With a name that translates as “sheltered harbor,” Honolulu is a melting pot of cultures and cuisines. Tropical island flavors combine with French, Italian and Asian sensibilities at the top end, providing a truly refreshing culinary experience. From fish dishes to tropical fruit and kalua pork, Hawaii has the raw components for true fine dining panache and Honolulu is where the island’s fine dining scene really comes alive. Here is our rundown of the best restaurants in Honolulu.
Based in fashionable Kaimuki, Town’s casual menu uses the best in local organic ingredients and is served with a warm aloha. Head Chef and owner Ed Kenney serves up food best described as an Italian take on American fare. Sample gnocchi with sunchokes and cured opelu with paiai in this convivial atmosphere. A selection of old and new world wines and unique cocktails further add to the significant draw, while patio seating is also available.
A popular option for fine dining in Honolulu, Chef Mavro is the restaurant of culinary maestro George Mavrothalassitis. A founding member of Hawaii Regional Cuisine and James Beard award winner, Mavro’s offering combines fresh local produce with classical French flair from his native Marseille. The dining room is elegant and the service unparalleled, with expert wine pairings that further enhance the experience at this award-winning venue.
Located underground, this visionary Honolulu club is the brainchild of Japanese investor Takeshi Sekiguchi. Chef Misao Masuda began his career at the Prince Hotel before mastering local Hawaiian ingredients combined with high-end French fare at Vintage Cave. Make sure to take a tour of the venue’s impressive art collection too, which features ceramics by Fujimoto Yoshimichi, Baccarat crystalware and paintings by Picasso. The chef’s special French-Japonais prix fixe is a must.
Celebrating its twentieth year, Alan Wong’s Honolulu restaurant was one of the pioneers of the farm-to-table movement. Native ingredients mix with Asian flavors to harmonious effect, with the five course prix-fixe menu a favorite with both affluent locals and jetsetters. Located in a quiet neighborhood outside Waikiki, Wong’s is the perfect spot to sample Hawaiian fine dining with the service level to match.
Offering magnificent views across Maunalua Bay, the flagship restaurant of US celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi first opened back in 1988. Since then, it has been at the forefront of Hawaii’s fine dining scene, celebrating native ingredients and forging strong relationships with local fishermen and farmers. The original – and perhaps best – of Yamaguchi’s chain of more than 30 restaurants, Roy’s Hawaii Kai mixes traditional foodstuffs with Roy’s Japanese influences to superb effect.
Japanese chain Nobu has two branches in Hawaii – one in Honolulu and the other on the private island of Lana’i. As with its five other locations throughout the US, Nobu Honolulu is a paradigm of upscale Japanese cuisine and exemplary service. From black cod in miso to yellowtail sashimi, all of the chain’s signature dishes are here along with its trademark simple and elegant interior. Its location at the trendy Waikiki Parc Hotel is a match made is style heaven.
Based at the oceanfront Halekulani Hotel, La Mer offers fine dining combined with unparalleled natural surroundings and superb service. Diners can enjoy French haute cuisine prepared with tropical ingredients while taking in an unrestricted view of Diamond Head. The award-winning wine list features bottles fetched from the hotel’s cellar while a cocktail at the restaurant’s L’Aperitif bar is the perfect way to start off the night. Dress to impress.
Arancino at The Kahala
With an updated take on Italian classics, Arancino at The Kahala Hotel & Resort is a breath of fresh air on Hawaii’s fine dining scene. Try Grigliata di Mare with watercress pesto, panna cotta with house made tomato sorbet or even a “deconstructed” Tagliatelle alla Carbonara. The tasting menu comes with wine pairings from master sommelier Shinya Tasaki and impeccable Italian charm from the attentive staff adds to the mix.
Azure at The Royal Hawaiian
Encircled by the famed Spanish-Moorish architecture of The Royal Hawaiian hotel, Azure is a fine dining establishment on gorgeous beachfront. Facing the ocean, Azure features candlelit tables and pillow-backed seats for a relaxed, yet upscale atmosphere. Locally-caught fish is the focus here, whether it’s ahi, opah, onaga, uku, or moi.