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Part of a chain of unfussy retro diners, Big City offers a short course in local-style breakfasts—rice instead of potatoes, option of fish or Portuguese sausage instead of bacon, roasted macadamia nut pancakes smothered in haupia (coconut) sauce—with generous portions, low prices, and pronounced flavors. Lunch and dinner focus on local-style comfort food—baby back ribs, kimchee fried rice—and burgers. There are always daily specials. www.bigcitydinerhawaii.com. Credit cards accepted.
One of relatively few restaurants to serve the complete menu until 2 am (Sunday only until 10 pm), Yanagi is a full-service Japanese restaurant offering not only sushi and sashimi around a small bar, but also teishoku (combination menus), tempura, stews, and grill-it-yourself shabu-shabu. The fish here can be depended on for freshness and variety. Try the baked volcano roll stuffed with crab meat, the spicy shrip tempura roll, or if you're brave, the abalone sashimi—straight out of the tank. yanagisushi-hawaii.com. Credit cards accepted.
Korean is spoken here, in cooking style and in language, but you can make yourself understood with the help of menu translations and pointing. Mikawon is one of few grill-it-yourself restaurants to use real, charcoal-burning grills, considered the sine qua non of this Korean style of cooking which has been adopted by Japan. Their specialty is wang galbi—ribs seasoned in the style of Su Won, Korea, a mellower style than the usual soy sauce-soaked kal bi ribs. Credit cards accepted.
Diners can get a uniquely New York-style steak dinner with gruff New York-style service, but in a uniquely open-air, Waikiki-style restaurant. Located on the third floor of the Royal Hawaiian Center, this classic steak house serves up excellent steaks, thanks to an in-house dry-aging room. Even nonsteak items are of the highest quality; people come in just for crab cakes or the famous slabs of Canadian bacon. Stop by for happy hour to get some good deals. wolfgangssteakhouse.net.
An island dream, this buffet restaurant is made up of pavilions overlooking a network of ponds (once natural streams flowing from mountain to sea). The Island-style comfort food includes the trademark Willows curry along with Hawaiian dishes such as laulau (a steamed bundle of ti leaves containing pork, butterfish, and taro tops) and kalua pig. willowshawaii.com. Reservations essential. Credit cards accepted.
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