By Kathy YL Chan
The Ala Moana Center near downtown Honolulu is Hawaii’s largest shopping center and one of the largest outdoor shopping centers in the world, featuring dozens of regional and national retail stores. Sure, locals come here to shop, but that’s not the biggest draw. With nearly 90 cafés, restaurants, and sweet shops, Ala Moana Center is a dining mecca. Our local correspondent knows the best places to dine, and shares her top picks here. Get ready for a feast.
Bento Box Lunch at Shirokiya
Why Go: The entire second floor of Shirokya, a Japanese department store with a fantastic food court, is devoted to Japanese food—and lots of it. There are more than a hundred different dishes, ranging from fresh seafood to hot bowls of ramen to colorful bento boxes. It’s all equally enticing, and many of these traditional dishes have a distinct local Hawaiian influence. Mix and match your lunch, then pay at the register before picking a seat at one of the food court tables.
Don’t Miss: Made-to-order takoyaki (fried octopus dumpling), chicken katsu, and featured ramen dishes.
Fresh Seafood at Longhi’s Restaurant
Why Go: This upscale local restaurant is breezy with open windows and a convivial atmosphere. Longhi’s is ideal for a luxurious solo lunch at the bar, happy hour with friends, or large group dinners. The menu offers everything from pasta dishes to simply-prepared seafood and vegetables. It’s also a local hot spot for weekend brunch.
Don’t Miss: Local ahi carpaccio, fresh seafood dishes, and hot macadamia-nut pie for dessert.
Exotic Treats at Patisserie La Palme D’Or
Why Go: A luxurious Japanese patisserie, La Palme D’or is located in an unusually tiny space, but it’s filled with some of the best sweets in town—all baked daily. Come in the morning for fresh pastries, or in the afternoon for exquisite desserts. There’s a single table for two, but you can also devour your sweets at one of the benches outside.
Don’t Miss: Matcha-tea sponge roll cake, tropical cheesecake with passion fruit and mango mousse, or the “jelly-au-lait”—similar to bubble tea—made with coffee or Earl Grey and fresh milk, topped with whipped cream. Trust us, you’ll like it.
Honolulu Coffee Co’s Local Brews
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Why Go: Relax in a peaceful setting at Honolulu Coffee Co., a local coffee shop with a laid-back vibe, after a long afternoon of shopping. Keep it simple with espresso or coffee—all from Kona coffee beans—or go for a sweet Kona frappe, a superior version of a frappuccino. It’s a great spot for lingering with a book or meeting friends.
Don’t Miss: Pair any drink with a slice of fresh banana bread, or a housemade almond croissant.
The Pineapple Room by Alan Wong
Why Go: At this casual sister eatery to Alan Wong’s—one of Honolulu’s top restaurants—you’ll find both gourmands and ladies-who-lunch. Come to The Pineapple Room by Alan Wong for lunch, dinner, or weekend breakfasts, and feast on Hawaiian regional cuisine done properly. You’ll find it tucked inside Macy’s department store.
Don’t Miss: The "Loco Moco" (a burger patty on fried rice topped with two eggs) for an entree and nutty chocolate-crunch bars for dessert.
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Photo credit: Patisserie La Palme D’or, courtesy Kathy YL Chan