Best of Honolulu 2011: Services

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Threading Lounge won editor's pick for best eyebrow threading.

Photo: David Croxford


Editor's Picks

Eyebrow Threading

It’s an ancient South Asian technique that removes facial hair using thread, and it’s lauded as less painful than plucking or waxing. Our staff was skeptical. But field-testing proved that treatment at the Threading Lounge was virtually painless and left the brows looking fabulous in minutes. Owner Pravina Kumar brings decades of experience as a threader and aesthetician to her light-touch threading technique. Kumar requires each of her staff to be an aesthetician and complete three months’ training before she or he can touch a client—unlike other shops and the kiosk at the mall. But that isn’t reflected in the prices: A basic eyebrow shape is only $18. 98-199 Kamehameha Highway, Aiea, 484-2080,

Ashiatsu Massage

Ever felt a knot in your back so excruciating that you feel as though you need someone to walk on it to get it out? If so, Kym Harris, of Kailua Ashiatsu, is more than happy to oblige. For $70, Harris will literally walk up and down your back for an hour, kneading out knots with her heels and deeply massaging muscle tissue with her toes. “I can vary the pressure and intensity of the massage with the bamboo poles overhead,” says the former fashion public relations mogul from New York. “I can lift my entire body weight, so I won’t hurt you. But you will feel much better.” 330 Uluniu St., 888-6454,

Improvement to your Television

 There it sits in your living room—a pricey, new, widescreen, high-definition television with a baffling array of menus. The picture is big, sure, but is it accurate? Do movies look the way they’re supposed to? The best way to be sure is to have it calibrated by Imaging Science Foundation (ISF)-certified technicians. ISF, based in Florida, has been around since 1994, working with manufacturers and training technicians in pursuit of “high-fidelity video.” Calibration isn’t cheap and may only appeal to devoted cineastes—the technicians don’t just “eyeball” a better picture, they use expensive test equipment, customizing your HDTV’s performance for the room it’s in, the lighting and the sources you use for video. Local ISF-certified options range from the Best Buy Geek Squad ($199.99 for two hours, 525-7182) to the highend at Home Automation Hawaii, which calibrates only Sony, Pioneer and Runco sets (starting at $400, 842-4646).

Party on Wheels

No need to restrict your next soirée to the confines of four walls. We found three great buses to take your next party to the streets (even if it’s just the one outside your house).

A Mobile Gamer Guys bus has seven individual Xbox 360 gaming systems, cushiony seats and plenty of games for the whole crew. Not interested in hours of Grand Theft Auto? Hit up a Wii or Xbox Kinect set up outside. 692-2729,

Oahu Party Bus’ converted Army troop carrier—dubbed the eight-wheeler—is the undisputed king of the road, giving passengers a one-of-a-kind ride, a bird’s-eye view and all the party trappings of its tame limo cousin. (808) 639-8687,

If you’re tired of the standard bounce-house-on-the-beach, try a Tumble Bus for your keiki’s next birthday party. It’s basically a tumble gym on wheels, with staff leading kiddos through activities such as an obstacle course, a sack race and a climbing mountain. 230-8408,

Knife Sharpening

Peggy Kaahamui, owner of Celeste Mobile Sharpening, travels the island in her van, bringing knife blades to a gleaming, razor’s edge. Her main customers are local restaurants such as Genki Sushi, Outback Steak House and California Pizza Kitchen, but she also works with home chefs, too. “I try to stay flexible to customers’ needs, so if I can help with a quick turnaround, I will,” she says. Kaahamui also mentions that she brings loaner knives with her to each job to lend customers—that celery isn’t going to chop itself. 772-7782

