Oahu Good Eats

Even though we had three amazing and delicious sit-down dinners, I feel like some of the best eats we had were from little stops all over the island of Oahu. Often times, it is these little stops along the way that makes the trips more fun and exciting. It’s also these little stops that offer the most authentic, Hawaiian island feel.

Our first full day on Oahu took us away from city and along the coast line up to the North Shore. We made our first top at the Dole Plantation, where we stopped for some light souvenir shopping (Dole’s pineapple macadamia nut cookies are by far, the best) and Dole Whip! Every single time we’ve been on the island, we’ve had Dole Whip. It is just that good! I’ve had the Dole Whip at Disney and my cousin has had the Dole Whip at Leonard’s but none of them compare to the one at the Dole Plantation. The whip is creamy and sweet – not overly tart at all. Most people write off the Dole Plantation as a tourist trap but we will always make a stop for the Dole Whip.

IMG_7768

Along the way back from visiting the North Shore, we hit up the famous shrimp trucks. I’ve had Fumi’s and my cousin has had Romy’s – we both agree that Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck is the best. The shrimp is de-veined and headless – perfect for eating. All the shrimps are pretty much the same size and you get a heaping portion of rice with garlic sauce with each order. The garlic is definitely the strongest here – you’ll smell it in your car for days! Be sure to get a side of their mac salad, it’s pretty darn good to go with the delicious Shrimp Scampi.

IMG_7781

Dinner that same night was a hurried stop at Pa’ina’s Café for some delicious poke. They close at 6pm on weekends so we had to rush back from the North Shore to pick up some poke bowls. We ran in at 5:45pm and managed to order their Ahi Tuna Crunch Poke Bowl (XL). The portion sizes are unreal – the amount of ahi tuna inside my poke bowl was so generous that two of us couldn’t even finish it. The ahi was super fresh and tasted oh-so-good. Be warned though – the crunchies can get soft if you don’t eat the poke bowl right away.

IMG_7780

Another hidden gem that I absolutely love is Nisshodo Mochiya, which my cousin introduced us to the first time we visited Oahu. It’s located inside a warehouse and you literally cannot find it unless you have a GPS or someone to show you. Nisshodo sells homemade mochi products, but my favorite is their Chi Chi Dango, small pieces of plain mochi that are squishy, soft, and just a little sweet. They’re super affordable and very easy to just gobble down an entire pound.

IMG_7753

I don’t have a picture of this – because I keep gobbling them down before I take a picture, but the Poi Doughnuts at Kamehameha Bakery are literally one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. It doesn’t taste like taro at all – it just tastes like sweet, pillowy heaven. The doughnuts are so soft – even after a 10 hour plane ride back to NYC.

Jump into your car and venture off into the tiny pit stops along the road – they have the best eats and the most authentic Oahu feel. While I love a sit-down meal with waiter service – I also really love discovering delicious, cheap eats.

Seamore’s

When I first heard about Seamore’s, I knew I had to eat there! Fresh seafood is one of my favorite things in life so it really was a no-brainer for me. I bookmarked them the day they opened but it wasn’t until about two weeks later that I got to try them out. After a much needed spa day (facials and a manicure) in Chinatown, I offered to treat my mom to dinner at Seamore’s. We rolled in at 6:30 and were quoted an hour wait time. So we put our names down and went in search for a coffee shop still open at that time. No more than 25 minutes later, I got a text saying a table was ready.
We were seated in their huge and airy dining room – they had opened up all the windows to let the breeze in. Our waitress greeted us right away and explained the menu to us. Seamore’s sources locally so their fish comes from anywhere between New York and Maine. They have about three to four fish options every day. These options are never kept for longer than 24 hours at a time so they’re super fresh. Each day they have a little wood board that tells you the options for the day.
IMG_8194
We opted to start off with the Poke ($13.00) with ponzu, peanut, and avocado. The fish of the day for the Poke was Tuna, which is pretty standard. If I’m in Hawaii, I actually prefer the Salmon Poke, but I like tuna as well since it’s the more traditional fish. The poke was fresh and tasty – it’s definitely not the standard shoyu poke from Hawaii but it’s a very good interpretation.
IMG_8195
We decided to split two different dishes as entrées so we could try something new. First we had the Seared Seasonal Fish Tacos ($15.00), which comes with two huge corn tortillas topped with black bean sauce, lettuce, pico, avocado, and crema. The fish of the day for the Seared Tacos was a yellowtail flounder, which was amazing. The flounder was so tender and soft – it practically melted in our mouths. The combination of fish juice, pico and crema made the dish a bit sloppy to eat but I highly recommend it – the flavor is amazing.
IMG_8197
We also split the Reel Deal ($21.00), which is their signature entrée. You choose a fish of the day and a sauce. The dish comes served in a bowl with three of their daily sides. On the day we visited, we had warm quinoa salad, roasted summer squash and collard greens. We opted to go with the Monkfish with Miso Brown Butter Sauce. The Monkfish was very tender and fresh – also very filling. The miso brown butter was very tasty – there was a hint of miso and lots of buttery goodness. I would definitely dip my lobster in this!
IMG_8200
Even though we were quite full from our entrées, we always have room for dessert! Seamore’s makes it simple by only offering one dessert option – Kaffir Lime Soft Serve from OddFellows. The only options you have are (1) Coconut Granola Topping and (2) cone or cup. We opted for the coconut topping and cones. The soft service was very tasty – just a bit tart and very refreshing after a savory meal.
IMG_8201
Service was great throughout the meal – our waitress was very attentive and really helped make our first time at Seamore’s effortless. The tables are closely packed together and the music is also quite loud in the high-ceiling dining room so I wouldn’t recommend them for a first date. Their tables are very group friendly, however, so grab some friends and check them out!

