comscore 2019 ‘Ilima Awards Restaurants: A-C

2019 ‘Ilima Awards Restaurants: A-C

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12th Ave Grill

12th Ave Grill sets a standard for dining in Kaimuki; it’s a valued member of the neighborhood, an upscale bistro that aims high. Eat here to be surprised by the layered flavors, with complex sauces and thoughtful pairings on the plate, and to be pleased by the largely local, earthy tastes of land and sea, such as Burgundy- braised Niihau lamb, osso bucco or fresh-caught fish. The room is sociable, with booth, table and bar seating. Cocktails are well thought out and reasonably priced. The extensive wine list includes several co-labeled with 12th Ave Grill. — 1120 12th Ave., Kaimuki; 732-9469. Dinner. $$$

3660 on the Rise

Russell Siu’s restaurant at the base of Wilhemina Rise has been an institution for 27 years, known for local flavors enhanced by the chef’s knowledge of diverse cuisines of Asia and Europe. Meals here might start with the likes of brown butter Maine lobster wontons or fire-roasted Spanish octopus squid luau, followed by such mains as pan-seared bubu arare- crusted fillet of salmon or piccata- style breast of chicken. Some favorites: ahi katsu, New York steak with sea salt, kabayaki butterfish. Four banquet rooms can accommodate celebrations, with a range of set meal, buffet or custom options. — 3660 Waialae Ave., Kaimuki; 737-1177. Dinner. $$$$

Adela’s country Eatery

Already known for their 32-year institution, I Love Country Cafe, owners Millie and Richard Chan have introduced this casual takeout operation to Kaneohe. They’ve brought many of their original restaurant’s local- style hits, such as lechon kawali, kalua pork and cabbage, and garlic fried rice, while adding housemade pastas to the mix. These are not any old pastas, but incorporate such fresh local produce as taro, ulu, Okinawa sweet potato, marungay, avocado and more to bring an additional taste of Hawaii to the plate. — 45-1151 Kamehameha Highway, Kaneohe; 236-2366. Lunch, dinner. $$

Ahi Assassins

Owners Josh Schade and Erika Luna run their poke business unlike others — what they serve is what they caught. Ahi Assassins grew from the idea of serving only wild, line-caught fish from Hawaii waters. The fish is broken down in-house, mixed and served without a middle man. As a result, they serve some of the freshest seafood, poke bowls and plate lunches, all from a tiny strip mall on Beretania Street. Classic pokes like Hawaiian-style and spicy ahi are supplemented by the likes of Lunatic Ahi, a hotter spicy ahi, and Pake Poke, with ginger oil, green onions and Chinese parsley. A bag of fried fish bones has become a popular snack ever since being featured in a YouTube video. — 2570 S Beretania St.; 439-4045. Lunch, dinner. $

Ai Love Nalo

The plant-based menu here focuses on Hawaiian and Hawaii- inspired dishes. Try an Oh Wow Laulau of kalo, ulu and sweet potatoes baked in luau, or the Kaukau Luau of those ingredients stewed in luau. Both plates include flavorful tofu poke. The No. 1 seller is a Medi Bowl of kalo falafel served with beet hummus, baba ghanouj and millet tabbouleh over local greens. Ingredients are sourced from local farms and the restaurant values eco-friendly practices. Also known for its array of healthful smoothies and “smoochies,” slushies with kombucha. — 41-1025 Kalanianaole Highway, Waimanalo; 888-9102. Breakfast, lunch, early dinner. $$

Alan Wong’s

A classic spot for special-occasion meals, chef Alan Wong’s flagship restaurant has been part of many a celebration since 1995. His dishes feature a variety of local ingredients while incorporating flavors from different cuisines. If you’re choosing a la carte, consider an appetizer of Big Island goat cheese and roasted beets with a chili lemon grass dressing and an entree of pan-steamed opakapaka with shrimp pork hash and truffle nage (broth). You can’t go wrong with Wong’s classic five-course tasting menu, which includes a decadent grilled foie gras, kalua pig and mozzarella sandwich served with chilled tomato soup and the tender twice-cooked short ribs, braised with soy and then grilled kalbi-style. Save room for dessert, such as the rich Waialua chocolate “crunch bars.” — 1857 S. King St., third floor; 949-2526. Dinner. $$$$


