10 Things You Can Only Get in Waikīkī
From $3 whisky sodas to $300 omakase.
$3 whisky sodas at Waikīkī Yokocho
Waikīkī Yokocho has lowered the bar, and people are loving it. What was once a high-end whisky bar in the middle of the Japanese food hall has morphed into a karaoke watering hole with $3 whisky soda on tap (actually, all drinks are $3), a menu of instant ramen and serve-yourself oden. Yokocho has never been more lively.
2250 Kalākaua Ave., (808) 926-8093, waikiki-yokocho.com
Vodka (or gin) martini at Tommy Bahama
For those who need something stronger, head to Tommy Bahama’s roof deck for a proper, very chilled and very strong martini. Four ounces of booze go into these martinis, which will leave you feeling extra relaxed in the open-air setting complete with firepits and sand. Ask for rolls warm from the oven, served with cinnamon-honey butter, to keep from getting completely sloshed.
$15.50, 298 Beach Walk, (808) 923-8785, tommybahama.com
Karaage chicken sandwich at Burger Hale
Photo: Martha Cheng
The secret star at Michelle Karr-Ueoka and Wade Ueoka’s burger spot at the International Market Place is the karaage chicken sandwich, with its shatteringly crispy breading, smeared with a plummy sauce.
$8.99, 2309 Kūhiō Ave., (808) 377-4402, thestreetsocialhouse.com
Prime rib and all-you-can-eat salad bar at Chuck’s Cellar
Canned beets, three bean salad, French dressing: There aren’t many places these days with old-school salad bars, which makes Chuck’s Cellar such a gem. Charles “Chuck” Rolles was one of the first to popularize the steak-and-salad bar concept in the ’60s. More than half a century later, it’s still the best place in Honolulu to step back in time for a thick slice of prime rib and the salad bar that kale forgot.
$38.50, 150 Ka‘iulani Ave., (808) 923-4488, chuckshawaii.com
Tonkatsu sandwich at Ginza Bairin
The best tonkatsu sandwich in town is also one of the best deals in Waikīkī. Crusts cut off, it’s presented as delicately as cake—white bread layered with mustard and tonkatsu sauce and Ginza Bairin’s famous fried pork. Eat it in the restaurant, and the server will ply you with unlimited cabbage salad, which she says is healthy and amazing for your skin.
$10.50, 255 Beach Walk, (808) 926-8082, ginzabairin.com
The pastry case at B. Patisserie/Kona Coffee Purveyors
Photo: Martha Cheng
B. Patisserie may no longer be the only game in town for kouign amann, but it is for other pastries including pineapple coconut almond croissants and desserts like a strawberry yuzu cake.
$6.50 and up, 2330 Kalākaua Ave., Suite 160, (808) 450-2364, konacoffeepurveyors.com
SEE ALSO: Kouign Amann at La Tour Cafe
Chopped salad at Bills Hawai‘i
The chopped salad at Bills is one of the most filling and delightful salads in town, loaded with crispy fried chickpeas, beets and edamame and showered with dill.
$16.50, 280 Beach Walk, (808) 922-1500, billshawaii.com, free two-hour parking for kama‘āina
Tomahawk steak at Aloha Steak House
Tomahawk steaks—dramatic, Flintstone-size hunks of meat—are on fire in Honolulu now, but only at Aloha Steak House can you get one for less than $100. More than 2 pounds of bone-in beef arrive sizzling at your table. Reserve one in advance to avoid disappointment.
$88, 320 Lewers St., (808) 600-3431, alohasteakhousewaikiki.com
Family feast at Mahina and Sun’s
Photo: Steve Czerniak
A whole, deep-fried snapper, surrounded by fixin’s like buttered ‘ulu and pohole salad, make for a festive, only-in-Hawai‘i experience.
$37 per person, plus market price fish, 412 Lewers St., (808) 923-8882, mahinaandsuns.com
SEE ALSO: First Look: Mahina & Sun’s
Photo: Martha Cheng
On the seventh floor of the Ritz Carlton, Sushi Sho serves diners from a 10-seat bar resembling a stage. Prices for the omakase begin at $300. There are other high-end sushi omakase in Honolulu, but with a parade of imported fish, they can start to blend together. Not so at Sushi Sho. Keiji Nakazawa serves seafood from Japan, but also from Hawai‘i, and treats them in unique ways, from a 10-day aged yellowtail to a take on lau lau, with salmon and opah.
$300 and up, 383 Kalaimoku St., (808) 729-9717, ritzcarlton.com