After arriving on O‘ahu and checking into your accommodations, sometimes you just want to hang out in the vicinity and enjoy a casual meal. We’ve got those options for you right here!
The chefs at P.F. Chang’s create fresh and inventive Chinese cuisine served with island-style hospitality on a daily basis. With more than 200 locations across the U.S. and more around the globe, you might think it’s a basic chain restaurant—but then you would be wrong.
“Many people don’t realize that we are a scratch kitchen, down to the marinades of our meat to the makeup of our sauces and our handmade dim sum,” explains Paris Valentino, director of operations at P.F. Chang’s. “Our sauces are composed of dozens of ingredients and some dishes require three different sauces. Our flavors aren’t found in other Chinese restaurants and our food cannot be replicated in home kitchens due to the nature of what is needed. I believe our vision and standards produce the very best that Chinese cuisine can offer.”
We ask about Valentino’s personal favorites. “I love our Mongolian Surf & Turf,” he states assuredly. “Our Mongolian sauce is simple, but the trick to one of the most successful dishes within the brand is the texture of the meat with the caramelization of the sauce. It’s easily burned if not careful, but is one of the most sought-after dishes on our menu. Beef and shrimp are the proteins, and it’s wonderful.”
Valentino recommends the VIP Duck as the perfect starter dish for sharing—the duck breast and thigh are served together with bao buns and three different sauces. The Kim Chee Fried Rice entree incorporates a cooking method that can only be found in Hawai‘i.
“I can’t even pronounce the Korean sauces in this dish,” says Valentino, “but it’s got three flavor profiles with sweet, tangy and spicy. I also love the rice. It’s a unique combination of flavors.”
“Our culinary team works incredibly hard each and every day to ensure the flavor, texture, aroma and taste exceed the expectations of our guests,” shares Valentino.
“And for us to be successful, we need to engage with our guests and guide them through our menu,” he says. “Our food is the easy part. How we treat and interact with our guests is what will set us apart from everyone else.”
The former Benihana of Tokyo reopened under the new Rocky Japanese Steak Teppan Restaurant name one year ago. The wife of the late founder Rocky Aoki wanted to update the restaurant to include some of the local flavor of Hawai‘i.
Rocky Aoki was ahead of his time. He introduced the concept of “eatertainment” to America 55 years ago, blending Japanese-style teppan cooking with showmanship.
Honolulu has long been recognized as a confluence of East and West. Rocky’s new menu takes its cues from the global cosmopolitan city around it, offering dishes that blend cultures and cooking styles from Asia to the Americas and beyond, for true international teppanyaki cuisine.
The new Rocky, located in the Hilton Hawaiian Village, offers the same great dishes that Benihana did, but has added new dishes including hamburgers, Loco Moco Ramen, Pad Thai Noodle and teppan sushi. There is a keiki (kids) menu along with a beautiful patio that boasts its own special menu.
Check out the new Rocky Japanese Steak Teppan Restaurant. It has everything the previous Benihana’s had and more!
Moose McGillycuddy’s has been a Waikīkī staple since it opened in August of 1980 as Bullwinkle’s. “Large portions from a jovial guy,” is how General Manager George Watson explains it.
Filled with eclectic decor and exuding a casual yet lively atmosphere, Moose’s serves up a varied menu of American pub fare in generous portions. The friendly staff ensures great service to its guests where everyone is treated like family.
For breakfast, lunch and dinner, head to the first floor cafe for delicious appetizers, salads, sandwiches, its famous burgers and a selection of Moose’s favorites.
“Our number one item on the menu is the beer-battered mahi mahi fish and chips that’s reminiscent of English pub food with a Hawaiian twist,” says Watson. “We also have our cleverly named burgers with different toppings, the ever-popular baby moose wings (chicken wings) and nachos that round out our top four.”
He adds, “Happy hour is a huge draw for the value-oriented and our famous loco moco is a must for visitors.”
Looking for some casual evening recreation? Head upstairs 7 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. daily to check out the club, “a cross between a traditional club and pub,” explains Watson. “DJ’s spin nightly for the dancers, and pool, darts and foosball are popular on slower nights.” Food and beverages are available here as well. And if you have a private event coming up, Watson invites you to check out Moose McGillycuddy’s!
With a history that dates back more than 40 years, Tony Roma’s clearly holds the title for everybody’s favorite ribs. Their focus then were the baby back ribs, and it’s still the most popular, according to Ryo Shibazaki, manager of Tony Roma’s Waikiki.
“People love our ribs,” says Shibazaki when asked about Tony Roma’s solid customer base. “They keep coming back from all over the world to enjoy the world-famous ribs. We have the best ribs in the world!”
Step into Tony Roma’s and you’re in for a comfortable, casual dining experience with a menu that has all the items you’d typically find—starters, soups, salads, burgers and sandwiches, steak, seafood, chicken, desserts. But in a category all its own are the “World-Famous Ribs,” the “stuff that legends are made of.”
Shibazaki’s personal favorite? The Baby Back Ribs and Filet Medallion combo with mashed potato. “I love this combination,” he says. “It comes with not only our famous ribs, but also filet medallion steak topped with house-made cabernet demi-glace sauce. I always choose the mash potatoes that our chef cooks every morning for my side.”
For a well-rounded Tony Roma’s dining experience, Shibazaki suggests the Star-Studded Sampler. “This is a combination of different ribs,” he explains. “Guests can enjoy the different kinds of ribs we have and find their favorite one.” For good measure, he includes the signature Agave Nectar Romarita, their most popular Tequila-based cocktail that comes in different flavors.
Tony Roma’s also has a kid’s menu, so bring the family!
[A version of this article appears in print in the pages of This Week O‘ahu]