Chef Alejandro Alvarado has expanded his tiny Mexican restaurant in Kalihi. He still serves no-fuss tacos, burritos, enchiladas and Mexi Bowls, but now in a Mexican bar atmosphere with more tables. Dishes are inspired by Alvarado’s Salvadoran and Mexican grandmothers to give customers a taste of his childhood. Have some tacos served on corn tortillas with rice and beans. Or order a burrito and pay a little more to have it “wet” with red enchilada sauce and cheese. Mexi Bowls deliver all the goodness of a burrito without the wrap. — 2831 East Kalihi St.; 777-0038. Lunch, dinner. $

Allegrini Mozzarella

In a city where a lot of Italian restaurants are run by Asians, Pasquale Allegrini wants you to know that he is from Bari, the capital of Italy’s southern Puglia region — the home of burrata. So, yes, burrata is on the menu (Allegrini imports it and its cousin mozzarella from Bari and supplies restaurants). At this kiosk, with just a stove-top burner and small convection oven, the loquacious Allegrini makes fresh Italian basics for modest prices. From caprese salad to lasagna, your favorites — and some new things — are covered. Yes, you eat off paper plates, but you won’t care when you taste things like the eggplant Parmesan, the eggplant sliced thinly so it melts in your mouth, or the excellent tiramisu, made with Bonomi savoiardi (ladyfingers to you) and frozen mascarpone. Allegrini is dying to make pizza, but pizza ovens aren’t allowed in the building, so he came up with the pizza crepe — a flour tortilla-like “crust” with toppings such as spinach-artichoke and salami-mozzarella. The stand has a cult following. — Ohana Hale Marketplace, Kakaako; 217-9845. Lunch, dinner. $-$$

Alley Restaurant Bar & Grill (at Aiea Bowl)

This humble spot is known for such local favorites as pulehu steak, kalbi and furikake ahi, as well as what may arguably be the best oxtail soup on the island, good enough to be picked for Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” The Alley is also known for top-notch desserts, from the light, tangy lemon crunch cake to the sinfully rich Mama Miya’s Chocolate Cake. Also popular: Cola-marinated chicken, lightly breaded pork chops with spot-on brown gravy and Tasty Chicken (deep fried and served with a sweet-spicy secret sauce). — Aiea Bowl, 99-115 Aiea Heights Drive; 488-6854. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. $$

Aloha Beer Co.

Aloha Beer offers a menu dominated by homemade brews and choice dishes that go far beyond typical bar food. The menu complements a variety of beer styles brewed in-house, which all bear whimsical names like Hop Lei IPA and Red Zeppelin. Enjoy pupu plates such as charred shishito peppers, sausage and pretzels, or a meatball plate. Add a serving of steak fries — thick-cut fries dressed in different ways, including Japanese curry gravy or bacon fondue. If beer and pupu won’t do it for you, have a craft cocktail and choose from among five specialty boards, six sandwiches or daily specials. — 700 Queen St.; 544-1605. Dinner. $-$$

Andy’s Sandwiches & Smoothies

Check out this tiny deli for wholesome sandwiches such as ahi and avocado and roast beef with tomato. Add extras (such as cheese, cucumbers and bacon) for minimal cost. You’ll also find gumbos, salads and delicious hot breakfasts (banana pancakes, sweet bread French toast, Spanish omelet). There are daily specials such as lasagna on Mondays, or mushroom chicken Tuesdays. Service is friendly, and photos on the walls capture customers who have become like family over the years, adding to the warm, neighborly vibe. — 2904 E. Manoa Road; 988-6161. Breakfast, lunch. $

