With blustery weather, diners have been seeking dishes that warm the mind, body and soul. This season’s specially created comfort foods have emerged from new Oahu eateries that boast hot pot, noodles, curry and craft eats. Here’s a look at the best new restaurants on Oahu just in time for spring.
1. Joy Cup Noodles Mean
Hidden along the King Street end of Kalakaua Avenue, about a mile before you enter Waikiki, is a true mouthwatering hole in the wall. This gem serves elegantly prepared, fresh yet humble noodle dishes with the potential to really fire up your tastebuds. Owned and operated by a husband and wife duo (Joy is the namesake and wife/chef’s daughter of the noodle shop), all have an unmistakable passion for Szechuan cuisine.
With spice levels from 0 to 14, your level of tolerance can be tested. The flavors are robust, perfectly cooked, the noodles are ever so chewy and served as a very generous portion. Favorites include the Beef Noodles and Dan Dan Noodles, along with the popular Okinawan Taco Rice (which doesn’t feature noodles at all).
Joy Cup Noodles Mean
1608 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96826
When there’s a slight chill in the air and the breeze is cool, you’ll crave hot pot. What makes Shabuya even more palatable is the fact that it is all-you-can-eat. Located at Ala Moana Shopping Center in the Ewa Wing, you’ll find a glorious heaven for hot pot lovers.
Shabuya is a traditional hot pot restaurant offering five styles of broth, an impressive meat selection and unlimited fresh ingredients, which include noodles, vegetables, seafood options and dipping sauces. Sauces include the Original House Broth, Miso Broth, Spicy Miso, Tonkotsu Broth and Sukiyaki. They don’t take reservations and the wait list can get pretty long but most diners are in and out pretty quickly. Lunch is $17.99 and dinner is $27.99.
1450 Ala Moana Blvd
Honolulu, Hi 96814
3. Seoul Tofu House
A taste of authentic Korea just made its way into the heart of Waikiki. Serving traditional style Soondoobu (traditional spicy soup), each stew is made with beef broth boiled for 24 hours then served with various proteins, vegetables and topped with a freshly cracked egg in a hot stone pot.
Complete meals include freshly made soft tofu, side dishes along with delicious types of Soondoobu served boiling in regular spicy, curry or plain broth. Ingredients include meat, seafood, kimchi, ham and cheese, vegetable or cod roe. Spice levels are regular, hot or danger. You can also select a not-spicy plain or curry option.
Seoul Tofu House
2299 Kuhio Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
4. Minori Craft Japanese Tavern
Taking fresh Japanese cuisine to the next level, Minori is combining the art of Japanese cooking with Hawaii-grown ingredients and local flare. An emphasis — and all-you-can-eat locally sourced salad bar — is made to highlight farm fresh ingredients from Oahu farmers, along with supporting local products, including Aloha Tofu.
The menu is chic, trendy and innovative. Dishes are broken into categories: signature dishes, fried goodness, charcoal grill, bowls, noodles, sushi and hot pot. Standouts include the Homemade Bacon Potato Salad, #BrokeDaMouthChicken, Minori Juicy Gyoza, and hot pot with Original Chicken Paitan broth.
Minori Craft Japanese Tavern
1731 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96826
5. Nico’s Upstairs
Famous for his fresh island fish, local lunch plates and delightful seafoods, Nico Chaize recently took over the former location of Harbor Restaurant at Pier 38. With an eatery already located downstairs, the chef and restauranteur decided to expand upstairs too.
Nico’s Upstairs Steak and Seafood serves lunch, happy hour, dinner and Sunday brunch, showcasing a more refined and elevated experience. The restaurant also combines Nico’s home inspirations, including French classics like Escargot, Bistro Style Tuna Steak and Creme Brûlée, while also offering worldly elements including miso, Spanish octopus and New Zealand Oysters.
1129 North Nimitz Hwy
Honolulu, HI 96817
6. Hapa Restaurant
Asian fusion is the main focus of this new restaurant on Kapahulu Avenue. As the name implies, the owners, a female chef and a male business manager — a hapa/mixed ethnicity couple — decided to create comfort foods using unique ingredients. The pair, originally from Maryland, utilize local ingredients and Asian flavor profiles to showcase their signature dishes.
Currently open for dinner only, they hope to expand into the lunchtime crowd. Notable items include the Hapa Potstickers, Black Garlic Filet Mignon and Kauai Shrimp and Grits. Portions are generous, proteins are perfectly cooked and complemented with unique flavor combinations.
829 Kapahulu Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96816