Many of you probably know that Kimo loves good food and wine. If you didn’t, now you do! His clients always want to know what his favorite restaurants are and what new places he’s tried recently. We compiled a list of his favorite restaurants and why he loves them. We’ve also included his favorite dishes to order (and mine, bonus!).

Dagon

Lunch + Dinner | Casual | Reservations Recommended

Dagon is one of those restaurants that we always forget how much we love. I think it’s because it’s not on any of the home delivery apps and parking can suck.

If you’re not familiar, Dagon is on King Street near Sherwin Williams. They have 4 parking stalls behind the restaurant. We usually end up parking on the street, which is free after 6PM or always if you have an EV car with the electric plates. 

Make reservations if you’re going for dinner. This spot is popular! They also get bonus points for BYOB.

Every single dish we’ve tried is delicious. Our go-tos are the Tea Leaf Salad (we prefer the vegetarian one), Masala Fish, Basil Chicken, Mixed Vegetable Curry and Myrick’s Thai Style Pan Fried Noodles

Asuka Shabu Shabu

Dinner | Casual | Reservations Recommended

This place is always packed – even when it’s 90*F out. You can only make reservations for parties of 4 or more so we always try to go with friends.

When we go we always do a split pot and this is our order:

Kimo: sukiyaki broth, prime rib set, and mixed grain rice
Mine: spicy umakara broth (pro tip: you can ask for extra spicy), veggie set, and mixed grain rice.

If we’re with friends we’ll usually order the cucumber kimchee and an extra order of the mixed mushrooms.

Saigon

Lunch + Dinner | Casual

You’ll find us at Saigon’s at least once a week. But we’ve also been known to have pho for dinner and run back the next day to get spicy vermicelli bowls for lunch. 

We can’t help ourselves.

We’ve made an effort to try pho at other places but nothing compares. Thank goodness it’s right down the street from our home.

Our favorite things to order (in no particular order) are: tofu vegetable pho with vegetable broth, beef and meatball pho with regular broth, spicy vermicelli bowl with chicken and tofu or tofu and eggplant, the tofu spring rolls, and the shrimp summer rolls. You also can’t go wrong with their banh mi.

 

Marukame Udon Waikiki

Lunch + Dinner | Casual

I’ll preface this by saying you’ll never find us standing in line to eat here if there are any more than 8 people in the existing line. I’m just not cute when I’m hangry. 

If you haven’t been here yet, you should know that it’s cafeteria style. Once you’re inside you order which type of udon you’d like. Once you get your noodles you can pick from a huge selection of fresh tempura. Next up is a selection of musubi and you must get the inari. 

Kimo usually gets the Niku Udon. It has the same seaweed based broth as the Kake but is topped with sweet beef and caramelized onions. He’ll usually get a couple of shrimp and mushroom tempura as well.

I usually order the Kake Udon which is very simple: broth, noodles, green onions, and tempura flakes. I usually have them hold the flakes and add extra green onions. I like to save my fats for tempura when I made it to the end of the line. 

Roy’s Waikiki

Dinner | Nicer | Reservations Recommended

This is the Smigielski family restaurant. You’ll find us here several times a year and for good reason! The service is great and the food is delicious. 

Kimo will always order the misoyaki butterfish without fail as his entree (as do I). Appetizers vary… we love the zucchini bao buns, the crab cakes, the Okinawan sweet potato bisque, the kampachi crudo and the Sugarland farms watermelon appetizer. All the sushi rolls have been good. And if you’re dining with a vegan, they knock the vegan options out of the park.

Azure

Dinner | Nicer | Reservations Recommended

Azure has always been a favorite of ours when we’re jonesing for a nice fresh fish dish. Lately, we’ve been ordering the whole fried fish (2 people minimum) which comes with garlic rice, kimchee brussels sprouts, and long beans. It’s so good.

As far as appetizers go you can’t go wrong with the chilled Kona lobster, Hokkaido scallops, the garlic Kauai shrimp, and the auction block sashimi.

Mediterraneo

Dinner | Nicer | Reservations Recommended for Parties of 4+

To us, this is the closest thing to we can get to real Italian food in Hawaii. The owner is from Italy and you can tell the moment you have your first bite.

We always start with the crostini porcini and the Mediterranea salad. Kimo always orders the bolognese with papadelle. We’ll usually share the chicken marsala. And I tend to bounce between the pesto, shrimp scampi, or porcini pastas.

Tonkatsu Tamafuji

Dinner | Casual | a very long wait

If you can handle the wait, you must eat here. When you get there, you need to put your name, phone number and number of people in your party on the list. And then you wait. And wait. And wait. 

Or you go downstairs and have a drink at the bar while you wait. The wait can be about an hour depending on what time you get there. 

The food is so so so good and fresh. Once you pick your protein (pork, chicken, shrimp, oysters) then you get to pick your rice (3 types) miso soup (red or white) and then you wait while they prepare your food right there at the counter.

Vino’s

Dinner | Nicer | Reservations Recommended

Ah Vino’s. How we love thee. As much as we love this place, we think it’s best to go with 4 people because family style is the way to go here. Everything is so delicious and I can’t imagine going there and only order a few dishes. 

This is also the place to have some fun with wine and try something new. Every time we go, we ask Master Sommelier Chuck Furuya to select different wines for us to enjoy with our dinner. We’ve tried so many unique wines that he’s brought back from his travels around the world.

MW Restaurant

Dinner | Nice | Reservations Required

MW serves up amazing food — appetizers to dessert* you will leave stuffed and happy. 

One of their signature dishes is a mochi crusted kampachi. Once I had this, I never ordered a different entree.

Kimo always orders the tasting menu – it has about 5 courses. This is the best way to try a large variety of what MW has to offer.

*We’re not really dessert people and we always order dessert here. Michelle makes the most unique, beautiful and mouthwatering desserts. 

Sushi Murayama

Casual | Lunch + Dinner | Reservations Required

It’s so hard to pick a favorite sushi restaurant in Hawaii! We have so many good ones. 

If you’re adventuresome Murayama has a delightful omakase option. Kimo’s clients and friends have spoken so highly of the omakase. The only reason we personally can’t speak highly of that particular option is that I’m such a chicken. We always order off the menu. 

The fish is always so fresh. We tend to eat ourselves into a food coma. Our absolute favorite thing on the menu is the grilled tiger shrimp nigiri. There’s a tiny ball of rice topped with a shiso leaf and a massive shrimp. My description is lame, but trust us, this is a must order. And speaking of tiger shrimp, they also make tempura that is to die for.  

Koko Head Cafe

Casual | Breakfast + Brunch | No Reservations, Waitlist

We tend to sneak in here on a random weekday, mid-morning and there’s usually no line! Woo!

Everything at Koko Head Cafe is delicious! The dumpling specials change daily and are highly recomended.

Kimo always orders the Chicky + Eggs Skillet that has Japanese-style fried jidori chicken, French-style scrambled eggs, house-made pickles and maple tabasco on a bed of rice. I’ll usually order the hashbrowns,  rye toast, scrambled eggs, and fruit. Basic, I know, but so yummy.

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Lauren Victoria Smigielski

Lauren is the resident blogger and home stager. When she's not typing away at her laptop you can find her trying not to kill her garden, reading a book, or trying a new recipe.

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