Izakaya Nonbei

Overall Review: CorkCork

Service: Izakaya Nonbei used to be one of our all time favorite Japanese restaurants in Hawaii, however, last year it was sold and has changed substantially. One of the past owners is still working for the restaurant and she assured me that the cook was the same (although the main chef was her father so we are not sure how they could be if they moved?). When the food arrived about 30% of the dishes where as good as we remembered but the rest of the food was disappointing. When we asked to return a horribly overcooked fish she took it back to the kitchen and then returned it to us saying “the chef touched it and said its moist inside”…. first and foremost no one wants to hear that someone touched there food and then expect them to continue to eat it! secondly we know overcooked fish when we see and taste it. It was disappointing service for sure. Specially when the past owners where so nice and the food was impeccable.

Food: The food was so so. Someone who has never been to the Old Nonbei may think its great, but after years of patronage we feel the food has suffered in the transition. Some of the items are still good so if you are in the neighborhood and in the mood for sushi or Japanese by all means go….. but if you have been an old Nonbei fan say so long and just move onto another Japanese restaurant. Even the green tea was different – must be a cheaper brand.

Favorite Dishes: Karei Karaag (Cabbage & Small fish) Eggplant & Mushrooms, Miso Rice Cake, Small Fried Shrimp Appetizer and the ice Otokoyama sake of course!

Atmosphere: The new Nonbei ambiance is kind of modern inside. They have ground floor tables as well as regular tables and the inside is very small (about 5-6 tables total) plus the small sushi bar. The real killer is that they have a huge flat screen TV on the wall which really detracts for the restaurants classiness. Honestly who wants to go to a nice restaurant and have to watch TV? its distracting and doesn’t belong in this restaurant at all.

Consistency: Well the old Nonbei was incredible consistence for years, however, this new location isn’t going to get a second chance from us anytime soon. If we do for some reason feel generous we will go back and update this restaurant review!

Parking: Nonbei has a small parking lot out front with about 10 spots in total. When full it can be super hard to get in and out but at least they do have some parking. Otherwise you can always park across the street at Safeway and walk across the street.

Price Range: Low-Medium ($6-$25) per Entree
Corkage Fee $20 per Bottle
Reservations Accepted & Recommended
Take Out Available

Address:
3108 Olu St.
Honolulu, HI 96816
Tel: (808) 734-5573

Hours of Operation:
Dinner Mon, Wed-Sun 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Closed Tuesday

Izakaya Nonbei - fried flounder fish hawaii

Whole Fried Flounder

Izakaya Nonbei restaurant review fish

Fried Shrimp

Izakaya Nonbei cold tofu dish

Cold Tofu

Izakaya Nonbei Eggplant & Mushroom

Eggplant & Mushroom

Izakaya Nonbei Small Fish & Cabbage

Cabbage & Small Fish

Izakaya Nombie miso rice cake

Miso Rice Cake

 

Champa Thai

Overall: corkagecorkagecorkagecorkage

Service: The staff sooooo nice and they feel like family since we used to go at least once a week (although in the past year have gone less and less). Often times its very busy and takes a while to order and get a bottle opener (HINT: bring your own or buy a screw top wine).

Food: The food has traditionally been always excellent, however the past few times we have been for both lunch and dinner the food was not as good. It must be related to the chef for the day…… The menu has transitional Thai favorites like spring rolls, curries, noddles and so forth. Be warned they use MSG in the food so if your allergic tell them when you order to leave it out. The food is so good you really won’t even notice a difference.

Favorite Dishes: Pad Seiew Chicken, Thai Beef Salad, Chicken Larb, Green Papaya Salad, Tum Yum (perfect for a cold),  All Curry with Fresh Fish is a sure thing!

Atmosphere: It’s a good place to bring a date or go with friends. It’s very casual, quaint, quiet (no loud music), nice art, and an overall lovely little restaurant.

