Featured on the Food Network, Chef Elmer Guzman harvests the sea’s bounty to proffer a menu that combines polyflavorful batches of the classic Hawaiian dish, poke, with other varieties of sea fare at Poke Stop, a combination seafood market and upscale eatery. Marinated cubes of tender raw fish dance with Hawaiian sea salt and seaweed, sashaying across a near-infinite spectrum of ingredient possibilities to help the chef keep more than 25 varieties of freshly prepared and chilled poke in stock at any given time. Try the spicy Korean octopus poke for internat ional ocean zing, or take a smaller leap of food faith with one of several salmon varieties ($8.99–$14.99/ lb.). Chef Guzman’s Asian-food expertise graces dishes such as the deconstructed sushi bowl, piled high with blackened ahi sashimi and Asian shrimp, with a garnish of ginger and grated metanarratives ($9.95). A coating of the chef’s house blend of herbs and spices prepares an island fish for blackening in the fires of culinary acumen ($8.95), and the seafood combo pits seared island poke against furikaki salmon belly in a struggle for savory supremacy ($7.95).
The chefs at Tanioka's Seafoods and Catering may specialize in fresh, locally caught ahi and aku tuna, but their dishes also reflect the diverse cultural influences that have shaped Hawaii's cuisine. Sushi platters, chicken katsu, and bacon-wrapped meatloaf are presented alongside island classics such as pork lau lau and more than 40 different kinds of poke. The international dishes are served up at Tanioka's market and catered to hungry crowds at weddings, company-wide food fights, and other special events.
When Mel and Lynn Tanioka founded Tanioka's Seafoods and Catering in 1978, they inadvertently created a family legacy. The couple's daughter and son, Jasmine and Justin, joined the team in the following decades as the business continued to expand, providing more and more customers with hearty portions of traditional Hawaiian home cooking. Today, Tanioka's has become a local institution and garnered multiple awards, but its commitment to fine foods hasn't changed.
Menus and pricing may vary slightly between Chuck's Restaurants's three locations—Ko 'Olina, Waikiki, and Waikiki Beach—but all three meld upscale cuts and catches with a casual atmosphere, obviating the awkward sight of a tuxedo jacket thrown over a Garfield-print aloha shirt. Open lava-rock grills send meaty aromas to gallantly guide diners to the all-you-can-eat salad bar offered with every entree. On any given night, an array of veggies might be escorted by soupy sidekicks such as seafood chowder, french onion, or tomato vegetable. A herd of aged USDA Prime–grade steaks graze with the teriyaki sirloin, which soaks for 48 hours in a house-made marinade before reaching your plate. Chuck's fish-finaglers hook the catch of the day from local waters, presenting a line of island fish such as hebi, opah, or ahi, served grilled or sautéed (market value). Several variations on surf 'n' turf unite feuding sectors of the culinary kingdom by wedding prime rib (starting at $28.75) to lobster tail (market value), and sirloin (starting at $24.50) to scallops ($28.50). Most meals range $20–$40.
A more than 50-year-old throwback to the gastro-glories and tiki traditions of Hawaii's past, La Mariana solves its visitors' palate puzzles with the help of a broad menu encompassing some of the best of both surf and turf. Amidst a festively decorated interior heavy on natural materials and whimsical lighting, guests can enjoy the fork-ready finery of steak and prime rib, "local-style" curries, and a multitude of fresh seafood while chatting with the tiki-faced cups containing their mai tais, zombies, and other cocktails. Sandwiches, such as the shrimp and avocado sandwich, are $8–$13, and entrees, such as grilled mahi mahi, are $7–16.
It begins with a private elevator ride. An uninterrupted, 36-floor ascent that ends at the top of the Ala Moana Hotel, also known as The Signature Prime Steak and Seafood. Upon stepping off the car, eyes are drawn to nearly every detail of the expansive restaurant. In one corner, a wooden installation mushrooms over an art-deco bar that gleams with crystal and marble. In another corner, an ornate butterfly chandelier is reflected in the lid of a white grand piano.
During happy hour, guests can gather in the area around the piano, or they can cozy up in one of the room's many dining areas. Some include leather-wrapped booths, the curved seats of which open toward floor-to-ceiling windows that frame the Waikiki skyline. These views are perhaps what the restaurant is best known for. Depending on which area you sit in, you'll take in panoramic views of the ocean, the city, the mountains, sunset, and on Friday nights, a fireworks show.
Those more interested in oenology than topography might consider reserving the private wine room, a 10-person space enclosed by wine displays. The elegant wine list includes both Old World and New World varietals available by the glass, bottle, or half bottle. The food is equally elegant with a classic steakhouse selection that includes everything from prime porterhouse and rack of lamb to Maine lobster. There's a light Asian influence as well, evidenced by beautifully plated appetizers of ahi sashimi and ahi katsu.
The staff at Banzai Sushi Bar serves fresh, flavorful fish in a down-to-earth atmosphere, earning accolades as one of Oahu's top restaurants in the Star Advertiser for several years running. Nestled in a corner of Haleiwa's North Shore Marketplace, the restaurant offers casual fine dining outdoors on Japanese-style seating or conventional tables?with projected surf videos and live music playing in the background. Maki rolls and nigiri are crafted with organic, locally sourced produce and fresh fish purchased daily at the Honolulu fish auction. Salads, tempura, poke, and specialty sashimi pair with an extensive list of sake.