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This small sushi bar is a favorite of locals, offering amazingly fresh sashimi and interesting cooked dishes at reasonable prices. But more important, it's BYOB here, so you can bond with the gregarious owner-chef, Morio, by sharing what you're drinking. If you're able to get a reservation here, then count yourself lucky; most seats at the bar require a month's notice, but you may be able to get table seating. For a special treat, order the omakase (chef's choice) at the time of reservation. They offer two seatings: at 6 pm and 8:30 pm. Reservations essential. Closed Sun. No lunch.
Located in the heart of the financial district, Murphy's boasts an All-American menu of award-winning burgers and steaks without that Waikiki price tag. The restaurant has been featured on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the Food Network as a place that specializes in comfort food for the weary traveler. The Blarney Burger with Guinness-infused cheddar cheese is a must. murphyshawaii.com. Credit cards accepted.
Iron Chef Morimoto of Food Network fame is a big part of the dining scene in Honolulu. The menu is made up primarily of sushi and cooked seafood, with a couple of expensive cuts of steak thrown in as well as a wide selection of appetizers, all heavily weighted toward seafood. If you're adventurous, try the omakase (chef's choice) menu, which changes daily. Try the tofu, which is made fresh right at your table. You can choose to sit at the sushi bar, the regular bar, or at a table, but try to get a seat outside, as the room gets pretty noisy. This has become a popular spot for brunch, as well, with a view overlooking the yacht harbor. morimotowaikiki.com. Credit cards accepted.
This microscopic sushi bar (15 seats) is an adjunct of a wholesale seafood market operated by gregarious South African expatriate Douglas Mitchell, who oversees the sushi chefs and keeps customers chatting. The fish, air-freighted from around the world, is ultrafresh, well cut, and nicely presented. You can spend as much or as little as you like—$40 for a half-dozen pieces of prime bluefin tuna belly, or just a few dollars for pickled plum sushi. www.mitchsushi.com. Reservations essential. Credit cards accepted.
With its wide-open windows so close to the water that you literally feel the soft mist at high tide, this is arguably the most romantic spot in Waikiki for a sunset dinner for two. Venerable Michel's is synonymous with fine dining in the minds of Oahuans who have been coming here for more than 40 years. The menu is très, très French with both classic choices (escargot, foie gras) and contemporary items (Hardy's Hawaiian Bouillabaisse—named after the chef who created a Hawaiian twist on a French classic). There's dinner nightly and Sunday brunch. michelshawaii.com. Reservations essential. Credit cards accepted. No lunch.
In contrast to the sprawling and noisy halls in which dim sum is generally served, Mei Sum is compact and shiny bright. It's open daily, one of the few places that serves dim sum from 7:45 am all the way to 9 pm. Be ready to guess and point at the color photos of dim sum favorites as not much English is spoken, but the delicate buns and tasty bits are exceptionally well prepared and worth the charades. Other menu items and specials are also served.
Yes, the popovers and the wee little cups of bouillon are there at lunch, but in every other regard, this Neiman Marcus restaurant menu departs from the classic model, incorporating a clear sense of Pacific place. The veranda, open to the breezes and view of Ala Moana Park, twirling ceiling fans, and life-size hula-girl murals say Hawaii. The popovers at lunch come with a strawberty-butter spread; the kurobuta porkchop is inspired, and local fish are featured nightly in luxuriant specials. Make sure to leave room for the warm lilikoi pudding cake for dessert. www.neimanmarcushawaii.com/restaurant.aspx. Reservations essential. Credit cards accepted.
Unassuming and budget-friendly, Little Village sets a standard of friendly and attentive service to which every Chinese restaurant should aspire. We have roamed the large, pan-China menu and found a new favorite in everything we've tried: shredded beef, spinach with garlic, Shanghai noodles, honey-walnut shrimp, orange chicken, dried green beans. Two words: go there. Reservations are accepted for parties of five or more. Two hours of free parking is available in the parking lot immediately to the right of the restaurant. littlevillagehawaii.com. Credit cards accepted.
The buffet restaurant at Disney's Aulani resort offers a wide variety of locally produced items, as well as familiar dishes from stateside and the rest of the world. A chef walking the line can explain the various dishes, which always include sustainable Hawaiian seafood and Asian selections. You'll also always find famliar grilled meats and vegetables, in addition to a kids' menu. If you have children, plan months in advance to get a reservation for the Character Breakfast, as it's only offered on select days and is always sold out. An a la carte menu is also available. Arrive early for dinner and have a drink at the adjacent Olelo Room, where the staff are fluent in Hawaiian; you can get a language lesson along with your libation. resorts.disney.go.com. Reservations essential.
Do as the locals do: start your visit to Chinatown with breakfast dim sum at Legend. If you want to be able to hear yourself think, get there before 9 am, especially on weekends. And don't be shy: use your best cab-hailing technique and sign language to make the cart ladies stop at your table and show you their wares. The pork-filled steamed buns, hearty spare ribs, prawn dumplings, and still-warm custard tarts are excellent pre-shopping fortification. www.legendseafoodhonolulu.com. Credit cards accepted.
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