Best of Honolulu 2016: Food
The 25 editorial and reader picks for tastiest food from our Best of Honolulu 2016 issue.
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Best Yeast Doughnut
Photos: Steve Czerniak
In the age-old cake doughnut vs. yeast doughnut debate, there’s no clear winner. But we have made some progress, tasting all the local top contenders for best yeast doughnut, and we have good news: Mr. Donut’s & Bakery is undoubtedly it. Judging standard glazed doughnuts on consistency, freshness and taste, there was no question that William and Carlos Borgos’ baked goods knock it out of the park. Where other doughnuts taste oily or dry, Mr. Donut’s are moist, springy and finger-licking sweet. We tried a bunch of other flavors, just to be sure, and were not disappointed.
134 S. Hotel St., 545-2961.
Best Loaded Toast
Rise and Shine
Bills Waikīkī has loaded this toast with fresh chunks of tea-smoked salmon, pea shoots, edamame and cream cheese.
Bills Waikīkī’s Australian fare has won over Honoluluans looking to indulge in ricotta pancakes and luxuriously creamy scrambled eggs, but we’re obsessing over a totally different section of the menu. Scroll through your Instagram feed, and you’ll probably spot a slew of bloggers treating themselves to trendy and totally photogenic loaded toasts, where thick slices of bread are piled high with a bevy of fresh and unfussy toppings. At Bills, the staff takes this simple meal (which is already a staple in Australia) to the next level, with toasted rye and brioche sporting pumped-up ingredients: Coriander, labneh, poached eggs, pea shoots, tea-smoked salmon and edamame make the list. “Not,” as general manager Eki Locke says, “what you think would traditionally be on toast.” We’ll say. Sorry, PB: We’ve upgraded.
280 Beach Walk, 922-1500, billshawaii.com.
Hot morning cereal can be yawn-inducing—it’s basically gruel, after all. But Anicea Campanele, owner and chef at The Nook Neighborhood Bistro, has figured out how to upgrade that lowliest of breakfast staples. Before opening her Puck’s Alley spot, she found herself roughing it across New Zealand carrying powdered coconut milk, chocolate bars and instant oatmeal. Despite the skepticism of her fellow backpackers (Americans can’t cook, right?) she pulled it all together into a “haupia oatmeal,” a real breakfast winner that her co-travelers felt compelled to copy the next day. The Nook’s version is considerably more polished, with steel-cut oats that take the kitchen 14 minutes to cook up, brown sugar, apple bananas, cacao nibs and, of course, coconut milk, which Campanele adds gradually and with a constant stir, almost like a risotto, ensuring a luscious, creamy texture.
1035 University Ave., Unit 105, 942-2222, thenookhonolulu.com.
Best Latte Art
Photo: Courtesy of Glazers Coffee
Sure, there are latte art competitions to determine the most skilled baristas by the shininess of their pours and the amount of bubbles in their foam. But while technical mastery is impressive, we’re more into sheer entertainment value—nothing gets as many likes on Instagram as an adorable cartoon bunny drawn in milk. Glazers Coffee has this down pat—no surprise, considering the coffee shop’s love of art. It’s served up everything from latte-art pizzas, Totoros and even a cat giving the middle finger, in case you’re looking for a creative way to break up with someone via foam. The master behind these designs? Barista Matte Hanson, who is also a tattoo artist. No wonder. He and the rest of the team at Glazers deliver consistently adorable drinks that blow any heart or feather shapes out of the water—er, coffee.
2700 S. King St., D101, glazerscoffee.com.
Best Teri Burger
Photos: Steve Czerniak
In Hawai‘i, old-school drive-ins would often use the term “barbecue” to describe what’s really a teri burger, slathered in a sweet, shoyu-based sauce. So our pick for best teri burger is really called a barbecue burger at W&M Bar-B-Q Burgers on Wai‘alae Avenue. Third-generation owners Walt and Joy Kunimitsu keep their sauce a secret. Walt’s grandparents, Wilfred and May Kawamura created the sauce in 1940, selling burgers for 19 cents. Today, the barbecue burgers are still a deal: A deluxe burger—lettuce, tomatoes and onions—costs $3.75 and the royal—all that plus cheese—is just $4.
3104 Wai‘alae Ave., 734-3350.
Honolulu Burger Co. offers 15 different specialty burgers.
There are a lot of new burger joints in town, and we tried them all: The winner: Honolulu Burger Co. Not only are our stomachs happy with its tasty, succulent patties, the company uses local ingredients: Island free-range, grass-fed, hormone- and antibiotic-free beef, Mānoa lettuce from Mari’s Gardens, and tomatoes and onions from ‘Ewa Beach. Throw them all on a taro bun with a flavorful house-made chipotle mayo and you have the basis for a number of scrumptious specialty burgers. We can’t chew fast enough.
1295 S. Beretania St., 626-5202, honoluluburgerco.com.
Best Veggie Burger
A veggie burger is an inherently weird concept. It’s a facsimile of a meat-based dish, without the meat, so ordering one can often feel like a compromise. We wanted something more. And, after eating our way through the city’s highest rated veggie burgers, we found one that is just as good as its beefy menu-mates. Maybe even better! The Guru Veggie at Franky Fresh is a complex, juicy wonder of a burger, thanks to its housemade patty, which includes ground-up portobello. Add Franky’s usual great burger fixings—lettuce, tomatoes, onions, plus a roasted-pepper aioli sauce—and you’ve got a veggie burger that even avowed carnivores could love.
3040 Wai‘alae Ave.