Global Flavors on a Cosmopolitan Island

Hawaii, despite its smaller residential population, is among the top states that boast the most restaurants per capita.  Our little island chain destination takes pride in the spectrum of flavors offered.  Besides the core Asian ethnic flavors, Hawaii’s food scene continues to expand with flavors from remote locales, such as Turkey, Iran, and Jamaica.  Here are a few international flavors available in Honolulu that add some diversity to your typical diet.


Kono’s Waikiki

Since opening its doors on the North Shore back in 2002, Kono’s established a popular chain of eateries known for its award-winning breakfasts and plate lunches.  Now, the brand has four locations on Oahu–the original one in Haleiwa, one in lower Kaimuki, another in the beach town of Kailua, and the newest in Waikiki, right across the street from the International Market Place.

Both locals and tourists appreciate the kalua pig plate which features a 12-hour slow-roasted smoked pork that is extremely tender.  Pair that with a hand-crafted milkshake or freshly squeezed limeade or lemonade, and you can enjoy a meal rooted in Hawaiian culture.

Kono’s Waikiki >> Get a special offer!
Location: 2310 Kuhio Av. (behind International Marketplace)
Hours: 7am – 9pm Daily 
Phone:(808) 888 – 8833


King of Thai Boat Noodle

King of Thai Boat Noodle showcases the fine cuisine presented by Chef Anthony Tahng.

Tahng started his culinary journey in 1965, he developed a passion for creating flavorful food drawing from his family recipes and his experiences as a chef.  Starting with a chain of Thai noodle houses in San Francisco, he expanded the concept to Honolulu, where he now operates two locations, one in the heart of Waikiki and another across the street from Walmart near Ala Moana Center.  He strives to provide authentic Thai cuisine, such as the alluring Thai Boat Noodle Soup with beef.  The soup noodle features a choice of noodles among flat rice, small rice, vermicelli, egg, or glass noodles wading in a flavorful broth featuring beef stewed with morning glory and bean sprouts.  You can even customize the spice level from mild, medium, spicy, or hot based on your tolerance.

King of Thai Boat Noodle >> Get a special offer!
Location: 2146 Kalakaua Ave. 
Hours: 11am – 1am daily
Phone: (808) 888 – 2112

Location: 661 Keeaumoku St. Suite 103
Hours: 11am – 11pm daily 
Phone: (808) 949 – 3800


SteveO’s TaquitO’s

One of Honolulu’s go-to Hispanic eateries is SteveO’s TaquitO’s, a Tex Mex restaurant whose mission is to provide delicious food in a great atmosphere with top-notch service.

Boasting 17 years of experience, the chef incorporates the freshest ingredients to amplify flavor in the various dishes, including the burritos which are loaded with ingredients and bursting with flavor for a fulfilling meal or snack any time of the day.  All the burritos are made a la minute to ensure the best meal at an incredibly affordable price.

SteveO’s TaquitO’s >> Get a special offer!
Location: 444 niu st.
Hours: 6:00pm – 12:00am (Tue – Thu and Sun), 6:00pm – 1:00am(Fri and Sat)
Phone: (808) 720-2342


Udon Yama

Located in STIX ASIA, the underground food hall in the Waikiki Shopping Plaza, Udon Yama promises a truly authentic Japanese noodle experience featuring thick udon noodles bathed in a gentle but flavorful broth.

The recipe bestowed upon them from an illustrious family in Kagawa, Japan, the Sanuki udon experience includes a variety of slurp-worthy dishes, including the top-selling Nikutama Udon.  Sweet strips of beef are seasoned with a soy-based sauce and nestled atop chewy wheat flour noodles with a sprinkling of green onions.  Pair that with a deep-fried shrimp, chicken thigh, or pork cutlet and you have a satisfying meal for lunch or dinner.

udon yama

Udon Yama >> Get a special offer!
Location: 2250 Kalakaua Ave. LL100 *STIX ASIA Waikiki
Hours: 11am – 10pm daily
Phone: (808) 892 – 4441

Istanbul Hawaii

There are several Mediterranean eateries and food trucks in Honolulu, however, there is only one Istanbul Hawaii, which delivers Turkish cuisine with panache.

Proud female owners Chefs Ahu and Nili Hettema draw inspiration from their family recipes and life in Istanbul, crafting some of the finest lamb, beef, fish, and vegan dishes to hit the shores of Hawaii infusing local ingredients and inspirations to create a unique sense of place.  Open for lunch, dinner, or brunch on the weekends, this restaurant is a must-try.  Whether it be a mezze sampler featuring a variety of flavors including artisanal babaganush, hummus, and muhammara, the Imam Bayildi, a warm aubergine topped with tomatoes and other flavorful toppings, or a Pirzola of aged, grass-fed lamb chops seasoned with mahlab, the cuisine will delight you and the staff will provide hospitality fit for a Sultan.  

Istanbul Hawaii
1108 Auahi Street, Suite 152, Honolulu, HI
Phone: (808) 772-4440
Business hours:  Sun, Wed, Thu, 11:00am – 2:30pm, 5:00 – 9:00pm; Fri & Sat, 11:00am – 2:30pm; 5:00 – 9:30pm; closed Mon & Tue

So while a loco moco or garlic shrimp may be tempting while in the islands, certainly try some of the more exotic ethnic flavors available, as you will be pleasantly surprised.  Honolulu’s food scene is constantly growing, with new restaurants opening each week.  Some are different regional flavors of cuisines from immigrant cultures that made their way here during the plantation era, but others are completely new to the scene, and are impressing the palates of locals, including those well-traveled.

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