What Will Foodies Find at the 2019 Best of Honolulu Festival?
Here’s a guide. Ready, set, eat.
Brazilian cheese bread, or pão de queijo, from Nosh.
Photos: TIEN ENGA
Some people go to a big event like the Best of Honolulu Festival without a plan for eating all the great food they can. That’s not us and shouldn’t be you, either. To best navigate the food at the event, Saturday, July 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Honolulu Hale civic grounds we created a cheat sheet.
Read this to figure out what food you want to eat right away and what can wait until later. Select your best options for eating while exploring, then bring a bag to stash the goodies that you will save to eat later or share.
You’ll find food for every palate: doughnuts, comfort food, gyoza, crispy beef jerky, shave ice and smoothies to beat the heat, and way more. And you can park once and walk through a diverse selection. Think of it as a food truck/street fair greatest hits.
Alphabetically speaking, these food entrepreneurs make food that takes us from bao to ‘ulu. Get food from one place and eat it in line for the next one. Don’t think you can eat 18 dishes in a stretch? No worries: Bring friends and share. Then bring your cooler bag and some ice in the car and you can take goodies home for those who couldn’t go or for yourself for the next day. Win No. 2!
Photo: Courtesy of Bao Tao‘n
People drive across the island to find the mobile Bao Tao’n crew dishing up gourmet dumplings behind their bright red banner. Some favorites include the pork belly, tam tam and Ocean’s Edge varieties. Beyond the taste, we’re also a fan of the sassy dish names: Put a Pork In it; Cowbi and Feeling Crabby.
baotaon.com. All major credit cards will be accepted.
BIG CITY DINER
Make a meal of your summer favorites at this popular neighborhood diner’s booth. They’ll have hot dogs, chili with rice and chili dogs as well as a special guava barbecue pulled pork, baby back ribs, combo plates, fresh pineapple with and without li hing and lemonade. Prices range from $3 to 15.
bigcitydinerhawaii.com. Cash only.
BUTCHER & BIRD
Photo: DAVID CROXFORD
Home base for head butcher Chuck Wakeman is normally Kaka‘ako. But he’s getting the crew on the road for the festival. We’ve yet to learn the exact menu but expect some of the usual savory treats of chicken, ribs and O‘ahu-made sausage in intriguing flavor combinations. Maybe kim chee kielbasa? Or fresh chorizo with jalapeños?
You can tell a company is well-known when the brand drops down to a single word and there’s no confusion. Just Dunkin’ is all you need to satisfy your favorite doughnut fix. We’re hoping to get there in time for the Munchkin doughnut holes, small bites of decadent goodness.
Photo: Courtesy of Gyozilla
You know by the name alone that the food from Gyozilla will be out of the ordinary. Not just everyday gyoza but lamb, okonomiyaki and ninniku (sweet garlic) gyoza; bacon-wrapped mochi as well as the vegetarian garlic noodles and lychee-mint tea. Prices range from sixpieces for $5.75 to $7 and 12 for $10 to $12.
gyozillahnl.com. All major credit cards will be accepted, plus Apple Pay and Android Pay.
HAWAIIAN PIE CO.
We normally have to drive to Kalihi to pick up one of our fruit pie favorites from Hawaiian Pie Co. Pro tip for the festival: Buy the mini pies ($6) to try some of the most popular flavors:—caramel apple, passion pear, pineapple whip and a brand-new flavor, peanut butter chocolate chess debuting at the festival. What better way to console family and friends who couldn’t be there?
hawaiianpieco.com. All major credit cards will be accepted.
Pizza may be the perfect walking-around-outdoors food. Ask anybody who’s lived in New York. Inferno’s is baking up a few of its most popular pies: mushroom, garlic, truffle oil; sopressata (Italian salami); and cheese ($4–5).
ISLAND’S FINEST SHAVE ICE
Cool off with some shave ice with more than 15 flavors, including banana, green tea, guava, liliko‘i, lychee, mango, Melona, pickled mango, piña colada, Ramute (Japanese cider/soda), ume, watermelon and yuzu. Prices are: $5 regular, $7 large, add $1 more for super premium vanilla ice cream. Any other toppings—li hing powder, lychee and mango popping pearls and pop rocks—are free.
