Oahu Food Picks from a Native New Yorker


In my day job as executive editor of Marin Magazine I am a big fan curating the advice of experts I meet in my travels. These Oahu food picks are from Michael Shapiro, the editor of Hana Hou!, Hawaiian Airlines’ in-flight magazine, who with his wife and daughter are on a never-ending quest to find the best poke, okazuya, mochi and shave ice on the island of Oahu.  

Best Authentic Hawaii Experience “It depends what you mean by authentic. If you mean local, then Highway Inn. If you mean Hawaiian, then Helen’s.”

Favorite Hotel Dining “For high-end, probably Orchid Room at Halekulani — luckily, I get meals comped there from time to time. And nobody does coconut cake like they do. For pure location, Plumeria Room at the Kahala Resort.”

Sushi “When I have the cash and I’m feeling like I don’t want to make my own decisions, the omakase menu at Sushi Sasabune; otherwise I go either to Tokkuri-Tei on Kapahulu or a little izakaya on King Street called Imanas Tei. I’m usually the only haole in the place.”

Luau or Event Dining “Skip the faux-Polynesian and just go to Duke’s or Kani Ka Pila Grill on Waikiki Beach. Copious drinks and free (and good) Hawaiian music. Sundays at Duke’s is a long-standing tradition for people who like to party on a school night.”

Lunch Spot Between Honolulu Airport and Waikiki “No question, The Pig & The Lady in Chinatown. It’s weird, but good weird.”

Lunch Spot in the Haleiwa (or North Shore) “I like Kahuku Superette — foah da poke sista!”

Favorite Shrimp Truck “This might be nuts, but I’ve never stopped at a shrimp truck.”

Favorite Mom-and-Pop Spot “For great Korean barbecue, I would say Willow Tree in Kailua — especially the kal-bi. And for dessert, the snowflake ice (it’s a shave-ice-like treat invented in Taiwan, only better) at Frost City near the corner of King Street and University Avenue.”

It’s a Chain That’s Actually Really Good “I would say Saigon Noodle House in Kailua — really cheap, really fast, great pho. Excellent for after a beach day on the windward side. Did I mention cheap?”

Sunset Meal “Not sure about the meal, but you can’t beat the sunset at Hula Grill (actually, the food’s pretty good, too).”

Up-and-Coming Chefs “I think most of the chefs I know about have already up and come, but Ed Kenney and LeeAnn Wong are two of my perennial favorites.”

Favorite Island Ingredient “Easily opakapaka, or pink snapper. But I also get excited about sugarcane swizzle sticks in a mai tai, so my palate obviously got arrested at six years old.”