Thomas Obungen

Contributing Dining Editor

Thomas Obungen joined the Frolic Hawai‘i team in 2015 as a contributor after a two-year stint in Los Angeles where his passion for seeking out unique and delicious finds was set ablaze. In the years that followed, he rose the ranks to become its associate editor and is now the assistant editor. Prior to Frolic, he worked for an Apple reseller that outfitted Hollywood’s top studios with custom computers, planned obscure costume parties and wrote press releases for the U.S. Navy. He is a graduate of Mililani High School and Hawai‘i Pacific University.

In addition to writing for Frolic Hawai‘i and HONOLULU, Thomas co-owns a boutique marketing agency called Slug Media and works in retail for therapeutic reasons. You can find him power walking through Makiki and Mānoa on most mornings and most likely with an iced coffee in hand.

Email Thomas

Articles

Hilo's farm-to-bowl shave ice expands to Haleiwa

I've planned vacations entirely around visiting shave ice shops. In 2018, I devoured 68 bowls of shave ice from shops in Japan and Hawaii. I just might be a little obsessed with shave ice. I know, I'm weird.  See also: Shave ice…

Fooki brings happy Taiwanese fusion to Aiea

Under the looming elevated railway that defines this stretch of Kamehameha Highway, a Taiwanese fusion noodle bar called Fooki opened a few weeks ago in the Pearl Kai Shopping Center. An unlikely restaurant in an unlikely part of Oahu, it begs a question: Who's…

Farmers market finds: $5 bites from Dean & DeLuca

Farmers markets are breeding grounds for food innovation and some of Hawaii's most successful restaurants. Frolic's series spotlights some of these ono finds.  What: Truffle egg salad, chicken namban and ahi melt sandwiches, antipasto pasta, caprese saladHow much: $4.95 eachWhat…

New SingMaTei's curry laksa is a Malaysian delight

Let's be honest, food courts don't exactly set a high bar for culinary finds. However, if you've spent any time in Southeast Asia, particularly in Malaysia and Singapore, you know that open-air hawker centers and food markets tend to buck…

20 new and coming restaurants in June 2020: Foodmap

Not to jinx things, but at a time when we thought we would be covering more closures, we're seeing instead signs of confidence in brave restaurateurs. At least 20 new restaurants have opened in recent weeks or plan to open…

H Mart opens first Hawaii store and food hall

Hoping. Praying. Dreaming. Answering the anticipation of Asian food fans and halmonis waiting for America's largest Asian grocery chain to arrive in Hawaii, H Mart opened its doors at 9 a.m. today, May 28, to a socially distanced line that wrapped…

Two-minute takeout: Hide-chan Restaurant

It's still a delicious landscape out there! As we wait for Oahu restaurants to reopen for dine-in, we're trying takeout from places we've never been before. Hey everyone, it's Thomas again. I'm back for another Two-minute takeout. I was craving…

New Higoto brings elevated bento, musubi to Kaimuki

Higoto Japanese Eatery opened May 14, at a time when takeout is the only option for restaurants open during the pandemic. Luckily, takeout is exactly what Nobu Kurokawa, former owner of Kona Kai Sushi up the hill on the same…

New Midnight Hi delivers midnight munchies

Enormous chocolate chip cookies bigger than your head. Two pounds of assorted fries with tubs of dipping sauce. Tater tots covered with mac and cheese, sriracha aioli AND Flaming Hot Cheetos. It's clear that all inhibitions are lost when you order delivery…

Two-minute takeout: Cafe Maharani

It's still a delicious landscape out there! As we ride out this pandemic by staying at home, many of us are trying takeout from places we've never been before. Thomas Obungen discovers a longtime Moiliili institution that's new to him.  …

Two-minute takeout: Aburiya Ibushi

It's still a delicious landscape out there! As we ride out this pandemic by staying at home, many of us are trying takeout from places we've never been before. Thomas Obungen picks up dinner from Aburiya Ibushi, a new izakaya…

Two-Minute Takeout: Yamas Mediterranean Cuisine

All kinds of restaurants are open for takeout, and now's as good a time as any to try them. Two-Minute Takeout sends Frolickers to places they haven't been to pick up meals for quick tableside reviews at home. Hey everyone,…

New Little Joe's Steakhouse delivers big on value

When dining at a steakhouse, you're normally confronted with three options: big portions, a diverse menu or reasonable prices. As you might have guessed, you can only pick one. At Little Joe's, which opens Friday, Mar. 13, you can have all three and…

11 new and coming restaurants in March 2020: Foodmap

1938 Indochine Kevin Aoki's third new restaurant at The Collection will serve Southeast Asian fare with special attention to techniques and flavors from Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia. The sign was recently installed and outdoor seating areas assembled along Ala Moana Boulevard.…

Waikiki Food Hall grand opens at Royal Hawaiian Center

Who knew Waikiki needed a fourth food hall? This one, aptly named Waikiki Food Hall, grand opens at Royal Hawaiian Center on Saturday, Mar. 7 at 8 a.m. A mix of eight local and Japanese concepts will serve up everything from garlic shrimp plates and…

Reader poll: What's your favorite poke shop?

People's poke preferences are about as diverse as they come. Some love it spicy while others crave it simple and tasting like the sea. Variations in texture range from crunchy to tender, chewy to crispy; each has its own merits. So which poke…

Our go-to: Bubbling hot pots

Chilly winter nights have Frolickers bundling up and heading out for steaming bowls of comfort. Hot pots filled with simmering broth and everything from chicken meatballs and local veggies to beef short rib, lamb, Korean ramen and Spam, of course. Some…

Kevin Hanney's Chopchop Rotisserie opens in Waikiki

Without much fanfare, Kevin Hanney and his wife Denise Luke opened the doors to Chopchop Rotisserie, their third restaurant, on Monday night. It's not on 12th Avenue. It's not on Koko Head Avenue. It ain't even in Kaimuki — it's on…

20 new and coming restaurants for 2020: Foodmap

It's only Day 2 of the new decade and Oahu's food scene is already off to an exciting start. The mix is literally all over the map with Vietnamese sandwiches, Salvadoran pupusas and Taiwanese dumplings scattered across the island. Here…

Tasty Middle Eastern fare comes from a van in Waikiki

Editor's note: As of July 24, Habibi Tasty now pops up at 210 Kapuni St. and Kuhio Avenue. Do you remember Zanzibar, the nightclub in the former Waikiki Trade Center? Well, I don't, but I do remember Da Falafel King, a…

Okinawa's Potama Spam musubi sandwiches are coming to Waikiki

Okinawa shares many similarities with Hawaii including weather, gorgeous beaches and an affinity for canned comfort food. One Okinawan delicacy shop that has gained popularity in recent years is Pork Tamago Onigiri or "Potama" as it's affectionately called. A potama is…

The 22 best burgers on Oahu: Foodmap

I have been a burger fan for as long as I can remember. Ask my parents — no matter where we went, if there was a burger on the menu, that's what I was having. From palm-sized sliders to triple-deckers as big…

Reader poll: Vote for your fave crispy gau gee

Deep-fried envelopes of ground pork, crispy gau gee are a hot commodity at every potluck: Show up with a box and a bucket of hot mustard and you'll be the life of the party. Just like our inaugural poll that…