If you’re craving a juicy, hearty piece of meat to sink your canines into then look no further than Waikiki. Some of the freshest and most flavorful beef dishes are created in this pristine South Shore location. Order a slab of prime rib, a sizzling fillet, or any of another number of beef-centric dishes and you’ll have the bonus of fantastic beachside settings to indulge every single one of your senses.
FRESCO ITALIAN RESTAURANT FILETTO DI MANZO
Made with 8 ounces of seared Island beef tenderloin, this dish is topped with gorgonzola fondue that packs a mighty powerful palate-pleasing punch. Vibrant sautéed veggies accompany this hearty meal, as well as fine, feathery mashed potatoes garnished with kukui nuts that will fill your belly and your soul. Finally, a marsala wine sauce adds a subtle essence to this Italian and Hawaiian fusion restaurant’s signature dish.
d.k STEAK HOUSE KAUA‘I RED DIRT-RUBBED LOCAL GRASS-FED BEEF
Straight from the ranch to your plate, you can’t get a fresher slice of meat. Besides being as sustainable as it gets, generated directly from Hawai‘i ranchers, its tenderness and taste exceed expectations. The Kaua‘i red dirt salt-rubbed steak sits perfectly on a bed of fluffy, roasted garlic-chive fondue and a red wine demi-glace. Flawlessly crisp Brussel’s sprouts and tasty cremini mushroom ragout add zest to this dish and a dollop of tarragon herb butter with a handful of Hamakua ali‘i mushrooms provide a combination of ingredients that are simply divine.
CINNAMON’S AT THE ILIKAI
BONELESS KALBI SHORT RIBS
Known for presenting phenomenal local classics, this famed O‘ahu eatery gives you a chance to try beef crafted with cultural flair. This Korean specialty, for example, is created from a traditional family recipe and allows diners the opportunity to try the kind of food kama‘aina (Hawai‘i residents) grow up with. The rich, luscious meat
is served with a subtly sweet sauce and two sides of your choice, such as local favorites white rice and macaroni salad. Rather than a typical grab-and-go plate lunch, this is its elegant sister, with the added perks of friendly service and salty ocean air.
BALI STEAK AND SEAFOOD
USDA PRIME ALLEN BROTHERS STEAK
Besides being blown away by the generous serving of meat this dish has to offer, ordering this Tomahawk ribeye makes for a pleasurable dining experience. Created with artistic mastery, this grain-fed, pasture-raised “superior”-bred dry-aged ribeye has unparalleled tenderness. Furthermore, it’s adorned with garlic herb butter to make the meat even more succulent and paired with a delecta-ble dipping sauce, as well as garlic crostini and vegetables, such as cauliflower and sweet potatoes. The dish is for two and there’s more than enough to leave everyone satisfied.
WAGYU BEEF SUKIYAKI
Made at your table with a hot pot, the sensuous smell of this dish alone will cause your mouth to water with anticipation. Plenty of extras are thrown in with the 4-ounce serving of wagyu or Japanese beef cattle, including tofu, bamboo, Chinese cabbage and rice noodles. What’s more, you’ll have an epic view of Waikiki Beach while you savor the flavors of this comforting soup that not only can cure ailments but will lift your taste buds’ spirits.
Set your mouth ablaze and order something with a spicy kick during your next Waikiki restaurant outing. From subtle to strong, nothing is out of the realm of possibilities when it comes to creating a tempestuously tasty inferno on your tongue.
TROPICS BAR & GRILL
The lovely seaside setting and ocean breezes at this dining establishment will help cool you down after sampling something spicy like the Seared Hamachi. Served with succulent fresh Pacific yellowtail seared in truffle kabayaki sauce, the pupu (appetizer) is garnished with sizzling shichimi or Japanese spice and garnished with sweet onions, Fresno chilis and cilantro. You’ll want to make sure your water glass is full to help smolder the heat of this fiery dinner item.
Tucked along Waikiki Beach Walk on Lewers Street, this trendy restaurant, open for lunch and dinner, specializes in authentic Japanese cuisine mixed with contemporary Hawai‘i flavors, some that pack a powerfully spicy punch. The Spicy Double Tuna Roll, made with cucumbers and fresh tuna, is topped with several scorchers, such as habanero tobikko (flying fish roe), green onion, jalapeno and shichimi pepper. Additionally, this delicacy, exploding with peppery properties, is gracefully accompanied by a spicy miso and eel sauce.
Known for expertly crafted Sicilian meals, this quaint European style restaurant has a pasta dish with the kind of spice you need in your life. The Bolognese Siciliana is a spaghetti dish made with homemade beef ragu sauce that tastes like it was lovingly made in a countryside kitchen by your grandmother. Blended with spinach and garlic, the meal is lightly and flawlessly spiced with red chili pepper. The seasoning is integrated in such a way that it won’t overwhelm your senses: rather than numb your taste buds, it accentuates the sauce’s flavors. If you find that you desire more heat, you can always ask your server to add the chef’s house-made chili oil to the mix.
