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A Chef’s Guide to Hawaii Restaurant Gems

Posted on February 10, 2015

From under-the-radar neighborhood restaurants to long-standing favorite eateries, six luxury hotel chefs across the Hawaiian Islands reveal their answer to the question, “Where do you like to eat on your day off?

Warning: this post will make you hungry!


Chef de Cuisine Shaymus Alwin, AZURE Restaurant, The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort

On Sunday, you’re almost guaranteed to find me eating breakfast at Moke’s (27 Hoolai Street, Kailua, HI 96734, 808-261-5565) in Kailua. I’ll either be eating a Shinsato Farms rabbit moco or some kind of benedict, and definitely some of their fresh house made bread. Their food is delicious. After breakfast I’m on my way to a hike, and then we grab the kayak and head out for a picnic. Usually some sandwiches and beer in the cooler from Kalapawai Café (750 Kailua Road, Kailua, HI 96734, 808-262-3354) and we make a day out of it.”


Executive Chef Vikram Garg, Halekulani

“My favorite restaurant is the Olive Tree Cafe (4614 Kilauea Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816, 808-737-0303) behind Kahala Mall. After a long and hard day at work, I can’t think of a better place to unwind with my family than the laid-back and charming ambiance of this neighborhood eatery. I enjoy the simple, lovingly prepared and tasty Greek food that’s combined with a familiar and friendly staff. The food is fresh and light and make sure that you don’t miss the Lamb Shank special on Wednesdays!”



Executive Chef Tylun Pang, KO Restaurant, The Fairmont Kea Lani

On my day off, you’ll find me at Ichiban (2133 Kaohu Street, Wailuku, HI 96793, 808-244-7276) in Wailuku. It’s a great locally-owned restaurant that my family and I have enjoyed for years. I always start with sushi as an appetizer. It is consistently fresh and very good quality. For dinner, I have a hard time making up my mind, so I typically will order a bento with a couple of choices. The owners are wonderful and always remember me and my family. It’s the perfect place to enjoy an evening off!”


Executive Chef Riko Bartolome, Montage Kapalua Bay

“By far, the spot my wife and I prefer to go to on my day off is Sale Pepe (878 Front Street, Units 7 & 8, Lahaina, HI 96761, 808-667-7667) in Lahaina. A small, cozy Italian bistro, its simple cuisine is on point and the menu is full of choices. I always have a hard time ordering because I want to order everything! The chicken liver pate is ono (delicious) and their pastas, Strozzapretti con kale e salsiccia, hand twisted noodles with sausage and kale, awesome! Plus I love the husband and wife team. They know what they’re doing.”


Executive Chef Frank Desplechin, St. Regis Princeville Resort

“On Sunday, my day off, I like to wake up early and take a walk in the Princeville community where I live. For breakfast, I like to experience new places every week, but one of my favorite is Art Café Hemingway (4-1495 Kuhio Highway, Kapaa, HI 96746, 808-822-2250) in Kapaa. The service is very quiet and peaceful, the food is eclectic, and you can travel from France, Switzerland and Italy in one breakfast meal.

One thing I really enjoy doing on my day off is cooking. I try every week on Saturdays to go the Hanalei Farmers Market (5299 Kuhio Highway, Hanelei, HI 96714, 808-826-1011) to pick up some vegetables and fruits. I can’t ask a better day off than that.”


Executive Chef Peter Abarcar, Jr., Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel

I live in Kamuela and if I’m off on Saturday, I love to take my daughter Sydni to the Waimea Homestead Farmers Market (Hwy 19, next to the 55 mile marker at Kuhio Hale West Hawaii Office of DHHL). There is a lady there that makes these Parisian crepes to order. Sydni loves the mushroom and ham with spinach and also gets a fresh lilikoi nectar on ice. I also go over to the Nakamoto’s breakfast nook and take in either a loco moco or their bi bim bap. While we wait, I’ll sometimes buy something to cook for dinner or to plant in my garden.”

-by So Much More Hawaii Staff

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