Hawaii Food Diary | What to Eat in Oahu!

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From hot Portuguese doughnuts to fresh sashimi poke and alllll of the acai bowls, there’s so much more to Hawaii than just beaches and palm trees (although, they’re spectacular too!)

I’ve travelled to some amazing places in the world but Hawaii is absolutely one of my favourites. From the turquoise blue water to the breathtaking hikes, incredible food and greetings of Aloha! everywhere we went, I fell in love with this isolated island paradise during my first trip in July 2016 and couldn’t wait to get back!

As a melting pot of culinary influences from across the globe, Hawaiian food today can very much be considered a fusion of Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Chinese, Portuguese and of course, Polynesian cuisine. Additionally, Hawaii’s plentiful farms produce some of the freshest and most delicious fruits and vegetables (I’m looking at you Hawaiian pineapple) making Oahu an incredible destination for food and beach-lovers alike.

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Must Try’s

If you’re travelling to Oahu, my must-try’s are:

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Scratch Kitchen & Meatery

IMG_0707Haupia Creme Brulee French Toast (USD $12)

A great spot for American-sized portions of sweet breakfast items including the milk n’ cereal pancakes and haupia (coconut) creme brulee french toast, as well as brunch items less commonly found in Oahu such as shakshuka.

Recommended Dishes: Haupia coconut creme brulee french toast

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Scratch Kitchen & Meatery
1170 Auahi Street, Honolulu

Koko Head Cafe

IMG_1112Top to bottom: Hawaiian Style Pancakes with papaya, pineapple, banana and toasted coconut (USD $14); Breakfast Congee with bacon, Portuguese sausage, heritage ham, poached egg, cheddar cheese, scallions and cinnamon-bacon croutons (USD $12)

What’s better than brunch? Boozy brunch! Uniquely Hawaiian, this Pan-Asian diner with bright red booths and retro surfboards on the walls draws inspiration from across the world. You’ll find soft and fluffy Hawaiian pancakes with tropical fruits alongside dumplings ‘all day wong’ and breakfast congee, which was quite bland on its own but delicious and hearty together with all the savoury toppings and a touch of sweetness from the cinnamon bacon croutons. And, if you’re looking for the perfect accompaniment to your kimchi bacon scone, then KHC offers a delightful range of breakfast cocktails including their twist on a Bloody Mary with wasabi yuzu.

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Koko Head Cafe
1145c 12th Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Heavenly Island Lifestyle

Big Island Honey French Toast with locally made sweet bread, Hawaiian vanilla beans, mixed berries and whipped cream (USD $15)

Heavenly Island Lifestyle is centred around beautiful, organic food made with local ingredients. Located just off the main strip in Waikiki, Heavenly offers lots of wholesome options packed with veggies for the health conscious as well as honey french toast and Hawaiian ginger creme brulee for those not so inclined.

Recommendations: If you’re hungry go for Hawaii’s answer to the big breakfast — the ‘Local Eggs Flat Omelette’ made with three eggs and a variety of organic and local ingredients, served with taro and wheat muffins. A lighter option is the amazing acai bowl with fresh fruit, and if you’re in the mood for something sweet, don’t go past the ‘Big Island Honey French Toast’.

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Heavenly Island Lifestyle
342 Seaside Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815

The Beet Box Cafe

‘Rio’ Acai Bowl with bananas, strawberries & blueberries, blended with apple juice and topped with house-made gluten free granola, bananas, papaya, strawberries, blueberries & a drizzle of honey (USD $9)

In the north shore of Oahu, you’ll be hard pressed to find a bad acai bowl. The Beet Box Cafe serves 5 different bowls alongside various vegetarian and organic menu items. Blended with enough fruit for the perfect consistency while still showcasing real acai flavour, this is a generous, wholesome breakfast to kickstart a day of exploring.

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

The Beet Box Cafe
66-437 Kamehameha Hwy #104, Haleiwa, HI 96712

Bills Hawaii

Tea smoked salmon, cream cheese, dill, pea shoots, edamame and toasted rye (USD $13)

If you’re craving a Sydney breakfast, then Bills is the obvious choice. In a double storey building, which is grand in size but laidback in vibe, it’s a breezy spot for their famous ricotta hotcakes with banana and honeycomb butter or a slice of sourdough with vegemite.

