12 Reasons to Get Out and Eat on Christmas Day
Why you should ditch those Christmas pajamas and hit the town for delicious food instead.
DINNER BUFFET AT TURTLE BAY RESORT.
Photo: Courtesy of Turtle Bay Resort
1. BALI STEAK & SEAFOOD
Anything with oysters, and we’re in. Bali Steak & Seafood’s four-course dinner starts with Kusshi oysters, followed by your choice of king-crab-legs arancini or a Caesar salad, and then a Kona lobster bisque or porcini-crusted ‘ahi tataki. For an entrée, we wish you luck as you decide between inamoma garlic crusted onaga, bone-in short ribs or kiawe smoked jidori chicken. Desert’s a decadent Kokoleka chocolate cake with Riesling poached pear and candied mac nuts. There’s a keiki four-course dinner too, and you know your kids will love it because it starts with a chocolate sorbet with tropical fruit.
5–9 p.m., Dec. 24–25, $48–$125, 949-4321 ext. 39.
2. BLT MARKET
Christmas meal prepared by Chef Johan Svensson starts with kampachi crudo, mushroom risotto and grilled octopus, followed by gnocchi ala Parisienne—a shrimp truffle pasta. There’s also spiced ono, grilled Hawaiian tuna, paniolo tenderloin, and dessert is Black Forest hazelnut japonaise and eggnog budino.
4–10:30 p.m., Dec. 25, $95–$130, 729-9729.
The paniolo tenderloin at BLT Market.
PHOTO: COURTESY OF BLT MARKET
3. BLT STEAK
We love Christmas ham, but sometimes a 32-ounce dry-aged prime ribeye with green bean gremolata and roasted garlic ($165) is really the way to go. For one special day out of the year, you can try appetizers that include squid ink gnocchi ($18) and truffle burrata ($17). Dig into an 8-ounce venison loin ($58), 12-ounce spinali dorsi (ribeye cap) ($54), garlic sautéed broccoli rabe ($12) and have a final Christmas hurrah with a yule log peppermint chocolate cake ($14) or an eggnog cheesecake macaroon ($14).
4–10 p.m., Dec. 25, $85–$114, 683-7440.
4. HYATT REGENCY WAIKĪKĪ – JAPENGO
Japengo’s Christmas Eve and Christmas day meals start with the most decadent “bento box” we’ve ever heard of: king crab salad, ‘ahi, hamachi, oyster, cucumber and yuzu. For the four-course meal, choose between filet of beef, sous vide lamb or seared Hokkaido sea scallops. If you’re not the picky type, you can get all three by ordering the six-course meal. But don’t forget to save space for an insanely delicious-sounding dessert: Linzer torte, fresh raspberries, eggnog cheesecake, crumble traditional yule log, assorted homemade Christmas cookies and so much more.
5–9 p.m., Dec. 24–25, $85–$140, 237-6180, japengowaikiki.com.
5. IL LUPINO
Experience a pasta lover’s wish come true with Il Lupino’s Christmas Eve and Day dinner menu. You can order four different kinds of pasta: short rib capanelle ($26), rabbit (yes, rabbit!) ravioli ($28) –four cheese risotto ($35) and uni and salmon roe pasta ($42). But wait, there’s more: Entrées include veal saltimbocco ($35), osso buco ($48) and leg of lamb ($99).
5–10:30 p.m., Dec. 24–25, 922-3400.
6. MAHINA & SUN’S
Ed Kenney’s newest restaurant is feeling festive, with a trio of creative Christmas cocktails ($14) – Minted Wonderland, Naughty or Spice?, and Ho, Ho, Ho & A Bottle O’ Rum. You can also choose between three-course prix fixe menus of Holiday Roast “Beast” Feast, Vegetable Festival and a Mahina’s Classic Family Feast. The last one stood out to us: Kualoa Ranch oysters, a whole local mochiko fried deep sea snapper, roasted roots with ogo and anemone, pohole salad with crispy baby shrimp and salted mac nut pavlova. There are a few openings left for Christmas Day, and, while Christmas Eve is looking pretty full, call ahead in case there are cancellations.
5:30–10 p.m., Dec. 24–25, $35–$75, 924-5810.
Christmas cocktails from Mahina and Sun’s ($14) – Minted Wonderland, Naughty or Spice?, and Ho, Ho, Ho & A Bottle O’ Rum.
