Big 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.
If 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.
Talk 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.
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.
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.
This award-winning seafood restaurant and sushi bar simply serves the best sushi in town, with hand-selected fish straight from that day’s fish market prepared with locally farmed produce. For the perfect fresh sushi trio, try the Dragonfly Roll (a spicy tuna roll topped with ahi and avocado with spicy Thai aioli sauce), the Hamachi (Pacific yellowtail tuna with shiso, aka Japanese basil, local red jalapeno and a savory truffle ponzu sauce, topped with tobiko), and the 69 Roll (a contemporary California roll with fresh blue crab, avocado, cucumber and barbecue eel). Pro tip: the Hamachi pairs well with any pinot noir or rosé.
While Uncle Bo’s isn’t located in what many would consider Waikiki proper, it’s where the local foodies love to eat. Every dish is someone’s favorite, from the seafood delights like the Thai-Style Steamer Clams and the Spicy Baked Opah Mauna Kea to their most popular dish, the Bota Rota, an amped-up garlic cheese bread with prime rib and mushrooms. The full flavor of each dish is a sure winner, and even for residents, the meal itself is a vacation from the norm. You’ll feel the urge to force your dining companions to try whatever you’re having and, luckily, the dishes are designed for sharing family style. It’s a great family or date night dining experience, paired with well-made drinks, family-size portions, flavorful seafood and outstanding service.
Located on the second level in the Hilton Hawaiian Village Rainbow Bazaar, Fresco Italian Restaurant takes classic Italian comfort dishes and perfects them with the fresh flavors of the islands. The Cacciucco di Mare, pictured on page 70, is a traditional fish soup in the Tuscan style, with the addition of complementing natural flavors of Maine lobster, Hokkaido scallops, Manila clams and Kauai shrimp, in a local tomato and Hawaiian chili pepper sauce. Not only are the seafood components a new iteration of this traditional Tuscan dish, but where they come from makes all the difference. Hokkaido’s scallop fishery started in the 1800s, thriving today for its sustainable practices and its tender, sweet and creamy scallops. The sweetness of the Manila clams are a great complement to the award-winning Kauai shrimp, farmed just an island to the West, which are best known for their taste, texture, and stunning visual appeal. If you’re looking for a satisfying serving of several outstanding seafood flavors in one dish, the Cacciucco di Mare at Fresco Italian Restaurant is the way to go.