Hawaii Edition Pt. 3 – Alan Wong’s Restaurant

Since we opted out of a luau (we’re been to two already) and probably saved around $300, we decided to splurge a little bit and enjoy a fancy dinner out instead. After a lot of research, I settled on Alan Wong’s Restaurant, Gold winner of Honolulu Magazine’s Hale ‘Aina Award for Best Oahu Restaurant. I tried to make reservations on OpenTable about three weeks in advance but was only able to snag a 7:45pm reservation. A bit late for our standards since we were running on East Coast time, but it’ll have to do.

The location of the restaurant is a bit weird and out of place – it’s on the 3rdfloor of an office building in a not-so-nice part of town. It’s definitely not in the Waikiki tourist area. We arrived about 15 minutes early but they seated us right away. The drink menu was provided on an iPad and the food menu was provided in the traditional paper version. I liked this because I could tap around on the iPad to read drink descriptions.

We all decided to do the “A Tasting of the Classics” tasting menu at $85.00 a person.  A bit pricey, but you definitely get a lot of food with the tasting menu. I don’t think we would’ve gotten to try as many items if we ordered a la carte.

Our two appetizer courses arrived together on one plate. On the left is the Chopped Ahi Sashimi and Avocado Salsa Stack, served on top of crispy won ton flakes with spicy aioli and wasabi soy sauce. On the right is the “Soup and Sandwich”. The Chilled Vine Ripened Tomato Soup is served in a martini glass, designed to be sipped with each bite of the Grilled Cheese, which is made out of Hawai’I Island Goat Diary Mozzarella Cheese, Foie Gras, and Kalua Pig. I thoroughly enjoyed both appetizers but I think the grilled cheese was my favorite. The sandwich was savory and so scrumptious.

IMG_8032

Our first entrée course was the Butter Poached Kona Cold Lobster served on top of Keahole Abalone, Eryngii Mushrooms, and Green Onion Oil. The lobster was poached to perfection and the abalone was very tasty. As a Chinese person, I can attest to how much we love our abalone! My favorite, though, was the green onion oil. It was very fragrant and flavorful without overpowering the lobster.

IMG_8033

Our second entrée course was the Ginger Crusted Onaga, or Long-Tail Red Snapper. The snapper was served on top of a Miso Sesame Vinaigrette, Mushrooms, and Corn. I really enjoyed the miso sesame vinaigrette along with the corn. I didn’t care much for the ginger, which I thought was a bit strong, but I enjoyed the dish. I think I like Orchids Red Snapper dish better, but this one was quite good as well.

IMG_8034

Our third and last entrée course was an uphill battle. By now, we were all pretty full. It doesn’t sound like a lot of food since most of the courses are smaller versions, but it gets very filling, very fast. The Twice Cooked Short Ribs, Braised in Soy and Grilled “Kalbi” Style was a very impressive dish. It is served with a dash of kochujang sauce on the side and with a gingered shrimp. The shrimp was sweet and the short ribs were savory. It was a nice contrast. The short ribs were very tender and barely required any chewing on our parts. I think I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more if I wasn’t so full!

IMG_8035

Our dessert was their signature, The Coconut. It features coconut sorbet in a chocolate shell served with tropical fruits and lilikoi, or passionfruit, sauce. Even though I was filled to the brim, I somehow managed to devour this dessert. That’s how good it was! It also attests to how light and refreshing this dessert is because I still have no idea how I finished all the sorbet and fruit.

IMG_7943

Service was impeccable. Our waiter was always checking up on us after every course was presented (most of the time someone else brought our dishes over). He also made sure to ask us if we had any dietary restrictions or allergies before we started our meal. The supporting wait staff was also very on point – our dishes were always cleared quickly after we finished and utensils were replaced in a timely manner.  Besides the slightly out-of-the-way location, I can’t fault my dinner at Alan Wong’s at all.