Appetito Craft Pizza & Wine Bar

This casual, approachable restaurant offers pizza and light bites to full-on dinner in a stylish room with an ample bar to suit a fun-loving crowd. Shareable starters include flash-fried portobello fingers and crispy fried chicken finished with cayenne and Grana Padano cheese. Porcini cream and Bolognese pastas can serve as individual entrees, or be shared among friends, particularly when accompanying heftier entrees such as the bistecca alla Fiorentina, a 26-ounce T-bone steak grilled with rosemary and garlic. Hand-tossed pizzas feature a thin crust made with Caputo flour, the gold standard for Neapolitan pizzas. These include options ranging from the classic Margherita to a king crab pizza topped with crabmeat, avocado, shishito peppers and arugula with wasabi mayo. Breakfast completes the picture with smoked salmon scrambled eggs, Hawaiian sweet bread French toast with a layer of Nutella, banana slices and cornflake crust, plus a selection of breakfast pizzas and piadinas. — Ohana Waikiki East Hotel, 150 Kaiulani Ave.; 922-1150. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. $$-$$$

Arancino at the Kahala

Chef Daisuke Hamamoto merges traditional Italian cuisine with an artistry that makes dining here magical. Contemporary invention, technique and ingredients come together with a precise understanding of the roots of the cuisine. Favorites include the bagna cauda (crudite with warm anchovy dip), arranged to look like plants in a flower pot, and the many pastas. Tasting and seasonal menus deliver a complete picture of the Arancino experience. — Kahala Hotel & Resort, 5000 Kahala Ave.; 380-4400. Lunch, dinner. $$$$

Arancino De Mare

Few people want anything more complicated than eggs and sausage to start the day. Arancino di Mare takes those basic ingredients and turns them into dishes both elegant and delicious. Executive chef Daisuke Hamamoto has transformed the crepe from a sloppy, rustic roll into a sophisticated, self-contained masterpiece. Here, eggs are folded into a boxy frame for such ingredients as rich, creamy Alfredo sauce, and Emmental and mozzarella cheeses, roasted red potatoes and slices of Italian sausage. Lunch and dinner comprise an equally elegant combination of antipasti, pizzas, pastas and entrees such as grilled branzino or prime rib-eye with arugula. — Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort, 2552 Kalakaua Ave.; 931-6273. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. $$$


Southern Italian cuisine with a neighborhood ambiance is the main attraction of six Assaggio restaurants from Kahala to Kapolei. Favorites range from the complex veal alla Sorrentino (with eggplant, mozzarella cheese and a mushroom Marsala wine sauce) to the simple spaghetti and meatballs, all accompanied by freshly baked bread. There are pasta dishes galore, from clams to sausage sauces, but roasted potatoes are offered as an option. More choices include New York and pepper steaks with wine sauces, and a chef’s special, the Osso Bucco and Shrimp Picante combo. Vegetarians have lots of options among entrees and side dishes; including a side order of crispy roasted garlic that can give any dish some extra kick. — Multiple locations. Lunch, dinner. $$$

Asuka Nabe + Shabu Shabu

Order up a variety of meat, seafood and vegetable options to cook at your table in a broth of choice. Premium broths range from spicy garlic paitan to sweet kim chee to vegan rainbow mushroom and herbs. Reservations required for parties of four or more. — 3620 Waialae Ave.; 735-6666. Dinner. $$


Azure, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel’s sleek, elegant beachside restaurant, is a prime date-night or celebratory destination. Chef Shingo Katsura, born in Japan and raised in Hawaii (he’s a graduate of Moanalua High School), has a multicultural palate and inventive way with seafood. You’ll marvel at the seamless blend of European and Asian techniques and flavors in the tasting menu here, prepared with an artisan’s attention — for example, squid ink tonnato applied like calligraphy to a plate of ahi poke toast, dressed with bonito and edible flowers. From the main menu, a seafood gnocchi is sublime; and bouillabaisse gets an international update, flavored with tamarind brown butter. — 2259 Kalakaua Ave., Waikiki; 921-4600. Dinner. $$$$