PHOTO: COURTESY OF MAHINA AND SUN’S
7. RAINBOW LANAI
Christmas is fun, and buffets are, too. Pile up your plate with all-you-can-eat snow crab legs, shrimp cocktail, carved prime rib, steamed mussels and clams with lup cheong and so much more. The Christmas buffet gets fancier with salads including kale and farro salad with blueberry acai vinaigrette and a seafood salad with mussels, bay shrimp, scallops and citrus vinaigrette. There’s turkey and a Hawaiian-brown-sugar-and-mustard-baked ham. Then get another plate for eggnog pot de crème, Santa brownie bites and assorted holiday cookies.
5–9 p.m., Dec. 24, $29–$59; Dec. 25, $39–$68, 949-4321 ext. 39.
8. TOP OF WAIKĪKĪ
Executive chef Lance Kosaka keeps the holiday elegant and simple, starting with roasted carrot and ginger soup and a winter chopped salad. The entrée is red-wine-braised short ribs with creamy polenta and assorted vegetables, ending with eggnog custard pie topped with whipped cream and butter pecan ice cream.
5–9:30 p.m., Dec. 25, $65, 923-3877.
9. TROPICS BAR & GRILL
Opening presents works up an appetite—especially if your kids woke you up at 6 a.m.—so get the family together and drive to Waikīkī for a breakfast buffet. This one’s got all your classics: French toast, pancakes, croissants, muffins, banana bread, bacon, sausage, Japanese miso soup and much more. FYI: They’re not taking any reservations for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so bring those Christmas toys for entertainment, just in case there’s a line.
7–11 a.m., Dec. 25–27, $14–$29, 949-4321 ext. 42.
10. TURTLE BAY RESORT
Keiki can meet Santa at Christmas Day brunch ($35-$69, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.), and enjoy a spread of whole roast suckling pig with taro rolls and plum sauce, garlic rubbed prime rib roast, an omelet station, steamed crab legs, gingerbread pudding and Christmas stollen bread.
For a dinner buffet ($35-$69, 5:30 – 9:30 p.m.), nosh on Thai-herb-smoked Atlantic salmon, a salad bar with local North Shore veggies, a carving station and desserts include panipopo haupia sweet rolls, macadamia nut tortes and a holiday fruit cake.
For something a little more intimate, go for the four-course dinner ($120-$160, 5:30-10 p.m.) at Turtle Bay Resort’s restaurant Paakai. A few shout outs: a Kaua‘i shrimp remoulade fried heirloom green tomato with Maui onion, an onaga served with Hamakua mushrooms and Kona lobster risotto and a chocolate rum mousse with caramelized apple ice cream.
Dec. 25; $35–$160, 293-6020.
11. WAIKĪKĪ STARLIGHT LŪ‘AU
If you’ve got visitors over the holidays, they’ll love the lū‘au at the Hilton Hawaiian village. Who knows, you might like playing tourist, too. There’s hula performances, fire dancers, and of course, a whole spread of food ranging from local Island greens, lomi lomi salmon, Hawaiian poi, kiawe smoked prime rib, kalua pork and roasted turkey. Sit in the VIP golden circle and you get a pre-set of taro rolls, poi, Hawaiian red salt and onions, ‘ahi poke and pipikaula.
5:30–8 p.m., Dec. 25, $49.50–$139, 949-4321 ext. 39.
Porcini-dusted rack of Moloka‘i venison ($39) from 12th Avenue Grill.
Photo: Courtesy of 12th Avenue Grill
12. 12TH AVENUE GRILL
Three Christmas-themed dishes appear on 12th Avenue Grill’s blackboard menu for two days only: burgundy poached forelle pears ($16), evergreen roasted New Zealand king salmon ($33) and a porcini-dusted rack of Moloka‘i venison ($39), which has cornbread dressing, roasted local roots, and orange scented cranberry apple relish. Tip: Host your own party and pick up side dishes, including the smoked ‘ahi crudité platter ($40), the smoked ‘ahi bruschetta ($15), buttered white taro mashed ($30), seasonal fruit cobbler ($45) and liliko‘i mochi cake ($30). Just be sure to give the restaurant at least two days’ notice.
5:30–10 p.m., Dec. 23., 732-9469.
READ MORE STORIES BY MARIA KANAI