I went to Honolulu intending to eat only Japanese food. I mostly succeeded!
Waikiki seems to be about 95% Japanese people and everything (EVERYTHING) is in Japanese and English. You could definitely go to Waikiki as a Japanese person without knowing a single word of English and be totally fine. You will be catered to by Japanese staff, Japanese menus, Japanese signs, and pretty much Japanese everything.
So needless to say, there’s a lot of Japanese food. And a lot of Hawaiian food is Japanese fusion, like Spam musubi. Everything comes with rice. You can even buy shoyu and umeboshi at the drugstore.
If you hate photos of food, SKIP THIS ENTRY! Run away now! This is nothing but food. But at the end of entry, there’s a list of all the Japanese places I went to in case you also want to go to Honolulu and eat only Japanese food.
The first stop was an okonomiyaki place called Yaki Yaki Miwa. Super authentic and filled with Japanese people. This restaurant actually started in Osaka (the home of okonomiyaki) and has locations in Tokyo and Osaka in Japan.
Mochi cheese okonomiyaki. Mochi is my favourite okonomiyaki topping!
Nijiya Market goodies from our hotel room picnic. Why can’t I have a nice Japanese market like this in my life? Also, Canada has pretty much banned hijiki (a kind of seaweed) so I eat it whenever I can. It’s really healthy!
Sushi at a highly-rated-on-Yelp place near our hotel called Chiba-Ken.
This isn’t actually Japanese food, but I think it counts — the famous bills from Sydney, beloved by the Japanese and home to the best pancakes. Unlike the bills restaurants in Tokyo, the Honolulu outpost does not require hours and hours of waiting.
RICOTTA PANCAKES YES SO GOOD
I couldn’t resist this bills pancake phone strap. I currently have it attached to my iPhone and people give me weird looks.
Hey, it’s a Lawson! (Japanese conbini chain.) For some reason, they were selling oden even though it was 30 degrees.
Ito En pineapple tea from Lawson. YUM.
Genki Sushi, a cheap kaitenzushi place, just like in Japan! Okay, not as good or as cheap, but I’ll take what I can get.
Touchscreen ordering is a requirement.
Just like the mayonaise-topped junk sushi I love so much in Japan!
Miso butter corn ramen from a Hokkaido ramen shop called Hokkaido Ramen Tokachiya.
Mike got tantanmen, his favourite.
The entire upstairs of Shirokiya (a Japanese department store) is a food court called Yataimura.
So much nicely prepared Japanese food! It’s quite similar to a food floor at a Japanese department store in Japan.
SATA ANDAGI! I was so excited to eat this and it was pretty good. Sata andagi are these doughnut-like things from Okinawa. I had fresh ones in Okinawa (see here) and I’ve pined for their crispy-fluffy texture ever since.
Japanese roll cake from Kulu Kulu, Hawaiian style. Kona coffee flavour.
American Don Quijote! Not really like the Japanese Donki stores at all, but the same concept. (Kind of a mess, sells everything.)
All the Japanese alcohol you could want.
Hitachino Nest beer! These are impossible to get in Canada.
Probably my favourite place in Waikiki, Marukame Udon. Almost always packed, tasty cafeteria-style udon, and SUPER CHEAP.
So cheap. $4.25 for the ontama (egg) udon and $1.75 to add the shrimp tempura.
You can’t go to Hawaii and not eat Spam musubi. But don’t eat the stuff from the ABC Store, go to Musubi Cafe Iyasume.
I know Spam is disgusting, but Spam musubi are somehow incredibly delicious.
A nice puffy tonkatsu sando from Tonkatsu Ginza Barin. Pillowy and crispy at the same time.
Here’s what the outside looks like. In case you’re wondering, they really do have a location in Ginza!
Does this count as Japanese? Spam, rice, and eggs from McDonalds.
Waiting in line at Marukame Udon again.
Mike’s vegetable tempura kakiage.
My favourite is probably the chikuwa (fish cake) tempura, because I love chikuwa.
And lastly, an okonomiyaki chain from Japan called Chibo. We mostly at here because we used to eat at Chibo in Osaka all the time. The ones in Osaka have tabletop grills, which I prefer. Still tasty, though.
Restaurants and shops mentioned:
Yaki Yaki Miwa (okonomiyaki)
bills Sydney (pancakes)
Shirokiya Yataimura (Japanese food court)
Genki Sushi (kaitenzushi)
Kulu Kulu (Japanese style cake shop)