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This microscopic sushi bar (15 seats) is an adjunct of a wholesale seafood market operated by gregarious South African expatriate Douglas Mitchell, who oversees the sushi chefs and keeps customers chatting. The fish, air-freighted from around the world, is ultrafresh, well cut, and nicely presented. You can spend as much or as little as you like—$40 for a half-dozen pieces of prime bluefin tuna belly, or just a few dollars for pickled plum sushi. www.mitchsushi.com. Reservations essential. Credit cards accepted.
With its wide-open windows so close to the water that you literally feel the soft mist at high tide, this is arguably the most romantic spot in Waikiki for a sunset dinner for two. Venerable Michel's is synonymous with fine dining in the minds of Oahuans who have been coming here for more than 40 years. The menu is très, très French with both classic choices (escargot, foie gras) and contemporary items (Hardy's Hawaiian Bouillabaisse—named after the chef who created a Hawaiian twist on a French classic). There's dinner nightly and Sunday brunch. michelshawaii.com. Reservations essential. Credit cards accepted. No lunch.
In contrast to the sprawling and noisy halls in which dim sum is generally served, Mei Sum is compact and shiny bright. It's open daily, one of the few places that serves dim sum from 7:45 am all the way to 9 pm. Be ready to guess and point at the color photos of dim sum favorites as not much English is spoken, but the delicate buns and tasty bits are exceptionally well prepared and worth the charades. Other menu items and specials are also served.
Yes, the popovers and the wee little cups of bouillon are there at lunch, but in every other regard, this Neiman Marcus restaurant menu departs from the classic model, incorporating a clear sense of Pacific place. The veranda, open to the breezes and view of Ala Moana Park, twirling ceiling fans, and life-size hula-girl murals say Hawaii. The popovers at lunch come with a strawberty-butter spread; the kurobuta porkchop is inspired, and local fish are featured nightly in luxuriant specials. Make sure to leave room for the warm lilikoi pudding cake for dessert. www.neimanmarcushawaii.com/restaurant.aspx. Reservations essential. Credit cards accepted.
The buffet restaurant at Disney's Aulani resort offers a wide variety of locally produced items, as well as familiar dishes from stateside and the rest of the world. A chef walking the line can explain the various dishes, which always include sustainable Hawaiian seafood and Asian selections. You'll also always find famliar grilled meats and vegetables, in addition to a kids' menu. If you have children, plan months in advance to get a reservation for the Character Breakfast, as it's only offered on select days and is always sold out. An a la carte menu is also available. Arrive early for dinner and have a drink at the adjacent Olelo Room, where the staff are fluent in Hawaiian; you can get a language lesson along with your libation. resorts.disney.go.com. Reservations essential.
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Oahu: Ocean House Restaurant
Kauai: Plantation Gardens