honolulu to pho, green papaya salad and other Vietnamese standards continues to be popular despite increased competition. Recommended: Imperial Spring Rolls, bun (rice noodles) with fresh vegetables or barbecued pork, French coffee.
    1140 12th Ave.; 735-7581. Lunch, dinner. $$

    Haleiwa Eats Thai
    The bright tile decor offers no hint of what to expect: really tasty Thai-style food. We say Thai-style because the cooking sometimes strays from the traditional. Spicing can vary here; be sure to ask for your favored degree of heat. Recommended: tofu salad or ginger salad, curries (especially pumpkin vegetable), coconut rice.
    68-079 Kamehameha Hwy., Haleiwa; 637-4247. Lunch, dinner (closed Tues). $$

    Haili’s Hawaiian Foods
    Relocated to Kapahulu from its longtime Ward location, Haili’s offers a full range of Hawaiian foods including hard-to-find pickled limu, opihi cups, ake (innards) and, in a departure, an excellent Puerto Rican pastele stew. Recommended: kalua pork, the many poke varieties, rice bowls, mango haupia.
    760 Palani Ave. (front door on Kapahulu Avenue); 735-8019. Lunch, dinner. $$

    Hank’s Haute Dogs
    See ‘Ilima Awards Critic’s Choice (In Print: Page 10)

    Hapa Grill
    Two generations of cooking expertise go into this stepped-up plate lunch restaurant in Kapolei; daughter Shannon Tangonan learned the trade working in her parents’ fondly remembered Sassy Kassy lunch wagon. Recommended: best teri beef ever; Love You Like a Mango salad, Mom’s Hot Fudge Brownie (really homemade by Mom Tangonan).
    Marketplace at Kapolei, 590 Farrington Highway, No. 539; 674-8400; www.hapagrill.net. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. $$

    Helena’s Hawaiian Food
    Founder Helen Chock is gone but the third generation continues her legacy in a menu of Hawaiian-style favorites that bear her trademark techniques and flavors. Recommended: pan-fried pipikaula smoked over the grill, fried butterfish collar with stew gravy, opihi poke.
    1240 N. School St.; 845-8044. Cash only. Lunch, dinner (closed Sat-Mon). $-$$

    Hee Hing Restaurant
    The bustling restaurant in Kapahulu is a favorite for weddings, retirement parties, reunions and all manner of family gatherings. It’s an especially tasty stop during Chinese New Year. Recommended: dim sum and the house specialty, lobster.
    Hee Hing Plaza, 449 Kapahulu Ave.; 735-5544. Lunch, dinner. $$

    Himalayan Kitchen
    Still packed most evenings even though it’s more than a year old, Himalayan Kitchen offers praiseworthy Nepali and Indian food. If you like your food spicy, be sure to request it; their spice palate tends to be muted. Recommended: flavored naan breads, chicken tikka masala; namkeen papri (deep fried cumin chips).
    1137 11th Ave., second floor; 358-7158; www.himalayankitchen.net. Lunch, dinner. $$

    Hiroshi Eurasian Tapas
    See ‘Ilima Awards Critic’s Choice (In Print: Page 14)

    Hog Island BBQ
    See ‘Ilima Awards Critic’s Choice (In Print: Page 11)

    Hoku’s
    In a window-lined room that’s like sitting in a seaside painting, Hoku’s chef Wayne Hirabayashi weaves together many traditions, from tandoori cooking to wok steaming, to create a cuisine of his own. Award-winning, sophisticated and cutting-edge. Recommended: Peking duck consomme, seared foie gras, salt-crusted Colorado rack of lamb, kurobuta pork, mango cannelloni.
    Kahala Hotel & Resort, 5000 Kahala Ave.; 739-8780; www.kahalaresort.com. Dinner. $$$$

    Honolulu Burger Co.
    See The Newbies (In Print: Page 22)

    Hy’s Steak House
    See Diamond Head Theatre Show Stoppers (In Print: Page 16)

    I

    Imanas Tei
    Though it’s less flashy than some new players, many consider this the best izakaya (Japanese tavern) on the island with its tiny sushi bar, nabemono (hot pot) specialties, tonkatsu on a stick, Seafood Dynamite.
    2626 S. King St., next to Puck’s Alley; 941-2626. Dinner (closed Sun). $$$

    Indigo Eurasian Cuisine
    Glenn Chu mines the celestial cuisine of his Chinese ancestry, exhibits his sense of humor in such menu titles as Fiery Explosions to Heaven Shrimp, and adds contemporary flair in such unexpected combinations as goat cheese wontons. Recommended: the wontons, grilled chive flatbread, lamb chops with tangerine sauce, Ten Thousand Chili Chicken with dark meat; ginger creme brulee.
    1121 Nuuanu Ave.; 521-2900; www.indigo-hawaii.com. Lunch (Tues-Fri), dinner (Tues-Sat), closed Sun-Mon. $$$

