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1969 S. King St.
Even if chef George Mavrothalassitis had used his full name here, his business wouldn’t have suffered. Chef Mavro is the kind of place epicureans hold in such high regard that they’ll fly into Honolulu for a night just to dine here. The affable, curly-haired Mavro is one of the luminaries of Hawaii Regional Cuisine, but his Greek heritage and French upbringing put him in a class all its own. His menu changes quarterly but typically features big-name stars like Keahole lobster, bigeye ahi and roasted lamb, with a supporting cast of such ingredients as saffron, honey, goat cheese and salmon roe. Take the prix fixe route and get three, four, six or—gasp—11 courses.
1200 Ala Moana Blvd.
The humble plate lunch, Hawaii's favorite fast food, comes in for a healthy upgrade at this popular restaurant at the Ward shopping complex. Traditional choices like shoyu chicken, beef stew and fried ahi get a more nuanced handling than at your typical plate-lunch joint—and along with the conventional two scoops of white rice, there's a brown-rice option. In place of the traditional macaroni salad (tasty but kind of fatty), you can get a real salad made with organic mixed greens from Waimanalo. There's plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, and the tone is entirely casual. Despite the Kitchen's foodie tendencies, it’s so true to its roots that it still serves meals in the classic Styrofoam container.
FARMERS’ MARKET AT KAPIOLANI COMMUNITY COLLEGE
4303 Diamond Head Rd.
Tel: 808-848-2074 (Hawaii Farm Bureau)
If you like the idea of browsing for breakfast (in either sense of the word "browsing": surveying your choices before selecting or nibbling at everything in your path), this farmers’ market has an irresistible array of ready-to-eat treats. Each week a vendor is picked to do the breakfast special—something like, say, kalua pork, scrambled eggs, brown rice, cheese and pineapple salsa all rolled up inside a purple taro tortilla. Then there are the regular offerings, like Indian curries, Thai salads, Egyptian baked chicken; and baklava, fresh roasted corn, burgers, beignets, lumpia, Hawaiian-style chili and garlic shrimp; plus mangoes, bananas and papayas like you’ve never seen. The market is open every Saturday morning from 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
The Kahala Hotel & Resort
5000 Kahala Ave.
Look over the cooking implements in the open kitchen here and you’ll get an idea of the cross-cultural Hawaiian-Asian-European currents swirling through the menu. Notice the woks for stir-fries, the wood-burning tandoori oven for Indian breads, the keawe wood grill for the smoked Tasmanian salmon and the steaming pots for the butter-poached New England rock lobster. Elegant without the least bit of stuffiness, Hoku’s is one of the island’s most esteemed fine-dining establishments, and its second-floor beachfront setting at the exclusive Kahala Hotel & Resort adds to the loftiness. Chef Wayne Hirabayashi is one of the island’s most highly regarded cooks. If you’re feeling extra hungry, request Hirabayashi’s signature Seafood Tower, piled high with shrimp and clams.