Blue Water Shrimp

blue-shrimpWhat started off as a humble shrimp truck has grown two additional and permanent locations—thankfully, one of those locations is in the Hilton Hawaiian Village Rainbow Bazaar. Garlic shrimp, Brazilian lobster, tuna poke, seafood salad, crab legs, fish tacos, garlic clams, mahimahi, salmon—you name the seafood, and you’ll get the best of it at Blue Water Shrimp. Beautifully plated, perfectly seasoned and with land-lubber- friendly options like steak, guava barbecue chicken, kalua pig nachos, and all kinds of combinations, with a side of seasoned rice and salad.

You don’t have to drive all the way to the North Shore for exceptional garlic shrimp. It’s right here. Cooked and served in the shell for the richest flavor, with a satisfying portion size, two heaps of white or brown rice, salad, sweet corn and a pineapple slice, just to give you that fruity zing finale. Order your shrimp mild, medium or spicy—just be careful what you wish for! Make it a garlic shrimp and steak combo and prepare for a tender, juicy and filling meal.

Shrimp-Plate
Garlic Shrimp and Lobster Tail Combo. Above: Fish Tacos.

If you’ve already tried the garlic shrimp and want to try something different, choose from lobster, crab legs, fish tacos with mahimahi, tuna and salmon, seared ahi, calamari steak or garlic clams. The list goes on, and every choice is a winner, whether you’re eating there or taking it out to the beach or back to your hotel. You can even swing by the nearby ABC store for the complete and casual BYOB dining experience.

Be careful not to walk right past it! The walkway in the Rainbow Bazaar cuts between the ordering area and the outdoor seating—and it’s definitely worth stopping for. It’s a favorite lunch spot for nearby hotel employees, with often-extravagant, tasty daily specials (like ahi gyoza with macadamia nut, pesto ponzu and sriracha aioli—wow!) and even exceptional desserts, like the signature bread pudding.

It takes something very special for a food truck to succeed and establish permanent locations, especially prime locations like Waikiki and Ala Moana Center, and it’s easy to see how Blue Water Shrimp has done it. Consistently fresh and exquisite seafood preparation is the ideal, and Blue Water Shrimp nails it.

Aloha Table

a-paradise-for-island-fareThe modest appearance and hidden location of Aloha Table inspire humble expectations, only to astound. Very popular with visitors from Japan, who must have the inside scoop we’ve been missing, Aloha Table serves up American comfort food and Asian-style dishes and accomplishes what many others cannot—turning every dish into a new, island-inspired creation. You could call it Pacific Rim Fusion, or Eclectic Western.

The comfortable setting, with indoor and outdoor seating, a quaint wooden bar area, hospitable staff and a killer happy hour, draws you in, but the creative comfort dishes, fruity and flavorful accompaniments and handmade Maui Gold pineapple pina coladas, served in the pineapple, will keep you coming back for more. Even already-local style dishes are kicked up a notch, like the premium loco moco.

All loco mocos are not created equal. A traditional loco moco consists of a hamburger patty on white rice, topped with gravy and a sunny-side-up egg. Pretty standard, pretty delicious and almost always a winner. Aloha Table’s “premium” loco moco, on the other hand, takes the prize, dedicates the award to its friends and family and builds a foundation for future generations. It’s that good. The gravy is dark and rich, with subtle hints of coffee and chocolate, and the kobe beef is flavorful and perfectly, lightly charred, with local mushrooms and caramelized onions on al dente rice.

Nearly any selection is perfect for either a hot Hawaiian night or a little taste of home. Aloha Spicy Wings are a more tender take on the classic buffalo wings, while the acai bowl and mango pudding are fresh, flavorful, refreshing options, perfect for a feel-good yet indulgent day in Waikiki.

This secret spot may not be a secret for long.

Goofy Cafe & Dine

goofy-sweetBig Island French Toast. Talk about a win-win for believers in “dessert first.” This feel-good, locally sourced confection uses island elements like sweet bread, Big Island bee honey, Big Island vanilla bean and whipped cream as thick and delicious as ice cream, topped with fresh fruit. It’s breakfast, it’s dessert—it’s anything and everything you want it to be.

bills Sydney

bills-sweetWhite Chocolate and Pistachio Pavlova. Perhaps named for the ballerina, this pavlova can only be the result of unmatchable expertise. White chocolate, bits of pistachio, strawberries and a rosewater yoghurt cream perform a ballet of flavor; fluffy and crisp yet soft and elegant, gracefully melting on your tongue. It pairs best with an Aussie-style coffee, or a rosé.