    Izakaya Nonbei
    After a change in management, this critically-acclaimed Japanese tavern is more newcomer-friendly (more English-language menu information, a more welcoming hostess, more contemporary decor) but no less high quality. Recommended: sake slushee; karaage (whole, deep-fried) flounder; and ultrafresh sushi, particularly salmon, hamachi and moi.
    3108 Olu St., just off Kapahulu Avenue; 734-5573. Dinner. $$$

    Izakaya Tairyo
    See The Newbies (In Print: Page 23)

    J

    Jimbo Restaurant
    Generous servings of house-made udon (thick, round wheat noodles) in made-from-scratch broth are the centerpiece of Jimbo’s menu, but the skinny noodles have their advocates. Lots of different flavors, including curry in a thick broth. Recommended: Spicy Yaki Udon, Cold Skinny Noodle Salad, crab udon.
    1936 S. King St.; 947-2211. Lunch, dinner. $

    JJ Bistro & French Pastry
    See Diamond Head Show Stoppers (In Print: Page 16)

    K

    Ka Restaurant & Lounge
    See People’s Choice Awards (In Print: Page 6)

    Kahumana Cafe
    See The Newbies (In Print: Page 23)

    Kai Market
    See Diamond Head Show Stoppers (In Print: Page 16)

    Kaiwa
    See Critic’s Choice (In Print: Page 11)

    Kakaako Kitchen
    Russell Siu’s gourmet homage to small-kid-time plate lunch (but with plenty of seating) offers a menu that runs from breakfast and baked goods, and from light and healthy to gravy on everything. This year, they responded to our one whine: real tableware at breakfast, no Styrofoam or paper. Recommended: corned beef and eggs, tempura catfish, crispy calamari spinach salad, chicken-fried chicken (Wednesdays only), and shoyu chicken.
    Ward Centre, 1200 Ala Moana Blvd.; 596-7488. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. $-$$

    Kalapawai Cafe
    See Critic’s Choice, Page 8.

    Kanpai Bar and Grill
    It’s almost an insult to call Kanpai’s menu bar food; it’s so much more than edamame and fried rice. The team that gave us Slammer’s knows their way around the grill and griddle, and the atmosphere is comfortable and friendly. Recommended: kimchee ribeye steak with eggs, short rib loco moco, pan-fried ahi belly.
    404 Ward Ave.; 593-9202. Lunch, dinner, late night. $$

    Keo’s in Waikiki
    Still the Evil Jungle Prince after all these years, Keo Sananikone and family offer a full menu of Thai standards. Recommended: Evil Jungle Prince with chicken, ginger string beans and chili with beef, crispy mahimahi with sate sauce, Bangkok duck breast with plum sauce.
    2028 Kuhio Ave.; 951-9355; www.keosthaicuisine.com. Dinner. $$$

    Kincaid’s Fish, Chop & Steakhouse
    See Diamond Head Show Stoppers (In Print: Page 16)

    Kirin Restaurant
    Far from Chinatown, this Moiliili institution dispenses with the customary trolleys but serves some of the best and most varied dim sum in town. Recommended: har gow, siu mai, bao.
    2518 S. Beretania St.; 942-1888; www.kirinhawaii.com. Lunch, dinner. $$

    Kua ‘Aina Sandwich Shop
    In Haleiwa as well as in town, Kua ‘Aina has long been the answer when locals have traditional beef burgers in mind, but the signature mahi burger with house-made tartar sauce runs a close second in popularity.
    Ward Centre, 1200 Ala Moana Blvd.; 591-9133; Haleiwa, 66-160 Kamehameha Hwy., 637-6067. Lunch, dinner. Cash only at Haleiwa location. $$


    L

    L & L Drive-Inn
    See People’s Choice Awards (In Print: Page 6)

    La Mer at Halekulani
    See People’s Choice Awards (In Print: Page 6)

    Le Bistro
    One of greater Honolulu’s most charming and consistently satisfying restaurants is hidden in this unremarkable strip mall location, where chef-owner Alan Takasaki puts a contemporary spin on country French classics from onion soup to beef daube. Recommended: four-crostini salad, foie gras in quince gastrique, slow and low short ribs.
    Niu Valley Shopping Center, 5730 Kalanianaole Highway; 373-7990. Dinner (closed Tues). $$$$

    Le Guignol
    On evenings before a Blaisdell Concert Hall show, Le Guignol is the place to be for chef Ala Sutton’s contemporary French preparations. Both three- and five-course fixed-price menus are offered. Recommended: bone marrow with olive oil and sea salt, rabbit with onions and cream reduction, olive oil and black pepper cake with blue cheese ice cream and honey drizzle.
    Medical Arts Building, 1010 S. King St., No. 108; 591-1809; www.leguignol.org. Lunch (Wed-Fri), dinner (Wed-Sun). $$$$