Consistency: Out of the 5 years I have been going to the Waialae restaurant only 2 visits have not been consistently fantastic until just recently the past 3-4 times we have gone its been less than delicious so we moved this rating from 5 corks down to 4 (but maybe should go to 3 even). I would still recommend this restaurant but hopefully they haven’t changed all the chefs because it always used to be fantastic. Only thing we can say is each chef has their own “style” but for the most part it has been consistently good over the past half decade.

Parking: As far as parking goes there are 3 itty bitty little free spots behind the restaurant but you can always park on the street, the bank across the street or take the bus :)… this place is so good it’s worth walking!!

Price Range: Low-Medium ($8-$20) per Entree
No Corkage Fee!

Reservations Accepted & Recommended Only For Large Parties (+6 or more)
Take Out Available

Address:
Champa Thai Restaurants
2452 Waialae Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96816
Ph: (808) 732-0054
http://www.champathai.com/

Take-Out and Reservations:
At Pearl Kai Center –(808) 488-2881
At Waialae Ave. — (808) 732-0054 At Kailua– (808) 263-8281

Hours of Operation
Monday – Saturday • 11:00 am – 2:00 pm • 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Sunday • 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Link To Website: http://www.champathai.com/

Champa Thai restaurant review

Green Curry

Champa Thai papaya salad

Green Papaya Salad

champa thai restaurant review hawaii

Sweet Chili Fish

Bella Mia

Overall: CorkCork

Service: The service is ok at Bella Mia. The staff is friendly and its a family owned business which is always nice. Both times we have been the service staff was welcoming and full of smiles. I wouldn’t say the service is fast but the food comes out quickly and the overall its pleasant.

Food: The dishes are huge at Bella Mia and absolutely large enough to share or for you to bring home for a second meal. They have everything you would imaging a from a NY-Italian restaurant including pasta, pizza, and a few salads. The marinara sauce and hot bread they serve you is delicious! its hot and the sauce is so good you could drink it. I would recommend going for lunch and having a salad and the bread as an appetizer it would be a perfect meal. The pasta was pretty good as well but was a bit overcooked.

Favorite Dishes: Greek Salad, Free Bread and Marinara Sauce

Atmosphere: The motif of Bella Mia is that of a casual, family style NY Italian restaurant. The table clothes are the traditional checkers of red and white. They have a pizza window and fun pictures and nick knacks around to give the ambiance that of a comfortable family-dive restaurant. Its the type of place you can bring kids and they can spill marinara sauce all over the floor without a second thought. The tables and chairs are miss matched which adds to the charm of this Italian family business.

Consistency: Both times we have been the food was consistently OK.

Parking: Parking is easy at Bella Mia because the restaurant is in the Kaimuki Shopping Center. You can find ample parking (most of the time) for only $1 for the first hour.

Price Range: Medium ($10-$22) per Entree
No Corkage Fee!
Reservations Not Accepted
Take Out Available

Address:
1137 11th Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816
Tel: (808) 737-1937
Website: /

Hours of Operation:
Tuesday – Sunday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Bella Mia greek salad picture form honolulu hawaii

Greek Salad

Bella Mia Restaurant in Hawaii

Bella Mia Restaurant

Mexitlan Grill – OUT OF BUSINESS

Overall: CorkCorkCorkCork

Service: The service is excellent at Mexitlan Grill which is a relief since the restaurant is extremely small in size (about 8 tables total). The service is very friendly and attentive making it a very enjoyable restaurant for both a quick bite for lunch or dinner out with friends.

Food: The food is authentic Mexican through and through. It’s wonderful to finally get a good Mexican restaurant in Honolulu that has more than just some run-of-the-mill burritos,  enchiladas and tacos. The restaurant proteins include fresh Fish, Lobster, Beef Tongue, Shredded Beef, Asada, Cochinita, Orange Pork, Chicken and more!  The salsa is fresh and once you start eating it you will want to put it on everything.  In fact, last time we ate at Mexitlan we got to experience them roasting the tomatoes fresh for the salsa because part of the grill opens up into the dining area…it was authentic and fun to watch.