This restaurant is known for offering hearty pieces of juicy, mouthwatering steak, and its Cajun Ribeye is no exception. Tender and buttery, the hefty slab of meat is coated with a combo of jazzy spices, including cayenne pepper, that elevate the dish to the next level of any meat lover’s paradise. Make sure you bring your appetite, not only for the main course, but for this international restaurant’s sensational sides, such as Lobster Mac and Cheese, which are just as worthy of sampling and will help simmer down the heat.
SANSEI SEAFOOD RESTUARANT
Located within the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, this elegant Japanese restaurant doesn’t hold back when it comes to presenting dishes with unique spices and flavorings. The Grilled Hawaiian ‘Ahi and Sansei’s Award-Winning Shrimp Cakes is a perfect example of how an unusual spicy ginger chili lime butter sauce is ingeniously crafted with ginger, shallots, lime juice, butter, white wine and sweet Thai chili. Layered atop this superb dressing, that includes a dash of cilantro pesto, are slices of a 6-ounce serving of grilled ‘ahi, as well as an Asian rock shrimp cake mixed with a hint of peppy Dijon mustard, sautéed local vegetables and a generous side of grilled furikake rice onigiri. Savor each item separately, or combine them for a burst of unreal flavors for which your taste buds will thank you.
ARANCINO RISTORANTE ITALIANO
Look no further than this intimate Italian restaurant in the heart of Waikiki to satisfy your cravings for lively flavors with an emphasis on Napoli style. Its dishes incorporate ingredients straight from Italy, including cheeses, meats and pastas, and many infuse locally caught seafood, as well as produce grown in Hawai‘i. But if you’re looking for something with some extra zest, try the Penne all’Arrabbiata con Gameretti that is accompanied by a distinctively peppy house-made tomato sauce created with garlic and chili pepper flakes. What sets this primo dish apart from others is that you get an extra zap of salty seafood flavor in the form of several snappy shrimp.
POLYNESIAN VOYAGERS CROSSED UNCHARTED ocean in double-hulled canoes to discover one of the most remote landmasses on Earth more than 1,000 years ago. These savvy sailors brought supplies with them that would allow them to inhabit territory they predicted would be unoccupied by humans.
More than two dozen “canoe plants” joined the ancient mariners in the form of roots, seeds and cuttings. The plants would allow the settlers to survive, serving as various resources, such as medicine, bedding and mats, and, of course, food. While they aren’t endemic to Hawai‘i, these species are considered indigenous, or native, because they were – and still are – revered by the Islands’ original inhabitants.
“They knew how important it was to be able to bring their plants with them,” says Michael DeMotta, curator for Living Collections at the National Tropical Botanical Garden.
By the time the Polynesians arrived in Hawai‘i, they had learned new ways to help the plants thrive, including the unique method of propagating kalo (taro) in wetland fields.
“We survived for many, many centuries with only these plants,” says cultural practitioner kumu (teacher) Sabra Kauka. “These plants and the kai, the ocean.”
Each plant carries its own cultural significance. Kalo, for example, represents the “staff of life.” The creation story of Hawaiians centers around two gods, whose firstborn did not survive. At the spot where their baby was buried, a kalo plant subsequently grew. Their second child, named Haloa in honor of their firstborn of the same name, was a healthy boy from whom the Hawaiian people are believed to be descended. Haloa went on to nurture the kalo that sprouted from his older brother – a reminder that the earth will provide if it is properly nourished.
Because of the care that Hawaiians put into their food, the plants tended to them in return. Kalo, ‘uala (sweet potato) and ‘ulu (breadfruit) were their staple foods, usually steamed in an imu (underground oven) and paired with fish.
The edible canoe plants provided nourishment for Hawaii’s people for centuries, and many of the species still thrive today. Contemporary chefs in Waikiki are aware of the rich, authentic flavors they add to meals, and have found ways to harmoniously incorporate them into their dishes.
Moreover, Waikiki, during the 1920s, was once the prominent site of the state’s wetland lo‘i (taro patches). Other canoe plants were grown here as well, including niu (coconuts) and mai‘a (bananas).
“Honolulu was like the breadbasket of the island of O‘ahu,” says DeMotta who adds that O‘ahu’s south shore was where many of Hawai‘i’s ali‘i (royalty) resided. “You didn’t ever have to leave Waikiki.”
Consider sampling a dish with one of Hawai‘i’s famed canoe plants while you’re in Waikiki, and reflect in the significance of these mighty flora and their continued importance to native people. “If people embrace eating Hawaiian food, then that’s better for us; it’s better for Hawaiians and the culture,” says DeMotta.
