Brand new restaurant alert! A familiar menu comes to Waikiki in a convenient space just on the outskirts of Beach Walk. Sushi Sho and Hachibei had a baby and it is located where Bills used ot be next to Hard Rock Cafe. Aimed at featuring some of the most sought after and classic dishes from its parents, UPSTAIRS melds a fusion of cuisines with an iconic Japanese flare in a comfortable sake bar.
Seasonal and local ingredients are harvested as much as possible to create a comforting experience. Items like Kim Chee Fried Rice, Crispy Fried Dumplings, Fried Chicken and LA style Kalbi are notable. The decor is contemporary meets casual tropics and the service is superb. Servers are all very well educated on the menu and eager to offer assistance, recommendations and clarification on anything you need. The beverage menu boasts hand-selected items from Japan, along with beautiful cocktails, mocktails and local brews.
The experience overall is great. Parking in the area is accessible with paid parking options. The lighting in the restaurant once it is night is a bit dark and romantic. Some of our favorite dishes were the: Salmon Salad: Seared salmon with greens and vegetables, mint, lime chili caramel, asian dressing; Hachibei's Torimomo: Spiced roasted Jidori Chicken with chicken oil and nigiri (this was absolutely spectacular, juicy, tender and delicious); Fried Wonton: local shrimp, deep fried won ton paper thin served with a chili nuoc cham dipping sauce; Kimchi Fried Rice: well seasoned garlic gochujang rice with Spam, local eggs and garlic shrimp!
UPSTAIRS, located at 280 Beach Walk, Honolulu, HI 96815, open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Starting October 8, the restaurant will offer takeout during lunch Wednesday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. As COVID restrictions are lifted, UPSTAIRS will return to the normal hours of operation of breakfast and lunch from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Local residents will be offered a Kamaʻāina discount of 15% off.
Hidden gem alert! There's a new bakery in Wahiawa that is simply divine. The beautiful handcrafted cakes and cupcakes might just be too pretty to eat. Pua Cake Studio is a sweet little bake shop that specializes in cakes and cupcakes with elegant buttercream flowers made by hand.
The owner, Jayme, started off her professional career inspired to practice fashion design... later she opted for something more reliable and received her psychology degree. Her passion for art and design continued to grow and flourish and as the years passed she began taking an interest in baking, After interning and shadowing some of the best bakers (here on Oahu and abroad) she studied the craft of buttercream flower making in Korea.
Now back in Hawaii, Pua Cake Studio was born and features quality baked goods, made from scratch and the most beautiful, intricate flower designs. Jayme makes and bakes a variety of things including cupcakes, cakes, cookies and macarons. The standout cupcakes are strawberry and lilikoi. The cake is dense yet fluffy and the inside of the cupcake is piped with delightful jelly or cream. The buttercream is outstanding as it is the perfect blend of butter and light sweet cream.
Pua Cake Studio in Wahiawa is open Thursday-Sunday 10am-6pm.
Nearly 60 years ago... an oasis was built to welcome folks away from the bustle of downtown and to the wonder and splendor of a retreat in the Ala Moana Area. Home to beautiful fish and other sea life the Pagoda Floating Restaurant was born. Over the years this eatery (and hotel) became a staple for the local community. After covid the restaurant chose to revamp its concept, menu and offerings. Instead of the iconic daily buffet they opted to go ala carte and focus on creating new, locally sourced and fresh breakfast items for all guests to enjoy. The decision to highlight local farmers, purveyors and Hawaiian products stems from wanting to support local and offer the best quality available to guests.
The reformat and change in the menu is wonderful. Dishes are vibrant, perfectly prepared and full of local flavors with a delightful twist. With so many memories of how Pagoda once was the expectations were rather low and the gourmet cuisine that followed was a true delight to all the senses. Everything was thoughtfully crafted and brought out the best in all the local ingredients.
Some of the standouts include: Coconut Pancakes, Kalua Pork Omelette, Granola & Yogurt Bowl, Fresh Muesli, Avocado Toast, Loco Moco and the Egg Foo Young.
