{travelogue} Favorite Unique and Cheap Oahu Eats

You probably think of Oahu and your mind goes somewhere like this:

It’s a great place to visit – with sparkling white sand, clear blue water, peaks to hike, and palm trees swaying in the breeze. But one thing you might not realize is that this island paradise also boasts all kinds of unique and delicious culinary delights! Fortunately, the best things also happen to be pretty cheap eats. Here are some of my favorites.

Mochi at Bubbies
You can get ice cream almost anywhere in the world, but fresh mochi is a rare find. Head to this unassuming strip mall location for homemade mochi balls in dozens of flavors ranging from chocolate with peanut butter ice cream to passion fruit and sakura (cherry blossom.) The ice cream at Bubbies is also top-notch, and as a bonus, the sundaes are named to raise an eyebrow or two. Bubbies: two locations in Honolulu; check website for details. 

Haleiwa Farmer’s Market
There is a lot of talk about how great the farmer’s market near Diamond Head is, but don’t listen to all that noise–it’s crowded with tourists and there’s nowhere to park. Instead, every Sunday you can check out a truly great market down on the North Shore in Haleiwa. Don’t miss the fresh popsicles (the passion fruit 50/50 bar is fabulous.) The incredibly ripe and delicious fresh fruit, like locally grown lychees, will make a satisfying snack on the drive back into Honolulu. Haleiwa Farmer’s Market: junction of Kamehameha Highway and Joseph P. Leong Highway in Haleiwa. website

Scampi Plate from Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck
While you’re on the North Shore, you have to make the required stop at the famous Giovanni’s shrimp truck for a plate of buttery, garlicky shrimp over rice. I’m not the biggest shrimp fan, but these fresh little beauties in their drippy, messy sauce are just fantastic. Order from the window, grab a bench seat, and prepare to be wowed. A warning: the truck-made spicy sauce is 9th-circle-of-hell spicy, so think carefully before you order the spicy shrimp plate. I prefer my hot sauce on the side so I can mete it out. Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck: 2 locations, one in Haleiwa and one in Kahuku. See website for details. 

Malasadas at Leonard’s
Why are Portuguese doughnuts a Hawaiian thing? I don’t know and I don’t care; what I can tell you is that Leonard’s has been the top spot for sweet, chewy malasadas (little hole-free doughnuts) for about 60 years. Plain, sugared, or filled, don’t miss the chance to try one of these special Hawaii-only treats. Leonard’s: 933 Kapahulu Ave in Honolulu. They also have “malasadamobiles” that roam the island – check the website for details.

Poke at Ono Seafood 
Ono Seafood often gets accolades as “best poke in Oahu” – and with good reason. At this family-run joint, they’ll mix up the freshest ahi poke to order, as spicy as you like. I like it with avocado on top. N.B. sometimes they have a stand at the various farmer’s markets on the island, including the Haleiwa Market mentioned above. Ono Seafood: 747 Kapahulu Ave in Honolulu. 

Coco Puffs at Liliha Bakery
We’re not talking about cereal here, but another Hawaiian bakery treat- a perfect, flaky cream puff filled with chocolate custard. Like Leonard’s, Liliha Bakery has been turning out these magnificent morsels since the 1950s. They claim they sell between 4,000 and 7,000 every single day! Liliha Bakery: 515 N. Kuakini Street in Honolulu. website

Shirokiya Food Court
Ala Moana mall seems like an unlikely place for an awesome food experience, but trust me on this one. Shirokiya, the Japanese depachiko (department store) that’s been a Honolulu fixture since the late 1950s, has a wonderful and quirky food court up on the top floor. Authentic Japanese tastes of sushi, takoyaki, ramen, and much more are available from the stalls that surround the center eating area. Shirokiya: Ala Moana Mall in Honolulu. 

What’s your favorite Oahu treat? What did I miss? 

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1 Response

  1. Rahul says:

    Makes me want to go to Oahu sooner than later!