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Best of Honolulu 2017: Services

11 editorial and reader picks for the best services in the city.



Horseback Riding Lessons

Horseback Riding

Franny Brown takes her horse Kahu for a morning workout.
Photo: David Croxford

Riding a horse, as opposed to simply sitting atop one as it moseys along a well-trod trail, is a serious vocation. “Your job is to get on top of the horse and control the horse, with your hands, your weight, your voice, your body, in order to execute all the proper movements,” says Tammy Ryan, proprietor of Waimānalo’s Hilltop Ranch Equestrian Center. The proper term for this is dressage—“exercises for the horse and the human”—and you’re in the hands of a master in lead instructor Suzi Hillis. $65 a lesson.

41-430 Waikupanaha St., Waimānalo, (808) 232-8832 (Suzi Hillis).


Portrait Painter

Family portrait

photo: courtesy of kirk kurokawa

Once the staple of any self-respecting painter, portraiture is a niche now—and a demanding one. When you’re doing someone’s likeness, modernist squiggles or Cubist cutouts just won’t do. Asking around for the best, one name kept coming up: Kirk Kurokawa. He’s doing Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s official painting, a commission won through an official competition. The Maui native is a graduate of Janet Sato’s famous atelier, which has been turning out classically trained painters for decades at Baldwin High. Says one curator, “He really makes a point to connect with his subjects in a way that gets translated into soulful art.” Kurokawa says to just give him a call or email. “We can set up a time to meet, sit down, have coffee,” and discuss what you want. As for price: “Not everybody can afford a $5,000 painting; I will do smaller ones at a more reasonable price. I’m always happy to help someone out.”

kirk@kirkkurokawa.com, (808) 385-4515, kirkkurokawa.com.


Catering and Event Planning

Reader Pick



What began as a one-woman catering business in 2003 has grown into a company of 20 full-time staffers with more than 600 casual-hire professionals. This is the team behind Gourmet Events Hawai‘i, ready to plan and host your next business luncheon, intimate gathering, nonprofit fundraiser, corporate conference or dream wedding. “We can organize a dinner for 10 people in a private residence or take care of a 2,000-person party,” says owner Kathleen Lin-Hurtubise, Gourmet Events Hawai‘i’s president, founder and chief festivities officer. “I love taking care of guests at events and surprising them with our attention to detail or by going that extra mile to make something happen. And seeing our team grow has been super exciting. I love working with people who love to come to work.”

1917 Colburn St., (808) 735-7788, gourmeteventshawaii.com.


Shibori Class

Once a centuries-old Japanese method of resist dyeing, shibori is making a comeback in a big, bold way. It’s everywhere—on Pinterest, on reusable tote bags and in the collection of local designer Malia Jones. The Honolulu Museum of Art is offering a four-session workshop this summer with artist Gail Toma in August. Cost is $140 (plus $35 for supplies). Learn how to manipulate the fabric—binding, tying, folding—and use indigo dye to create a one-of-a-kind design.



Hidden Orchid Source


Photo: David Croxford

Follow the handlettered cardboard signs to Plant Hawai‘i in Waimānalo on the weekends to find direct-from-the-farm deals on stunning orchids, hybridized hibiscus and a wide array of plumeria. The Willson and Picquet families created a green oasis of flowering plants off a rutted road nearly three years ago. Customers who discovered the orchids—some as low as $10 a plant—can find trays of flowers to brighten their homes. “People like the feeling of coming out to the country,” says co-owner Scot Willson. “We’re always going to fill the greenhouse with cool stuff every week.” He says their floral design work for weddings and events is growing but not replacing their core flower business: growing and selling beautiful and often hard-to-find blooms, from fragrant honohono and brilliant shades of vanda to ready-to-plant plumeria. Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays, noon to 3 p.m. Check the website for other times. 

41-928 Kaka‘ina St., Waimānalo, (808) 384-2065, planthawaii.com.


Best Pet Photographer

Pet photography

Photos: Steve Czerniak

Full disclosure: Our pick for the island’s best pet photographer also happens to be HONOLULU Magazine’s regular food shooter, too. Steve Czerniak started snapping portraits of pets in 2010 as Wag and Snap Photography, using a natural-light style and simple, beautiful outdoor settings—no coconut-shell bikini tops to be found here. “I don’t do schlock,” he says. “I like for the dogs to look like dogs.” The results are high-quality, memorable and seriously cute.