Favorite Dishes: Chili Relleno (yum!), Fish Wrap, Tacos – Chicken, Beef Tongue, Cochinita, and the Enchiladas.

Atmosphere: The first thoughts that come to mind are – quaint, traditional, and charming. Even though the restaurant is small and doesn’t have any views they really decorated it perfectly and it doesn’t feel claustrophobic or crowed. Mexitlan has  beautiful artwork and authentic decorations which give the overall ambiance an A+.

Consistency: The food is consistently good. The restaurant is very new so we only have eaten at this establishment a few times but everything was very good and we are excited to go back again soon!

Parking: There is a private lot at the Kaimuki Shopping Center which has plenty of parking for about $1 per hour. If you are lucky you can also score 3 free street parking in front of Big City Diner and walking through the restaurant.

Price Range: Medium ($10-$22) per Entree
No Corkage Fee!
Reservations Accepted For Dinner (only recommended for 5 people plus)
Take Out Available

Address:
1137 11th. Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816
Tel: (808) 737-5678

Hours of Operation:
Open Daily For Lunch & Dinner: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Closed Mondays

Mexitlan resturant in Hawaii review

Enchilada Chicken Mole

Mexitlan restauarant review

Fish Wrap

Richo

Overall: corkage

Service: The service was laugh out loud bad! it was just ridiculous. I mean they where very nice but terribly at serving. In fact, it took me three try’s to get them to remove an almost empty dish (the salad and all that was left was some pathetic limp lettuce doused in dressing). Its so annoying when they leave complete dishes to clutter your already small table. Also they brought us cold towels and pointed out they are usually hot – and our waiter didn’t know the different between Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris so it took a while to get even a drink at this establishment.

Food: Most absolutely the worst Korean food we have ever had. They also don’t have the BBQ grill on the table or even the portable grilling option which is rather strange for a Korean restaurant… the owner did say it was part Japanese so maybe that’s the Japanese influence? At any rate it was surely missed specially when the other food was less than impressive.

Favorite Dishes: Note – nothing was really good but these where not as bad: Seaweed Springrolls (tasty and creative but very oily), Bulkogi Salad (lean meat but way over dressed) , Leek Chijimi (like a pancake this was the best dish) – Do not order the Tofu Salad the tofu was rancid or the pickle / kimchi sampler it was awful.

Atmosphere:The Atmosphere of Richo is wonderful! they have floor table seating on the edge of the restaurant which are unique and can be fun for a date. The main seating tables and chairs which are also very modern and elegant in dark tones. The sushi bar sites at the back of the restaurant hiding the kitchen and creating a nice focal point for the guests facing that direction. The bathrooms where very clean and smelled great. If the food was better this would be a great place to go with its dim lighting and an overall aesthetic appeal.

Consistency: We will never go again to Richo. It was so bad it doesn’t even deserve another chance. If you want a good recommendation don’t wast your money or calories on this restaurant.

Parking:Parking is a breeze at Richo which was nice seeing how the food and service where so unacceptable. They have free parking in there lot located to the left of the door and once that fills up you can park in most of the stalls in the lot to the right of the entrance. It shares a few slots with some vendors but at night they are all closed so the entire lot is free for Richo guests.

Price Range: Medium-High ($8-$50) per Entree
Corkage Free $20 per Bottle
Reservations Accepted
Take Out Available (But they don’t have a take out menu)

Address:
Richo Korean Cuisine
3008 Waialae Ave.
Honolulu, HI 96826
Tel: (808) 734-2222


12th Ave Grill

Overall: corkagecorkage

Service: The service was so-so. The waiter took his time taking our orders and wasn’t very knowledgeable about the menu – in fact he even had to come back twice to inform us the items we ordered where no longer available. I mean if you only have 5 desserts and 3 are out how hard is it to remember what you DO have? Its not rocket science!  Also if your not going to put the wine we ordered on the table for us to fill up ourselves than it would be reasonable to think the waiter would frequently check back on our glass status…. unfortunately this was not the case. We give it a big two thumbs down on the service.

