Many of you probably know that I love good food and wine. (If you didn’t, now you do.) Homebuyers and sellers routinely ask me what my favorite restaurants are and what I think of the new places I’ve tried. So, I compiled a list of my favorite restaurants and why I love them. I’ve included some of my favorite dishes, too.


Lunch + Dinner | Casual | Reservations Recommended

Dagon is one of those restaurants that I always forget how much I love … likely because it’s not on any of the home delivery apps and finding parking can be rough.

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

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

Every single dish I’ve tried is delicious. My go-tos are the Tea Leaf Salad (I 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 90ºF out. You can only make reservations for parties of 4 or more so I always go with family or friends.

Depending on who’s with you, you can opt for a split pot. For example:

Sukiyaki broth, prime rib set, and mixed grain rice on one ‘side’ and spicy umakara broth (pro tip: you can ask for extra spicy), veggie set, and white rice on the other.

For the table, I like to order cucumber kimchee and extra mixed mushrooms. They’re both a treat.


Lunch + Dinner | Casual

You’ll find me at Saigon’s at least weekly. In fact, I’ve been known to have phở for dinner and be back the next day ordering a spicy vermicelli bowl for lunch. 

What? It’s that good!

I’ve made an effort to try phở at other places but nothing compares, IMHO. Thank goodness it’s right down the street from my home.

My favorite things to order (depending on my mood) include: tofu vegetable phở with vegetable broth, beef and meatball phở with regular broth, spicy vermicelli bowl with chicken and tofu or tofu and eggplant, tofu spring rolls, and shrimp summer rolls. You also can’t go wrong with their bánh mì.


Marukame Udon Waikiki

Lunch + Dinner | Casual

I’ll preface this by saying you’ll never find me lining up 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 the type of udon you’d like. When your noodles are ready, you pick from a huge selection of fresh tempura. Next up is a selection of musubi and you I recommend the inari. 

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

Alternatively, I 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. Delish.

Roy’s Waikiki

Dinner | Nicer | Reservations Recommended

Roy’s is basically 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. 

I always order misoyaki butterfish as an entrée. Appetizers vary. I love their zucchini bao buns, crab cakes, Okinawan sweet potato bisque, kampachi crudo and the Sugarland farms watermelon appetizer. All the sushi rolls have been good. And if you’re dining with a vegan, apparently they knock the vegan options out of the park!


Dinner | Nicer | Reservations Recommended

Azure has always been a favorite of mine when I’m jonesing for fresh fish. Lately, I’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, garlic Kauai shrimp, and/or the auction block sashimi.


Dinner | Nicer | Reservations Recommended for Parties of 4+

To me, this is the closest thing to we can get to real Italian food in Hawaii. And, yes, that means there is no fettuccini alfredo, I’m afraid. (You want to hit up The Olive Garden for that.) Mediterraneo’s owner is from Italy and you know it with every bite your meal. 

I’ll start with crostini porcini and a Mediterranea salad -or- the bolognese with papadelle. The chicken marsala is big enough for two … hint, hint. Also worth a turn around the dance floor are the pesto, shrimp scampi, and porcini pastas.

Tonkatsu Tamafuji

Dinner | Casual | a very long wait

If you can handle the wait, you must eat here. When you get here, you need to put your name, phone number and party size on the list. 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 arrive. 

Worth the wait? YES. The food is so so so good and fresh. Your meal is prepared in front of you at the counter after you let the kitchen know your choices of: protein (pork, chicken, shrimp, oysters), rice (3 types), and miso soup (red or white).


Dinner | Nicer | Reservations Recommended

Ah Vino’s. How I love thee. Hands down, it’s best to go with 4 people because family style is the way to go here. Everything is so delicious.

This is also a place to experiment with wine and try something new. Every time I go, I trust Master Sommelier Chuck Furuya to pair wines with my meal. He’s never wrong and he’s also the reason I’m now familiar with many uniquely wonderful wines he’s imported as he 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, in fact, it’s one of two reason I come here.

The other is for their tasting menu of  about 5 courses. It’s the best way to sample a large variety of MW’s offering.

*I’m not typically a dessert person, yet, I always order dessert here. Michelle makes the most unique, beautiful and mouthwatering desserts.

Sushi Murayama

Casual | Lunch + Dinner | Reservations Required

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

If you’re adventuresome in a way that I am not (yet), friends and colleagues speak remarkably highly of the omakase. 

The fish is always so fresh. I could eat myself into a food coma. My 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 prawn. This is one of those “there are no words” to describe how good it is things. And speaking of shrimp, they also make tempura that is to die for.

Koko Head Cafe

Casual | Breakfast + Brunch | No Reservations, Waitlist

I tend to sneak in here on random weekdays, mid-morning and there’s usually no line. Woo!

Everything at Koko Head Cafe is a hit. The dumpling specials change daily and I highly recommend them.

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 is probably my favorite.

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