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Hawaii 2022: The Food

Just in case you're not aware, not only do the people of Japan absolutely love to vacation in Hawaii but they are actually the second largest ethnic group. So when we planned our trip to the island of Oahu we knew that sushi, ramen, and wagyu beef were all but guaranteed. But what I was not expecting was how impressive the Hawaiian twists were on culinary staples like pizza, cubanos, or even mule type drinks. We did not have a single bad experience the entire trip.

Oh and since there wasn't a single place that stood out for this, I would be remiss if I did not mention malasadas. They are a delectable little pastry you'll find all over Hawaii and are something you absolutely must try!


I picked Castro's one morning because I was looking for a breakfast spot where we could get a quick bite and some coffee. It was a short 10 minute walk from our hotel which would allow us to stretch our legs and prepare for the day ahead. I had absolutely no idea that I had just chosen what would be my favourite place to eat of the entire trip.

We started with some phenomenal ice lattes and then proceeded to the most delicious croque señorita I have ever had. This thing was an absolute monster, dripping with gruyère cheese and accompanied by a smattering of fresh fruit. Elsie's smoked salmon board was equally mind-blowing.

If you visit Waikiki you absolutely must go to Castro's. Writing this summary made me want to plan another trip to Oahu just so I can experience that croque señorita again.


After hiking Diamond Head Elsie and I walked all the way to a park in Waikiki before looking for somewhere to eat. Continuing the trend of us lazily choosing restaurants based on their proximity, Deck was literally across the street from where we sat. Typically I wouldn't chose a restaurant that is inside a hotel because historically I've found them to not be great. But Deck was about to shatter that notion.

As has become customary for Elsie and I, we started out with some mule drinks which were easily the best we'd ever had. Supposedly, the bartender takes a week to make by hand the syrup that is used. Whatever the heck magic she worked you could definitely taste it.

We combined that with what most people would consider a very basic set of shared food. Tuna poke, sliders, and flatbread (essentially pizza). But something about the native ingredients, their freshness, and how they were prepared led to an absolutely exceptional meal. We got to enjoy all this with an unobstructed view of the Diamond Head crater that we had just hiked. It was perfect.

If you come to Waikiki you absolutely must go to Deck for dinner. There is no excuse. Head to the Queen Kapiʻolani Hotel, take the elevator to the third floor (the pool deck, hence the name), and thank me later.

The Hideout

I know I just finished writing that restaurants in hotels historically aren't great, but when it comes to breakfast The Hideout in the lobby of The Laylow is A+.

We went here for breakfast twice and the pancakes, french toast, eggs benedict, coffee, were all superb. Couldn't have asked for a better start to our day.

They also appeared to have an extensive bar so I'm sure stopping in for dinner or happy hour wouldn't be a bad choice either.

Furusato Sushi

We had to go to at least one sushi bar on our trip so we chose Furusato Sushi. It felt exactly like one of those tiny sushi bars we visited while we were in Japan and the food was just as delectable. You could tell all of the ingredients were incredibly fresh and everything was prepared promptly. It is a tad on the expensive side but if you are looking for a quick bite of sushi you cannot go wrong with Furusato's.

Morimoto Asia

Proper Japanese wagyu was another dish we absolutely had to try while we were in Oahu and Morimoto Asia thoroughly delivered.

A little charcoal furnace with a grilling stone was brought to our table which was then coated in wagyu fat and used to grill our A5 wagyu beef. No matter how many times wagyu melts in my mouth, it will never get old. We combined this with some pork gyoza, kalbi short ribs, black pepper beef, and washed it down with some fantastic drinks. I'm sure there are many other places in Oahu that will serve A5 wagyu beef but I can vouch for Morimoto Asia doing it right.

Kona Brewing Pub - Hawaii Kai

If you decide to hike the Koko Crater Railway Trailhead and need some libations afterwards like we did, might I recommend the Kona Brewing Pub in Hawaii Kai. It has a great selection of local beers and surprisingly tasty pub food. I ordered the cubano sandwich expecting something basic but what I got was scrumptious and almost the size of my head.

Wolfgang's Steakhouse

Do not make the same mistake I did. This is not Wolfgang Puck's steakhouse. He is Austrian. There is a German who coincidentally is also named Wolfgang and loves steak. He franchises out his steakhouse and one of them randomly happens to be situated in Oahu.

But it doesn't matter which Wolfgang is running this steakhouse because the steaks were freakin' fantastic. They are also quite large so please be a bit cautious and don't go overboard with the sides. In my opinion, Sizzling Canadian Bacon appetizer, two different cuts of steak, and asparagus on the side are more than enough for two people.

Or if you're feeling adventurous, try the German potatoes and be sure to ask your waiter what makes them German. We were told it was because they were cooked at high heat, or because they were prepared by a German. I'll be curious to learn how these Schroedinger potatoes were prepared for you.

Kona Coffee Purveyors

Kona coffee is a native product of Hawaii and Kona Coffee Purveyors just happened to be right around the corner from our hotel. It is an excellent little cafe that we used to grab some coffee and pastries to kick-start multiple mornings. They also serve open faced sandwiches from 11 am to 3 pm which were very tasty. But their proximity to the touristy part of Waikiki means you're usually going to be stuck in a long line so prepare to be patient.

Camado Ramen Tavern

Ramen is notoriously difficult to prepare. To create a satisfactory broth takes several hours and to reach something great you need 18+. Camado Ramen Tavern is one of those places that is putting in the time. You're not going to find any fancy bells or whistles here but if you're craving a solid pipin' hot bowl of miso ramen, you should definitely try Camado's.

Donut King

It's the king of donuts. What more do I need to write?

Banzai Burger

Located on the main tourist strip in Waikiki is the Kuhio Avenue Food Hall and inside is Banzai Burger, which served up some very juicy and delicious burgers. If you're looking for a quick bite to eat around the International Market Place you can't go wrong with Banzai Burger. But I would recommend you skip the fries. They were nothing to write home about.

Marugame Udon

For reasons I cannot understand, every website or YouTube video about what to do in Waikiki always recommends Marugame Udon. It is treated like some sort of high-class restaurant that makes the best udon in the world. As far as I can tell, Marugame Udon is basically the McDonald's of udon. There are literally over 1000 branches opened across the entire world. But for some reason the one in Waikiki has become a massive tourist trap. Our hotel was nearby and literally every day we would see 20+ people standing in line for fast-food udon. I don't get it.

The dirty secret is that a 15 minute drive away in the arts district is a second Marugame Udon location that never has a line. We went there after we finished visiting Punchbowl Crater and were in an out in less than 30 minutes. The udon was not bad by any stretch. It was a very solid meal, especially after all the hiking we did. But I cannot fathom how it has received such aplomb and become a must visit tourist attraction in Waikiki.