Breadfruit is one of the most highly esteemed of the canoe plants, particularly on Kaua‘i, where it is said to have been brought by the Tahitian voyager, Mo‘ikeha, who later became ali‘i nui (high chief) of the island. The starch can be eaten in a number of ways and is a complex fibrous carbohydrate. When green, it can be baked or boiled and tastes like a potato. When ripe, it becomes sweeter and can be used in desserts.
Bananas in Hawai‘i today are nothing like those that were originally brought to the Islands. The fruit was used more like a starch and baked or boiled while still green. A little coconut milk was poured onto them after removing the bananas from an imu, creating a filling, nutrient-packed meal. Additionally, banana stumps were used to ignite heat in an imu. They were laid in the ground with water before a pig or fish was settled in, and the heat from the ground would cause the stumps to steam and cook the meat.
This plant is best known for being the main component of poi, the pounded and baked or steamed root of the plant. You’ll find this dish at several markets and places like lu‘au (Hawaiian feasts). Poi was a popular edible for natives because of its ability to keep its nutritional value for extended periods of time. The leaves of the taro plant, which are also edible, are heart-shaped, and its thick bulbous root, or corm, has a characteristic purple tint.
KO (SUGAR CANE)
This plant prevailed in Hawai‘i long before sugar cane became a commodity synonymous with the Islands’ plantation era. Hawaiians used its sweetness for many purposes, including masking the bitter taste of plant medicine. Juices from its thick stalk were also used to sweeten desserts.
EDIBLE PLANTS made their way to the Hawaiian Islands courtesy of adventurous Polynesian voyagers. These “canoe plants” provided the nourishment natives needed in order to survive on previously uninhabited land. Today, they are celebrated by contemporary Waikiki chefs who use them in their dishes.
EATING HOUSE 1849
Specializing in cultural cuisine that melds all of Hawai‘i’s ethnicities together, this rustic chic restaurant also incorporates native flavors into its menu items. The House Cured Pipikaula is served with poi, which is the pounded and baked or steamed root of kalo, or taro. Poi is one of Hawai‘i’s most celebrated edibles. In this case, it hails from Hanalei on Kaua‘i and is paired perfectly with the pipikaula—akin to beef jerky and marinated in shoyu with garlic, onions, pineapple juice, curing salt and liquid smoke to give it an extra zip. Served with a side of pickled ong choy, or water spinach, that’ll make your lips pleasantly pucker, this dish personifies local cuisine.
Aptly named, this restaurant serves breakfast items that taste like they were made in the Promised Land. No matter when you reach the restaurant’s Pearly Gates, breakfast items are available, such as Big Island Honey French Toast or a Sunny smoothie. The latter is made with the anti-inflammatory canoe plant, ‘olena (turmeric), and packed with a host of other good-for-you ingredients like organic carrots, ginger, oranges and mai‘a (bananas). For a more indulgent meal, try the French toast, created with locally made sweet bread and topped with vanilla beans and whipped cream, as well as chopped mai‘a. Papayas and pineapples—neither of which are actually canoe plants, add even more flare to this tropical treat.
THE REEF BAR & MARKET GRILL
Market Grill Your mouth will rejoice with the delicious dessert ‘Ulu Malasada. Expertly crafted Portuguese-style donuts (malasadas), just the right size for popping in your mouth, are fried with Hawaiian’s beloved ‘ulu (breadfruit) rather than traditional dough. A hearty handful of these impeccably crisp on the outside and soft on the inside confections are served with two canoe plant dipping sauces: one a banana custard that creates a flawlessly sweet combo, and the other, one of the most popular desserts in Hawai‘i, called haupia, made with niu, or coconut. Blend all three of these confections together for a sensationally saccharine palate party.
Raw fish salad, or poke, is a prized meal in Hawai‘i. When it’s served with house-made kalo chips, it’s all the more exquisite. Open 24 hours every day, this dining establishment at the Hilton Waikiki Beach Resort gives patrons an opportunity to try chips made with Hawai‘i’s most famous canoe plant, while, at the same time, sample a celebrated local dish. The ‘Ahi Poke Stack is crafted with fresh, melt in your- mouth ‘ahi, or tuna, and blended with ogo (seaweed), green onion, avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro and sesame oil. The chips easily scoop up this divine blend of flavors and add a crispy element to the luscious flavor-filled poke.
You don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy the many delectable dishes sans meat at a variety of Waikiki dining establishments. Make at least one pass on ordering steak or seafood during your tropical vacation and take a chance on something that provides just as much of a party, if not more, for your taste buds.
