Eating on O'ahu
OK with Slippers
The Pineapple Room
First of all, while you can wear slippers here, and tourists do stream in with sandy exposed toes straight from the beach, my mother would REALLY PREFER that you didn't.
This is the "down market" (but only slightly) version of Alan Wong's on King Street. Because it's embedded in Macy's, it's a very casual atmosphere, with a mix of previously noted tourists and local business/family crowd.
But the food is anything but mall fare. You'll still need to save up for it, but it's beautiful, delicious and the service is top-notch. In particular, the Makaha Mango Shrimp Salad, Kalua Pig Caesar Salad and Black Bean Clams are delicious and enough for a full meal.
Simply, very good Japanese food. Furikake salmon and karaage chicken are among my faves. Unagi donburi is also very nice. Lots of people go here after golf. Slippers are ok, but like Side Street, at least make sure they are the 'nice' ones.
Shiro's Saimin Haven (Waimalu)
Really, it should be called Saimin Heaven. A Hawaii-style diner, right down to the plastic covered banquette-style booths and tables. The air-conditioning is always cranked up high and nearly uncomfortably breezy, probably so you can enjoy the experience of the saimin.
The food is pure comfort with big portions. My favorite is kim-chee saimin, a side of lumpia/egg rolls and fruit punch. Always a must-eat when we go to home.
Side Street Inn
614 Kapahulu Ave.
In the old Hawaiian Dredging Bldg, across Jack-in-the-box & Jamba Juice. Slippers are OK, but they should be your 'nice' slippers. And the air conditioning is on really high, so it can get cold.
Everything is served family-style here and so the portions are huge. It's a great place for family parties or getting together with friends.
Pan Fried Island Pork Chops ($21)--you're thinking $21 for pork chops?? Well, there are about 6 of them and they are cooked just so--crispy outer crust and juicy tender pork goodness on the inside. Pair with a Chinese Chicken Salad or Caesar Salad. Cold, crispy and just enough dressing. Kim chee fried rice is great, even though it's a bit heavy on the peas.
Kalua pig sliders--appetizers. Order more than one (3 to an order). It's kalua pig with an (American) sweet-ish BBQ sauce, served with pineapple and the soft white buns used for Chinese roast duck. It sounds like it might be a muddled mess, but everything balances out perfectly.
2747 Kaimuki Ave.
Across from Kaimuki High School
No reservations, but credit cards are OK.
Another Hawaii-style diner and good old-fashioned okazuya. My Grandma used to take me there as a kid and it looks exactly the same. I think even some of the servers are still the same!
This is another sentimental favorite, but the food is always good and reasonably priced. Mostly Japanese and local food, but also standard hamburgers and fries diner food. Can't go wrong.