6 New Eateries You Must Try Near UH Mānoa

Spring semester is in session—and so are our appetites.

Eating at school is easy, sure, but sometimes you need a break from campus life and the same-old cafeteria food. This semester, head down to Puck’s Alley and the surrounding Mōʻiliʻili area, where great new eateries and menu items have been steadily popping up over the past year-and-a-half. Where else can you get mochiko chicken and waffles, a soursop smoothie, Burmese cuisine and fresh-caught ‘ahi, all within a few blocks of each other?


‘Ahi Assassins

‘Ahi Assassins
Fresh poke at ‘Ahi Asssassins.
Photos: Katrina Valcourt


Unless you know a fisherman, there aren’t a lot of places you can get fish as fresh as at ‘Ahi Assassins. That’s because the team members behind this new shop are fishermen, and their fish goes straight from the boat to the case—no middleman, no carbon dioxide, no freezer. Right now, fresh poke is $12 a pound, a ridiculously good deal for the quality you get. Poke bowls, hot specials and smoked meat are also available, but go early for the best choices, or the shop might be sold out. 2570 S. Beretania St., upstairs, open Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. or until sold out, 372-2930.


Shaka Shaka Tea Express

Shaka Shaka Tea Express
Strawberry milk smoothie and the interior of Shaka Shaka Tea Express.
Photos: Katrina Valcourt


If you’re in need of some boba and a quiet place to study, both come free with a smoothie at Shaka Shaka. This is the second location for the shop, which first opened in Kalihi in 2013. The bright, clean space in Puck’s Alley is inviting to both students and other patrons: The Wi-Fi password is on the wall, there are plenty of seats and the drinks are fresh—no preservatives. Even the sugar is a homemade brown cane sugar, and the shop uses whole milk, not creamers, for the best-quality drinks. And did we mention the free boba? Each smoothie comes with a free scoop of chewy tapioca pearls imported from Taiwan, so you know they’re legit. 2600 S. King St., Suite K101, open Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., 200-2866.


Holoholo Bar and Grill

Holoholo Bar & Grill
Clockwise from top left: Da Mango and Da Mint with garlic fries, Lychee Lemonade, Noe'z Nacho'z and fried ‘ahi belly, steak and onion. These are tasting portions, not full-size.
Photos: Katrina Valcourt


In 2013, Holoholo transformed the old Camellia’s yakiniku joint into a half bar, half restaurant. The bar side recently revamped its happy-hour menu to include bacon cheddar cheese fries, tempura ‘ahi rolls, Cajun fish wraps and more. Go for a plate of Noe’z Nacho’z, tortilla chips topped with Holoholo’s ground S’maka burger, a delightfully zingy kimchee dip, melted cheese and lomi tomato. You can get the kimchee dip and chips separately, but, trust us, you want it smothered in cheese. We’re also fans of the fried ‘ahi belly, which, though deep-fried, melts in your mouth. The shoyu sesame sauce isn’t too spicy but adds a nice tang.


Come for the food, but stay for the dangerously delicious drinks: Da Mango and Da Mint is a refreshing blend of mango puree, vodka, Cointreau, fresh lime and mint. This was our favorite when we went, but only by a hair: The Lychee Lemonade (citrus vodka, lychee liqueur, lemon sour and soda water) and Holoholo Juice (Southern Comfort, Midori, Amaretto, vodka, pineapple and cranberry) are so light and sweet you might not realize there’s alcohol in them—be careful. 2494 S. Beretania St., happy hour 3–5 p.m. daily, 369-7297.


The Nook Neighborhood Bistro

Nook Neighborhood Bistro
Clockwise from top left: pineapple pancakes, mochiko chicken and mochi waffles, pork belly sandwich.
Photos: Martha Cheng


In the old Kiss My Grits space, this brunch spot on University Avenue serves up creative comfort food, ranging from mochiko chicken and mochi waffles to whole-wheat pancakes with caramelized pineapple and caramel sauce. The kitchen vows to use fresh and local ingredients, offering seasonal specials whenever available. 1035 University Ave., open Tuesday through Sunday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., 942-2222.


Bodhi Café

Bodhi Cafe
Spicy green mango and coconut cacao smoothies.
Photos: Martha Cheng


We chose this café for the Best Smoothies category in the 2014 Best of Honolulu issue not just because the drinks taste good, but also because we love how each smoothie contains locally grown fruits instead of frozen berries. You can also get juice, tea or food, such as oatmeal or an acai bowl. 2671 S. King St., Suite D, open Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Wednesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., 949-2679.



Tea leaf salad (left) and Burmese Indian rice.
Photos: Martha Cheng


Most of us won’t make it to Myanmar in our lives, but we can still get a taste of authentic Burmese cuisine at Dagon. The Thai-meets-Indian dishes at this spot on King Street blend spices and cultures in a distinctly Burmese style: Try the signature tea leaf salad, which combines fermented tea leaves, dried shrimp, fried lentils, toasted peanuts, sesame seeds, fried garlic, diced tomatoes and fresh lemon. 2671 S. King St., Unit A, open Wednesday through Monday, 5 to 10 p.m., 947-0088.