Chopped Salad never looked or tasted as exquisite as the one at this Waikiki restaurant located on Beachwalk Avenue. An abundant dose of fresh, local vegetables is used in this dish. And even though it’s a salad, you’ll be hard pressed to finish this meal. Served in an ample sized bowl, the ingredients consist of hearty produce like grilled zucchini, local heirloom tomatoes that explode with perfection in your mouth, volcanic lettuce, Kahuku corn, cucumber, roasted beets, edamame and the option of buttery avocado. The salad is accompanied with flavorfully fried garbanzo beans tossed in furikake and seaweed sesame. And if that weren’t enough, the citrus sesame dressing is the sweet cherry on top of this veggie lover’s dish.
FRESCO ITALIAN RESTAURANT
The caprese salad here is as elegant and refined as the restaurant. This Italian dining establishment, located within the Hilton Hawaiian Village, serves all kinds of fresh, locally sourced vegetarian dishes, including a succulent Insalata Caprese. Every one of the vegetables in this salad are organic and grown on local farms. Brilliant red and yellow Kamuela tomatoes are coupled with aromatic basil and macadamia-nut pesto, and topped with amaranth and mozzarella cheese, as well as a perfect dash of Hawaiian black salt. Begin any meal with this palate pleaser and your taste buds will beg for more of the restaurant’s high-quality Mediterranean cuisine.
BEACHHOUSE AT THE MOANA
Situated right on Waikiki Beach with a stunning up-close view of the pristine shoreline, this elegant restaurant has sensational options for vegetarian cuisine. The sunshine-flooded dining room located within the historic Moana Surfrider Hotel is a lovely place to try a non-meat dish like Beach Bim Bop. A clever play on words of the more famously known Korean dish, bi bim bap, its version offers a similar smattering of satisfying vegetables. The spicy Asian meal is created with fiddlehead fern salad, kim chee brussel sprouts, kalbi (Korean barbequed) ali‘i mushrooms, hapa rice and a sunny-side-up egg. Mix the ingredients together and create your own combo of the sweet and fiery house kochujang sauce served with a touch of soy. Add as much homemade chili spread as you dare, but be prepared to feel the fire.
ROUND TABLE PIZZA
This well-respected brand based out of California is known for its pizza made with a heavenly dough rolled fresh every day. Located within the Hilton Hawaiian Village is the chain restaurant’s No. 1 producing eatery out of its more than 500 establishments. That’s because the quality is just that good. One of the vegetarian pizza options here is especially luxurious, with an ultra-creamy garlic sauce crafted from a secret recipe. You won’t be disappointed by the blend of flavors in this melt-in-yourmouth pizza that has a combo of mozzarella, cheddar and provolone cheeses, and is topped with an assortment of vegetables including artichoke hearts, zucchini, spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes. Don’t forget, Round Table Pizza offers free delivery throughout Waikiki.
Shrimp are the perfect accompaniment to almost any dish. Bursting with salty sweetness, the “fruit of the sea” is one of the most versatile ingredients for chefs to work with and are therefore featured in a variety of ways in dishes at restaurants throughout Waikiki. Many dining establishments even go so far as to feature locally harvested shrimp, making the tasty invertebrates as fresh as they can get and adding just the perfect amount of flavorful crunch to any meal.
KUHIO BEACH GRILL
The view alone is worth a visit to this restaurant located at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort. What’s more, Kuhio Beach Grill offers something for everyone each night. The dining establishment presents hearty buffets that highlight different dining themes throughout the week. Arrive between 5 and 10 on a Wednesday or Sunday evening, for example, and create your own Hawaiian-style meal. These particular nights have a special poke bowl (raw fish salad) station where shrimp are offered as one of the many options for dressing up your dish. Indulge in the zesty local flavors of poke and opt for shrimp on a bed of matcha (green tea) seasoned rice with a sprinkle of seaweed and fresh herbs, such as green onions, to give it extra zip.
BUHO COCINA Y CANTINA
This trendy Mexican eatery is located on a rooftop in the heart of Waikiki on Kalakaua Avenue. The chic atmosphere is inviting, but the food and drinks are the real reasons to visit. Kauai Shrimp Ceviche is one example of an ideal way to embark on your dining adventure at this lively outdoor restaurant. Served with three large, crisp tortilla chips, the traditional Mexican-style ceviche is made with locally raised and harvested shrimp from the Garden Isle. Rather than prepared with heat, the shrimp are cooked by soaking them in lime juice. The juicy citric freshness of this appetizer is made even better with diced tomatoes, red onions, cilantro, avocado and cucumber.
CJ’S NEW YOUR STYLE DELICATESSEN & RESTAURANT
The ample menu here highlights many all-American plates infused with traditional local ingredients. Tucked inside the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, this is a great spot to grab a quick meal that’s guaranteed to leave you satisfyingly full. You can’t beat its robust portions of signature dishes such as Garlic Shrimp. Exploding with garlic essence, the plate includes sautéed easy-to-peel shrimp that pop with perfection in your mouth and are dressed with a “secret” garlic-wine sauce. Also included are two hefty scoops of white rice and a side of comforting macaroni salad. Just pack a breath mint for afterwards—the garlic, while divine, packs a powerful punch.
