Búho Cocina y Cantina, affectionately called “Buho” by locals, recreates local traditions in the Mexican style. The Mexican Pork Lau Lau is one such invention, divergent from both traditional Mexican and Hawaiian cuisine; pork shoulder is wrapped and baked in ti leaves until ultimately soft and tender, then served with black beans, Mexican rice, pickled red onions and hand-pressed tortillas.
Crackin’ Kitchen combines the flavors of traditional Cajun cuisine with much more than just a tropical twist. Where you might normally find Anaheim chilies, you’ll taste Hawaiian chilies instead, with Maui sweet onions, oyster sauce or cacao beans. While temptingly comparable Cajun eateries serve their seafood in a bag, Crackin’ Kitchen churns them out hot and fresh, with three unique signature sauces of different spicy or mild blends, “slapped down right at your table,” says Head Chef Jonathan Botello. “No bags to contain the mess. After all, what’s the fun in that?” We got to sit down with Chef Jonathan to get a taste of this unique, and never-beforeimagined, mind-boggling blend.
If ever you were skeptical about a chain restaurant delivering great food and great service, P.F. Chang’s in Waikiki will lay those fears to rest. A two-tiered, highenergy bistro with indoor and outdoor seating at the edge of the Royal Hawaiian Center, P.F. Chang’s creates Asian-inspired dishes in a northern style Chinese Wok; an age-old technique that uses a 900-degree flame to create unique, smoky, caramelized flavors and crispy textures.
East meets West with selections like P.F. Chang’s Garlic Prawns, gently cooked in a rich garlic butter sauce, accompanied by a pickled pepper slaw. To the regional fusion lover, this is comfort food without the carbs—it’s heaven. Also try Chef Tate’s favorite, the shrimp with candied walnuts, savory and sweet, or the Oolong Sea Bass. “Everything is delicious. You really can’t go wrong,” he said, offering us a large portion of his fried rice (yum!).
Miyako has been a soft-spoken icon of authentic Japanese dining since the mid- 1960s, serving authentic fare with the best sunset view in Hawaii away from the congestion of Waikiki’s hotspots. While the timeless tastes of its fresh fish, perfectly seasoned sirloins and tender washugyu beef remain unchanged, Miyako’s presentation is contemporary. The Beef Cutlet Sandwich is a crowd pleaser; unbelievably tender beef, deep fried and brushed with miso sauce on a bed of fresh cabbage, presented like a clubhouse sandwich—with a side of housemade onion rings. Open for dinner, guests are welcome to the cabanas outside facing the setting sun or the more traditional and intimate indoor seating area. Miyako is the closest you’ll get to Japan while basking in the paradisaical glow of the Hawaiian Islands.
Pioneering the Pacific Rim culinary movement, Roy’s Restaurants have been a touchstone for regional fusion all over the country, even extending to Japan and Guam. Roy’s Waikiki offers a variety of permanent menu items as well as daily specials based on that day’s freshest hand-picked produce. The Deconstructed Rainbow Roll is a regional blend of the island’s freshest catch, with ahi (tuna), hamachi (Pacific yellowtail) and salmon, arranged beautifully with Thai chili vinaigrette, sea asparagus, pickled radishes and drizzled with a kukui nut and jalapeño relish. It’s an exemplary Japanese fusion dish, well-rounded in both taste and texture with local island elements, created by Executive Chef Jason Peel. This special was so fresh a concept that it didn’t even have a name when Chef Jason plated it for us, so we took the liberty of naming it ourselves. That’s Roy’s Waikiki—always fresh, always inspired.
Located on the second floor of Waikiki Beach Walk, Kaiwa Teppan & Sushi doesn’t mess around when it comes to Japanese-Hawaiian regional specialties. Even the restaurant’s name denotes unity; “Kai” meaning “water” in Hawaiian, and “Wa,” Japanese for “circle.” Those seeking authentic Japanese cuisine just minutes from Oahu’s sandy shores will find it here, alongside island fusion elements, like the nontraditional pipikaula-and-watercress hot salad and the garlic ahi poke.
Japanese culinary prowess meets worldwide flavors and ingredients in the Grilled Seafood with House Blend Spices: Tristan lobster, Atlantic salmon, black tiger shrimp and scallops, all perfectly grilled and sprinkled with a blend of more than 10 locally grown and harvested spices, atop a cushion of Yukon Gold mashed potatoes. It’s one of many modern East Meets West dishes to enjoy in Kaiwa’s unique and inspired ultramodern setting.
Reserve seats for an intimate table for two, or a private party for up to 20, in the stylized and traditional Zashiki room with Japanese tatami (floor-style seating), illuminated by fiber optic curtains and color-changing bar lights.
Matzo, Bánh, Pizza, Frybread, Torta, Naan—there are over 80 different types and names for flatbreads. One culture that doesn’t traditionally use flatbread? You guessed it: Hawaiian. Executive Chef Darren Demaya takes the soft yet crispy, pliable yet firm flatbread and couples it beautifully with fresh ahi tuna, Maui sweet onion, mozzarella and a poke (pronounced poh-kay) aioli, made with soy, sambal, sesame oil and Sriracha sauce. It’s a savory mouthful of pure satisfaction. It’s not pizza, it’s not flatbread—it’s the poke board. Along with decades of culinary experience, Chef Darren also brings to the table a lifetime as a true local boy, evident in his strong grasp of local island ingredients and advanced flavor profiles. When it comes to Hawaii-centric, regional fusion, no one does it better.
No matter the location of bills Sydney, this stylish all-day dining is the island dream—a casual, spacious, modern setting, offering simple ingredient, feel-good meals. An international sensation, bills Sydney’s reputation makes each restaurant a unique crossroads for culture and inspiration. The avocado and tuna poke, for example, is in most ways a local Hawaii tradition; fresh ahi tuna in large chunks, lightly dressed with local, organic herbs, sea asparagus and cherry tomatoes, atop hearty brown rice and quartered avocado, drizzled lightly with fresh lime. It’s a flavorful feast that brings the Hawaiian Islands to the tables of food lovers across the world. Inspired by Bill’s visits to Hawaii, this entree, now a favorite in his restaurants worldwide, is a healthy, fresh and contemporary take on a local favorite—perfect for this bright, barefoot-from-the-beach Waikiki location.
Chef Chai was more than ready when asked to present his best in regional fusion. The exotic dish he delivered was far more than we’d expected; two spindles of wok-seared jumbo black tiger prawns, encrusted with macadamia nuts, were wrapped in kataifi (a Greek, shredded phyllo pastry) and set atop a rainbow salad with a tangerine vinaigrette. “It’s not Korean, Japanese, Greek or Thai—it’s inspired, and fresh. You can’t call it just one thing,” says Chef Chai. “We served this once at Taste of Honolulu 20 years ago following our Grand Opening, and we’ve been serving it nonstop ever since.”