As tourism officials serve travel agents a menu of tools for
selling the improved Waikiki, they’re stressing the reinvention of
the destination’s culinary scene.
“Waikiki’s new spectrum of product strives to offer every
visitor the best of the best, and that includes dining,” said
Stacey Alford, Oahu Visitors Bureau’s director of travel industry
Best doesn’t necessarily mean most expensive, however. As Hawaii
Visitors and Convention Bureau’s senior vice president of marketing
Jay Talwar put it: “Waikiki’s cuisine delivers everything from the
loco moco [a local standard with eggs, hamburger, rice and gravy]
to black risotto.”
Travel agents can really ice the cake on a client’s itinerary by
sharing information about Waikiki’s dining draws. Up and down the
strip, visitors are finding familiar mainland marquees as well as
international and island-style eateries.
The Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center is introducing several
restaurants to the Hawaii market for the first time. One, called
Sushi Doraku, provides a colorful and informal setting for Japan’s
most famous finger food. Another Hawaii newcomer, Wolfgang’s
Steakhouse, projects a mid-2007 opening at the center. The center
is also readying for the opening of Senor Frogs as well as a P.F.
Chang’s China Bistro. And those with a sweet tooth should not miss
Satura Cakes, where baked goods promise to be “maddeningly
Next door, the new Wai-kiki Beach Walk is catering to
food-loving clients with its own appetizing range of restaurants.
The Yard House, open since Feb. 11, is known for American cuisine
and a huge selection of draft beers. Clients might have dined at
one of its 14 other locations, including its branch at the River at
Rancho Mirage near Palm Springs, Calif., but the Waikiki outlet
distinguishes itself by showcasing Hawaiian music on Sundays.
In March, Waikiki Beach Walk’s highly anticipated Ruth’s Chris
Steak House is opening its doors. Clients can pull up a chair for
prime steaks, fresh island seafood, live Maine lobster and dishes
inspired by New Orleans’ Creole and Cajun traditions.
Roy’s Waikiki, the newest creation of Hawaii celebrity chef Roy
Yamaguchi, has chosen a prime streetfront location in the Waikiki
Beach Walk area. With indoor and outdoor seating, Roy’s regales
clients with recipes focusing on seafood and feature Hawaii-grown
ingredients, European sauces and bold Asian spices.
Notable new hotel restaurants include MAC 24-7 Bar + Restaurant,
situated at the Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio Hotel since December.
Short for Modern American Cooking, MAC serves sandwiches, soups,
salads, sides and breakfast fare to hungry clients
around-the-clock, making it Waikiki’s only 24-hour restaurant and
bar (the latter is open from 6 a.m.-4 a.m.).
Opening this spring in the Waikiki Parc Hotel is Nobu Waikiki,
the dazzling 7,500-square-foot restaurant whose famous chef Nobu
Matsuhisa blends classical Japanese techniques with global
Of course, some clients already know what they like. And Waikiki
does offer national names like California Pizza Kitchen, the
Cheesecake Factory and Starbucks. But for travelers ready to
broaden their culinary horizons, Waikiki’s international dining map
presents a chance to taste something new.