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Time your drive through East Honolulu to allow for a stop at this relaxed restaurant on Kuapa Pond. The savvy chef-manager team left a popular chain restaurant to found this "American eclectic" eatery, serving wok-seared moi fish, mango and guava ribs, and lots of other interesting small dishes. They're open until 10 pm Sunday through Thursday, and until 11 pm Friday and Saturday. www.bluwatergrill.com. Credit cards accepted.
This many-windowed, multilevel room takes delightful advantage of the restaurant's perch above the beach, facing Diamond Head. The chef creates uncomplicated contemporary cuisine—grilled fish, steaks, and chops accented with East-West fusion flavors. The experienced staff, often called on to serve the VIPs who favor this hotel, extends unruffled and gracious service. Reservations essential. Credit cards accepted. Closed Sun. No lunch.
Baci Bistro is a favorite for intimate dinners and good-value lunches. Join Windward locals for generous portions of Italian classics such as pappardelle del campo (wide pasta noodles with veal, chicken, sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, and mushrooms) or pollo piccata (chicken breast in a lemon, white wine, and caper sauce). You won't leave the table hungry. Service is friendly, and dining is available in their intimate dining room or alfresco on their leafy lanai. bacibistro.com. Credit cards accepted. No lunch weekends.
Tam and Kimmy Huynh's menu is much more extensive than most, ranging far beyond the usual pho (beef noodle soup) and bun (cold noodle dishes). Coconut milk curries, an extraordinary crab noodle soup, and other dishes hail from both North and South Vietnam. The atmosphere is welcoming and relaxed, and they'll work with you to make choices. Reservations are not accepted for groups fewer than six. Credit cards accepted.
It's not enough that this restaurant looks out upon the Ko Olina lagoons and the vast Pacific Ocean—the food is wonderful, too. Thanks to renowned local chef Kevin Chong, you can enjoy modern as well as classic menu items made from local ingredients. Even the Kahuku corn chowder tastes great on a warm day; other favorites include the light and colorful goat cheese ravioli, firecracker chicken, and nori-wrapped ahi tuna. Save room for dessert: the Hawaiian Chocolate Cake is an amazing treat. If you're on a budget, skip dinner—breakfast and lunch entrées are half the price (although menu offerings vary). Make your reservations online at the Disney Resorts Web site. disneyparks.disney.go.com. Reservations essential.
Arancino offers fresh seafood, hand-trimmed beef, pastas cooked to order, handmade pizza dough and bread, homemade desserts, and meats and cheeses imported from Italy. Locals as well as tourists come here to enjoy dishes that use only fresh, authentic ingredients. Customer favorites include Pescatore and a pizza with shrimp and Maui onions, which is the owner's favorite pizza. There's a Beachwalk location, too. www.arancino.com. Credit cards accepted. Other location: 255 Beachwalk Ave., Waikiki, Honolulu, HI, 96815, 808/923-5557.
Step inside this tiny sushi bar tucked behind the Ala Moana Hotel, and you'll swear you're in an out-of-the-way Edo neighborhood in some indeterminate time. Don't be deterred by its location between strip clubs or its reputation for inconsistent service. Greeted with a cheerful "Iraishaimase!" (Welcome!), sink down at a diminutive table or perch at the handful of seats at the sushi bar. It's safe to let the sushi chefs here decide (omakase-style) or you can go for the delicious grilled specialties, such as scallop battayaki (grilled in butter). www.akasakahawaii.com. Credit cards accepted.
This not-to-be-missed restaurant is like that very rare shell you stumble upon on a perfect day at the beach—well polished and without a flaw. We've never had a bad experience here, and we've never heard of anyone else having one either. The "Wong Way," as it's not-so-jokingly called by his staff, includes an ingrained understanding of the aloha spirit, evident in the skilled but unstarched service, and creative and playful interpretations of Island cuisine. Try Da Bag (seafood steamed in an aluminum pouch), Chinatown Roast Duck Nachos, and ginger crusted onaga (snapper). With warm tones of koa wood, and lauhala grass weaving, you forget you're on the third floor of an office building. www.alanwongs.com. Reservations essential. Credit cards accepted. No lunch.
At this clean, well-lighted place on a back street, chef Jason Schoonover dishes up diner chic, including macaroni-and-cheese glazed with house-smoked Parmesan and topped with savory breadcrumbs. The kimchi steak, a sort of teriyaki with kick, is a winner. Go early (5 pm) or late (8:30 pm). Enjoy wonderful, homey desserts. There's a small, exquisitely selected wine list. 12thavegrill.com. Credit cards accepted. Closed Sun. No lunch.
This casually stylish eatery is a 10-minute drive from Waikiki in the culinary mecca of Kaimuki. Sample Chef Russell Siu's New York Steak Alae (steak grilled with Hawaiian clay salt), the crab cakes, or the signature ahi katsu wrapped in nori and deep-fried with a wasabi-ginger butter sauce. Siu combines a deep understanding of local flavors with a sophisticated palate, making this place especially popular with homegrown gourmands. The dining room can feel a bit snug when it's full (as it usually is); go early or later. www.3660.com. Credit cards accepted. No lunch. Closed Mon.
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