From ethnic cuisine to local favorites, Kapahulu Avenue offers up a wealth of options.
For those who wish to explore what O‘ahu has to offer beyond the sandy beaches and bustling streets of Waikiki, a local haven of Hawai‘i’s culture lies just outside its borders in historic Kapahulu.
Lined with charming antique shops and cozy eateries, Kapahulu Avenue flanks residential neighborhoods adorned with plantation-style homes that lend a classic Hawaiian feel to the area. And just as any small town has its go-to dining establishments, Kapahulu is filled with local haunts.
Next stop: Detour to refuel at Zippy’s
If you want to eat like kama‘aina (Hawai‘i residents), a visit to Zippy’s is an absolute must. The quintessential local spot, Zippy’s reflects the islands’ expansive culinary influences with its signature blend of island comfort food, and has connected residents from around the island of O‘ahu, as well as on Maui and the Big Island, since 1966.
The Kapahulu branch of Zippy’s is no exception, as it has been serving up favorites such as Famous Original Chili, crispy Fried Chicken and creamy Macaroni Salad—Hawai‘i’s take on potato salad—in the area since 1973. With a casual, family-friendly atmosphere, the restaurant features a takeout counter ideal for meals on the go, as well as seating for those who’d like to enjoy their dishes with leisure.
Loyal patrons at this location can’t get enough of the crunchy, fried goodness known as Korean Chicken, complete with a touch of sweetness, as well as the Zip Pac, a local-style bento featuring teriyaki beef, golden and crispy chicken, fish and Spam on a bed of rice. As kama‘aina will tell you, Zip Pacs are perfect grab-and-go items, and are oh-so-satisfying after a surf session.
Before leaving Zippy’s Kapahulu, stop by the Napoleon’s Bakery counter located inside for some flaky Apple Napple turnovers and more.
601 Kapahulu Ave. (808) 733-3725
Roll out: Mr. Ojisan fuses local flavor in Japanese fare
Hawai‘i is often referred to as a “melting pot” of cultures, housing an expansive range of ethnicities, beliefs and traditions on one group of islands. Arguably the best thing this pot cooks up is a truly unique fusion of fares visitors won’t find anywhere else.
The state’s cuisine blends culinary influences from its diverse ethnic makeup, and the flavors of Japan undoubtedly play a key role in this.
To get a taste of Hawai‘i’s exquisite Japanese fare, heading to Mr. Ojisan is an excellent place to start. The inviting nook has been dressing up Japanese cuisine with island flair since 1988.
“We love to play with fresh local ingredients and infuse those flavors into traditional Japanese dishes,” says owner Keiko Kawaharada.
For years, locals have patronized the eatery for its Wafu Steak, a Japanese-style garlic rib-eye brought to life with grated daikon, green onion and garlic chips. Mr. Ojisan also is a popular place to slurp up ramen—a trending entree for Hawai‘i’s foodies. The restaurant offers shoyu (soy sauce), miso, tonkotsu miso and spicy tan tan soup bases, and it distinguishes itself from other dining spots with a unique mix of ramen toppings including hearty stir-fried vegetables.
With a welcoming ambiance, Mr. Ojisan is great for the whole family. “We offer a wide range of Japanese dishes—not just noodles or ramen or sushi,” Kawaharada explains. “We offer something for all age groups and taste profiles.”
1016 Kapahulu Ave. (808) 735-4455
Aussie brekkie: Try Sydney’s sunny-side-up a.m. flavors at Tucker & Bevvy
New to the Waikiki breakfast scene is Tucker & Bevvy Breakfast at Hee Hing Plaza. Just opened for three months, this new location adds on to the Tucker & Bevvy family (Tucker & Bevvy Picnic is located across the street from Honolulu Zoo) with a focus on fresh and healthy Aussie-inspired dishes.
Owner Cecily Ho Sargent, who is originally from Hawai‘i, and her husband Tony, opened the first Waikiki location of Tucker & Bevvy after 17 years of living in Australia and running eateries. “When we lived in Sydney we did both types of operations … We had a sandwich shop/juice bar on Manly Beach that was similar to [Tucker & Bevvy] Picnic as well as two breakfast restaurants called Honolulu Grill and Malibu Grill in Manly as well,” Sargent says.
Signature items and Aussie-inspired favorites from the menu at Tucker & Bevvy Breakfast include: Tim Tam Waffle (Aussie cookies and ice cream on a waffle), Ricotta Pancakes with Strawberry Compote, popular standbys like Omelettes and a Roast Beef Hash made with prime rib.
Healthy-focused dishes include the Kale & quinoa breakfast salad with roasted kabocha, tamari seeds and poached eggs; Lentils & Sausages with eggs; and Mushroom Rosti with crisp potato cake, balsamic mushrooms, spinach and eggs. The juices are fresh pressed to order—a few favorites include Bevvy q (water-melon and red apple) and Sunrise (carrot, orange and ginger).
“We felt our Sydney-inspired menu which offers fresh and healthy food options, as well as a fresh-pressed juice bar, would work well in the Honolulu breakfast scene and we had experience doing it,” Sargent says. “We know breakfast is popular here but saw our niche with the ‘healthy and fresh’ options in food and juice in a full service restaurant as wide open.”
Tucker & Bevvy Breakfast
Hee Hing Plaza
449 Kapahulu Ave. (808) 732-0050