The delicious and absolutely divine breakfast menu was artfully crafted by consulting Chef Jeff Vigilla who has a laundry list of fantastic experiences and accolades prior to venturing off to offer his own consulting business. With the collaboration of Chef Vigilla and the talented chefs and cooks at the Pagoda these dishes are mouthwatering. Be sure to check out their new breakfast menu daily 7am-11am.
Brunch is always so comforting... you need not commit to breakfast or lunch so you brunch and get the best of both worlds. Back in 2016 Egghead Cafe opened in Kaka'ako and was a popular spot for folks who love... eggs. But they also closed their doors back in 2018 and then elegantly reopened in the midst of the pandemic in Kalihi and Kailua.
Thankfully, this fusion of crave-worthy brunch dishes still serves us some delicious eats along with some new bites that are both savory and sweet. The space in Kalihi is essentially two stores in one and they have separated the cafe from a coffee shop. But, when things get busy and tables start to fill they allow for overflow into the coffee shop side for seating. *Note, if you order for takeout you would simply enter the coffee shop side and grab your food once done there. The takeout option is very efficient and on time even on weekends.
Now back to the food. They say they are Taiwan-inspired but it is good to see the main dishes are mainly a blend of local influences with hints of Asia as well. Your omelettes are a mix of crab, pork belly, veggie and chorizo... while the Benedicts are classic, pork belly (you'll see it often), salmon, crab and California. Pancakes are a fan favorite with tiramisu, sweet potato and haupia, strawberry shortcake, s'mores and so much more. The French Toasts are also robust with toppings like berry, cinnamon and cocho creme brulee. And they also offer some really unique toasts too - specialty Toasts include: smoked salmon, prosciutto and egg, lilikoi BGTE (bacon greens tomato and eggs), pesto chicken and a new spin on a grill cheese with tomato and egg.
Overall, the space is really cute, upbeat and friendly. The service is attentive, happy and well educated on the product. I have enjoyed everything here and the portions are generous, while the ingredients are also supremely fresh and delicious. Everything is cooked perfectly and the vibe mixed with the yummy food leaves you feeling very happy and full. This is my new fave brunch spot and each time I visit I feel like I am winning!
Growing up on Kauai or Maui... you may recall something called a Flying Saucer. The savory treat of white bread pressed together with robust sloppy joe filling was hot, crisp and comforting. The reality is... after your childhood days if you moved away you likely didn't get to eat them again.
A local entrepreneur was inspired to bring this local comfort food to Oahu for others to try, reminisce and enjoy. We had the chance to chat with Gilbert from Saucer King 808 to get the scoop on his iconic and delicious saucers.
What is Saucer King 808?
Saucer King 808 is a company created to introduce the flying saucer (a Maui/Kauai seasonal favorite) to the island of Oahu.
Both islands have slightly different recipes and I respectfully decided to blend the two together in a way that unites the islands much in a way that King Kamehameha did. It’s not a Kauai or Maui saucer, it’s a Saucer King saucer.
Saucer King is a contemporary take on a classic. A saucer for everyone, no matter what island you’re from.
Why do you make these?
First and foremost, I truly love eating flying saucers. From my earliest memories of the Maui county Fair, I remember being a kid, having a bag of flying saucers and being so happy.
When I moved to Honolulu, I wondered if anyone made them here, but I couldn’t find them anywhere. And for 15 years that thought lingered in my mind. Fast forward to 2020 and the pandemic
How did you decide to do this?
After being laid off from the hotel industry due to covid, I had plenty of time to think in 2020. I was sitting down with a friend from Kauai one night and we randomly started talking about saucers. “Wait, you know about flying saucers too”? To this point I thought flying saucers were a Maui thing.
“It’s a Kauai thing”, he said and then the bantering began. Was it a Kauai thing or Maui thing? I honestly still don’t know the answer. The more we talked about it, the thought of starting a saucer business became clear. There was clearly a demand just between us two and we were sure there were more people out there just like us.
What’s your hope?
