Random Oahu Eats #illumedati 4

Hi everyone, it’s Whatever Wednesdays again and this should be a short post about Random Oahu Eats.

Like I said in my previous post, a good friend of mine is visiting this week. He’s staying in Waikiki as a tourist, with easy access to the beach and its amenities. However, I do try to show him a few things outside of Waikiki that a normal tourist may not know about.

Stock Photo from: Pexels

So there a lot of great places to eat in Waikiki for tourists, and you can find them without too much trouble. However, this post is about places slightly outside of Waikiki.

Leonard’s Bakery

So Leonard’s is kind of synonymous with malasadas. This one is actually pretty well known, even amongst tourists, so expect a bit of a line even though it is slightly outside Waikiki, in Kapahulu.

What is a malasada? Well it’s “Portugese doughnut without a hole”. Classically,  it is unfilled. However, I would advise buying some custard filled ones to see which ones you like better. There are only fillings, like dobash (chocolate buttercream) and haupia (coconut milk). Neither of those are my style. However, they also do a flavor of the month, with some kind of special filling such as banana or peach. This rotates every month as you would expect. One of my colleagues loves the banana filled ones, and would eat them a lot during those months.

They have other pastries, but just trust me and get the malasadas.

For those interested, they also have a malasadamobile, which you can reserve for an event or party. It is usually found at the Waikele Shopping Center in Waipahu during the day.

It also has its own little store to buy from and I like their t-shirts.

Liliha Bakery

If Leonard’s is synonymous with malasadas, then Liliha Bakery is synonymous with Coco Puffs. No, not Cocoa Puffs, the cereal.

Coco Puffs are chocolate cream-filled puffs with some chantilly on top. They have other variations, like the Chocolate Puff which is chocolate on top and the Green Tea Puff which is Green Tea Frosting on top.

If you are only able to come one time, go ahead and try a Chocolate Puff or Green Tea Puff, just to contrast it against the Coco Puff. However, the Coco Puff, with its chantilly topping simply works the best. Both my little brother and my friend who came to visit me wanted to try to Chocolate Puff (and not a Coco Puff). I bought one of each for them to try (and 10 other Coco Puffs for the family) so they could do their own side by side taste test. They both agreed that that the Coco Puff was the undisputed champion. So just trust fam.

The Liliha Bakery history is a short, but interesting read if you have the time.

There are two Liliha Bakeries on Oahu. The older one is located at 515 N. Kuakini Street, whereas the new one is located at 580 N. Nimitz Hwy. If you’re a local who grew up with Liliha Bakery, you would call the Kuakini the “real one” and the N. Nimitz Hwy one is considered the “fake one”. However, for me, I don’t really see a difference and the N. Nimitz Hwy one is easier for me to get to, so it’s where I go.


Zippy’s is kind of this staple restaurant which is unique to Hawaii that you really can’t find anywhere else. These are mostly concentrated on Oahu, but there is 1 on Maui and 1 on the Big Island.

“Zippy’s Restaurants operate in 24 different locations across the State of Hawaii. For almost 50 years, we have been your neighborhood diner of choice with food and friendly service that you can count on.” – Zippy’s (emphasis mine)

That is probably the best way to describe it, “neighborhood diner of choice“. However, the food they serve has its own local flavor. For the uninitiated, I would recommend just buying a Zip Pac to give the most variety. Even now, the Zip Pac is still my go-to order.

What’s in a Zip Pac?

A Zip-Pac is kind of half plate-lunch and half bento. It consists of Teriyaki Beef, Spam, Mahimahi & Fried Chicken on Rice with Furikake and Daikon. In other words, it’s a variety of meats on fish over rice with furikake and daikon.

What is furikake?

It is a dry Japanese seasoning meant to be sprinkled on top of cooked rice, vegetables, and fish. (It’s good!)

What is daikon?

I’ve heard it referred to as “Japanese horseradish”, but basically it’s a mild-flavored winter radish. I usually don’t eat this, but it does provide some additional flavor to the rice.

Interestingly, Zippy’s also has really good chili. My wife has clinic near a Zippy’s and she will usually pick up some chili rice for lunch. I’m not really a huge chili fan, but I think their chili is very good, especially in chili rice form. So, consider getting some chili rice just to try it, in addition to your Zip Pac.

Marukame Udon

To be honest, I was never really into Udon. I had always preferred Ramen. However, that may have been because I never had really good udon before. Marukame Udon gets special mention here because it’s good udon at a relatively cheap price. They have two locations, one in Waikiki on Kuhio Ave and one in Downtown/Chinatown on Fort Street.

Marukame understands that what really matters is the broth and the noodles. Read here

They offer various udons and some salad alternatives, however, I would just stick with the Sweet Beef Udon. Get the green onion and tempura flakes, and add an egg if you want. I wish they offered a bigger bowl option because I can (and have) eaten 2 bowls before.

Additionally, they offer some nice little tempura sides. However, be careful here, these tempura side plates add up fast. Even knowing this, I still have to buy an onion bomb, which is, as you would expect sliced up onion pseudo-formed into a ball shape and then deep fried. It’s really good, and I like it better than the Bloomin’ Onion at Outback because of the thinner onion slices.

Agu Ramen

I like Ramen, and I get it once in awhile at various places around Oahu. However, my favorite is Agu Ramen at Ward. To me, ramen shouldn’t be too expensive, and this is on the high-end for what I can tolerate. However, the ramen itself is really good, so if I really want good Ramen I go there and get:


Our rich hearty Miso Ramen combined with garlic butter, served with thick tan tan noodles and your choice of spice level, topped with ground pork miso, aji tamago*, crunchy menma, fresh negi, sesame seeds, and sweet corn

Note: • Levels 1-2 are mild to medium spicy – Levels 3-5 come with a caution!

EPIC Spicy Level! Never Spicy Enough? Try the Epic level, so hot it’s beyond measure!

(From Their Menu)

If you fake like spicy stuff (you know who I mean!), just get level 2. If you actually like spicy stuff, get level 3. Only move to level 4 or 5 if habanero peppers and the like make you laugh. I’ve never seen the EPIC level, but I would imagine it makes your tongue numb.


Don’t be afraid to venture a little bit outside of Waikiki for some good food.



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4 thoughts on “Random Oahu Eats #illumedati

  • Physician on FIRE

    We’ve eaten the heck out of poke when visiting the islands. I don’t know that I’ve ever had bad poke, but do you have a favorite place to find it? Or a favorite variety (we usually go spicy – we don’t fake like spicy)?


    • Sensei Post author

      I have to eat poke at least once a week. I must admit that I am not a connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination. I usually just get my poke at Foodland or Costco. However, at this place near me at Manoa Marketplace I get the Spicy Crunch Don sometimes. Manoa Sushi

      However, I do have some friends who swear by Ono Seafood over in Kaimuki.

      A recent newcomer from the Big Island, Da Poke Shack now has a truck outside the Costco here on Oahu. I’ve been meaning to try it, but I don’t go down that way all that much anymore. According to the reviews, the thing to get is “Pele’s Kiss”.

      I’m sure I’ll eventually get around to it though, since I’m pretty much a poke addict.

      If you ever had back to the Big Island or Oahu, might want to check them out.


      • Physician on FIRE

        Awesome, thanks for the recs! When we stayed on Oahu’s North Shore just off of Three Tables, we were in walking distance of Foodland. We had the Foodland poke almost daily, and enjoyed the food truck there as well, eating among the free range chickens.

        Some day… we’ll be back.


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