Oahu Restaurants

Oahu is undergoing something of a renaissance at both ends of the dining spectrum. You can splurge on world-class contemporary cuisine at destination restaurants and explore local flavors at popular, very affordable holes in the wall. Whatever your taste and budget, you’ll find places that pique your interest and palate.You may
Oahu is undergoing something of a renaissance at both ends of the dining spectrum. You can splurge on world-class contemporary cuisine at destination restaurants and explore local flavors at popular, very affordable holes in the wall. Whatever your taste and budget, you
Oahu is undergoing something of a renaissance at both ends of the dining spectrum. You can splurge on world-class contem

Oahu is undergoing something of a renaissance at both ends of the dining spectrum. You can splurge on world-class contemporary cuisine at destination restaurants and explore local flavors at popular, very affordable holes in the wall. Whatever your taste and budget, you’ll find places that pique your interest and palate.

You may wish to budget for a pricey dining experience at the very top of the restaurant food chain, where chefs Alan Wong, Roy Yamaguchi, George Mavrothalassitis, Chris Kajioka, and others you've seen on the Food Network and Travel Channel put a sophisticated spin on local foods and flavors. Savor dishes that take cues from Japan, China, Korea, the Philippines, the United States, and Europe, then are filtered through an Island sensibility. Take advantage of the location and order the superb local fish—mahimahi, opakaka, ono, and opah.

Spend the rest of your food dollars where budget-conscious locals do: in plate-lunch places and small ethnic eateries, at roadside stands and lunch wagons, or at window-in-the-wall delis. Snack on a musubi (a handheld rice ball wrapped with seaweed and often topped with Spam), slurp shave ice with red-bean paste, or order Filipino pork adobo with two scoops of rice and macaroni salad.

In Waikiki, where most visitors stay, you can find choices from upscale dining rooms with a view to Japanese noodle shops. When you’re ready to explore, hop in the car, or on the trolley or bus—by going just a few miles in any direction, you can save money and eat like a local.

Kaimuki's Waialae Avenue, for example, is a critical mass of good eats and drinks. There you’ll find an espresso bar, a Chinese bakery, a patisserie, an Italian bistro, a dim-sum restaurant, Mexican food, and a Hawaiian regional-cuisine standout (3660 on the Rise)—all in three blocks, and 10 minutes from Waikiki. Chinatown, 15 minutes in the other direction and easily reached by the Waikiki Trolley, is another dining (and shopping) treasure, not only for Chinese but also Vietnamese, Filipino, Malaysian, and Indian food, and even a chic little tea shop. Kakaako, the developing urban area between Waikiki and Chinatown, also offers a mix of local eateries, upscale restaurants, and ethnic takeout.

Outside Honolulu and Waikiki there are fewer dining options, but restaurants tend to be filled with locals and are cheaper and more casual. Windward Oahu's dining scene has improved greatly in recent years due to the visitors to Kailua and Lanikai beaches, so everything from plate lunches to Latin foods to creative regional offerings can be found there. Across the rest of the island, the cuisine is mainly American—great if you're traveling with kids—but there are a handful of Italian and Asian places worth trying as well.

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  • 1. Akasaka

    $$ | Ala Moana | Japanese

    Step inside this tiny sushi bar tucked between the strip clubs behind the Ala Moana Hotel, and you'll swear you're in an out-of-the-way Edo...Read More

  • 2. Doraku Sushi

    $$ | Waikiki | Japanese

    From entrepreneur Kevin Aoki, son of Benihana founder Rocky Aoki, comes this low-lit bells-and-whistles sushi-roll chain (Miami and Atlanta...Read More

  • 3. Fukuya Delicatessen

    $ | Moiliili | Japanese

    Get a taste of local Japanese culture at this family operation on the main thoroughfare in local-style Moiliili, a mile or so mauka out of...Read More

  • 4. Imanas Tei

    $$$ | Moiliili | Japanese

    Nihonjin (Japanese nationals) and locals flock to this tucked-away, bamboo-ceilinged restaurant for its tasteful, simple decor and equally tasteful...Read More

  • 5. Izakaya Nonbei

    $$$ | Kapahulu | Japanese

    Teruaki Mori designed this pub, one of the most traditional of Honolulu's izakayas, to make you feel that you're in a northern inn during winter...Read More

  • 6. Kaiwa

    $$$$ | Waikiki | Japanese

    At this sleek, contemporary Japanese restaurant, choose from the teppan bar, the sushi bar, the main dining room, or the sexy zashiki room...Read More

  • 7. Mitch's Sushi Restaurant

    $$$$ | Mapunapuna | Japanese

    This microscopic sushi bar (15 seats) is an adjunct of a wholesale seafood market operated by gregarious South African expatriate Douglas Mitchell...Read More

  • 8. Morimoto Asia Waikiki

    $$$$ | Waikiki | Japanese

    Locals were surprised when chef Masahara Morimoto vacated the Modern for new digs at the renovated and rebranded Alohilani Resort (formerly...Read More

  • 9. Nobu

    $$$$ | Kakaako | Japanese

    Always a local favorite, Nobu's move from Waikiki to the chic Kakaako high-rise Waiea has only made it better. It remains a magnet for visiting...Read More

  • 10. Shokudo Japanese Restaurant & Bar

    $$ | Ala Moana | Japanese

    With a soaring ceiling, crazy red mobile sculpture, contemporary Japanese grazing plates, fruity vodka "sodas," and hungry young people, Shokudo...Read More

  • 11. Sushi Sasabune

    $$$$ | Moiliili | Japanese

    Try to get a coveted seat at the counter, and prepare for an unforgettable sushi experience—if you behave. This is the home of Seiji Kumagawa...Read More

  • 12. Tokkuri Tei

    $$$$ | Kapahulu | Japanese

    A local favorite for the playful atmosphere that belies the quality of the food created by chef Hideaki "Santa" Miyoshi, best to just say Omakase...Read More

  • 13. Yanagi Sushi

    $$$ | Downtown | Japanese

    One of relatively few restaurants to serve the complete menu until 2 am (until 10 pm on Sunday), Yanagi is a full-service Japanese restaurant...Read More

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