Baci Bistro

This family- run neighborhood bistro prides itself on authentic Italian cuisine, with a range of pastas and veal specialties such as saltimbocca di vitello or scaloppine di vitello al marsala. You’ll also find truffle gnocchi, risottos and a ravioli of the day, a Baci specialty. For dessert, tiramisu is popular, but those who want to venture out may order the cheesecake of mascarpone and white chocolate. — 30 Aulike St., Kailua; 262-7555. Dinner. $$-$$$

Bangkok Chef

Pick up a great introduction to Thai dining at this casual spot, but you’ll also find the menu has enough creativity to satisfy those experienced with the cuisine. The restaurant’s story begun in 2001 in a small Nuuanu market selling fish and grocery items; 17 years later it is a restaurant group with five Oahu locations from Manoa to Ewa Beach. Go for the vibrant flavors of the eggplant or basil stir-fries, or any of the traditional curries — red, yellow, green or panang — all economical and satisfying. — Multiple locations. Lunch, dinner. $

Banzai Sushi Bar

Banzai Sushi Bar has a North Shore vibe; surfers often fill the spot, and most of the dining action takes place on an open-air lanai, offering both standard tables and tatami-style floor seating. Chef Hide Takahashi’s rolls feature local ingredients with a flair for fusion, and as befits the surf-crazy town, healthy, organic and raw options are many. Try the vegetarian Pupukea Roll, crunchy and savory, made with shiokombu (kelp boiled in soy sauce, then dried), cucumber, avocado, shiso and yama gobo. A standout pupu is the spinach gomae, made with bright, blanched spinach and nutty sesame sauce. Hand rolls, torched or seared wagyu, sashimi and entrees including fish and chips made with tempura-style catch of the day round out a generous menu. — North Shore Marketplace, 66-246 Kamehameha Highway; 637-4404. $$$-$$$$

Bar Koko & Persian Restaurant

When customers at his HookaHookah lounge on Piikoi Street started asking for food, Mahmoud “Mike” Nezamloo opened Bar Koko & Persian Restaurant next door. Nezamloo had never run a restaurant before, but he enlisted his parents to run the kitchen — he has six siblings, so his mother was used to cooking for a crowd. The short menu offers homestyle Persian favorites such as ghormeh sabzi, a fragrant stew packed with parsley, cilantro, fenugreek and chives, along with beef and preserved limes that give it a resonant citrus roundness. “It’s a dish people in Iran eat at least twice a week at home,” says Nezamloo. Kebabs are the bestseller, and the freshly made hummus is the best in town. — 1102 Piikoi St., Makiki; 591-1916. Dinner (Tuesdays-Sundays). $$

Beachhouse at the Moana

Wake up to a lavish breakfast buffet in an elegant, light-filled room steps from the ocean. In the afternoon, take tea, or lunch on crabcakes, hamachi crudo or Kona lobster bisque. The Beachhouse is designed to boost your spirits with juicy, flavorful steaks and seafood dishes, with an emphasis on locally raised ingredients. Eating here is always a treat when evening dishes include grilled Kauai prawn paella, truffle roasted chicken and a Beach Bim Bop with kalbi-style alii mushrooms and fiddlehead fern salad. — Moana Surfrider Hotel, 2365 Kalakaua Ave.; 921-4600. Dinner. $$$$

Bernini Honolulu

Those looking for upscale Italian with an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients need go no farther than this location next to Ala Moana Shopping Center. Chef Kengo Matsumoto trained in Northern Italy and opened his first restaurant in Tokyo before expanding to Honolulu in 2011. Bernini features a menu of pastas and Roma-style pizzas, as well as a seasonal menu that might include such luxuries as a Berkshire pork and foie gras terrine, risotto Parmigiano with summer truffle or braised beef cheeks with Barolo wine. — 1218 Waimanu St.; 591-8400. Dinner. $$$-$$$$


