Honolulu Real Estate and Community News

Oct. 21, 2021

A New 100% Reserved Housing Condo in Kakaako: Ulana Ward Village

Ulana Ward Village x Pacific Properties Hawaii

 

Ulana Ward Village, the newest reserved housing offering from Ward Village, is coming to market and application packets will be ready for pickup soon (exact date is TBD). If you are eligible for Hawaii Community Development's (HCDA) Reserved Housing program—if you have to earn between 80-140% of the area median income (AMI)—you have the opportunity to live in a vibrant neighborhood in town, just minutes from the ocean and all that Kakaako has to offer, at a fraction of the price.

 

Ulana Ward Village, Honolulu Hawaii

Ulana has a modern aesthetic that is balanced by green space and a variety of indoor-outdoor amenities. Residences feature contemporary interiors and ocean, mountain and city views.

The lush open space within and surrounding Ulana—parks, Kewalo Basin, Ala Moana Beach Park and the surrounding surf breaks, to name just a few—will entice you outdoors, while indoor and open-air amenities give you even more reasons to stay comfortably at home. All of the amenities were designed to enhance your everyday, allowing you to connect with loved ones and find individual respite.

 

Ulana Ward Village_work spaces

 

Amenities include:

'Ohana Living Room

Central Lanai

Barbecue Grills and Patio

Barbecue Cabanas

Work Spaces and Meeting Rooms

Fitness Center

Ulana Lawn Pavillion with Keiki Play Structure (private)

Ka La‘i o Kukuluāe‘o Park (public)

 

Two Bedroom, Ulana Ward Village, Honolulu

 

Ulana features studios, one-, two- or three-bedrooms, depending on your income bracket and number of people in your household. Regardless of your residence, rest assured that all of the interiors provide the comforts of a well-appointed home. The contemporary kitchens and bathrooms have tasteful stainless steel and porcelain appliances, as well as state-of-the-art fixtures, while floor-to-ceiling windows let the beauty of Hawaii into your home.

 

 

Perhaps the biggest perk of living at Ulana is the access you'll have to one of O‘ahu’s most dynamic communities (read more about Ward Village here). Within walking distance, you'll find globally inspired restaurants, casual cafes, one-of-a-kind shops, Whole Foods Market and a myriad essential services. Being this close to all the action can free you up to do whatever it is you’re passionate about. Ultimately, Ulana Ward Village provides both convenience and opportunity.

 

Learn more about the HCDA Reserved Housing program here.

 

Interested in learning more about this condominium? Contact us and we'd be happy to share more information, schedule a tour of the Sales Gallery and walk you through the sales process!

Sept. 15, 2021

Now Selling: The Park on Keeaumoku

A New Residential Offering in the Midtown Ala Moana Neighborhood

The Park on Keeaumoku - New Honolulu Condo

This summer, sales began on a new condominium in the heart of Honolulu.

Spread over 3.5 acres of land, The Park on Keeaumoku will be an iconic and catalytic mixed-use project with condominium residences, affordable for-sale condominium residences, ancillary common area uses, and commercial development. The Park on Keeaumoku will consist of two 42-story towers providing more than 970 moderately priced condominium homes. The project also includes 70,000 square feet of space for restaurants, shops and other exciting retailers, a multi-story parking garage, and an open park space for residents and the community, dubbed The Grove. “It truly is a live, work, play kind of development in the urban core of Honolulu, and there hasn’t been anything quite like it,” said Wyeth Matsubara, Vice President of Marketing.

The Park on Keeaumoku Residences

Residences will feature open floor plans, private lanai and floor-to-ceiling windows that let the beauty of Hawaii into each home. Here, views of Diamond Head, the Koolau mountains, the Pacific Ocean and the city will be on display day in and day out. Whether you're looking for a studio, one-, two- or three-bedroom home, The Park on Keeaumoku has an optimal floor plan to fit your lifestyle. 

Though the property will be in a bustling and vibrant part of town, it's surrounded by lush green space. Plus, there will also a private residents' lawn for play or relaxation, for gathering with loved ones or taking time for yourself. Other amenities include an infinity pool and private cabanas, BBQ pavilons, a state-of-the-art fitness center, co-working spaces and a movie theater—to name just a few.

The Park on Keeaumoku Amenities

Aside from the contemporary interiors and the spectacular amenities, The Park on Keeaumoku will offer convenience. It will offer a lifestyle where you can focus on what matters most. As the Midtown Ala Moana neighborhood is home to some of the most eclectic and storied retailers, living here will give you an all-access pass to luxury stores at Ala Moana Center—the world's largest open-air shopping center—mom-and-pop shops, global cuisine, one-of-a-kind eateries, essential services and so much more. Not to mention, you'll be just minutes away from some of Oahu's most desirable outdoor recreation destinations. Think Ala Moana Beach Park, Magic Island and Tantalus Lookout.

If you're looking for a new home in the heart of Honolulu, one that affords comfort and convenience without compromising on style, consider The Park on Keeaumoku.

