Fine Food in Honolulu, Hawaii: A Sampler
On a recent too-short visit to Honolulu for a dance competition I decided that the best use of my few free dining opportunities would be to visit some of Honolulu's most highly recommended restaurants in and near the neighbourhood of Waikiki. My picks for dinner were La Mer at the Halekulani Hotel and the Beachhouse at the Moana Surfrider, both a short walk from the Sheraton Waikiki which was the host hotel for the competition; and Hoku's at the Kahala Hotel and Resort, a short taxi-ride away. I also managed to enjoy a lunch at the Surf Lanai at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. The links in this post will take you to my review for each restaurant.
My choice for the first free evening was the elegant Five Diamond La Mer restaurant at the Halekulani Hotel, a short walk from the Sheraton where we were staying. We sat at a window table, listening to Hawaiian music on the outdoor stage below and enjoyed an excellent dinner.
For my second dining opportunity, I made a reservation at Hoku restaurant at the Kahala Hotel and Resort about a twenty minute taxi ride from the Sheraton.
On a previous visit to Honolulu, while staying at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, I lunched on the beachside patio restaurant, the Surf Lanai. I loved the fire-grilled Wafu steak salad that I had there and it became my standard for comparing other steak salads. So when I went for lunch with friends at the Surf Lanai, that's what I ordered and yes, it was as good as I remembered. Served on a bed of romaine lettuce and watercress, the New York striploin (which I order medium-rare) is accompanied by avocado, heirloom tomatoes and crispy shallots, tossed in a horseradish-ginger vinaigrette. Delish!
The last evening dining opportunity I had was at the Beachhouse restaurant at the Moana Surfrider.
We sat at an table out on the patio and were treated to a spectacular sunset, and music from the stage in the garden area below. It was a pleasantly warm night and another meal of fine Hawaiian cuisine.
One of the interesting things I learned was that dining at any one of the Starwood properties in Honolulu, you could actually charge your restaurant bill to your hotel room. So that my dinner at the Beachhouse restaurant at Moana Surfrider (a Westin Resort) or lunch at the Surf Lanai at the Royal Hawaiian (The Luxury Collection) could all be charged to my hotel room at the Sheraton Waikiki.
I also learned something about local fish. At La Mer I ate Monchong, a deepwater fish of the pomfret species. The firm textured flesh is transparent white with pinkish shades. At Hoku's I was a bit confused by the sashimi platter terms hamachi which to me has always meant yellowtail, and kampachi, which I was told was also yellowtail. So I did some research and made myself a little primer of useful words for future dining which I hope you will also find useful.
My three dinners and one lunch were all very satisfying. There are so many more places to try, I will hopefully be back in sunny Hawaii in the near future.