Bevy opened with a focus on hand-crafted cocktails, but has graduated to offer full dinner options, starting with grilled elotes or lemongrass prawns, leading into 10-ounce “boozy” rib-eye, spiced duck breast or an Octopus Garden of grilled marinated tako. But top billing still goes to liquid libations, given Bevy’s lineage as the creation of craft cocktail genius Christian Self, who makes use of handmade mixers and fresh fruit, veggies and herbs. Other draws are Taco Tuesdays and $1.50 oysters during happy hour, 4-7 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. — 675 Auahi St; 594-7445. Dinner, late night. $$

Bifa Seafood

Bifa underwent a menu change since it opened, so it’s less about seafood and more about the Korean bunsik, or snack restaurant tradition. You’ll find standards of barbecue chicken and kalbi, plus corn slathered in cheese. The restaurant is also known for its jajamyeon and yang-nyeom fried chicken with a sticky, spicy kochujang-honey sauce. Also a draw: $2 domestic beer to go with that chicken. — 3611 Waialae Ave.; 738-1888. Lunch, dinner, late night. $$

Bills Hawaii

Australian chef and food writer Bill Granger opened his first restaurant in Sydney in 1993, serving healthy, inventive breakfasts around a communal table. His sunny, friendly approach now draws a global audience at outposts in Tokyo, Seoul, London and Honolulu, with admirers drawn for repeat visits on the basis of Bill’s famous, delicious ricotta hotcakes, corn fritters and sausages, along with a primo cold-drip Kau coffee, bracing cocktails, and a lunch and dinner menu incorporating Asian and Western flavors. Small plates include crispy chicken rolled in chili, sesame and peanut, served with romaine for wrapping; salads are a thing of beauty, including an ahi poke salad served with avocado, brown rice and sea asparagus. The space is light-filled, casual and beautifully designed, with large windows and high ceilings, and kamaaina are offered both discounted meals and free parking. — 280 Beachwalk Ave.; 922-1500. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. $$-$$$

BLT Steak

A daily blackboard menu available in the bar or dining room showcases such daily inspirations as tuna and foie gras poke or local tomato confit with whipped burrata. But this steakhouse is known for its 36-ounce porterhouse for two and 22-ounce bone-in rib-eye. USDA prime and Choice beef are served with a selection of sauces, among them red wine, bearnaise, peppercorn and chimichurri. The menu also includes rack of lamb and a variety of seafood choices such as Big Island kampachi and New Zealand king salmon. For quick, lighter bites, the raw bar features choices from a Maine lobster cocktail to daily ceviche. — Trump International Hotel, 1223 Saratoga Road; 683-7440. Dinner. $$$$

Bogart’s Cafe

This casual neighborhood cafe caters to people who have a hankering for breakfast well into the afternoon. It’s hard to choose one item from The “All Things Egg” section; the Benedict section alone offers choices from crabcakes to lox, and omelets run the gamut from Italian veggies to chicken apple sausage. Mexican items include the migas: three eggs with black beans, green chilies and more, topped with avocado and tortilla chips. Acai bowls, overflowing with fresh berries and bananas, look sorta healthy, but if you’re looking to indulge, French toast, Belgian waffle and pancakes fill the bill. For lunch there are pastas, hefty salads and over a dozen sandwiches. Bogart’s is on the tourist radar, so be ready to stand in line. Call ahead to pre-order to save time. — 3045 Monsarrat Ave.; 739-0999. $

