Created by local indie rocker Josh86 and his business partner, Serena Hashimoto, as a comfy, stylish diner to lounge about, the Downbeat Diner & Lounge attracts famished lunch munchers and night owls with a vegan-friendly menu of American classics. Patrons can sprawl out in the funky-patterned booths before downing the American burger, which is topped with cheddar and doused in house sauce ($7.50). Those who wake up late can still snack on the breakfast menu all day, filling bellies with the Loco Moco, a gravy- and egg-slathered burger or veggie patty ($7). Like the vegetarian superheroes of the 1930s, every menu item has its vegan foil—even dairified desserts such as the milkshake ($5) and meaty meals such as the bacon, lettuce, avocado, and tomato sandwich ($7.50).
Blue Hawaii LifeStyle Café supplies visiting snackers with a variety of healthy, vigor-inducing fuels. The clean, sunny store serves up its signature açaí bowl, which uses a delicious organic açaí-soymilk blend as the soapbox upon which granola, fruit, and honey preach the word of good health. Açaí is a South American drupe considered to be the most super of the super fruits, so high in antioxidants that in its wake lays only free radicals dejectedly crying to their mommies.
Shigalicious serves up an eclectic menu of local snacks, from 20 flavors of finely shaved ice to musubi to Hawaiian–style hot dogs. Shigalicious boasts solidified water in apple, passion-fruit, root-beer, green-tea, and haupia flavors, steeping each half of every bowl in a different one ($2+). A toasted Hawaiian-bread bun embraces a polish hot dog in the Hole-E-Cow ($3), which customers can accompany with a side of dried mango or guava ($3 each), a sweet alternative to the intense sourness of french fries. Classic Spam musubi ($1.25 each), a meat-and-rice snack bound together by seaweed, shares the menu with teriyaki chicken and hot-dog musubi variations (both $1.50 each). Shigalicious’s menu constantly evolves as founder and consummate snack lover Kyle Shigano experiments with new shave-ice flavors and hot-dog condiments.
Nestled in the luscious garden oasis of a historic missionary house, Mission Houses Museum Café and Tea Parlor immerses guests with bountiful varieties of tea, sandwiches, petite pleasure cakes, and exotic, leafy cups of mirth. The Lucia Holman's Tea package inaugurates balmy afternoons with assorted tea sandwiches served on an elegant platter ($39.90 for two). A medley of merry dessert pastries saunter across the table, stringing along drooling tongues and lazy suitors as freshly baked scones dance alongside homemade lemon curd and devonshire cream. Loose-leaf teas pour from a charitable spout caressing shallow cups with a warm splash of worldly beverages. Tea service is only valid on Fridays and Saturdays, and you must call ahead with an alphorn to make a reservation.
Before he came to Hawaii, chef Chai Chaowasaree learned how to shop for cooking ingredients in Bangkok, where his parents owned a restaurant. Over time, he honed his instinct to reach for the freshest fruits and vegetables?and today, that skill comes in handy when he's wandering markets in Oahu or Chinatown in Honolulu. It's this attention to detail that help Chef Chai win a 2011 Chef's Choice Award at the Hale Aina Awards.
He brings his finds to his eponymous restaurant, using them to create colorful examples of Hawaiian and Asian fusion cuisine. At dinner, spicy grilled pineapples sit beside New Zealand king salmon; a lobster reduction flavors a deconstructed scallop pot pie; and Thai-style oxtail soup can be had with coconut milk ginger brown rice. His roots shine through in the braised pork osso bucco, especially, as the recipe was taken straight from his parent's Bangkok restaurant.
Chef Chai's creations have even criss-crossed oceans. He's the executive chef for Hawaiian Airlines, which means that passengers can be treated to his entrees as well as the menu's many teas. The Emerald Sun flowering green tea, for example, is the specialty tea of choice for first-class passengers and geese that stop by the plane's drive-through window.