MAHINA & SUN’S
The millennial-inspired Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club hosts this one of-a-kind poolside restaurant that appeals to people of all ages. Each dish here is authentic in flavor, using only the finest ingredients, such as the Kauai Shrimp Risotto. Created with large, succulent shrimp raised on the westside of the Garden Isle, this plate is exquisite in every way. While risotto is traditionally a heavy dish, this recipe is on the lighter side: so rather than weigh you down, the delicately creamy sauce, enhanced with zesty lemon flavor, leaves you wanting more. The shrimp and rice combo is served with shaved shallots and sugar snap peas that provide an extra savory zing, while fried capers and shaved radishes resembling flower petals add even more gusto and texture to this impeccable dish.
Hawaii has long been a melting pot of different people, largely as a result of immigrants coming to work at sugar and pineapple plantations that once enveloped the Islands. This influx of cultures has had a major impact on the eclectic food pairings that come out of some of Waikiki’s top kitchens. Restaurants may use ramen noodles in Italian pasta, or throw kimchi into a house salad. It makes for distinctive flavor pairings, but can also be a bit intimidating for first-time visitors. What if you just want a burger? Fear not. There are plenty of local restaurants that specialize in comforting classics made with premium ingredients.
New Englanders can rejoice! Hawaii also has lobster mac and cheese made with Maine lobsters at M.A.C. 24/7 in the Hilton Waikiki Beach. M.A.C. 24/7 is a beloved Waikiki restaurant for its around-the-clock dining and over-the-top pancake challenge that pits mere humans against five pounds of pancakes with toppings.
Aside from all-day breakfast specials, M.A.C. 24/7 specializes in comfort food such as chicken and waffles or, notably, the fried Main lobster mac and cheese bites. This starter uses a seven cheese blend, truffle cheese sauce and chipotle aioli. Each plate comes with four fried morsels that can shared around the table, or hoarded for a small dish.
Eat like a king with the roayal ali’i(chief) burger at the Royal Hawaiian’s beachfront restaurant, Surf Lanai. The hotel is affectionately call the Pink Lady of the Pacific, a name that proves true in the building’s pink facade, umbrellas, seat cushions and napkins. It may sound like a lot of pink, but the azure ocean waters mere steps away flawlessly offset it.
The ali’i burger uses local Hawaii Rancher’s ground beef for a jicy patty around which the rest of the burger is built.it’s capped with pepper jack cheese, avocado, onion rings and sauteed ali’i mushrooms. The burger is normally served with impeccably seasoned tavern fries, which can, and frankly should, be subbed out with parmesan truffle fries for an additional fee.
Football season is finally here again, and sports enthusiasts will love dining ina a field of flat-screen 4k TVs set throughout Giovanni Pastrami, a New York-style deli, pizzeria, and sports bar. The restaurant is conveniently located in the Waikiki Beach Walk where its friendly atmosphere and extensive menu attract sports lovers and detractor alike.
The most popular menu should come as no surprise: the Pastrami Reuben. The traditional deli favorite contains a full half-pound of pastrami all carved to order. It’s served on rye bread with sauerkraut and Russian dressing. The sandwich has a tantalizing aroma that trails after it as it comes out hot from the kitchen, which is likely part of why it’s so popular. All sandwiches at Giovanni are served with a choice of sides, but its hard to go wrong with fries.
Ribs may be legendary at Tony Roma’s, but its menu has much more to offer than this barbeque staple. Diners would be remiss not to start with a crispy onion loaf or a martini glass brimming with spicy kickin’ shrimp. True connoisseurs may opt for one of the signature steaks like the 14-ounce ribeye or 12-ounce New York strip.
Can’t decide on a single steak? Then have three filet medallions together for a veriety of tastes across a few mini steaks. The medallions come with loaded mashed potatoes and either coleslaw or broccoli on the side. Each medallion is treated to its own gourmet topping, such as teriyaki glaze, wild mushrooms, cabernet demi glace, Dijon Mustard Sauce or balsamic reduction. It’s the perfect way to whet your palate with an array of flavors.
Round Table Pizza is a family favorite on the Mainland, renowned for consistently high quality pizza and wings. The Round Table Pizza at the Hilton Hawaiian Village is actually one of the most popular locations in the country, thanks to daily fresh-rolled pizza dough, superior ingredients, and free delivery in Waikiki.
