Back to the important stuff. When we first arrived in Hawaii and settled into the cruise ship like mega-plex that was the Hilton Hawaiian Village we suddenly realised that we needed to find 3 squares a day for the next week and the room service menu was not only dismally small but looked like the budget sheet of a small country... Not a good start. The Hilton has 20 something restaurants within its bounds, some of which are half decent and I'll cover them, but we also wanted to get outside the plastic-fantastic security blanket and eat what the locals eat. Our restrictions were price, exhaustion (within a short walking distance), small-boy friendliness (although he is such a champion restaurant baby now) and also the food had to be good! Here's how we survived.
#1 Chiba-Ken Japanese restaurant. This place was my favourite hands down! Not even a whole block from the hotel (but down an unassuming side street) we thankfully stumbled over this little gem. One look at the menu showed me no cream cheese in any of the sushi and I was sold. I ate here three times but I could happily have come back every night. The chirashi special was really good, so was the tsukemono and the slow cooked, sticky pork belly (melt in your mouth goodness). I am not usually a miso fan but the miso was the best (and freshest) that I've had in a long time! Definitely worth a visit (or 3) if you're in the area.
Edamame, tsukemono and unfiltered sake at Chiba-Ken
Gorgeously fresh chirashi special (with uni and fresh wasabi) plus tasty-tasty miso at Chiba-Ken
#2 The Wailana Coffee House. This diner is right across the street from the hotel, open 24 hours and had the (I wish I could say faint) odor of urine, but the breakfasts were fast, filling, cheap and pretty darn tasty - plus the menu was big enough that you could breakfast for a week and not get bored. Great omelettes (I can recommend the Chinese style), good pancakes and Jo liked the muesli (cup not bowl people).
#3 The ubiquitous ABC stores. While not exactly a restaurant, these places were a lifesaver in terms of foraging. From yoghurt and juice for the early morning jetlag munchies through to a bottle of wine and some plastic glasses (plus a Hawaii themed bottle opener) at way less than room service prices. They also have all your trashy (and not so trashy) souvenir requirements covered.
#4 Pho Minh Thu>. This little Vietnamese place was hidden away about a block from the hotel and like most pho houses it looked pretty Spartan, but the food was delicious and so fresh and cheap too. Good pho, vermicelli bowls and great summer rolls. We ate in and grabbed take out several times, since this was the perfect food for hungry travellers craving something fresh.
#5 Two honourable mentions from within the Hilton complex. Round Table Pizza which is a US West Coast pizza chain (and it doesn't get more West Coast than Hawaii, sorry California...) The Guinevere's Garden (vege) and King Arthur's Supreme were both very good and even better with a bottle of red from the ABC store! Also within the Hilton complex was Hatsuhana, a sushi place that opened early for breakfast. I was on my own here but I loved the toridori udon (chicken udon soup) - it was exactly what I felt like for brek!