Editor's Page: Best, Best and More Best

Think of the Best of Honolulu as a sophisticated user’s guide to the city.

Photo: jimmy forrest, mae ariola, gina finkelstein, guy a. sibilla and alex viarnes

Shortly after our February Best Dentists issue hit the streets, I got a call from a reader.

“We were talking about the magazine at lunch,” he said. “What’s up with you guys? It seems like six out of the last seven months, it’s been the Best Something or Other.”

“Yes,” I said. “That’s true.” Not literally true, but close enough. In addition to Best Dentists, we did The 50 Greatest Hawaii Albums of All Time (June ’04), Best Doctors (July ’04), the Hale Aina Awards, naming the best restaurants in the Islands (Jan. ’05).

Not only that, I told him we were already at work on this issue, which is all about The Best of Everything.

I didn’t know the details then. I do now.

Looking for the best Korean plate lunch? The best sports bar, Wi-Fi spot, kitchen remodeler? We went out and found them. Starting on page 88, we bring you everything from the best omiyage to bring back from Maui to the best place to kennel your cat while you’re gone.

“So you guys are going to keep doing the best of this and that?” he asked. He’d had fun at lunch, it seemed, and he’d called up to give us a good-natured hard time. I don’t think he expected a serious answer, but I had one for him.

We focused on finding the best for two reasons. First, readers like it. Second, it’s our job. Our mission is to help our readers get the best out of living in the Islands. Their problem is not too little information. In fact, we’re all burdened with information overload—so many words, images, Web pages, e-mail messages, cable TV stations, print messages, that we can hardly make sense of them. In that welter of information, we do our best to bring our readers clear guides to the best professionals—doctors, lawyers, and dentists. To the best of cultural events, to the most important music, to the most exciting visual arts.

Sometimes that’s fun. When we need to find the best places to eat, the most interesting places to shop, the most happening places for a night on the town, we force ourselves to get out of the office and live a little.

Other times, it’s just work. Much serious discussion goes into just how we find the best in each category. We’re always reminding ourselves that someone out there is going to take our advice seriously—and so it better be right.

How do we know something’s the best? We consult professional and industry award lists, talk to users and clients, and call the Better Business Bureau to check for complaints. Most of all, we try to find people with expertise. Where do people who sell Ferraris get cars detailed? Which local artist do museum curators think is most collectible?

We also conduct blind taste tests, under the watchful eye of our food editor, Joan Namkoong. If that doesn’t sound like work to you, try taste-testing half a dozen tofus in a row. One day, four of us scattered across the island to bring back nine Korean mixed plates, still warm, into our conference room.

By the time we were done, we’d racked up hundreds of phone calls, hundreds of miles, and hundreds of hours strategizing, agonizing and refining our list.

A whole crew of writers worked on this year’s Best Issue. The two principal editors, Michael Keany and Ronna Bolante, have been focused on it for months.

As I told my caller, we could have decided to put together an issue of mediocre stuff. It would have been easier. But what good would that do anyone?

Here, instead, is the best we could find. If any of the items in this month’s issue make your life better or even more enjoyable, we’ve done our job.