Celebrate Flavors from the Pacific Rim in Hawaii’s Hottest Restaurants

Making its return is the annual Honolulu Festival, Hawaii’s premier celebration of Pacific Rim culture and arts.  From March 8 to 10, there will be a weekend of exciting activities, cultural music, dance performances, special events, and educational experiences, all open to the public.  So what better time than now to celebrate the multicultural flavors that make up Hawaii’s diverse dining milieu?  


Asahi Grill Kaimuki

Classic island-style dishes define the cuisine at Asahi Grill Kaimuki.  The local eatery features all the favorites, including fried rice, shrimp tempura, Okinawa goya champuru (stir-fry), kalbi short ribs, tonkatsu, ramen, and more.

However, what Asahi Grill is most known for is the oxtail soup, a Chinese-inspired broth loaded with tender oxtails wading together with five spice and peanuts.  Plunge the meaty oxtails in a ginger-soy dip and take a sip of the aromatic and beefy broth loaded with green onions and Chinese parsley for punches of bold flavor that begs for a bite of white rice.

Oh, and if you are adventurous, try adding some of that grated ginger atop some macaroni salad dressed with a splash of soy sauce, and it will make for an odd-sounding but very addicting side dish.

Asahi Grill Kaimuki >> Get a special offer!
Location: 3008 Waialae Ave.
Hours: 8am – 2pm, 5pm – 9pm *Closed Wed
Soup simmered for 5-6 hours.
phone: (808) 744 – 9067
There is free parking for a total of 18+ stalls in three places.
*Parking spaces subject to change. Please ask the restaurant staff for details.


Le’ahi Bar & Grill

More Hawaii comfort flavors are found at Le’ahi Bar & Grill, a casual dining hotspot on the east end of Waikiki. 

Taking its name from the Hawaiian word for Diamond Head, this popular gathering spot is known for its generous portions, quality ingredients, and reasonable prices.  Recently introduced are a series of weekly plate lunch specials that celebrate the diverse Pacific Rim cultures in Hawaii.  Crispy ahi katsu, Okinawan-inspired shoyu chicken, savory hamburger steak, and even a Friday-only Hawaiian lunch plate that rotates in lau lau, chicken long rice, or kalua pork with sides of lomi tomatoes and poi keep things exciting. 

There is even a variety of poke, with alluring house-made sauces, including an addicting vegan poke featuring kalo (taro), ‘ulu (breadfruit), and u’ala (sweet potato) coated in a robustly-flavored ginger scallion sauce.

Le’ahi Bar & Grill >> Get a special offer!
Location: 2446 Koa Ave. Across from Hyatt Regency Waikiki Entrance.
Hours:  Sat & Sun 8am – 2am, Mon – Fri 11am – 2am, Happy Hour between 3pm and 6pm daily!
*Store hours subject to change.
*Great for groups!
Phone: (808) 762-9025


L&L Hawaiian BBQ

A popular chain of take out local plate lunches is L&L Hawaiian BBQ.

Here, a nice cross-section of provincial flavors inspired by diverse immigrant cultures are expressed in dishes such as barbecue chicken plate which features chicken teriyaki, chicken katsu, a BBQ mix plate featuring Korean-style marinated short ribs, teriyaki beef, and chicken teriyaki, kalua pork with cabbage, SPAM saimin, and of course SPAM musubi.

If you have not tried it yet, consider a bowl of saimin, ramen style noodles in a gentle dashi broth scented with dried shrimp and bonito with SPAM, fish cake, and green onion accents.

L&L Hawaiian BBQ >> Get a special offer!
Location: Royal Hawaiian Center Bldg B (2F) *Paina Lanai Food Court. 
Hours: 9 am – 9:30 pm daily
Phone : (808) 744 – 2795


Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar

Chef DK Kodama puts his spin on many dishes rooted in Pacific Rim cultures at Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar located on the third floor of the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa.

Among the fan favorites are the shrimp dynamite of crispy tempura shrimp tossed in a masago aioli and glazed with unagi sauce, the signature crab ramen with a truffle butter broth, small plates of miso butterfish, Chinese style sashimi, and a full lineup of sushi appetizers including a Cajun-seared walu sashimi with a Korean yukke sauce and an Alaskan flower sushi with fresh slices of salmon and shiso wrapped around a mini rice ball and topped with seasoned salmon roe and fresh lemon.

However, be sure to try the panko crusted ahi sashimi showcasing fresh ahi wrapped with arugula and spinach, panko (bread crumb) crusted, and flash fried before being dressed with a soy wasabi butter sauce.  And those are just the appetizers!  If you have room, consider an entree as well.

Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar >> Get a special offer!
Location : 2552 Kalakaua Ave. Waikiki Beach Marriott 3rd Floor
Dine-In : 5:30pm – 9:30pm daily
Reservations : (808) 931-6286



Artizen by MW

Also timed this weekend from March 8 to 10 is a special make-your-own plate concept at Artizen by MW.  Included in this span is a Sunday, a day that Artizen by MW is normally closed.  However, because of the Janet Jackson concert, one of Hawaii’s favorite pau hana spots will be doing a special dining concept from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m.  Simply purchase a plate–small ($18), medium ($25), large ($35) and fill it with whatever you can from the special buffet line (one pass only, so not a buffet), and take it away or dine in.  The selections are impressive, featuring diverse cultural flavors such as pork tonkatsu, fried pork chops, shoyu chicken, meatloaf, mixed vegetables, Mari’s Garden salad, banchan (Korean side dishes) vegetables, potato and mac salad, white rice, and more.  For once, Artizen by MW is accepting reservations for the three evenings, and since this is going to be a great value for the money, reservations are expected to fill up quickly.

Artizen by MW
Velocity 1F, 888 Ward Avenue, Honolulu, HI
Phone:  (808) 524-0499
Business hours:  Mon-Sat, 10:30am – 7:00pm

So spend this weekend celebrating the culture of the countries that lie in the Pacific Rim region and finish the days with a fine meal at one of these eateries that truly capture the essence and authenticity of flavors.

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