Favourite Food Discoveries in Hawaii
It’s time for my Top Picks of Yummy Food in Hawaii (The Big Island, and Oahu). And the winners are…
1st Place: The Pig & The Lady, China Town, Honolulu
I visited China Town in Honolulu hoping to find some yummy Asian food. I had just about given up and was about to catch a bus back to Waikiki when I walked past “The Pig & The Lady”. From the outside, it looks like a small café, but when you walk in, it’s an open industrial style bar and restaurant jam-packed with people. Win! I felt immediately at home with a vibe similar to that found in many Melbourne cafes and restaurants.
I was seated at the bar and my lovely waitress/bartender ‘Ariel’ set me up with an IPA from California (Golden Road Point the Way) and gave me some tips of meals to try. So I went with her suggestions… she knows best right? Here’s what lunch had in store for me, and what a lunch it was:
Entrée – Laotian Fried Chicken
with Money Sauce, Peanut, Kaffir Lime, and Herb Salad.
Main – Pho French Dip Bahn Mi
Sandwich with 12hr roasted brisket, stewed beef and tendon from the pho pot, glazed with P&L BBQ sauce, thai basil chimichurri, charred bean sprouts, onion, cilantro. Served with Grandma Le’s family-recipe Pho broth and house pickles.
Dessert – ‘In Love with the Coco Ice’
Coconut water granita ice, citris & lemongrass jellies, frozen mango & compressed watermelon, salted lemon peel, shredded coconut, condensed milk espuma and crystallized ginger almond granola.
This was definitely the best meal I had in Hawaii, and on par with some of the best meals I’ve had anywhere. The atmosphere of the place was modern but relaxed at the same time. The décor was incredibly interesting, with little pieces of the family history. Ariel told me about how the Le Family had created the whole place themselves, and everyone from the family was involved, including the grandma who comes in each morning to make the Pho. It’s definitely worth the trip out of the main strip to check out this place.
2nd Place: Da Poke Shack, Kailua-Kona
A variety of delicious poke from a kiosk on the beach just south of town. Ask for extra seaweedy sprinkle for the topping (not sure what it’s called but it is the bomb!). This was the first place I tried poke, but after many more in Hawaii, this was still the best.
3rd Place: Daylight Mind Coffee Company, Kailua-Kona
The coffee and the setting were enough to bring me back to this place 4 times during my 5 day stay. The food was also excellent, with lots of organic and fresh options (definitely try the fish tacos, and the choc-covered strawberries for a treat). The restaurant deck is right over the water and you can actually see the bright yellow fish swimming around the rocks below. I also attended 2 morning yoga sessions here with Megan, the lovely host of the Airbnb place I stayed in. Definitely worth a visit or two.
4th Place: Marukame Udon, Waikiki
Delicious house-made udon noodles and Japanese fried goodies. You need to go early to this place unless you don’t mind standing in a queue for a long time. Best noodles I’ve ever had – hands down! I loved this place, not only for it’s delicious food, but also for the loud, extremely contagious laughter coming from the staff in the kitchen.
5th Place: Kai Coffee Hawaii & the little kiosk opposite it, Waikiki
These two little stores are in the Hyatt Regency Hotel building with a waterfall between them. Kai Coffee Hawaii had the best coffee I had in Hawaii – 12hr cold brew! And the kiosk opposite had delicious Acai Bowls with Fruit. These were definitely my morning favourites in Waikiki. Perfect way to start the day.
6th Place: Lulu’s, Waikiki
Definitely go the Surf & Turf, and don’t forget one of the delicious Lulu’s Lava Flow cocktails. There is also plates of nachos the size of a house! If you’re lucky enough to make friends with a local who has an industry card, then it’s half price on Mondays (woot woot), and after dinner they clear out the tables and it turns into a full-blown dance-floor.