Favorites like the King Arthur Supreme or Guinevere’s Garden are hits in Hawaii just like they are back home, but for something a tad adventurous, go for the Maui Zaui. “Hawaiian” pizza may hail from Canada, but the Maui Zaui has bit more Island flair. It start with a base of sweet and spicy Polynesian sauce that isn’t quite like any other pizza sauce, which works well with the sweet pineapple mixed with savory bacon, ham, tomato and onions. It’s a beautiful pizza to see, and it tastes even better than it looks.
Eat in an airy atmosphere with a surf shack vibe at Goofy Cafe & Dine, located on Ala Moana Boulevard, just outside of the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Goofy specializes in healthy cuisine made with primarily local, organic ingredients. The result is incredibly fresh tasting fare that combines Mainland and Hawaiian favorites.
One delightful dish that marries Hawaiian and Mainland classics is the kalua pig eggs benedict. It uses local pork (when available) to make kalua pork, the tender Hawaiian pulled pulled pork usually found at a luau or in a plate lunch. Instead of a regular English muffin, diners can choose a taro or wheat roll, and the whole ensemble is topped with poached eggs and homemade hollandaise that has a hint of lilikoi (passion fruit) butter. It’s not quite what might adorn a Mainland menu, but it’s a treat nonetheless.
Local news and radio personalities in Hawaii have an aura of celebrity beyond that of typical regional anchors. Here they’re often beloved characters who have been educating and entertaining for years. So when a local radio personality turned morning news host like Billy V knows who you are, it can be both surreal and a cause for celebration.
In July 2017, pig farmers Stacy Sugai and Patsy Oshiro were tickled to see Billy V hosting a cooking segment with local chef Johan Svensson, using their pork. Billy V nodded in recognition when the chef mentioned 2 Lady Farmers by name as he crafted the “Crackling 2 Ladies Pork Shank,” the signature dish for his restaurant, BLT Market in the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach.
Local news segments and feature dishes at the Ritz were far beyond anything Stacy and Patsy ever anticipated when they teamed up to create 2 Lady Farmers.
“Our whole emphasis was trying to get in the stores,” Sugai said.
“We didn’t even think restaurants,” Oshiro chimed in.
The two shared modest goals in part because of their modest start. Despite being high school classmates, the two women were strangers when they met five years ago as Sugai moved into the home at the former Derego pig farm.
The Deregos had been well known as one of many families farming in Waianae on Oahu’s west side. While much of Oahu has developed with large housing and hotel complexes, Waianae has remained a rural outpost where there are many small locally owned farms, including several pig farms. It’s common in Waianae for pig farmers to feed their animals slop and to sell pigs to locals who drive up to the gate, rather than producing commercially viable pork.
Sugai didn’t know much about pig farming when she and her family bought the old Derego farm, but she did know that she wanted to do things a little differently. Her initial vision had been to become totally self-sufficient, but the demands of a pig farm quickly proved too great to pursue self-sufficiency. She needed to learn how to run her farm first.
Luckily for Sugai, she had great neighbors. The day she moved in, Patsy Oshiro came by with her husband to pick up a forklift. Oshiro could tell Sugai would need help.
“I felt sorry for her,” Oshiro said as she recalled how run down the farm had become, coupled with how unprepared Sugai was to run it.
Unlike Sugai, Oshiro was well versed in running a farm. She is a third-generation farmer, whose family was once the largest producer of Manoa lettuce in Hawaii. She married into pig farming and, although she acknowledges it’s hard work, she enjoys it.
The two women became fast friends, and Oshiro taught Sugai everything she needed to know about raising pigs. Soon Oshiro was at Sugai’s farm six days a week for several hours each day after having already worked a full day on her own farm.
Eventually Sugai got a handle on the farm, and the two friends decided to become business partners. Their goal was to get pork sold in local grocery stores.
“My thing was really wanting to get into Foodland because they’re locally owned and operated,” Sugai said.
They were able to get Foodland and Sack N Save to sell their pork under the name PS Pork (Short for Patsy and Stacy), which was a major accomplishment. Most of the pork labeled “local” in Hawaiian markets is actually raised on the Mainland then shipped in via large container ships to slaughter. 2 Lady Farmers is one of the only operations on island that breeds, raises and sells 100 percent local pork for retail.
The “locally born and raised” slogan on the PS Pork labels eventually caught the eyes of Amy and Glen Shinsato. At the time, the Shinsatos were running their own pig farm in Windward Oahu. Shinsato Farm had been family owned and operated since the 1940s. It was well known on Oahu as the only local farm to provide pork to high-end restaurants like Ed Kenney’s Town, or Kailua’s beloved Kalapawai Café. Their name was a staple of the popular farm-to-table movement in Oahu.
“The Shinsatos really worked hard at getting local pork out there,” said Sugai.