    Legend Seafood Restaurant
    Raucous, crowded and worth the noise assault for the reliably fresh and delicious dim sum and Chinese classics. Especially popular with large family groups on weekends but pretty much busy all the time. Recommended: bao (steamed, stuffed dumplings), joong (sweet rice richly laced with roast pork), look fun (pork-flecked rice noodle roll), egg custard tart.
    Chinese Cultural Plaza, 100 N. Beretania St.; 532-1868. Lunch, dinner. $$

    Like Like Drive Inn
    This nothing-fancy coffee shop serves everyone — breakfasting families, seniors seeking inexpensive early evening meals, late-night carousers. The menu is heavy on both local-style plate lunch and American diner standards with many meals served in sets with nostalgic sides such as fruit cup and sherbet. Recommended: saimin with a burger deluxe on the side, hash browns with cheese and gravy (not kidding), anytime breakfast items, fried rice.
    745 Keeaumoku St.; 941-2515. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, late night. $$

    Liliha Bakery & Coffee Shop
    Though most stop here for the bakery with its unforgettable Coco-Puffs (cream puffs stuffed with chocolate pudding and topped with heavenly chantilly cream), many others are willing to wait in line for a scarce seat at the counter. Recommended: pancakes, grilled butter rolls or cornbread, loco moco, cheeseburger deluxe, grilled mahi mahi and, from the bakery, cinnamon twists.
    515 N. Kuakini St.; 531-1651; www.lilihabakeryhawaii.com. Breakfast, lunch, dinner (closed Mon). $$

    Little Village Noodle House
    When Little Village opened in 2001, we fell in love at first bite, as did half of Honolulu. It has since expanded in size, but you still can’t go wrong, no matter what you order from this pan-Chinese menu. And there’s parking! Recommended: Shanghai noodle, salt and pepper pork chop, black pepper beef, clams with black bean sauce, blistered green beans.
    1113 Smith St.; 545-3008; www.littlevillagehawaii.com. Lunch, dinner. $$$

    Lobster King
    See The Newbies (In Print: Page 24)

    Loving Hut
    See The Newbies (In Print: Page 24)

    Luibueno’s Mexican & Seafood Restaurant
    This attractive Mexican-style restaurant is unusual in that its menu is not driven by tacos, tortillas and such but focuses on seafood, mostly in straightforward preparations enlivened by Mexican-style sauces. Worth the drive to the North Shore is a pair of appetizers, scallops or shrimps in Aguachile (“pepper water”) marinade brightly flavored with lime and hot peppers. Recommended: garlic grilled whole fish (a periodic special), fried ice cream.
    66-165 Kamehameha Hwy., Haleiwa; 637-7717. Lunch, dinner. $$$


    M

    MAC 24/7 Bar + Restaurant
    It’s hard to believe that before MAC 24/7, Waikiki lacked many 24-hour eating options. The hours, and the menu of amply portioned retro diner and local food options, made an immediate hit. Recommended: towering pancake stack, chicken fried steak with white cheddar mac and cheese, Char Siu Sumo Saimin, peach and berry cobbler.
    Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio, 2500 Kuhio Ave.; 921-5564; www.mac247waikiki.com. Open 24 hours. $$$

    Maguro-Ya
    Japanese cuisine cognoscenti swear by this place which, including most sushi bars here, offers a Japan-style rather than local-style experience. You won’t need a translator but you may wish you had one to identify interesting-looking dishes that flow by to other tables. Teishoku — a multicourse menu — is a specialty. Recommended: miso butterfish, karaage (fried) specials, maguro special teishoku (multiple ahi dishes).
    3565 Waialae Ave., No. 108; 732-3775. Lunch, dinner (closed Mon). $$

    Maile’s Thai Bistro
    See ‘Ilima Awards Critics Choice (In Print: Page 13)

    Mana Bu’s
    If you think musubi is another word for Spam on rice, this place will change your mind in a minute. Triangular cakes of white rice, brown rice or multigrain rice are stuffed with 30 different selections a day, depending on the chef’s whim. Also, there’s an extensive healthy vegetarian menu. Go early; they run out. Recommended: tuna-mayo, salmon, poke bowls.
    1618 S. King St.; 358-0287; www.hawaiimusubi.com. Breakfast, lunch (closed Sundays). Cash only. $$

