When visiting the islands of Hawaii, you have that remarkable opportunity to savor wonderful fresh produce, such as macadamia nuts, papayas, onions, breadfruit, hearts of palm, guava, and taro. Coffee's grown here, so coffee lovers, get ready for paradise! "Plate lunches," akin to the bento boxes from Japan, typically offer rice, a "mac salad," and a meat entree, such as seafood, beef teriyaki, or kalua pork. Honolulu has a thriving China Town, which could be more precisely referred to as "Asia Town." (There are numerous Asian cultures including China represented here!) Sweets include pastries such as manju, and shaved ice with flavored syrup are a "must try" on a hot day!
Popular Restaurants in Honolulu:
Chai's Island Bistro: Aloha Tower Marketplace, 1 Aloha Tower Drive. (808) 585-0011. Seafood shines here: Think crispy soft shell crab croissant sandwich, lobster ravioli, grilled fresh mahimahi with Thai red curry sauce and crispy whole snapper with sun-dried tomato citrus beurre blanc. Dine indoors or on the open-air lanai, where people-watching is a fun part of the experience. Also serves dinner with live entertainment by big local names such as the Makaha Sons, Brothers Cazimero, Hapa and Amy Hanaialii Gilliom.
Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant
: Aloha Tower Marketplace, 1 Aloha Tower Drive; (808) 599-4877; www.gordonbiersch.com/locations/honolulu-hi
. With a pierside location, Gordon Biersch offers salads, sandwiches, pizzas and pastas all washed down with German-style lagers brewed on site. Not to be missed: hummus and goat cheese salad with salmon served over warm herb flatbread with dunkles vinaigrette; barbecue chicken and mozzarella with marzen barbecue sauce pizza; beer battered fish and chips with malt minegar and spicy remoulade, and garlic fries. Also serves dinner.
In Downtown Honolulu
Note: Be aware that some of these establishments are only open on weekdays; call ahead before going.
Cafe Laniakea, YWCA Laniakea, 1040 Richards Street. (808) 524-8789. The prices won't make your wallet scream as nothing is over $20.00, and the food is top-shelf. Consider the marinated beet and fuji apple salad, ahi fried rice, and grilled chicken breast with gorgonzola cheese and clover honey when contemplating how to quell the rumble in your tummy. It's located in the historic YWCA building, which dates back to 1927. Hours: 11:00-14:00 Mon-Fri.
Indigo Eurasian Cuisine
: 1121 Nuuanu Avenue. (808) 521-2900. http://www.indigo-hawaii.com/
. Lunch: 11:30 am-2 pm Tue-Fri; Dinner: 6 pm-9 pm Tue-Thu, 6 pm-10 pm Fri-Sat; Bar: 5 pm-Midnight Tue, 5 pm-1:30 am Wed-Sat; Closed Sun and Mon. Indigo is situated between historic Chinatown and modern Honolulu. The interior is exquisitely decorated with hand-carved Indonesian wood panels, paper lanterns, and rattan and bamboo furnishings and the cuisine is a signature blend of modern Asian, French and Mediterranean. The seasonal lunch buffet is one of Honolulu's healthiest and most flavorful lunch options available, offers over 20 items ranging from fresh salads, roasted vegetables and meats, assorted breads, pitas, and pizzas. At $15.95 per person, the buffet turns out to be a favorite choice for many. If a buffet seems a bit much, you can stay on the lighter side and have creations like goat cheese wontons with a four fruit sauce, roasted tomato garlic blue crab soup with cilantro. Dinner served also. Reservations suggested.
Legend Seafood Restaurant
, 100 North Beretania Street. (808) 532-1868. www.legendseafoodhonolulu.com/.http://www.legendseafoodhonolulu.com/
Although you can order off the menu, this popular Chinese eatery is known for its dim sum, which loyal customers tout is good as what you'd find in Hong Kong. Servers roll carts filled with steamed, baked, fried and roasted delicacies by your table, and you select whatever appeals to you. A dainty custard tart or chewy black sugar gin doi (doughnut) always ends the meal on a satisfying note. Also serves dinner. Open Weekdays: Dim Sum Served 10:30am-2pm, 5:30pm-9pm, Weekends 8am-2pm; Dinner nightly: 5:30pm-9pm
, Pacific Beach Hotel, 2490 Kalakaua Avenue. (808) 922-1233. www.pacificbeachhotel.com/dining/oceanarium
. Be prepared for an exciting time at the Ocenarium with its three-story, 280,000-gallon aquarium that's home to more than 70 species of tropical marine life, including black-tip reef sharks, spotted eagle rays, ulua (crevalle) and wrasses. The fish are fed by a diver daily at noon and 1 p.m. and 6:30 and 8:15 p.m.; an additional feeding is at 10:45 a.m. on Sunday. The buffets come recommended for selection and price, but if your time allows, a real treat is the Sunday brunch, which offers a seafood bar, prime rib seasoned with Hawaiian salt, made-to-order omelettes, Belgian waffles and more selection that there is room to list. Serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.