Ifshaveice.weebly.com. All major credit cards will be accepted.
You’ve probably seen them at a farmers market and headed over to find out what smelled so good and got a taste of Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine from Istanbul restaurant. Expect pita bread wraps with lamb, Adana kebab steak, organic chicken or vegetarian; kebabs, falafel and hummus plates, and, of course, Turkish delight and tea, with prices ranging from $5 to $14.50. A restaurant opening is planned soon.
Istanbulhawaii.com. All major credit cards will be accepted.
Maybe you forgot to eat breakfast before the festival or plan to dive face first into desserts. Thank yourself in advance with a refreshing smoothie or your favorite bowl at Jamba, then enjoy any other treats guilt-free.
jambajuicehawaii.com. All major credit cards will be accepted.
The customizable crispy beef jerky specialists of Jerky Labs made it outside for this event to celebrate winning a Best of Honolulu award. Mad scientist Puna Kaneakua and the team are showing up with 2-2.5-ounce bags of jerky for $11. They’re debuting the flavor they cooked up for HONOLULU Magazine, hulihuli, regular and spicy; and the special June flavor of hurricane, category 1 and 2. But they’ll also have some of the most popular flavors including: adobo, garlic Parmesan, kim chee, Korean barbecue, lemongrass, maple Sriracha and salt and pepper.
jerkylabshawaii.com. All major credit cards will be accepted.
Cheesy goodness is NOT the proper name of the specialty of Nosh. It’s Brazilian cheese bread, or pão de queijo, priced at two for $5, 50 cents for filling each roll with something sweet such as dulce de leche or savory such as jalapeño popper; frozen bake-at-home bags of six rolls for $10.
noshhawaii.com. All major credit cards will be accepted.
P.F. CHANG’S WAIKĪKĪ
Grab a savory bite to eat from P.F. Chang’s Waikīkī. The eatery is serving up savory: chicken lettuce wraps, vegetarian fried rice and poke bowls.
pfchangshawaii.com. All major credit cards will be accepted.
What better revenge is there than living well? Kathy Masunaga cooks up local ingredients daily in a variety of sweet and savory concoctions, then sells them at markets and events like ours. Sometimes there’s seasonal fruit: lychee, peaches or even mountain apples; sometimes cheese and egg; but it’s always easy to find something to take home as a treat.
TEDDY’S BIGGER BURGERS
You could be at home tending to a hot grill or strolling the grounds of the festival and having the folks at Teddy’s fix a burger, chicken tenders or corn dogs. We’ve heard that beef brisket may debut on the menu.
teddysbb.com. All major credit cards will be accepted.
Whether you’re craving that ube tang or just a big fan of bright purple food, the folks at Ubae are best known for the ube tarts, or the cheesecake, or maybe the ube crinkle cookies, from $4. You decide your own favorite.
‘ULU MANA INC.
Photo: Courtesy of ‘Ulu Mana
Get your ‘ulu fix at least two ways by picking up dishes of the Kalihi-made ‘ulu hummus and buying crunchy chips made from locally grown breadfruit. The brightly colored little tubs (including Bangin’ Beet, Totally Turmeric and Hoppin’ Jalapeño flavors) will be available to mix and match: one for $7, three for $20, five for $30.
ulumanahawaii.com. All major credit cards will be accepted.
UNCLE LANI’S POI MOCHI
There’s something about eating deep-fried food outdoors that just makes it feel like one of those carefree days of summer. Find the Uncle Lani’s Poi Mochi booth for a little lighthearted and tasty time travel for $8 for a dozen. The folks there have been popping up with poi mochi since 1992.
facebook.com/unclelanispoimochi. Cash only.
Join us at for the 2019 Best of Honolulu Festival, Saturday, July 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Honolulu Hale civic grounds, 650 S. King St. Honolulumagazine.com/bestofhonolulu. A portion of the proceeds to benefit aio Foundation / Kahauiki Village.