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Visit This Dining Mecca On Your Hawaii Vacation

There’s an area on Oahu where locals go to enjoy dining out in an array of perse ethnic styles. A few of the restaurants are considered to be among the best on the island, although only one of them is especially well-known, widely reviewed and promoted to visitors.

The area is called Kaimuki. The area was known for the many ovens used to bake ki, or ti roots, into a sweet food similar to candy. (The proper Hawaiian pronunciation is Ka-imu-ki, which translates to “ti root oven.”)

Kaimuki used to be King Kalakua’s ostrich farm, and those birds roamed wild over the Koolau mountainside during his reign. It later became the site of the state’s carnation farm for funeral flowers, and now it’s mostly for residences, with small service businesses and restaurants lined along the main drag, Waialae Avenue, and its cross streets.

And, oh, what restaurants they are!

The area is reached from Waikiki by car via the H-1 Freeway Koko Head exit. A left on Koko Head Avenue takes you directly into Kaimuki. It’s also easily reached by bus.

Directly ahead of you on the right side across Waialae Avenue is the star of the show — the restaurant you’ll hear about if you haven’t already: 3660 on the Rise. Multi-award-winning owner-chef Russel Siu is renowned for his innovative Euro-Island cuisine and lavish desserts.

But throughout the neighborhood there’s a crazy quilt of choices: Hog Island uses a special in-house smoker to cook meat slowly; the brisket and pulled pork are cooked for 14 hours or so. Ikakawa Nonbei is about as close to visiting Japan’s classic folksy taverns as you can get. Dee Thai is an affordable, comfortable place, with some of the best Thai food in town. La Bamba is an old-school Mexican place that keeps things straightforward. The Fat Greek, Ono Hawaiian Food, Sabrina’s Italian Restaurant, Kim Chee II, Duk Kee Chinese Restaurant and India Café serve what their names suggest.

You get the idea. It’s an amazing assortment, all within a few blocks of each other.

If you’d like to explore the Kaimuki area or visit one or more of its resident restaurants, pick an agent from the Hawaii-Aloha Web site (Hawaii-aloha.com) or call 1-800-843-8771. We’ll make sure you get everything covered.

Posted by: Bruce Fisher on Feb 6, 2009