Bombay Palace

This space in the Discovery Bay shopping arcade has been a subcontinental eatery since 2006, when transplanted Washington, D.C., restaurateur Ashwani Ahuja opened Bombay Indian Restaurant, upping the butter chicken ante in Honolulu. And while it has gone through two name changes, the quality (and decor) have largely remained consistent. That’s because current owner Imran Khan (no relation to Pakistan’s prime minister) started out as a kitchen assistant under Ahuja. A tad pricier than its peers, Bombay Palace has better ingredients and finer execution of dishes such as kormas and tender, grilled meats from the tandoor oven. You can also find things not on the competition’s menus, such as samosa chana chat — a potato-and-pea-stuffed pastry topped with chickpeas, onion, tomato, yogurt, spices and tamarind chutney — and Pakistani dishes like well-seasoned kebabs and the pungent, cilantro-packed lamb dhaniya, made from Khan’s family recipe. — Discovery Bay Center, 1778 Ala Moana Blvd., Waikiki; 941-5112. Lunch, dinner daily. $$


Bozu serves some of Honolulu’s best izakaya-style bar food. A cozy interior fits a modest crowd; the staff is friendly and accommodating. Specials on the hand-written menus change weekly, depending on the seafood that comes in. The nigiri is solid, along with a chirashi bowl, with 10 kinds of fish on sushi rice. Or try the Bozu Chawanmushi topped with tobiko, crab and uni; the delightfully surprising anchovy-flavored French fries; or the spicy lotus root kinpira. And don’t miss out on the grilled hamachi kama — provided it hasn’t already run out for the night. Bozu will quickly become a favorite spot. — McCully Shopping Center, 1960 Kapiolani Blvd., 955-7779. Dinner. $$

Brick Fire Tavern

This cozy, brick-walled Hotel Street oasis is a must for pizza-lovers, as a destination for authentic Neapolitan pizza. Owners Inthira Marks and Matthew Resich apprenticed in Naples, Italy, with a master pizza maker, and are the only Oahu restaurant certified to Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana specifications — serving hand-crafted pizza cooked in a flaming Italian oven, so that pillowy crusts form a proper chew and crisp. Top-notch, mostly local ingredients top pizzas such as Da Shrimp Truck, a delicate take on garlicky North Shore fare, and Prosciutto e Rucola, with its a sublime medley of ingredients. Vegetarians, take note: Salads here are also primo, and mozarella is hand-pulled daily. — 16 N. Hotel St.; 369-2444. Lunch, dinner. $$


This upscale yakiniku restaurant makes premium wagyu and wang-style king-rib kalbi the stars. Choose from prime beef rib-eye, boneless short ribs, beef tongue, marinated pork ribs and more, all grilled over wood charcoal at the table. Another specialty is bossam kim chee, a wrapped kim chee once reserved for royalty. Private room available. — 871 Kapiolani Blvd.; 593-8822. Lunch, dinner. $$$$

Build Your Own Ramen

It’s all in the name: At this strip-mall spot across from Pearlridge Center, customers build their dream ramen bowls. First, fill a basket with the things you love, then turn it over for a quick cook in a broth of choice, to be served over your noodles of choice. Pay by the pound for the toppings; broth and noodles are included. It’s a minimum of $11 for a half-pound. Choose from a wide selection of seafoods, including mussels, bay scallops and lobster balls; veggies such as pumpkin, shiitake mushrooms and baby corn; and specialty items like Korean rice cake, yuba and quail eggs. Broth choices include an unusual sour cabbage stock and a pumpkin base; noodles run from ramen to udon to pho. To top it off, every customer gets a free heaping bowl of an icy dessert. — Pearl Kai Center, 98-199 Kamehameha Highway, Aiea; 379-2088. Lunch, dinner. $$

Butcher & Bird

This combo butcher shop and eatery will feed you now and feed you later. The menu changes some from day to day, but count on sandwiches that showcase owner Chuck Wakeman’s sausages and deli meats, all made with local beef and pork and cured in-house. Try the chorizo for a pop of spice or the kielbasa for the bonus of kim chee. They come with pickles and chips for $13. Not into sausage? Have the pastrami on rye or the double cheeseburger. If your aim is to cook at home, the meat case is stocked with prime cuts and Wakeman or his staff will help with selections and cooking tips. — Salt at Our Kakaako; 762-8095. Lunch, dinner (except Sundays), barbecue specials on Sundays. $$