Cocktail Caterer

If you’re planning a big to-do, you’re probably devoting a lot of thought to the caterer. Don’t forget about the drinks, though—it’s hard to enjoy your party when you’re stuck in the kitchen mixing martinis. Instead, let cocktail caterer Imbibe Hawaii whip up a custom, gourmet drink menu that will take things to the next level: Want all the drinks to be pink and purple? Or maybe Peruvian-inspired? You’ve got it. If you’re serving food, it can also match the menu with the perfect wines. Whether you’re throwing an intimate dinner party or a record-beating baby’s first birthday, owners Maria Burke and Kyle Reutner will handle just about everything—bartenders, portable bar setups, glassware, cleanup—and help with the planning, as well. They’ll make sure, for example, that you order the right amount of alcohol. “An extra bottle of vodka is one thing, but no one wants to be stuck with three unused bottles of Cointreau that cost $100,” says Reutner. 428-6472,

Furniture RX

When local interior designers such as Mary Philpotts McGrath and Shari Saiki need furniture re-upholstered or refinished, the guy on speed dial is Romeo Geronimo, the president of VRS Upholstery and Sales. VRS has also been the go-to company for hotels, including the Edition and Waikiki Parc, and restaurants such as Roy’s Hawaii Kai and Indigo, since Geronimo acquired VRS in 1992. With a 5,000-square-foot warehouse and just eight employees, many of whom have been with the company for almost 20 years, VRS fills thousands of commercial orders every year, as well as orders from individual clients. Much of his business comes from repeat customers, long-term relationships he’s developed by knowing what the clients want, meeting their deadlines and delivering quality workmanship. “I train my employees to treat furniture like pieces of art,” says Geronimo. “It’s not upholstery; it’s art.” 920 Industrial Road, 845-6076,

Home Staging

A house on the market needs to look comfy enough to live in, but neutral enough to attract any buyer. That’s a hard balance to strike, so smart sellers enlist the help of a home stager. “All my clients rave about Susan Fried,” says top-selling Honolulu Realtor Pat Choi. Once a Realtor herself, Fried started staging after seeing the effect it had on home sales. Her best attribute? A gentle touch. “Selling a home has a big impact on people’s lives,” Fried says. “It’s important to be sensitive.” Susan Fried can be contacted by e-mail:

Phone Repair

When your out-of-warranty iPhone runs into trouble, the Apple store is often no longer the best repair option. iSpencer Hawaii fixes iPhones quickly, cheaply and without fuss, anything from cracked screens to dead batteries. We booked an appointment through iSpencer’s website to replace the battery in our 3GS, dropped it off at the appointed time and got it back, as good as new, two hours later. And it cost us only $40. The Apple store, on the other hand, told us it didn’t replace batteries but could upgrade us to a new phone for about $200. Ouch. “Our main focus is iPhone repair,” says owner Spencer Machida. “But we basically repair anything that begins with an ‘I.’” That includes iPods, iPod Nanos, iPads and MacBooks. Simple iPhone repairs can be completed within an hour, while more significant repairs can take two to three days. 661 Keeaumoku St., Suite 106A, 447-9628,

Instant Photo Improvement

In today’s electronic age, more people than ever are buying fancy SLR cameras to record their memories. Many of them, however, don’t realize how big a jump in image quality they could achieve just by strapping a professional-grade lens on their camera body. Of course, not everyone can afford a lens that costs between $1,000 and $10,000. That’s where Hawaii Photo Rental comes in. For as little as $15 a day, you can rent a lens that will vastly improve your special-occasion photos. “We help people figure out how best to use the gear,” says owner Josh Strickland. “What lens would be best for this particular situation? How do you shoot with it? We’ll help figure that stuff out.” Whether it’s a super-long zoom lens to capture your daughter surfing, or a wide-angle that fits the entire party in the frame, you’ll be amazed at the shots you’re suddenly capable of shooting. 3408 Waialae Ave., 735-3838,

Pet Acupuncture

Debra Harrison is an all-inclusive kind of acupuncturist. She extends her services to everyone in the home and, yes, that includes cats and dogs. “I can do the whole family,” she says. “It can help relieve pain and keep the mind sharp.” Harrison has been in the pet acupuncture business since 1993, offering house calls to East Oahu residents and appointments out of her home in Hawaii Kai. The 60-minute sessions cost $85, whether it’s for you or Fido. Call 864-2152.