    Mariposa
    Much more than a department store restaurant, this sunny second-floor restaurant in Neiman Marcus serves not only the de rigueur popovers and bouillon but an island contemporary menu under the supervision of chef de cuisine Marc Anthony Freiberg. Numerous lighter selections, exceptional soups and salads. Recommended: grilled lemon shrimp, king crab bruschetta, onaga and clams in tomato broth.
    Ala Moana Center, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd.; 951-3420; www.neimanmarcushawaii.com. Lunch, dinner. $$$-$$$$

    Matsugen
    Known for its wide menu of imported soba dishes (buckwheat noodles served with broth on the side) and favored by Japanese nationals, Matsugen lovers have become used to waiting for tables in order to enjoy cold noodles and tempura or goma (sesame) dipping sauce and bukkake udon (noodles with natto, fermented soybeans). Recommended: any noodle dish, crab salad.
    255 Beach Walk, Waikiki; 926-0255. Dinner. $-$$

    Max’s of Manila
    Max’s dates back to postwar Quezon City and ever since has catered to lovers of the trademark fried chicken — bone in, skin on, fried and cut up. This dish and others are served in ample portions. Recommended: the chicken, of course, garlic fried rice, sinigang (sour tamarind soup), leche flan.
    801 Dillingham Blvd., 94-300 Farrington Hwy., Waipahu, 951-6297; www.maxschicken.com. Lunch, dinner. $$

    Mediterraneo
    This tiny, somewhat quirky and slow-moving bistro serves made-to-order Italian classics (caprese and bruschetta, house-made pasta and gnocchi, risotto and so on). Recommended: insalata contadina, lobster ravioli in squid ink sauce, spinach ravioli, and tiramisu.
    1279 S. King St.; 593-1466. Dinner. $$

    Mei Sum Dim Sum Restaurant
    This longtime Chinatown favorite has moved to a roomier space on Nuuanu Avenue and there’s parking around the corner. You can have dim sum via cart at lunch but individual orders are fresher and hotter. The menu extends to Chinese standards such as minute chicken with cake noodle and garlic eggplant. Recommended: taro puffs, mochi rice in banana leaves, vegetarian dry mein, shrimp look fun and tapioca dessert.
    1170 Nuuanu Ave., No. 102; 531-3268. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. $

    Michel’s at the Colony Surf
    Perched over the beach with wide-open sliding windows, Michel’s offers an exquisite combination of oceanfront experience and fine French cuisine. The all-but-changeless menu, the table-side service and the formal atmosphere delight regulars who have celebrated special occasions at Michel’s for 40 years. Recommended: lobster bisque, abalone, escargot, Steak Diane, cherries jubilee.
    Colony Surf Hotel, 2895 Kalakaua Ave.; 923-6552; www.michelshawaii.com. Dinner daily, Sunday brunch (first Sunday monthly). $$$$

    Mitsu-Ken
    Though this plate-lunch window on School Street offers a varied okazuya menu and does a brisk before-light takeout breakfast business, you can sum up its reputation in two words: garlic chicken — tender boneless chicken morsels, breaded in rice flour batter which is laced with garlic powder, and then deep-fried and dressed with sweet sauce. Recommended: besides the chicken (which can be purchased in individual pieces, in plate lunch or in catering trays), the breakfast combo with fried rice, bacon and garlic chicken.
    1223 N. School St.; 848-5573. Breakfast, lunch (closed Sun-Mon). Cash only. $$

    Mix Cafe 1 and 2
    See ‘Ilima Awards Critics Choice (In Print: Page 13)

    Molly’s Smokehouse
    The caboose-sized smoker in the parking lot is your first clue that this is THE place on Oahu for authentic, slow-cooked Southern-style barbecue. The second is the eager crowd of Southerners from nearby military bases enjoying pulled pork, brisket and baby back ribs and brandishing handfuls of napkins. Recommended: pulled pork and brisket combo, mac and cheese, corn bread and okra sides.
    23 S. Kamehameha Highway, Wahiawa; 621-4858. Lunch, dinner. $$

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    • Anonymous

      While in Hawaii for a month this summer we visited Keo’s for dinner one night. The atmosphere was nice and cozy and food was excellent. It was unfortunate that our service from our server, (Ha), was terrible which made for a not so good experience. We would have visited again since we were in Hawaii for a month but chose not to since the service was so bad.

    • Anonymous

      While in Hawaii for a month this summer we visited Keo’s for dinner one night. The atmosphere was nice and cozy and food was excellent. It was unfortunate that our service from our server, (Ha), was terrible which made for a not so good experience. We would have visited again since we were in Hawaii for a month but chose not to since the service was so bad.

    • Anonymous

      While in Hawaii for a month this summer we visited Keo’s for dinner one night. The atmosphere was nice and cozy and food was excellent. It was unfortunate that our service from our server, (Ha), was terrible which made for a not so good experience. We would have visited again since we were in Hawaii for a month but chose not to since the service was so bad.