Their hard work paid off. By 2015, chances are that if you ate a local pork chop at an Oahu restaurant, it would have come from Shinsato Farm. That dominance in the restaurant market was one of the reasons Sugai and Oshiro didn’t set their sights on distribution to restaurants. The Shinsatos had it covered.
Unbeknownst to the 2 Lady Farmers though, the Shinsato family planned to sell the farm. According to the Shinsato Farm website, “Late in 2015 it had become evident, due to an illness in the family, that Shinsato Farm would have to be sold.” It was clearly a decision that weighed heavily on Amy and Glen, who had worked so hard building up restaurant clientele.
While the Shinsatos were selling their land and worrying about the future of locally raised pork on Oahu, Amy Shinsato came across PS Pork in Foodland. She contacted Sugai and Oshiro in short order to find out how they operated. Amy Shinsato realized that the 2 Lady Farmers would be a perfect match to fill the void in the market after her own farm closed.
“We specifically asked 2 Lady Farmers [to promote local pork] because they have the same philosophy and farm ethics as we have and we like how they raise their pigs. Well-raised pigs produce good pork,” according to the Shinsato Farm website.
The Shinsatos started introducing Sugai and Oshiro to their clients and teaching them the business side of commercial pig farming. When the time came to finally sell the farm, the Shinsatos gifted 40 breeding pigs to 2 Lady Farmers to ensure their line of quality stock continued.
Today, Sugai and Oshiro continue to sell pork under PS Pork to Foodland, but a large part of their business is selling to top-tier restaurants, thanks to the help from Amy and Glen Shinsato. The Shinsatos, meanwhile, are enjoying their retirement. They can still be found at the Blaisdell Center Farmers’ Market on Wednesday afternoons and the Mililani High School Farmers’ Market Sunday mornings selling raw pork and prepared pork dishes from 2 Lady Farmers.
Unlike most of the pigs raised in Waianae, Sugai and Oshiro’s pigs are grain fed with no antibiotics in their feed. Unless an animal has an infection, the only medications pigs receive at the farm are an iron supplement and two vaccines: one to avoid worms and the other to prevent lung infections. The lady farmers’ main concern is raising happy, healthy pigs. Each animal gets special attention and care, including macadamia treats and back scratches.
The love and care 2 Lady Farmers puts into each pig comes through with great tasting pork that is ethically raised here in paradise.
As a consummate animal lover, Sugai explains, “We love them as much as we can when they’re here, until they go to their purpose.”
INTERESTED IN TRYING 2 LADY FARMERS’ PORK? HERE ARE A FEW WAIKIKI RESTAURANTS THAT CARRY THEIR PRODUCTS:
LONGEVITY IN RESTAURANTS is hard to accomplish in any market, but especially in the bustle and ever-changing landscape of Waikiki. It seems like every day one new trendy restaurant opens, and another closes its doors. Few eateries accomplish establishment status, and, until earlier this year, Shore Bird Beachfront Bar was one of them.
Originally founded in 1979 by friends, Shore Bird at the Outrigger Reef Hotel drew locals and visitors, including a fair amount of celebrities. The beachfront location, casual atmosphere and world famous grill made for an iconic and playful dining experience. Where else could guests claim a spot on a giant communal grill and perfect their own meals with Diamond Head in the distance?
After 38 years on the beach though, the owner was ready to retire, and the Outrigger Reef Hotel was ready to take charge of in-house dining. Shore Bird closed its doors on Sept. 30, 2017, and on Nov. 1 the new Reef Bar and Market Grill opened under the hotel’s ownership.
“It’s a sad day and an exciting one at the same time,” said general manager Kelly Hoen about the turnover.
There are plenty of innovative ideas and improvements to the new restaurant, but, thankfully, not everything will change. “We are going to embrace the grill,” said John Shelton, the Reef’s executive chef. Diners will still take on the task of grilling premium cuts of meat on the same grill pioneered by the Shore Bird.
Chef Shelton came to Hawaii from San Diego where he worked with several high-end hotel restaurants, specifically to help reimagine the space and redesign the menu. One of the enhancements he’s engineered is the addition of a full-time butcher who will also act as the spice blender for a new spice market.
For every order, the butcher will hand select prime cuts of meat that diners can pick up on their way to the grill. Those prime cuts are paired with a specially made rub from the spice market. Rubs are designed to complement each cut of meat.
“It’s not just a steak, it’s a whole experience,” said Shelton of the revised concept.
Additionally, the Reef has partnered with Kunoa Cattle Company to provide locally sourced beef and other meat products. While not all of the meat or food products can come from Hawaii, Shelton is making an effort to include Hawaiian foods, including spices and salts.
“We’re going to work on creating an amazing environment,” said Shelton. His vision for the restaurant moving forward is an appealing picture: “Ocean, grill, steaks and your chosen beverage.” Who could ask for more?