Best Locksmith

Reader Pick

For nearly 50 years, Salz Lock & Safe has been providing top-of-the-line locksmithing. Husband-and-wife founders Herm and Tomiko Salz opened the original shop on Monsarrat Avenue in 1970, then passed it to son Joe, daughter Linda and nephew Mark. “Our clients rely on us to help them secure their homes, restaurants, vehicles and stores,” says Linda Salz-Goto. “Our team collectively has well over 200 years of experience.” Salz takes care of it all: rekeying locks, installing safes, duplicating keys, programming automotive chip keys, the works. When it comes to keeping things locked up, Salz is your (ahem) safest bet.

3012 Wai‘alae Ave., (808) 734-6557, salzlock.com.


3-D Printing Service

3D Printer

Photo: David Croxford

It’s remarkable how quickly 3-D printing has caught on with architecture firms, medical institutions and manufacturers. For the average Joe or Jane, though, it’s pricey to get your design or replacement part done. You can go to 3-D shops and work with them for a fee to make your prototype a reality, but to get hands-on with a 3-D printer on an ad hoc basis? Good luck. What you need is some kind of collective, where you can enjoy the company of other creative minds while pooling experience and resources to reduce costs and spark innovation. And that describes Makerspace O‘ahu. “We do laser cutting, we can teach 3-D CAD”—computer-assisted design—“and we provide the materials,” says Ross Mukai, founder and managing member; $89 for a month of “pretty much unlimited” use.  

2004 Kahai St., (808) 845-6253, oahumakerspace.com.


Waikīkī Parking

One of the main reasons we used to avoid Waikīkī was the stress of finding parking. That changed with the opening of the International Market Place, which has three floors of about 700 stalls right in the middle of Waikīkī. Spend $10 for validation, which gets you free parking for one hour, then it’s $2 per hour for the second, third and fourth hours. (After that, it’s $2 per 20 minutes, up to $50 in one day.) The lot is also user-friendly: Sensors show how many spots are available on each floor in real time; the stalls are a luxurious 9 feet by 18 feet; and it’s open 24 hours. Even if you lose your ticket, cameras at the entrance and exit record your license plate so you only pay for the time you actually parked. Plus, the elevators are tall enough to fit your surfboard. 

At the intersection of Kūhiō Avenue and Walina Street, shopinternationalmarketplace.com.


SEE ALSO: 3 International Market Place Restaurants That are Worth the Trip to Waikīkī


Food Delivery

Bite squad

Photo: Aaron K. Yoshino

It’s the kind of text message you love getting right around dinnertime: “Your Bite Squad driver is nearby; please prepare for delivery.” The Minneapolis-based online food-delivery service bought out Room Service in Paradise, which had been delivering on O‘ahu for 20 years. The biggest change is one of the best: You can order food online or through an app on your phone. “For us, the logistics of our business is what will make or break that customer experience,” says Craig Key, vice president of marketing. Bite Squad boasts more than 90 restaurants, including Teddy’s Bigger Burgers, Izakaya Nonbei, Highway Inn and California Pizza Kitchen. You can even order dessert from Let Them Eat Cupcakes or gelato from La Gelateria. Delivery fees range from $4.99 to $9.99—a small price for not having to sit in traffic or change out of your pajamas. 




Reader Pick

Whether it’s a sprain, fracture, taking care of a wound or general pain, when it comes to taking care of your feet, Dr. Susan Hiraoka is Hawai‘i’s podiatrist to call. Her clients range from those needing acute care, afflicted with problems including heel pain, bunions or even an ingrown toenail, to routine patients such as diabetics. Hiraoka reminds that foot care requires proper footwear and regular maintenance. Don’t delay in taking care of issues until it becomes a serious problem. And, if you do, call Hiraoka.

1329 Lusitana St., Suite 802, (808) 532-3338.


Join us on Saturday, Aug. 5 for a festival celebrating the Best of Honolulu. Click here for details.




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Honolulu Magazine March 2018
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