Best Food & Drink

Best Food & Drink
Yuzu

Best Food & Drink: Restaurants

Best Food & Drink / Best new Honolulu restaurant

Yuzu

In February, Weekly food critic Wanda Adams gave a rave review to Yuzu’s temari sushi and house-made udon noodles with lobster. A visit last week affirmed that Yuzu is still our top pick.

Yuzu’s food is pretty and playful and surprising. It pleases the eye, tongue, mouth and stomach. We tried both the night’s specials. First came the baked California roll, smothered with chunks of hot salmon, yellowtail, ahi and scallops in a delectable sauce. Next an ahi roll, each slice capped with a sweet tempura rock shrimp. And the vegetarian trompe l’oeil sushi was a wonder: tomato toro, for one, is full of flavor and free of bluefin guilt. Last came a generous serving of hot, crispy big tempura shrimps.

The vegan desserts–a kiwi granita with strawberry sauce, a chocolate-banana crepe–were rich but light.

The service is slow and kinda spacey, but we were happy to sit back and savor.

Ala Moana Hotel, ground floor, 410 Atkinson Dr., [yuzuhawaii.com], 943-1155

Best new Windward Restaurant

Prima

Although the pizza alone is reason enough to dine here, the menu is too inventive and playful to not experiment with other dishes. With entrees that range from $8–$23 (excluding the more expensive striploin steak, $27), the menu offers a fine-dining exhibition accessible to everyone. And feel free to enjoy your Italian feast at home, as Prima also offers pizza for take-out.

“Viva La Prima,” October 19, 2011
108 Hekili St., 888-8933, [primahawaii.com]

Best bargain sushi in town

Sansei Restaurant and Sushi Bar

Everything in Waikiki is overpriced, so it’s no surprise that the bill at Sansei can easily rack up over $50 for one. The food is good, not as high-end as Sushi Sasabune, but certainly better quality than Genki or Kurukuru. The trick is to come during their early bird or late night specials when everything on the menu is half off. Yup, everything from the sushi (begins at $2.95/$1.48) to the famous dungeness crab ramen with Asian truffle broth ($17.95/$8.98) becomes affordable. Make sure to come at least an hour early to line up before the doors open for the early bird special.

2552 Kalakaua Ave., late night 10pm–1am, 21+, early bird, Sun.–Mon., 5:30pm–6pm. [sanseihawaii.com], 931-6286

Best new Thai restaurant

Opal’s

Opal and his wife are always fun to talk story with or suggest a new dish. Their young son provides amusement around the picnic tables next to their Thai food truck, which is nestled with the shrimp trucks on the edge of Haleiwa. Now they have their own new restaurant location in Haleiwa town, and the food is as fabulous and authentic as it has ever been.

66-460 Kamehameha Hwy., 381-8091

(Country)

Haleiwa Joe’s

Haleiwa Joe’s has become a social and culinary cornerstone for locals and visitors alike due to its position overlooking infamous surf at the beginning of the North Shore’s “Seven-mile Miracle,” views of the harbor, and postcard sunsets. The fabulous views are enhanced by friendly staff and fresh food. Regulars like to take advantage of pau hana specials: Monday through Friday, 4:30–6:30pm, and Late Night Happy Hour on the weekends, 10pm–midnight, in which all pupus are 25 percent off and draft beers and specialty cocktails are discounted.

66-011 Kamehameha Hwy., 637-8005

Best Steakhouse

Hy’s

What’s dark, moody and absolutely delicious? (No, we’re not talking about 50 Shades of Grey. Ew.) Hy’s Steakhouse may feel like a gentleman’s club with mahogany paneling and brass chandeliers, but you don’t need to be a cigar-smoking oldie to appreciate good food. Enjoy free garlic cheesebread before chowing down the best hunk of meat you’ve ever had. Hy’s uses USDA Prime grade beef, cooked over Hawaiian kiawe wood. Our favorite? The beef filet “Wellington” ($45.95)–tender steak baked inside pastry, served with cabernet truffle sauce. End with chocolate lover’s flambé ($14.25), prepared tableside.

2440 Kuhio Ave., [hyshawaii.com], 922-5555

Best First Online Dinner-Date Menu

Soul de Cuba Cafe

Everything is looking compatible on your respective online profiles: the common interests in hiking, not looking to have kids just yet, an obsession with Breaking Bad. Now it’s time to see if you both hit it off IRL.

The ambience at Soul de Cuba Cafe strikes just the right amount of casual cool. It’s low-key trendy, but not up tight which will hopefully foreshadow the mood of your date. The price range is also simmers at the perfect temperature–right above cheap, far below conspicuous.

Most notably, however, the Cuban-meets-Caribbean style menu is full of foreign names and ingredients, which is kind of everything when it comes to a first date, because it gives each person a chance to break the ice by either impressing the other on their familiarity with the cuisine, or making light of the fact you can’t correctly pronounce your way out of the restaurant. Though, if you’re successful, chances are you two won’t be leaving your seats for a while.

Soul de Cuba Café, 1121 Bethel St., [souldecuba.com], 545-2822

Best Lunches under $10

Winners: L&L Drive In and Rainbow’s Drive-in

Runner-up: Peace Cafe

Best store for local produce

Winner: Whole Foods

Runner up: Foodland

Best Oahu farmers’ market

Winner: KCC

Runner-up: Kailua

Best locally made ice cream

Winner: Bubbies

Runner up: Dave’s

Best food at Eat the Street

Winner: Street Frites

Runner up: Kettle Corn and Koi

Best beach or waterside dining

Winners: Hau Tree Lanai

Runner-ups: Dukes and Michelle’s

Best fine dining:

Winner: Alan Wong’s

Runner-up: Roy’s

Best dining under $40/person, not including booze

Winner: Town

Runner-up: M Nightclub

Best local bakery

Winner: Liliha Bakery

Runner-ups: Leonard’s and Fendu

Best cupcakes

Winner: Hokulani

Runner-up: Let Them Eat Cupcakes

Best coffee shop using locally grown beans

Winner: Morning Glass

Runner-up: Beach Bum

Best locally brewed beer

Winner: Kona Brewing Company

Runner-up: Maui Brewing Company