Button Up Cafe

Button Up Cafe is becoming the breakfast hot spot of the Leeward side. A tiny establishment located in a Pearl City strip mall, Button Up serves amazing, Instagram- worthy entrees, including the popular stuffed French toast — a thick cut of sweet bread filled with strawberry cream and topped with whipped cream. Eggs Benny is your classic eggs Benedict served with housemade corned beef hash, kalua pork hash or braised short ribs. Don’t forget an order of perfectly-made tater tots on the side, or have the tots poutine-style with gravy and cheese. Be sure to brace for a possible brunch crowd. — 719 Kamehameha Highway, 454-5454. Breakfast and lunch. $

Cafe Kaila

The breakfast-all-day menu includes thick slices of cinnamon sweetbread French toast, generous portions of moist pancakes, and savory eggs Benedicts all made from scratch and served in a friendly atmosphere. The cozy restaurant is a magnet for locals and tourists alike, so it’s not uncommon to find customers waiting in line outside for a seat. Cafe Kaila also serves lunch of soups, salads, pastas and panini. — Market City Shopping Center, 2919 Kapiolani Blvd.; 732-3330. Breakfast, lunch. $-$$

Cafe Maharani

North India is the focus of this comfortable dining spot founded by siblings carrying on their mother’s recipes. The massive menu includes pakora, kormas, masala curries and biryani, with vegetarian and meat options, and seafood, chicken and lamb specialties. The house specialty of lamb saag comprises cubed lamb and creamy spinach, simmered in warm spices. No diet restrictions? Consider the pizza naan, stuffed with cheese and layered with your choice of toppings. Don’t overlook the tandoor selections. Can’t decide? Combination dinner specials provide set menus for one to four diners. — 2509 S. King St., Moiliili; 951-7447. Dinner. $$

Cafe Morey’s

Spend a leisurely morning or afternoon here enjoying fresh lemonade and smoothies and such comfort fare as poke bowls, eggs Benedicts, garlic shrimp or steak plates, Japanese-style burgers, or creamy, velvety soft scrambled eggs. The scrambles come Italian-style with tomato, basil and cheese folded in, filled with mushrooms and cheese, or smoked salmon and spinach. Margaritas, bloody marys and tropical mimosas are perfect additions to a self-styled brunch any day of the week. — 3106 Monsarrat Ave.; 200-1995. Breakfast, lunch, early dinner. $$


With two prix-fixe menus to choose from, pick an entree — perhaps rack of lamb, lamb tagine, fresh fish chermoula or Cornish hen with preserved lemons and olives — and the rest of your meal arrives as an adventure through the world of Moroccan cuisine, starting with a mezze platter, moving on to b’stilla (meat pie) and dessert. Eating with one’s hands in traditional style is encouraged. If this is not for you, utensils can be provided. — 19 Hoolai St., Kailua; 262-8196. Dinner. $$$

Chart House Waikiki

Fifty years after its founding, surfer Joey Cabell’s Chart House is still going strong. The steak-and-seafood house is known for an ever-evolving menu boasting A5 Miyazaki wagyu, Big Island abalone, garlic chicken, lobster tacos and Sichuan-style head-on Kahuku shrimp. Enjoy sunset views along with performances by local musicians each evening. Food and drink discounts make it worthwhile to check out early and late-night happy hours. — 1765 Ala Moana Blvd.; 941-6669. Dinner, late night. $$-$$$$

Chef Chai

Chai Chaowasaree, a founder of Hawaii Island Chefs, an organization of local chefs who support Hawaii’s diverse culinary resources, is dedicated to supporting Hawaii’s farmers and fishermen through his farm-to- table menu. Expect exquisitely prepared dishes, such as the chilled foie gras chawanmushi with blackberry-honey compote or the kataifi and macadamia nut-crusted jumbo prawns. Popular entrees include grilled Mongolian lamb chops and Thai-style oxtail in spicy lemon grass broth. — Pacifica Honolulu, 1009 Kapiolani Blvd.; 585-0011. Dinner. $$$-$$$$