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Bills Hawaii
280 Beachwalk Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA

Ars Cafe Gallery

Mushroom toast with gorgonzola, honey and balsamic (USD $8.50)

Fashioned like an old century English bar featuring rich wood tones and brass pendant lights, Ars Cafe Gallery is a unique and beautiful spot to unwind after hiking Diamond Head. Take a couple of steps beyond the homemade gelato counter and experience a stark change in decor, where dining tables and chairs are surrounded by a gallery of artworks.

Recommended Dishes: Mushroom toast with gorgonzola, honey and balsamic.

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Ars Cafe Gallery
3116 Monsarrat Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA


“Poke” bowls reached Australian shores not long after my first trip to Hawaii a couple of years ago. Topped with a rainbow of ingredients, I often find that the sashimi itself becomes lost in the mix. In Hawaii, poke bowls are stripped back so that the fish (commonly local Ahi tuna) is centre stage, accentuated only by its marinade and seasonings, served on a bed of rice.

Ono Seafood
IMG_0563Top to Bottom: Shoyu Ahi ($10 regular size); Hawaiian Style Ahi ($10 regular size)

Ono Seafood is a no-frills, hole-in-the-wall destination at the back of a small carpark. Serving only 8 menu items featuring ahi tuna or tako (octopus) with an array of marinades, including Ono’s secret shoyu with limu (algae), kukui (Hawaiian nut), chilli and sesame oil.

Overall Rating: ★★★★★ (must try!)

Ono Seafood Products
747 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu

Maguro Brothers
IMG_0813.jpgShoyu Onion Ahi Poke Bowl (Medium size $8.50)

Located within Kekaulike Market in Honolulu’s Chinatown, Maguro Brothers offers a more extensive menu of grilled fish over rice, sushi bowls with a rainbow assortment of sliced sashimi over sushi rice, and of course, poke! This is an excellent spot for truly fresh Hawaiian fish dishes.

Overall Rating: ★★★★★ (must try!)

Maguro Brothers
Kekaulike Market, 1039 Kekaulike St #113, Honolulu

Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck

‘Shrimp Scampi’ garlic and lemon shrimp (Plate of 1 dozen USD $14)

One of my favourite things to eat, FULL STOP, Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck is a tourist hot spot that you must visit. For $14 the ‘Shrimp Scampi’ plate gets you 12 jumbo shrimp marinated in olive oil, chopped garlic and lemon butter, served with two scoops of rice, all drizzled with a heavenly garlic lemon butter, and chunks of caramelised garlic. I love this place so much I bought a t-shirt 😅

Overall Rating: ★★★★★ (must-try!)

Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck
66-472 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712, USA


Mahina & Sun’s

IMG_0935IMG_0937IMG_0976Top to bottom: Tofu & Grains’ with quinoa, zucchini, tatsoi, asparagus, walnut, soy aioli (USD $24); Kunoa Striploin with potato, ali’i mushroom, long bean, fennel, tomato mojo (USD $38); Dark Chocolate Butter Mochi with black sesame gelato and local jam (USD $9)

Surprisingly refined modern Hawaiian food served poolside at the Surfjack Hotel in Waikiki. Swing to the mellow sounds of acoustic live music as you sample dishes by local chef Ed Kenney, who’s known as one of Hawaii’s largest advocates of “ocean-friendly seafood sourcing”. For the best experience I’d recommend asking for a table by the pool! For food, order the town ahi tuna tartare, the pork ragu rigatoni, the ahi palaha with 12 grain rice salad and definitely the dark chocolate butter mochi for dessert.

