Discover seven places where you should eat and drink on the fringes of Oahu, Hawaii’s third largest island and home to the capital of Honolulu. You should also check out my guides to essential food and drink stops in Honolulu and Kailua, which feature far more options.
Establishments appear in alphabetical order instead of in order of preference.
1. Fumi’s Kahuku Shrimp
Oahu’s North Shore is a shrimp hotbed, and Fumi’s is my favorite stop. The sea blue shack spun off from a truck, which still parks just up the road. Both locations share an owner and use the same recipes. They have a couple outlying items, but shrimp is clearly the play. After all, Fumi’s raises shrimp in ponds out back. Coconut Shrimp are my guilty pleasure, coated with coconut, deep-fried and served with a sweet chile dipping sauce. In other cases, shrimp are sautéed shell-on in delectable sauces like Hot & Spicy, Lemon Pepper Shrimp, and Butter Garlic. Each Styrofoam container also houses steamed white rice, which soaks up the sauce, a salad with tart lilikoi dressing, and a slice of sweet pineapple.
MUST ORDER: Butter Garlic Shrimp, Coconut Shrimp, Hot & Spicy Shrimp, Lemon Pepper Shrimp
The North Shore is most famous for surfing, but as my first two listings demonstrate, eaters are more interested in the area’s shrimp trucks. For a long time, before Fumi’s, the big debate over shrimp supremacy was between Romy’s and Giovanni’s. The two establishments are down the street from each other, and while Romy’s has graduated to brick and mortar and raises its own shrimp on-site, my preference is greasier, more flavor forward Giovanni’s. The heavily graffiti’s shrimp truck forms the south wall of a covered concrete patio with communal tables. They have several varieties, but traditional Shrimp Scampi remains the truck’s star.
MUST ORDER: Shrimp Scampi
Leonard DoRego, a descendant of Portuguese immigrants, opened his eponymous bakery with wife Margaret in 1952 and soon after started offering malasadas. At the original Kaimuki location, they still sell a number of different baked goods. Really though, it’s all about donuts, and at the wagon in the Waikele Center shopping mall parking lot, that’s certainly the case, since they sell only malasadas. The O.G. malasada is warm, sugar dusted, egg rich and almost custardy inside. They also coat the donuts in li hing mui sugar, which is powerfully sweet and tart. The version with haupia (coconut) custard is also an afterthought by comparison, though you should consider malasadas filled with guava custard.
MUST ORDER: Original Malasadas, Guava Malasadas