Food: ummm where to begin…. about half of the food we ordered was pretty good and half was uneatable and just plan laugh out loud bad. The scallops from the specials menu where undercooked and rubbery. The pecan pie sandwich was burned and actually so unappetizing we sent it back. Another person ordered the Afogado which was believe it or not… pre-made and had freezer burn all over it…. I mean it’s ice cream – does it really need to be pre-glassed? How lazy can you get! Also when the menu noted it should come “drowned” in an expresso shot one would think it would be a warm fresh shot that was poured over the ice cream. Not a little frozen glob of cold espresso stuck to the  bottom of the glass – that’s just GROSS. On the positive note we did have two good entrees including the Opah fresh catch of the day and the BBQ Spare Ribs which just feel right off the bone and where delicious. The sides where few and far between, and over seasoned but it was the best thing we ate that night. The menu does change seasonally and 12th Ave Grill offers a lot of daily specials – however, being a personal chef I can say its better to have less specials and really make sure your core dishes are properly executed than to have new dishes all the time that are missing crucial elements or not cooked properly.
Download 12th Ave Grill Menu in Honolulu

Favorite Dishes: Fresh Fish of the Day, BBQ Maui Cattle Co. Short Ribs, and Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Atmosphere: The 12 Ave Grill is a cute little restaurant. The atmosphere is warm – with light/cheery wood furniture, orange dim lights and small in diameter. The restaurant also has a small unique bar seating area which is charming and nice if you are solo or + 1. The worst thing about this restaurant is the noise factor. It has such bad acoustics that when full its really hard to hear the people at your table without screaming at each other. Not very pleasant and def not recommended for a first date where you want to get to know someone better. (TIP: if you decide to try it out – go early or go late – too avoid a full restaurant so you can at least hear yourself think! or…. and its recommended to go somewhere else!)

Consistency: Consistently the dishes are pretty bad. It’s been 4 years since we have been and I would be lying if I said it would we would return before another 4 passes at least!

Parking: Parking is pretty easy at 12th Ave Grill. The restaurant is located close to the Kamuki shopping center on the side street between Koko Head Ave and 12th Ave. So the best place to park is the maniciple parking lot right next to it which has metered parking. If you can’t find a spot you can go to the other parking lot (where the Big City Diner is located) which has ticketed parking ($1 per hour).

Price Range: Medium-High ($18-$32-Market Price) per Entree
Corkage Fee $15 per Bottle
Reservations Accepted & Recommended
Take Out Available

Address:
1145C 12th Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96816
Tel: (808) 732-9469
Website: http://www.12thavegrill.com

Hours of Operation:
Open for Dinner:
Mon-Thurs: 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Fri-Sat: 5:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Sun: Closed

Spare Rib from 12th Ave Grill in Honolulu, HI

Spare Rib's

Scallops from 12th Ave Grill in Honolulu, HI

Scallops

12th ave fresh fish opha

Fresh Opha

SOUL – Cuisine with Aloha & Spice

Overall: corkage

Service: The service was the best thing about SOUL. The restaurant is a mesh of full service and plate lunch get it yourself service. You are seated by a waitress and given menus, water and a very pleasant smile! then once you decide what you want to eat you need to go and order at the counter, pay and then be re-seated. Once your order is complete the waitress brings it out to you and also clears the table. Both waitresses where absolutely jewels. Both exceptionally friendly and helpful – to bad the food was crap!

