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The largest Korean restaurant in the city, this 24-hour eatery, with its impossibly tiny parking lot and maze of booths and private rooms, offers a vast menu encompassing the entirety of day-to-day Korean cuisine, plus sushi. English menu translations are cryptic at best. Still, it's great for wee hour "grinds" (local slang for food): bi bim bap (veggies, meats, and eggs on steamed rice), kal bi and bulgogi (barbecued meats), meat or fish jun (thin fillets fried in batter), and kimchi pancakes. sorabolhawaii.com. Credit cards accepted.
Chai and Joy Chaowasaree's devotion to their native Thailand is evident in the gilt model of the Thai royal palace that graces the entryway of this restaurant just below street level on a busy Waikiki corner. This is also the only Thai restaurant in the city to showcase Thai dance each evening. We especially like Singha Thai's way with seafood—Siamese Fighting Fish, a whole fish sizzling in garlic-chili oil, or fish in Thai chili, ginger, and black-bean sauce—and the contemporary additions to the menu, such as blackened ahi summer rolls. www.singhathai.com. Credit cards accepted. No lunch.
The original Hopaka Street pub is famous as the place where celebrity chefs gather after hours; this second location, also run by local boy Colin Nishida, is on the bustling Kapahulu Avenue, closer to Waikiki. Local-style bar food comes in huge, share-plate portions, and Nishida's famous pork chops, fried rice, and lilikoi ribs make it worth the trip. This is a place to dress any way you like, nosh all night, and watch sports on TV. Pupu (in portions so large as to be dinner) are served from 3 pm to 11:30 pm daily. www.sidestreetinn.com. Credit cards accepted. No lunch.
In this casual, family-friendly setting, diners can down crab and lobster—but since these come from elsewhere, we recommend the catch of the day, the char siu (Chinese barbecue), baby back ribs, Sam's special fried poke (flash-fried tuna), or Papa Choy's beef stew omelet. This eatery's warehouse size sets the tone for its bambucha (huge) portions and microbrews from next door neighbor Aloha Beer Co. Sam Choy's is in Iwilei past downtown Honolulu on the highway heading to Honolulu International Airport, making it convenient for long layovers. www.samchoyhawaii.com. Credit cards accepted.
Among restaurants with the best views in Honolulu, 30th-floor Sarento's, looking toward both the Koolau Mountains and the South Shore, is an especially favored date-night venue. Regional Italian cuisine is the specialty, and the wild tiger shrimp-stuffed potato ravioli and osso buco are local favorites. The filet mignon is a melt-in-your-mouth popular choice for meat eaters. The wine cellar contains some gems, and there may not be more attentive service staff in the city. For a less-spendy meal, you may want to opt for happy hour and order from their appetizer menu, which is filled with tasty choices. www.sarentoswaikiki.com. Reservations essential. Credit cards accepted. No lunch.
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