Here’s What Hawai‘i’s Best Restaurants Will be Serving at the 2019 Hale ‘Aina Awards

Maybe you’ll win the golden ticket. But the consolation prize is just as sweet. And savory.
best restaurants
Square Barrels’ aloo tikki croquettes 
Photo: Aaron K. Yoshino


Maybe you’ll get lucky this year. But even if you don’t, it’ll be sweet. For HONOLULU Magazine’s annual Hale ‘​Aina Awards gala on Sept. 7, MW chef/owner Michelle Karr-Ueoka is bringing “Lucky Sweet Treats” wherein you choose a can containing various surprise desserts. Two cans contain particularly special prizes: dinner for two to MW or a $25 Artizen gift card.

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Ruth’s Chris Steak House's veal osso buco ravioli 
Photo courtesy of Ruth’s Chris Steak House


But MW’s not the only restaurant bringing delicious flair to the event. Here are the dishes that six of our Hale ‘Aina Gold winners will be serving:


  • Ruth’s Chris Steak House: Veal osso buco ravioli, a saffron pasta stuffed with spinach and accompanied by a white wine demi glace

  • Merriman’s: Red-wine braised Kahua Ranch lamb slider with a pepper jam

  • Noi Thai: Green curry with grilled beef

  • Chef Chai: Oxtail soup with noodles and Chinese celery

  • 53 by the Sea: Maui venison ceviche tossed with shallots, chili oil, calamansi, ginger and jalapeño

  • Arancino: risotto Parmigiano, finished and served straight out of a Parmigiano Reggiano cheese wheel

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Herringbone's seafood tower
Photo: Aaron K. Yoshino


A VIP ticket gains you early entrance plus access to an air-conditioned lounge (because yeah, it’s been hot), plus extras from two additional Hale ‘Aina Gold restaurants. Square Barrels is dishing out aloo tikki (Indian potato croquettes), served with a side of fried smoked pork and chimichurri, and Herringbone will set up a raw bar with oysters, shrimp and crab.


For the first time, the Hale ‘Aina gala will be at the new ‘Alohilani pool deck and entertainment is by DJ Keala Kennelly. When she’s not DJ-ing, she’s a pro surfer and was the first (and only) woman ever invited to the Eddie Big Wave Invitational. So there’s lots to be excited about. See you there!


Saturday, Sept. 7, ‘Alohilani Resort Waikīkī Beach, 6:30–9:30 p.m., VIP entrance at 5:30 p.m. Buy tickets here.

  best restaurants

Merriman's red-wine braised Kahua Ranch slider
Photo by David Croxford


HONOLULU Magazine established the Hale ‘Aina Awards in 1984, becoming the first local restaurant awards program. The first event was a potluck celebration in a HONOLULU Magazine conference room and over the years it’s grown into a glamorous gala. Now, it’s Hawai‘i’s longest-running and most distinguished culinary awards program, voted on by the savvy readers of HONOLULU Magazine for the best restaurants in Hawai‘i in 38 categories.


Read more stories by Martha Cheng