Hawaii Six-O: Eating Your Way Through Honolulu

a palm tree on a beach

***This is part 4 of my “Hawaii Six-O” trip report detailing a recent trip to Oahu, Hawaii to celebrate my parents’ 60th birthdays and retirements***

1. The Club Lounge at SJC
2. Alaska Airlines Economy San Jose to Honolulu + Review of Alaska Beyond
3. Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk
4. Eating Our Way Through Honolulu
5. Alaska Airlines First Class Honolulu to San Jose

By the time we had settled into the hotel on our first day it was already late afternoon, so we decided to stay close-by at Waikiki beach. The Trump Hotel is located at the far-end of Waikiki beach opposite from Diamond Head, so we kicked off our shoes and strolled along the beach toward it.

waikiki beach diamondhead

Halfway along our walk the sun began to set, so we sat down on the beach to soak it in. Many other people had the same idea.

waikiki sunset

waikiki beach sunset

Watching the sun set seemed to make us work up an appetite, so we made our way over to Musubi Cafe Iyasume. This place is most notably President Obama’s favorite place for spam musubi.

musubi cafe iyasume honolulu

In case you’re not familiar with spam musubi, it’s a big ball of rice with spam on top, and a layer of sweet sauce in-between. Each one is just a couple bites, so for a big eater like myself, eating more than 10 in a sitting isn’t out of the question. In addition to the traditional spam musubi, we tried the egg musubi, and bacon musubi. I felt my arteries clogging with every bite.

iyasuki honolulu spam musubi

We walked back to the hotel, stopping by the many shops along the street along the way. Even though it was a leisurely stroll, we worked up an appetite again and stopped by the 7-11 just downstairs from the hotel for one last spam musubi fix.

best places to eat in honolulu hawaii

The following day we set off for North Shore, the stretch of beaches along the northern-most part of Oahu, about an hour-long drive from Waikiki. The beaches here are primarily known for surfing and aren’t very swimming-friendly, as evidenced by the huge waves that came crashing in as you can see below.

north shore beach

shark's cove waves

Nonetheless, we had a fantastic time lounging around, and stumbled upon Sharks’ Cove which was surrounded by rocks and provided a calm place to swim and snorkel.

north shore shark's cove

north shore 1

All of that wave-watching made us hungry, so it was time to eat! Off to the food trucks, and Giovanni’s in particular, for some delicious shrimp slathered in butter and garlic.

giovanni's shrimp truck 1

giovanni's shrimp truck 2

And the near-by Matsumoto’s Shaved Ice for dessert.

matsumotos shaved ice

After lunch we drove back to Waikiki and hung out at the hotel before getting ready for dinner. This would be our fanciest meal on the trip to celebrate my parents’ retirements, and we chose MW Restaurant for the occasion. The restaurant serves Asian fusion cuisine and was just a short 5-minute drive from the hotel.

They had a semi-private dining room the back, separate from the main restaurant, and we ordered up a huge feast, starting with a range of appetizers including tuna poke, beet salad, and arancinis.

best places to eat in honolulu hawaii

best places to eat in honolulu hawaii

best places to eat in honolulu hawaii

For my entree I had a huge grilled Kurobuta pork chop was the biggest I’ve ever had, even surpassing the one I had on my flight to Sydney.

best places to eat in honolulu hawaii

The restaurant specializes in its desserts, and the meal was punctuated with a fantastic selection of unique sweets including the tropical fruit creamsicle brulee with tapioca and banana chocolate cream pie.

best places to eat in honolulu hawaii

best places to eat in honolulu hawaii

And finally, a very nice gesture from the restaurant to make the retirement celebration even more memorable.

best places to eat in honolulu hawaii

The next day started with a hike to the top of Diamond Head State Monument. I had done this hike about 10 years ago as a college kid, and had it in my head that it was a leisurely 15-20 minute stroll up and down, and told my family that they just needed to wear sandals and not to worry.

Well, I was partially right about the hike. It was indeed about 20-25 minutes, but that was each way. And it was a LOT steeper and strenuous that I remembered, perhaps I was in much better shape back then. We ended up being among the only people that didn’t wear shoes, and while it was slippery or rocky at times, it’s still very much do-able.

To get to the summit, one of the last portions includes walking up an old, metal spiral staircase.

diamondhead hike 1

And we were rewarded with stunning views from the top.

best places to eat in honolulu hawaii

diamondhead hike view 3

diamondhead hike view 4

We stopped by Yama’s fish market afterwards for a well-deserved tuna poke lunch. The quality of the fish here is amazing, some of the freshest that we’ve ever had.

best places to eat in honolulu hawaii

We spent the rest of the afternoon at Lanikai beach, located on the Eastern-side of the island and about a 30 minute drive from Waikiki. It’s a gorgeous stretch of beach that is most importantly quiet, not crowded, and very swimmable. The sand here was so soft that it felt like a cloud beneath our feet.

lanikai beach honolulu 1

lanikai beach 2

And we had some fun making a new friend, go fetch!

lanikai beach dog

Just because you’re spending Christmas in Hawaii, doesn’t mean you can’t build a snowman. Or is it a sandman?

best places to eat in honolulu hawaii

We had driven by 678 Hawaii on our way to dinner the day before, and noticed ta huge line stretching out-the-door. Long line = good food, right? We were intrigued enough to find out, and the sign alone should have been a sign that we were meant to eat here, since I appeared to be the inspiration for the restaurant’s cartoon mascot.

678 Hawaii honolulu sign

The meat here was outrageously good, especially the short ribs which were marinated and tenderized to perfection. We really liked the wide range of side dishes which included the usual salad and kimchee, but also cheesy corn and miso egg that were cooked in the compartments along the edge of the grill.

best places to eat in honolulu hawaii

How can you not love the call button at Korean restaurants. Usually they only have the “Call” feature, this one was even more efficient.

678 Hawaii honolulu call button

As well as we ate at the restaurants above, some of the best meals we had were back at the hotel where we put the full kitchen to good use, but I won’t bore you with our homemade creations. Overall, while we only there for a short 3 nights , it was a fantastic trip and I a perfect reminder of how much I love the Hawaiian Islands.


  1. Seems like musubi places are all the rage lately.

    I actually preferred the shrimp truck at Lanikai over Giovanni’s.

    Next time you’re in Oahu try hitting up Ono Hawaiian Food, Elena’s, Side Street Inn, Alan Wong’s on King Street, and Ono Seafood for the best poke and sashimi with super cheap prices.

  2. That guy as the restaurant mascot is actually a well known Korean heavyweight Korean style wrestler turned comedian. Several restaurants exist that bears his name.

    The compartmentalized grill setup is an evolution of korean BBQ grill design.

    Having seen all your food pictures make me want to book that ticket to Hawaii.

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