The Waikiki Insider

May 6, 2014 | By Mona Wood-Sword

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are the perfect excuses to check out great new restaurants in Waikiki. Here is a short list of some of the newer dining establishments in Waikiki that have quickly become some of my favorites.




Located on the 2nd level of The Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head on the “quieter” end of Waikiki, Park is an unexpected delight. Open since late last year, Park features “New American” cuisine from talented Executive Chef Yoichi Saito. Saito uses the freshest, local-grown and seasonal ingredients for the ultimate culinary experience, while also offering value. I’ve been to Park many times since Chef Saito has come on board, and I haven’t been disappointed yet. A must-have on every single visit is Saito’s Brussels sprouts made with dried tart cherries, kalua bacon and lemon ($8)! I was never a huge fan of the vegetable before, but I actually crave this dish when I’m not there. I have turned many a Brussels sprout hater into a convert over the past few months. No matter what you order for your main dish, definitely get the Brussels sprouts on the side—you can thank me later!

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is also a big fan, ordering it as her entrée—sans the bacon, since she is a vegetarian. And speaking of noteworthy visitors, in the short time it’s been open, Park has hosted some pretty big names—Rachel McAdams, Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park from Hawaii Five-0, Jimmy Buffet, Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Mayor Kirk Caldwell and a slew of other politicians, celebrities and VIPs. Park is open nightly from 5-10 p.m. for dinner (lounge is open until 11 p.m.) and also has a very popular $5-7 happy hour from 5-7 p.m., a nightly list of “25 Wines for $25,” and great live music.

The Lotus Honolulu
2885 Kalakaua Ave. [D:12 Waikiki Map]
(808) 791-5161 |


For those of you who already know and love tonkatsu—a Japanese breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet, if you haven’t tried Kimukatsu, yet… GO!!! And for those of you who have never had tonkatsu before, please give it a try. Kimukatsu’s katsu (they also have chicken and beef versions) is probably the best I’ve ever had. Deep-fried in the U.S. usually means heavy, greasy and super fattening, but Kimukatsu’s version is light—almost melts in my mouth! They start with high-quality pork cutlet thinly sliced into 25 layers, which is then coated with fresh breadcrumbs and fried slowly at a low temperature. All the natural juices are kept inside between the layers and crispy batter—making Kimukatsu’s signature katsu light and fluffy, yet extremely juicy and flavorful. Kimukatsu is famous throughout Japan and opened its sole Hawai‘i location about a year ago in Waikiki. They are open for lunch, dinner and late night.

Waikiki Joy Hotel
320 Lewers St. [B:7 Waikiki Map]
(808) 922-1129

Sway Restaurant & Bar

I love exploring the backstreets of Waikiki on foot and discovering new treasures—shops and restaurants that I would never know about otherwise become new favorites—and I like spreading the word! Sway is one of these new finds. This restaurant-lounge is tucked away in Stay Hotel Waikiki on Koa Avenue (behind the Hyatt Regency Waikiki), and was a wonderful surprise. Despite the modern décor, the feel was comfortable and the staff friendly. Their culinary focus is Asian-American comfort food, so you can get edamame and kimchi, as well as classic burgers and everything in-between, so the menu would appeal to both kama‘aina (locals) and malihini (visitors). They also have a ton of beer—I think about 30 selections, so if beer is your thing, you won’t be disappointed!

I think the only pain is if you’re driving there. Parking can be a hassle, but there are some public lots in the area.

Sway Restaurant & Bar
Stay Hotel Waikiki
2424 Koa Avenue [C:9 Waikiki Map]
(808) 923-7829

On a personal note…

To my mom—who celebrated her 90th birthday this year—Happy Mother’s Day! And to my daddy—whose first job was as a bell boy at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and who raised me with stories of “the old days” of Waikiki, and who I know always watches over me—Happy Father’s Day!

Don’t forget to do something special for your mom and dad… take them to eat in Waikiki!

Aloha a hui houe ‘ai kakou (bon appétit),