It is so difficult to choose my favorite five dishes so I waited until I was hungry and asked myself, “What do I want to eat right now?” These were my responses:
5. Thai green curry with chicken.
I love Thai food and green curry with chicken is my favorite. Unlike my other favorites, however, Thai food is something I need to be craving (it’s hard to explain). Thai restaurants don’t draw me in like a magnet for some reason. My favorite place to get Thai food was Souvaly in Pearl City until they closed. Now, I’m in search of really good green curry.
I actually love pasta — all kinds of pasta — but my favorite is lasagna, especially with ground beef. The cheese tends to make my stomach upset but if the lasagna tastes good, it’s well worth the trouble. There used to be a hole-in-the-wall in Downtown Honolulu that I went to for lasagna but they are no longer there. So like Thai curry, I am searching for the next best lasagna in town.
3. Beef stew and rice.
A local staple is beef stew and rice with big chunks of beef, potatoes, and carrots. Now this, I can eat for days. Surprisingly, the best beef stew I’ve had recently is from Mac 24/7 in Waikiki; however, there was a lunch catered for a meeting a few months back that had beef stew (pictured above) and the meat was so tender! I had a second serving (and was in a coma for the rest of the meeting).
2. Boneless kalbi.
I don’t know what they do to make their kalbi so tasty but Aiea Bowl has the best boneless kalbi I’ve tasted. And the meat is so tender and they give a lot for their regular plate (of course, you pay a pretty penny for it, too). A close second will be from Big City Diner (add kimchee fried rice with that and you have a winner).
Currently, my absolute favorite (and I want to eat right now) is hot pot stew. The best in town is from a hidden gem on Young Street called Hakkei. The flavors of their broth are delicate and warm and all of their ingredients are fresh and prepared just before serving. I save visits to Hakkei for special occasions. For the everyday noms, I’m good with Hot Pot Heaven or even Ichiriki.