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Oahu 2015 – Day 3 Part 2: Hawaii’s Favorite Kitchens, Hale Ohuna

After our pretty active morning, we headed out to grab some lunch. We went to Hawaii’s Favorite Kitchens, which is a takeout spot located right next to Rainbow Drive-In (it is operated by the same people) on Kapahulu. It is a combination of Honolulu’s most beloved old-school diner favorites all under one roof. Inside, there is one counter that sells these popular items: KC Drive-In’s waffle hotdog, Poke Stop’s tasty poke bowls, and of course, Rainbow Drive-In’s plate lunch (called Rainbowls). In addition they have an outpost of Shimazu Shave Ice. This was really nice because I didn’t have to go to different places to get my poke and shave ice fix and it is very close to Waikiki. They also have a parking lot which it shares with Rainbow Drive-In, yay!

Inside Hawaii’s Favorite Kitchens

The space is new and bright and seating is indoors, unlike Rainbow next door. We got a large poke bowl and we did a half and half of the spicy garlic ahi with edamame, and the creamy spicy poke. It was delicious! I really loved the spicy garlic with edamame. It was a really tasty combination and the garlic added a zestiness to the poke which was different.

A half spicy ahi and half spicy garlic edamame poke bowl. Delicious!

After the poke bowl I got a Shimazu Shave ice. It’s great that you can get one right there without having to drive to Kalihi, although the original one I think is a little better; still I was happy to get my shave ice fix!

A Shimazu shave ice near Waikiki!

A few doors down, we got yet another poke bowl (this time to-go) at Ono Seafoods, which was our personal favorite poke place on Oahu for a long time. However, I kept thinking about that spicy garlic ahi poke from Poke Stop so that may be my new favorite going forward.

More poke bowls were had at Ono Seafood, our old favorite.

We wanted to check out the 6th floor pool at the Waikiki Banyan but the afternoon breeze picked up and it was a little too windy to lay out. We did get to use the hot tub though, which was nice. After resting up in the condo we headed out that evening for dinner at Hale Ohuna, Chef Lee Anne Wong’s new noodle bar in Kaimuki.

Hale Ohuna in Kaimuki

Modern Hawaiian art on the walls

Hale Ohuna is located on the main drag of Kaimuki and is close by to Koko Head Café where we had breakfast the day before. Her new place is a modern two story restaurant with a large bar area. We sat in the upstairs seating area. To start, we ordered the kawa dumplings, a fried lotus root appetizer special, and I ordered a cocktail with beet juice in it. There is a pretty extensive cocktail/liquor menu and the cocktails all feature hand crafted ingredients and fresh juices – thought that was pretty cool.

Cocktail with fresh beet juice

The appetizers were tasty – kawa dumplings uses chicken skin as the dumpling wrapper of the meat filling and the whole thing is deep fried, sort of like fried chicken meets potsticker. The lotus roots were good, but not as exciting compared to the dumplings.

Kawa dumplings – the dumpling “wrapper” is chicken skin

Lotus root appetizer, a special for the day.

As entrees, we split two noodle dishes, a ramen called “Elima pua’a ramen: Shinsato pork bone broth, miso braised belly, kalua pig, chicharron, black garlic kotteri, onsen egg, tokyo negi, benishoga, wakame, heart of palm, sapporo style noodles” and a dry-style braised lamb neck curry udon which was a special of the day. The ramen was really delicious and flavorful. It sounds like a lot of ingredients in a dish but they all really worked well together. The lamb neck curry was very nice but could have used a bit more sauce as it got a bit too dry when we mixed everything up.

Delicious ramen

Lamb neck curry noodles, with a slightly sweet and spicy flavor. wish there was more sauce though as the noodles really soaked it all up.

For dessert we got a tofu panna cotta with fresh passionfruit. It was really good! Oh and we met chef Lee Anne Wong! I follow her Instagram and I thought she was traveling at that time but fortunately she was there that evening. I told her I was a big fan and we came all the way from New York to eat her food (she’s from New York). She’s very sweet and I really liked how she checked on each and every table dining there – sometimes chefs stay behind the scenes but I like it when I get to meet them.

Tofu panna cotta. Similar in texture to the tofu mouse we got at Aloha Tofu the day before. It was really good!

The check is placed inside old books. Pretty neat.

We definitely enjoyed Hale Ohuna and I would love to return on our next visit. Reservations are available and I would suggest making them.

Update: Hale Ohuna is unfortunately closed. Visit Chef Lee Anne Wong’s other restaurant, KoKo Head Cafe!
Tomorrow (Day 4), we work off all the food we’ve been eating by climbing up KoKo Head Crater!

Read more about our November 2015 trip to Honolulu, Hawaii!

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