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Mahina & Sun’s @The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club
412 Lewers St. Honolulu, HI 96815

Pig & The Lady

Top to bottom: ‘Unnatural’ Cocktail with cognac, coconut, thai tea, milk, caramel, bitters (USD $12); Banana Blossom Salad with tofu, bean sprouts, mint, persimmon, roasted peanut-hoisin dressing, XL rice chip (USD $13); Ahi Tataki on Tomato Toast with JPR’s shoyu garlic, avocado, chives (USD $12 for two)

For Sydneysiders, The Pig & the Lady is Oahu’s version of Chin Chin or Ms G’s. A modern and exciting fusion of Vietnamese and Hawaiian cuisine, this was without a doubt one of my favourite dinner spots during the trip. I mean, there’s a Thai milk tea cocktail and if that’s not magic then I don’t know what is. I’d also highly recommend the heavenly ahi tataki on tomato toast — a high voltage burst of flavour and texture, the steamed kona kanpachi with velvety brown butter herb sauce, and the fragrant grilled lamb and wild betel leaf sausage.

Overall Rating: ★★★★★ (must-try!)

The Pig & The Lady
83 N King St, Honolulu, HI 96817, USA

Duke’s Barefoot Bar

Cajun Fish Tacos; flour tortillas, tomatillo sauce, guacamole, pico de gallo, fresh tortilla chips (2 for $19.50)

Absolutely touristy and locals will likely disagree, however, for me, a trip to Oahu is not complete without a visit to Duke’s Barefoot Bar. Right on the sandy shores of Waikiki Beach, this is an easygoing spot to take in the island vibes with a cocktail in hand. Get there early (around 5 pm) to catch a table in the Barefoot Bar (note: separate from the Duke’s dining area) for sunset. Enjoy one of their famous ‘lava flow’ cocktails — a sweet concoction of rum blended with pineapple juice and coconut with a “strawberry eruption”, or a frozen coconut mojito. I’d also highly recommend ordering the delicious cajun fish tacos!

Overall Rating: ★★★★★ (must-try!)

Duke’s Waikiki (Barefoot Bar) @ Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort
2335 Kalakaua Ave #116, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA

poke bowls

Leonard’s BakeryIMG_0587Hot Masaladas! (6 for $7.50)

Up there in my top 5 things to eat in Oahu. Leonard’s Bakery specialises in fried Portugese doughnuts, i.e. ‘masaladas’ dusted in original, cinnamon or sweet and sour sugar (inspired by Cantonese dried plums). As they’re fried fresh to order, you can expect a short wait, however, this means piping hot masaladas everytime! (No really… be careful not to burn your fingers!) I’d highly recommend eating them on the spot or at least on the same day as these babies lose all of their magic once left out overnight.

Overall Rating: ★★★★★ (must try!)

Leonard’s Bakery
933 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu

Nana’s Green Tea

Warabimochi Parfait (USD $8.90)

Located in Waikiki Yokocho, a Japanese food alley containing 14 different restaurants specialising in everything from sushi and to ramen and okonomiyaki, Nana’s Green Tea is a must-visit destination for all things matcha! If you’re not sure what to choose, get the amazing warabimochi parfait which features pillow soft cubes of mochi coated in kinako (sweet toasted soybean powder).

Overall Rating: ★★★★★ (must try!)

Nana’s Green Tea
2250 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA

Wing Ice Cream Parlor

Left to Right: Pineapple & Thai Basil Sorbet; Smoked Soy

Another gem tucked away in Honolulu’s Chinatown, Wing Ice Cream Parlor serves some of the most interesting and inventive homemade flavours along with shave ice. The sorbet consistency was a little icy, however, I couldn’t resist their punchy and unique flavours. I’d recommend the smoked soy, which had an incredibly salty/sweet umami flavour and also the ‘tom kha’ inspired by the Thai soup, flavoured with galangal, lemongrass and coconut.

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Wing Ice Cream Parlor
1145 Maunakea St #4 (entrance on, N Pauahi St), Honolulu

Banán Food Truck

Acai soft serve in a papaya boat with coconut flakes and fresh strawberries (~USD $8)

Award for the prettiest acai on the island goes to Banán which turns local bananas into flavoured soft serves including acai, chocolate mac and pumpkin almond spice! Naturally, the acai blend was banana heavy, which isn’t my favourite but I’d definitely come back to try one of the other flavours!

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Banán Food Truck
3212 Monsarrat Ave Honolulu, HI 96815

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this blog post and it was useful to you if you are planning a trip to Oahu 🙂 

Let’s connect! For the love of all things food, follow me on Instagram @eatswithmarie

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