Food: We where soooooo very excited to try this place as the menu was mouth watering… sadly it was some of the worst food we have had in a while! they should name the restaurant Soul – Cuisine with Salt & Frozen Ingredients! The cuisine menu is a mixture (as promised) of Southern food and Hawaiian comfort food. Staple items on the menu include Seafood Gumbo & Grits, Pulled Pork, BBQ Ribs, Fried Chicken, Feta & Crab Mac & Cheese (sounds delicious), Jambalaya etc. The food was all pretty bad, the ribs where fatty and chewy  – everything was kind of old tasting and very salty. The trout was fishy, the salad was over dressed and the mash potato’s where even cold… they tasted like glue….. everything was pretty disgusting! The salad we ordered was the best thing and lets face it, it is pretty hard to screw up mixed greens! that being said, the salad was named “Avocado and Papaya Salad” which would indicate more than 1 piece of papaya and 1 little piece of avocado. False advertising 4 sure!  and overall the restaurant is pretty darn expensive for the shabby quality of ingredients served.

Favorite Dishes: To put it bluntly – we didn’t like anything. The best thing was the wine we brought with us!!  The Avacado & Papaya Salad was the best thing we ate (see Food above). The Fried Chicken did look delicious, but we didn’t try it this time around. Our waitress did say her favorite thing was Shrimp and Grits but – again…. can’t recommend anything from this visit!

Atmosphere: We enjoyed the atmosphere at Soul very much. It is a cute little dive with a fun personality and was pretty clean. You can site either outside (about 3 tables) or inside (about 10 tables) which is nice for variety. They had interesting art and the overall place feels pleasant once inside. They also had great music – not loud at all and very easy going Island style beats.

Consistency: Well we have only been once and after such terrible food it will be extremely hard to go back and give this restaurant another shot. In the spirit of fairness and for the benefit of our readers we will go again and update this review at that time….. so stay tuned!

Parking: Well as all restaurants in this little mini mecca of Kaimuki there is very limited free parking for the 6 restaurants guests. If you go early and are lucky you can snag a spot (no more than 20 in front and back). If you are unlucky or go after 6:30 you can park for $5 at the lot across the street and hope you don’t get a ticket (which has happened to us before). Good luck!

Price Range: Medium ($12-$22) per Entree
No Corkage Fee!
Reservations Not Accepted
Take Out Available

Address:
St Louis Dr & Waialae Ave
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 735-7685.

Hours of Operation:
Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Friday: 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Saturday: 12 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. .
Sunday: Brunch – 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Dinner – 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Aloha and Spice ribs review

Spare Ribs

Soul Location

The Fat Greek

Overall: corkagecorkagecorkage

Service: The Fat Greek is a plate lunch type of establishment so there is no table staff and you need to order from the counter, take a number, and wait for your order to be called. The staff is friendly and responsive to guests needs for example when a friends order came out with a big black hair on top they took it back and made him a new one without a hesitation. Sometimes they can be slow and food does tend to trickle out randomly.

Food: The food at The Fat Greek is typical Greek with a Mediterranean twist. The food in general is pretty healthy as most dishes contain lean protein, fresh vegetables, lemon and olive oil rather than fried foods. The Fat Greek has the typical Greek / Mediterranean dishes you would be “craving” such as Falaffel, Shwarmas, Souvlaki, Gyros, Greek Salads, Lamb, Hummus, and great pita bread.

Favorite Dishes: Greek Salad, Spanokopita, Soulvaki (Don’t get the fish its not as good as the meat), Daily Special (always great specially the fresh salmon or Moussaka), Greek Fries  (TIP: for the love of god DO NOT order the chicken soup it’s terrible!)

Atmosphere: The atmosphere at The Fat Greek is that of a querky yet quaint local dive. It has an odd charm to it and has great outdoor seating but is not exactly fancy or even trendy. The place is pretty clean and they have plenty of seating so its a good place to go with kids or friends for a quick bite, but certainly not recommended for a lengthily meal or an intimate first date.

Consistency: We have only been twice but both times have been consistently OK . It’s not like anything you eat knocks your socks off or anything but its not bad and if you are in the mood for Greek and not close to Kahala (so you can eat at the Olive Tree Cafe)  this is a good dinning option.