Kaiwa

kaiwa-sweetPineapple Sorbet with Ginger Jam. The creative and contemporary style of Kaiwa is deliciously evident in their light, flavorful desserts. The handmade pineapple sorbet, made from Maui Gold pineapples, is just one of several creative Japanese-Hawaiian Kaiwa delicacies.

d.k. Steak House

dk-sweetThe “Delmonico” Mudd Pie is a 22-ounce slice of heaven for your taste buds, especially after a savory steak dinner. Indulge your senses with this creamy, perfect balance of Kona coffee and vanilla ice cream, topped with hot fudge and crushed macadamia nuts on a crisp and crumbly oreo cookie crust. You’ll want to save room for this.

Roy’s Waikiki

roys-wwIf there’s one thing you can always count on, it’s the consistent quality of Roy’s classics, available at all Roy’s Restaurants. While the menu is changed daily based on available local ingredients, there’s no going wrong with tried-andtrue staples like the Misoyaki-Style Butterfish, fresh from that morning’s local fish auction, with sweet ginger wasabi beurre blanc, carrot puree and “forbidden rice.” Even though butterfish is an absolute favorite, other fresh seafood staples at Roy’s include Roy’s Original Blackened Ahi with spicy hot soy mustard butter sauce and the Hibachi-Style Salmon with Japanese citrus ponzu and wakame sunomono, a traditional, vinegar-based cucumber and seaweed salad.

Oceanarium Restaurant

oceanarium-wwTalk about an ocean themed dining experience; you won’t find anything like Oceanarium Restaurant anywhere else. Nearly 400 fish of 70 species, including the occasional mermaid, glide past in their two-story aquarium. With this unforgettably grand ocean feature, it’s hard to imagine anything comparing— that is, until you check out the buffet. Great for group dining (birthdays, anniversaries, unbirthdays), the buffet offers delicious crab legs, tender prime rib, fresh sashimi, shrimp tempura, oysters on the half shell and fresh island fish, like the Ginger-Steamed Hawaiian Onaga (long-tail red snapper). Try everything if you can, with a side of made-to-order pasta or traditional Hawaiian dishes, but save room for the chocolate fountain.

Bali Steak & Seafood

Bali Restaurant - Abalone and Parmesan Gnocchi with confit tomatoes and homemade basil oil.
Bali Restaurant – Abalone and Parmesan Gnocchi with confit tomatoes and homemade basil oil.

If you believe beautifully prepared food deserves a view to match, Bali Steak & Seafood is the place for you. It’s an especially high value dining destination for its delicious selections from the land as well as the sea. The Diver Scallops have been a favorite for years, revamped often with fresh ingredients and beautiful presentation, and anything that can be locally sourced is, from the North Shore sea asparagus to the chef’s personally crafted, naturally flavored salts. The Diver Scallops are a savory contrast to the sweet Kahuku corn, flavorful Hamakua mushrooms, crisp watercress and carrot miso vinaigrette. And you won’t find abalone anywhere as tender as Bali’s Abalone & Parmesan Gnocchi, and paired with juicy, bursting tomatoes and flavorful sea asparagus, this Kona-raised abalone is taken to the next level with hand-picked herbs from Bali’s garden, just steps away from the patio.

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Azure Restaurant

Kauai Shrimp. Locally raised shrimp, marinated with arugula pesto on an Asian pear, with baby arugula salad in a creamy ume vinaigrette.
Kauai Shrimp. Locally raised shrimp, marinated with arugula pesto on an Asian pear, with baby arugula salad in a creamy ume vinaigrette.

Azure is certainly one of the best restaurants in Waikiki, with top marks for food quality, taste and freshness as well as unmatchable service and an oceanfront view. Restaurant patrons rave about the tasting menu, which offers five courses with optional wine pairings, like the Kauai Shrimp. Locally raised shrimp is marinated with arugula pesto and served on an Asian pear with locally harvested baby arugula salad, tossed in a creamy ume (Japanese plum) vinaigrette, a favored taste in traditional Japanese cuisine. Azure specializes in five-star seafood, served oceanfront just steps from the sandy beach. Every dish here is an absolute winner.