It’s finally vacation time and you have some days to yourself. Whoo-hoo! Perhaps you’re making pit stop for a few days in Hawaii en route to a farther off destination. Or, maybe you have only a few days on this quick get away and want to make the most of it. Whatever the reason that brings you to Oahu, you’re bound to have a great time. Sitting by the pool or baking on the beach are options, but this short series will give you reason to leave the hotel and do some easy exploring all while getting a taste of local flavors beyond a fast food plate lunch. This first installment is all about casual and quick eating options that won’t break the bank because we all need to eat, right? Let’s get going.
933 Kapahulu Ave/Honolulu, HI
Like doughnuts? Of course you do so you’re going to love malasadas. Similar to a doughnut but much lighter in texture, malasadas are like puffy fried pillows of dough rolled in a cinnamon sugar (or plain sugar), a Portuguese treat. They can also be enjoyed with a custard filling but I prefer mine unfilled with cinnamon sugar. As far as I’m concerned, the ONLY place to get a malasada is Leonard’s where they are fried to order and piping hot since 1952. This place doesn’t mess with success. Get in there!
Marukame Udon and Tempura
2310 Kuhio Ave, Suite 124/Honolulu, HI
This place was recommended to us by a local. Therefore, we wasted no time getting there especially since it was walking distance from our hotel. The noodles are made fresh on site and if you’re lucky, you just might get a glimpse of the action. My favorite was the kamaage udon which is served with a savory and flavorful hot dipping sauce (below). The tempura is also good, but it was the udon that kept me coming back. Be prepared to wait in line but fear not, it moves rather quick. Cafeteria style service keeps diners flowing in and out and the line manageable. Expect to wait between 20-30 minutes during peak meal times.
Waiola Shave Ice
3113 Mokihana St/Honolulu HI
No trip to Hawaii is complete without shave ice. Everyone has their favorite spot. My shave ice shack of choice is Waiola (above) for their super fine ice texture and tasty syrups. I always get the lilikoi, plain with no azuki beans. There are other options of azuki bean bowls with sweetened condensed milk topped with shave ice but I like to keep mine simple. After a hike up Diamond Head reward yourself with a refreshingly cool treat here.
Matsumoto Shave Ice
66-087 Kamehameha Hwy/Haleiwa HI
If you happen to be on the North Shore side and want to experience the most popular shave ice spot, head to Matsumoto’s on the main drag. You can’t miss it. It’s the only place with a line of tourists. Back in the day, if you asked me about Matsumoto’s, I would have been far more enthusiastic as I felt the quality was better. This last trip left a lot to be desired. I had ice chunks in my cone and they were stingy with the syrup. One scoop in and I could see white ice and taste the familiar flavor of… water.
Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream
1010 University Avenue/Honolulu, HI
By now, most everyone knows what mochi ice cream is and local favorite Bubbies is the place to get your fix. With 20 flavors to choose from as well as regular ice cream and desserts, there’s something for everyone. If you’re a first timer, hopefully you have traveling companions because a platter of 12 makes for a great way to experience a variety of flavors. If you’re going on a weekend during peak dessert time, you will be waiting in line. This is a small shop but the line moves at a decent rate provided there is not somebody hemming and hawing over what to get once it’s their turn.
Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck
66-472 Kamehameha Hwy/Haleiwa, HI
Break out the wet naps ’cause you’re going to need ‘em. Find your way to this popular shrimp truck across the golden arches, the white one with a ton of black marker writing on it. The menu is limited (in a good way) and the servings are large. I had the garlic butter laden shrimp scampi half order (below) and that was plenty for me. If you’re feeling brave, try the “no refunds” hot and spicy shrimp… only if you dare. Seriously, if you’re accustomed to eating spicy foods, it’s not too bad, you’ll live.
Next up will be a roundup of easy outdoor adventure concentrated in a manageable area, including a not so secret spot to see ruins. Stay tuned!