While visiting the USS Arizona Memorial, we found this fun little place where a lot of military and locals eat at. It's a former gas station that was turned into a restaurant. There is still a working garage attached to the side of the restaurant. The front hald of the restaurant is set up like a gas station convenience store.
Gimmick aside, the food we had was very good. The Loco Moco (rice with gravy, hamburger and eggs) was very traditional. They made their own burger patties and their own gravy. My biggest complaint was that the food was overly salty. (a common problem in most of the meals we had on the island) The Garlic Korean Chicken was AMAZE tho! Salty but amazing.
Wally Ho's Garage & Grill
98-381 Kamehameha Hwy
Aiea, HI 96701
I am pretty sure I drank about 2 liters of water after this meal.
Ono came highly recommended by a few of the locals we met. It is considered really traditional Hawaiian food. This place was small and the staff wasn't rude, but they definitely knew that if we didn't like it, there's 10 people waiting to take our spots.
There was NO/none/zero options for vegetarians...so Amy got a boiled taro for dinner. I ordered the Combination plate with Kalua Pig and Laulau.
My meal came with a host of sides, like raw onions with sea salt, pickled peppers with chili water, poi (mashed taro root paste with water), pickled tomatoes, rice and coconut cake.
The kalua pig was my east favorite. It was simply salty although it had a nice aftertaste. The laulau was SUPERB though. Easily my favorite Hawaiian food item...perhaps ever.
Laulau is pork wrapped in taro leaves and steam/baked in underground ovens. The leaves gave the over salted pork some flavor profile besides salt. The meat falls apart and the juices left from the steamed/baked leaves/pork fat is divine. Sure, it may look like a giant booger, but it's damn tasty.
Amy found the poi to be inedible and I thought it tolerable at best. The tastelessness of the mashed taro mixed with water really made the consistency hard to swallow. (literally!)
All in all, it was a great learning experience in traditional Hawaiian food and how to eat it. I enjoyed the laulau and Amy enjoyed her boiled taro. Lesson learned.
I'd recommend this restaurant to anyone who wants to try real Hawaiian food. Just don't be a vegetarian.
Ono Hawaiian Foods
726 Kapahulu Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816
Another local favorite we tried was Leonard's Bakery. They specialize in malasadas (Portuguese style donuts) that are slightly crispy on the outside but still soft/fluffy on the inside. This particular bakery is known for making them fresh on the spot.
We got half a dozen, 2 cinnamon, 2 li hing sugar, and 2 macademia custard filled – it was warm and good but considering we had high expectations it was a bit of a letdown. Honestly, it was nothing special. I would say that this is a pass.
I did learn that li hing sugar is tho...sugar mixed with li hing mui (dry salted plums), so the mixture is sweet and tart.
933 Kapahulu Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816