Chengdu Taste

This Los Angeles Sichuan import is a unique experience for uninitiated taste buds. Meats and veggies arrive drowning in, covered with and floating on a sea of chili peppers of many varieties — dried, fresh, oiled. It’s all mouth-numbing, due to an abundance of Sichuan peppercorns. Start with the dan dan noodles, a Sichuan street food classic, followed by cold chicken with chili sauce, stir-fried beef with crispy rice, or Toothpick Lamb. If you’re a fan of dishes with organs, try the Couple’s Sliced Beef with Tripe or the Bo Bo Chicken, composed of veggies, chicken hearts, kidney and feet skewered on sticks in a spicy broth. You’ll walk away with a new understanding of spicy. — 808 Sheridan St., 589-1818. Lunch, dinner. $$

Chez Kenzo

You’ll be back many times to sample from the menu of the more than 100 unique items at this neighborhood bar and grill. Popular dishes include pumpkin stir-fried with bacon, yuzukosho chicken, pasta with mentaiko or uni, Nagoya chicken wings and kim chee fried rice topped with creamy scrambled eggs. Predominantly Japanese-inspired, the fusion menu also contains small touches of Korean, Chinese and Italian influences, including a lengthy pasta menu. Even natto haters are said to love the stuff when folded into a fluffy cheese omelet here. — 1451 S. King St.; 941-2439. Lunch, happy hour, dinner. $$


Dive into heaping helpings of Thai-gochujang-glazed Chicken N Cheese, honey-butter shrimp, army stew, bone marrow corn cheese, and 24-hour braised oxtail jjim. At Chingu, Seoul Sausage Co. co-founder Chris Oh brings a bit of L.A.’s Koreatown. Even watermelon soju has an extra touch, with the crackle of Pop Rocks and Fruity Pebbles. — 1035 Kapiolani Blvd.; 592-1035. Dinner, late night. $$

Choi’s Garden

Korean yakiniku options range from beef brisket, intestine and tongue to pork jowl or belly. For something less meaty, try a hot-stone pot option, such oyster bibimbap, or a healthy choice with black rice, beans, dates and pumpkin. Choi’s also has an extensive menu of steamed options ranging from steamed short ribs to spicy monkfish with soybean sprouts. All meals come with banchan — spicy fermented and salted side dishes like taegu and kim chee — and with a recent renovation, the restaurant’s interior is sleek and modern. And can’t beat the lunch special combos and plates priced at less than $20. — 1303 Rycroft St.; 596-7555 Lunch, Dinner. $$-$$$

Cinnamon’s Restaurant

Cinnamon’s in Kailua has so many decadent choices on its all-day breakfast menu, it’s hard to choose. Among the eggs Benedicts, try to decide between kalua pork and crabcake versions, among many variations. Loco moco options include kalua pork, beef stew and laulau. And don’t forget the famous pancakes that sound more like dessert: guava chiffon and red velvet. Lunch/dinner items include prime rib on grilled sourdough; baked spaghetti or chicken cutlet; and salads that are like meals. In Kailua, Cinnamon’s is only open until 2 p.m., and lunch is not served on Sundays, but at the Ilikai location, the menu extends to happy hour and dinner. — 315 Ulunui St., Kailua; 261-8724. Ilikai Hotel, 1777 Ala Moana Blvd., Waikiki; 670-1915. Breakfast, lunch, dinner (Ilikai only). $$

Counter, The

Break out the pencils and check off your preferences for the perfect burger meal — type of bun, burger meat, cheese, toppings and sides. Choose from about 20 sauces, or opt for a flight of three. The gluten-free can go bunless with a burger-topped Sonoma salad. For those who prefer plants, a vegan burger option satisfies, or try the meatless Impossible Burger made with wheat, potato proteins and plant hemes for meatlike flavor and texture. Wash it all down with a shake. — 4211 Waialae Ave.; 739-5100. Lunch, dinner. $-$$

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