My friend pulled out her list of highly rated and inexpensive restaurants near Waikiki and we headed to Pioneer Saloon on Monsarrat Ave near Diamond Head. This residential area is like North Park in San Diego where the authentic and fun dining happens among the locals.
Pioneer Saloon is not a saloon or western by any means and serves Japanese food. Its funky and no frills with excellent food. I had the rib eye bento with Japanese spices and rice and the meat was tender and seasoned deliciously. This small place was out of my first choice which was Korean bbq ribs but the rib eye was as good as any upscale white linen tablecloth restaurant. My friend wanted swordfish which they were out of and settled for Ahi, once again another winner.
Up the street is Diamond Head Market and Grill and the grill is an order at the window take out and we went into the market. All kinds of fresh take out prepared by a professional chef and former culinary students. Locals were there after work buying stuff for dinner, dessert and breakfast. Quick, easy and fresh, not a fast food chain.
Corner Kitchen across the street from Rainbow Drive In has a trio band playing lively music on Wednesday nights. Sushi chef and Japanese food, the appetizers are filling and the place is fun. A few women eating dinner and from the neighborhood were asked to do the hula dance with the music and they willingly left their food and danced for the others in their jeans. How nice to see the tradition of the dance being continued with family members. This place is relaxing and fun with lots of audience participation.
The best breakfast I had was at the Cream Pot on Niu St, very close to Waikiki. It’s charming French inside with a wall display of copper pots and skillets. Service is a bit slow and I enjoyed the ambiance as they prepared my baked my egg dish. The coffee was served with a very tiny white pitcher full of cream and sugar in a glass bowl with small spoon. My dish came out piping hot and had cubed potatoes, smoked bacon, caramelized onions, cream and two eggs on top to blend in the hot dish. Served with the most decadent crepe loaded with whipped cream and layered with banana caramel sauce. Pure heaven.