My friend Amber and I have a game we play every time we’re in Waikiki. While shopping or dining at any of the myriad locations available along the white sand shores, we keep a quiet tally, adding up how many brides we see.
Waikiki is implicitly romantic. As the former playground for Hawaiian royalty, it still holds an aura of beauty and grandeur that attracts couples from around the world. Every year thousands of lovebirds flock to Waikiki for elopements or honeymoons and it’s always a pleasure to see beautiful brides in elaborate gowns parading through the area with their grooms.
If you’ve come to Waikiki with your beloved for a wedding, honeymoon, anniversary, or just because, here are a few of the restaurants you may want to try for the best in food and romance.
Miyako sits on the second story of the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel. It looks out over Kaimana Beach, a local favorite for its calm water and relative lack of crowds. As the sun sets, diners at Miyako are treated to a spectacular view as they enjoy traditional Japanese cuisine.
The food at Miyako has impeccable presentation to accompany the ocean views. The five types of sashimi, pictured here, are among the restaurant’s “locally grown” specials, featuring exclusively fresh caught Hawaiian seafood. The sampler includes Kana abalone, Kahuku shrimp, yellowfin ahi, kampachi (yellowtail) and uku (blue green snapper).
Niihau, or the Forbidden Island, has its own mystique after being privately owned for over a century. It acts almost like a time capsule, where a handful of Native Niihauans live largely as pre-European contact Hawaiians did. Although not native to Hawaii, the island has a large sheep population that is cultivated by Niihau Ranch.
d.k Steak House in Waikiki is one of the few fine dining restaurants that serves Niihau Ranch Lamb. Its lamb shank is served with creamy roasted garlic mashed potatoes, baby spinach and mushrooms. This unique delicacy is not only robust in flavor, it’s also only found in Hawaii.
Good things come in a martini glass. At Kaiwa, a teppan and sushi restaurant in Waikiki Beach Walk, martini glasses come filled with savory appetizers, such as ahi poke with garlic and ogo seaweed. The restaurant serves wine and spirits to accompany its appetizer cocktails, but the bar is best known for its extensive sake list.
The sushi and teppan are divine, but veering into the entree section of the menu can also be a delight. The Black Angus filet mignon comes grilled to order and has a fine-grain texture. For an optimum dining experience, request a sunken table in the back room, where twinkle lights provide a light glow.
As a California native, I grew up with a certain fast food chain that has a notorious secret menu. Newcomers would often discover the undocumented menu after months in the area then gleefully ask with a wink and a nudge if I knew about it. I’d always known through cultural osmosis about that particular secret menu, but it never occured to me that other establishments might do the same.
I was pleasantly surprised to find recently that Wolfgang’s Steakhouse at the Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikiki also has at least one hidden menu item: the surf ‘n turf. This dish pairs an 8-10-ounce prime filet tenderloin and a whole pound of cold-water lobster. It’s just the right amount of food for a loving couple to share during a memorable night out.
Taormina in Waikiki Beach Walk specializes in Sicilian fare and has the right ambiance for a romantic dinner. Seating options include a dining room, an outdoor terrace, and second-story tables overlooking the Beach Walk. Reservations are recommended at Taormina, but specific table requests cannot be guaranteed.
A typical dinner at Taormina may take hours between relishing different courses and sipping an appropriately paired Italian wine. The menu at Taormina is extensive, which can make for a difficult decision. One dining option is to pick from different sections and share. T he bolognese “classica” and the pesce del giorno are two disparate dishes that display the range of entrees available.
The Moana Surfrider, the first hotel to grace Waikiki Beach, is affectionately known as the First Lady of Waikiki. Its open verandas, wooden rocking chairs, and luxurious design, are the perfect blend of modern comfort and historic stateliness. it’s long been a favorite wedding venue as couples are practically guaranteed gorgeous photos.
Beachhouse, the hotel’s signature restaurant, has an airy lanai that sits right on the beach. it’s a pristine location for afternoon tea, something the restaurant specializes in. For an evening meal, the dining room can host large parties or intimate tables for a tete-a-tete. Try the ahi au poivre, a new menu item with local ahi, parmesan potatoes, grilled ratatouille and sauce au poivre.
Seafood in Hawaii is world-renowned. Fish and other sea creatures have fed the islands’ population for centuries and today locals and visitors alike enjoy seafood medleys in Waikiki’s top restaurants. Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar, located in the Waikiki Beach Marriott is another Japanese-style restaurant that serves only fresh, high-quality fish.
The quality of Sansei’s seafood is evident in the number of award-winning dishes it serves. Three of those dishes, pictured here, highlight the array of options available at Sansei, such as the crab ramen with Asian truffle broth, the Asian shrimp cake, and the popular panko-crusted fresh ahi sashimi.