My hope is to introduce the flying saucer craze to the next generation of saucer eaters.My hope for Saucer King is to bring people together. Saucer King represents the combined ideas of a couple of guys from Maui and Kauai. And the realization that when people work through their differences you can accomplish far greater things together.My final hope one day is to have a store right on Waialae Ave in Kaimuki, where it all began.
You can follow Gilbert and these saucers on Instagram via @saucerking808
Nothing says Hawaiian dessert fusion like the combination of Okinawan Sweet Potato with traditional Haupia dessert squares! Enjoy this super easy recipe to satisfy your craving!
Okinawan Sweet Potato
Okinawan Sweet Potato Filling
You may have seen your impressive sushi cakes online... A recent addition to the Ohana Hale Marketplace, makes Bakudan Poke a great find for superb poke, eclectic ingredients and bold flavors. Apparently they have been around for a minute, with a food truck and then in Manpunapuna... but now you can get a hold of these specialty seafood items in Honolulu.
The poke is far from boring and packed full of flavor. The tender morsels of sashimi grade delicate fish are enhanced with a menagerie of toppings including tobiko, pickled garlic, soy, sesame and so much more. Their poke bowls can also be made into salads and are served over a beautiful bed of mixed greens. They are also famous for their crab salad and taegu which comes as the topping or garnish for a lot of items.
They seem to blend flavors here, mainly Japanese and Korean and add local twists. The portions are hefty, the service is very engaging, friendly and when asked about modifications they were eager to please. I would highly recommend trying this new poke spot in town as I can feel their popularity growing and on the precipice of blowing up major.
The garlic poke was phenomenal and their Baku Bombs were also a great treat that left enough to take home, share and eat later. The Bakudan Bombs are inari sushi, topped with creamy crab salad, cucumber, tobiko, unagi sauce and etc. They also offer different types of fresh fish based on availability and you can try spicy, limu, tako, and whatever else is the special.
Overall this was an outstanding experience and my mouth is watering just writing this.
Just before COVID hit, Sakura Terrace quietly opened its doors on King Street after undergoing a beautiful renovation. My first time trying this restaurant left me wanting more as they are authentic in their service, style and dishes... but also showcase new innovations that are creative and meant to impress the eyes and stomach.
For lunch you can order a bento or chirashi and be nicely full. The portions are generous and the quality is superb. The sushi chef also takes great pride in making the usual finds, but also incorporating very unique and bursting with flavor additions to the menu.
Standout dishes include: renkon cheese, mushi awabi, hamachi carpaccio, spicy tuna, abalone and washu sirloin steak. They also have a bento set for the tempura lover, unreal sushi creations and rolls along with extremely fresh fish. Prices are also quite affordable considering the excellent quality.
The ambiance it like being in Japan. They have nicely spaced tables, accents of sakura and other Japanese elements and very traditional service with Japanese native speakers.
The exterior looks like a zen garden and they have sushi bar, inside and outdoor dining options.
There's a new bagel shop in town and these are not your typical bagels. Empty Elle (which phonetically is MTL, the abbreviation for Montreal) brings a smaller, sweeter and unique bagel unlike any other to the Hawaiian islands. You see, the bagels are hand-rolled, honey boiled, made without any preservatives and also include local toppings sources from around the state.
Born out of COVID, after the owner accepted a severance package from his former employer, he had a strong love and desire for bagel making and eating. Thus he decided to make and serve uniquely delicious and amazing bagels in the heart of Kailua town.
Local flavors and toppings include: Big Island Lemon Butter, Maui Black Kula Raspberry, Jerky Labs Pork Jerky, Waimanalo Greens, Big Island Dark Chocolate Coffee Butter, Waialua Goat Cheese, Andy's Spicy Pickles and local tomatoes, beets and basil. The bagels are slightly sweeter than your NY style. They are light in texture and also pleasantly chewy.
Located within Grace in Growlers the bagel truck is trendy, filling and delicious. Visit them at 143 Hekili Street... open Thurs & Fri and Saturday. www.emptyellebagels.com