Parking: The Fat Greek does have some parking available but not that many stalls and they are shared with other neighboring restaurants like Sabrina’s, Aloha with Spice, and Cafe Tajmahal so you need to be lucky or very patient to get a spot. You can also park across the street in the out door parking lot but its a flat rate of $5 and last time we parked there and paid we STILL got a ticket! those old machines are unreliable and rather expensive for being located on Waialae.

Price Range: Low-Medium ($7-$19) per Entree
No Corkage Fee!
Reservations Not Accepted
Take Out Available

Address:
3040 Waialae Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816
Tel: (808) 734-0404
Website: http://www.thefatgreek.net

Hours of Operation:
Open 11:00 am to 10:00 pm daily

Fat Greek Salmon Special picture in honolulu, HI

Salmon Plate Special

Fat Greek Restaurant Hummus picture in Honolulu Hawaii

Hummus

Himalayan Kitchen

Overall: corkagecorkage

Service: We where served in a timely manner but the staff was not very helpful or particularly friendly. We asked our waitress and water boy’s opinion on dishes, one didn’t answer and the other recommended something that was oily and basically inedible!

Food: The food was not very good. It was ok but most likely because they used MSG in the food. We had to mix the curry, rice and bread all together to make anything taste good at all.

Favorite Dishes: Papadan, Chicken Curry, and Jalapeno & Garlic Nan.

Atmosphere: A cool artsy restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating. The ambiance is bright, homely and has a ethnic feel to it. The restaurant has beautiful artwork from the Himalayas which really adds something special to the decor and is very inviting.

Consistency: We have only been once so far but the food was consistently boring throughout the meal.

Parking: The Himalayan Kitchen is located in the Kaimuki shopping center which is has a good amount of spots. The restaurant does not validate parking but its not expensive at all to park there so no worries.

Price Range: Medium ($10-$18) per Entree
No Corkage Fee!
Reservations Not Needed

Address:
Kaimuki
1137 11th Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816
Phone Number: (808) 735-1122
Website: www.himalayankitchen.net

Town

Overall: corkage corkagecorkagecorkage

Service: The service is so so – that being said we have had much better service for dinner than for lunch.

Food: The food is contemporary, fun and delicious! The trend is organic and island fresh with an Italian /Mediterranean twist. Town often changes the menu which keeps things entertaining. The entree dishes are not big enough for sharing but it is recommended to order few appetizers for the table to sample for fun if you are not exceptionally hungry. (TIP: If you go for lunch and are craving a salad be warned its the size of a small appetizer! you need to order the “Big” salad or stop at Tamura’s for some Poki on your way home!)

Favorite Dishes: Ahi Cake, Arugula Salad, Fresh Fish, Hand Cut Pastas & Gnocchi are quite good.

Atmosphere: The restaurant is very hip and chic. You can sit both outside (dog friendly) or inside. The acoustics are not so great so if the restaurant is full be ready to yell to your friends to be heard. The restaurant is both casual and classy so you can dress up if you like or go as you are depending on your dinning engagement and company.

Consistency: Dinner is consistently good but we have had a few painfully slow and not very good lunches.

Parking: Town has a 30-car private parking lot in the back but you need to have “parkma” to get a spot as its also shared with another restaurant. You can also find ample free street parking is once the lot is full typically without problems.

Price Range: Medium ($15-$30) per Entree
Corkage Fee: $15 per bottle
Take Out Available
Reservations Recommended

Address:
3435 Waialae Ave
Honululu, HI 96816
Call For Reservations: (808) 735-5900
or Email: info@townkaimuki.com
Website: http://www.townkaimuki.com

Hours of Operation:
Breakfast: Monday – Saturday: 6:30am – 11:00am
Lunch: Monday – Saturday: 11:00am – 2:00pm
Dinner: Monday – Thursday: 5:30pm – 9:30pm, Friday – Saturday: 5:30pm – 10:00pm