In Search of the Best

Our city offers world-class thinkers, as well as great plate lunches.

You might think that there’s no such thing as a bad Hawaiian plate lunch. Or that all Hawaiian plates are pretty much the same. Well, both of these things are generally true. But when you round up enough Hawaiian plates to cover a conference-room table for a simultaneous taste-off, you notice the differences.

One place throws in pipikaula, another place doesn’t. One haupia is a little coconut miracle, another, just passable pudding. Taste every item on every plate and pretty soon, you’ll find some standouts. That’s exactly what our staff did so that we could confidently refer you to what we believe is the best Hawaiian plate in Honolulu.

Every March, we pull together a Best of Honolulu feature to help you get the most out of living here. It’s hard work keeping up with a dynamic city—prices change, businesses come and go—but it’s work we look forward to every year. It’s rewarding to go out and find the best Honolulu has to offer.

Our Best of Honolulu feature includes HASR, winner of the "best free wine tasting" category. photo: Karin Kovalsky

On a related note, I wanted to introduce another story in this issue, R.J. Rummel’s essay defending the Iraq war (found here). I first heard of this University of Hawai’i professor emeritus in the 1990s, when the now late Robert Rees wrote a book article for HONOLULU Magazine on Rummel’s published works, including Death by Government (Transaction Publishers, 1997), China’s Bloody Century: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900 (1991), and Democide: Nazi Genocide and Mass Murder (1992).

I remember being stunned by Rummel’s surprising insight. It would be easy to conclude that war is the absolute worst thing humans can do to one another, as the 20th-century’s slaughter-houses, from the Battle of the Somme to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, suggest. But through his research, Rummel uncovered that governments have murdered more of their own citizens in the 20th century than were killed in all the century’s wars. He coined the term democide to describe this phenomenon.

Rummel is one of those Hawai’i people who ponder matters that concern the whole world. Recently, I had heard that Rummel had given a talk about the Iraq war. Curious what he had to say on the subject, I invited him to put his thoughts into an essay for us. You may or may not agree with his point of view—in fact, I expect a great deal of disagreement ( But thinkers such as Rummel, to me, represent the real "Best of Honolulu."

With this issue, we can all meet for a laulau, then sit around discussing the best road to world peace. What could be better than that?