There’s more to O'ahu than great beaches and Pearl Harbor. Hawai’i’s most populous island—its nickname is “The Gathering Place”—is experiencing a creative boom. Chefs, farmers, and artisans are embracing locally grown ingredients, innovative techniques, and their multiethnic roots, including Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese influences. Here are four distinct O'ahu neighborhoods spotlighting this delectable gathering of talent.
Old meets new in Chinatown, where an eclectic mix of imaginative restaurants and independent art galleries are found alongside antiques shops and bustling markets.
1. Per Se alums Chris Kajioka and Anthony Rush brought New York’s fine-dining sensibility to Oʻahu when they opened Senia in 2016. Dishes like hot-smoked king salmon and charred cabbage with shio kombu (salted kelp) and green goddess dressing are culinary works of art. Entrées, $10–$24. 808-200-5412; restaurantsenia.com.
2. The Maunakea Marketplace is a sensory hodgepodge of exotic fruits and vegetables, fresh seafood, and meats and poultry, as well an international food court. 808-524-3409.
3. Gifted young chef Andrew Le delivers an elevated Vietnamese experience at industrial-chic The Pig and the Lady. Start with the addictive twice-fried chicken wings and roasted peanuts ($11), followed by the house-made pho with grass-fed, locally sourced beef and fresh rice noodles ($15 at lunch; $18 at dinner). 808-585-8255; thepigandthelady.com.
4. On the first Friday of every month, restaurants, galleries, and boutiques stay open later and Chinatown’s nightlife comes alive with free entertainment, music, art openings, and demonstrations. firstfridayhawaii.com.