7 Favorite Places to Eat at Ward
There’s a lot new at Ward, but some of the old spots still hold their own.
I’m a bit nomadic these days, bouncing from housesit to housesit, which turns out to be a great way to 1) save on rent and 2) explore neighborhoods.
A recent housesit landed me in Ward, ground zero for urban redevelopment. It may not be the most charming of neighborhoods—with old, drab warehouses looking more drab as the new, glass-sheeted buildings next to them grow shinier and taller every day—but it is immensely walkable. It packs a lot of what I love in just a few blocks: surf, yoga, movies, stationery and, of course, food. There’s a lot new at Ward, but some of the old spots still hold their own.
As a temporary resident of Ward, here are a few of my favorite spots, old and new:
The smell of cumin envelops you as you climb the escalator to the second floor of Ward Center. This one-year-old Mongolian hot pot place is as bold and fierce as Genghis Khan, with broths heavy on the aromatics and chili.
What to get: lamb, fish balls with roe, chrysanthemum greens, fresh noodles, sesame pancake, fresh watermelon juice, yam mochi
At Ward Center, 593-0055
One of the original ramen shops, still going strong.
What to get: char siu tan tan
At Ward Center, 591-9188
The new ramen kid on the block blends the traditional with the nouveau. Soup bases, such as the clear Jidori-chicken-based broth and the thick kotteri tonkotsu, made by simmering pork bones for 18 hours, hew to tradition. It’s with the toppings and izakaya-style plates that the kitchen gets creative.
What to get: Innovative hot mess (kotteri tonkotsu ramen with parmesan cheese), yuzu jidori, hiyashi cold noodle, fried pig ears
At Ward Center, 797-2933
The Ward area now has two locations of Pa‘ina Café, which means two locations on either side of the movie theater, making it awfully convenient to sneak in poke bowls for the movies.
What to get: poke bowl
At Ward Center and Ward Warehouse, 356-2829
Waiola Shave Ice
The only Waiola open at night! (Until 8:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday)
What to get: shave ice, duh.
At Ward Warehouse, 591-9922
Whole Foods won’t be filling in Ward’s grocery store hole for another couple of years, so in the meantime, make do with this Japanese supermarket and stock up on tofu, sake and mochi. You know, the essentials. The poke and fish counter is excellent, too.
1020 Auahi St., 593-9888
This is my guilty secret. I love Panda Express. But I’m also a huge Chinese food snob, and I can’t even blame my love on nostalgia, as we do most food addictions we’re ashamed of. I definitely did not grow up eating American Chinese food—my family ate stinky tofu, not egg foo yung, duck tongues, not sweet and sour pork. But what can I say … Panda Express’ orange chicken really gets to me.
Ward Entertainment Center, 1060 Auahi St., 593-8823