Register your interest here.

Aug. 12, 2021

Spotlight on Ward Village


Ward Village was named “Best-Planned Community in the United States” by Architectural Digest in 2017 and there's really no surprise as to why. This Honolulu community is set amongst 60 acres of prime real estate, conveniently located between Downtown Honolulu and Waikiki, just minutes from the ocean.

There are plenty of benefits to living in a master planned community, and even more so for living in this particular one. Ward Village has a diverse collection of residences that fit a variety of tastes and lifestyles. Regardless of which condominium they call home, residents can expect modern style and city conveniences, as well as the perks of paradise. In all of the residences, Hawaii’s natural beauty is on display, especially so in the "front row" condominium Victoria Place.

Here, residents, kama‘aina and visitors alike can stroll tree-lined sidewalks, cruise dedicated bike lanes and enjoy acres of park space. Not to mention, you're just steps away from a variety of unique shops and globally inspired eateries, many exclusive to Ward Village. Some of our favorite restaurants include Merriman's, Istanbul Hawaii, Scratch Kitchen, Nalu Health Bar & Cafe, Piggy Smalls and Fat Cheeks Hawaii—to name just a few! Boutiques like We Are Iconic, Salvage Public, Island Olive Oil Company and Na Mea Hawaii are perfect for finding items to gift or keep all to yourself. At any given moment you can delight in movie nights on Honolulu’s biggest movie screen at Consolidated Theatres Ward with Titan Luxe, or watch sports and play arcade games at Dave & Busters. With so many options within walking distance, you can spend less time in traffic and more time doing what you love. Plus, you have essential services right around the corner as well. Think florists, salons, dry cleaners and even an urgent care facility. 

Parks play an important role in distinguishing this neighborhood. The several parks within and surrounding Ward Village restore balance to city living. Victoria Ward Park (both mauka and makai), Ala Moana Beach Park and Kewalo Harbor, encourage you connect and reconnect to nature, and to each other. You can revel in the outdoor sanctuaries by having a picnic, going for a swim, surf or sail, and replace your commute with a morning run along the ocean.

If all this sounds appealing, Ward Village might just have the home you've been looking for. Check out the below residences and contact us for more information!

Current Residences

Ae‘o (sold out)

Anaha (sold out)

Ke Kilohana (sold out)

Waiea

Under Construction

‘A‘ali‘i (now selling, estimated completion: fall 2021)

Ko‘ula (now selling, estimated completion: 2022)

Victoria Place (now selling, estimated completion: 2024)

Coming Soon

The Park Ward Village (now selling)

Ulana Ward Village (100% reserved housing)

 

 

images courtesy of Ward Village

Aug. 12, 2021

The Best Furniture Stores on Oahu

photo via INspiration Interiors

One of the most exciting parts about buying a new home is furnishing it. Often you’ll go into your new home with heirloom pieces, items you’ve collected over the years and staple pieces that are worth the haul, but most people will likely want, or need, to buy a few extras. Whether you’re starting from scratch, moving into a bigger place or downsizing, you still have a different space to fill, which might require new pieces. It can seem overwhelming, but it’s also a way to express yourself, so why not have fun with it? Here are some of the best furniture stores on Oahu to help you show off your decor style and really turn your house into a home. 


Bali Aga 

For more than 20 years, Bali Aga has offered Hawai‘i residents unique, one-of-a-kind pieces from South East Asia—furniture that compliments the multicultural heritage and island lifestyle. You’ll find a variety of desired design styles—antique, rustic, contemporary and more—at their 10,000 square-foot showroom in the Kakaako/Ward Village area. The inventory is ever-evolving and new items arrive weekly, so it’s worth it to take a few trips to find the perfect piece.
210 Ward Ave., Honolulu, HI

 


Coco's Trading Post

These Kailua- and Haleiwa-based shops offer a curated collection of products, including beautiful rattan and island-inspired furniture. Owner Nicci Lee is a multifaceted creative: interior designer, furniture designer, floral artist and more. Lee finds furniture, home decor, vintage items, handmade goods and sustainably minded brands from Hawaii and beyond. Much of the inventory you’ll find at Cocos Trading Post has been influenced by the tropics, and will surely bring some modern aloha into your home.
600 Kailua Road, #112, Kailua, HI and 66-437 Kamehameha Hwy., #101A,
Haleiwa, HI

 


Hawaii Modern

If you’re looking for mid-century modern and post-war modern furniture, art and objects on Oahu, then look no further than Hawaii Modern. Make an appointment Tuesdays through Thursdays, or pop in on Fridays and Saturdays from 11am-4pm to peruse a selection of quality furniture and decor from the mid-20th century that’s been collected and/or restored. Think Scandinavian, Danish and California Modern pieces and brands such as Herman Miller and Knoll. Eames chair aficionados, unite!
527 Cummins St., Honolulu, HI

 


INspiration Interiors

INspiration Interiors is one of the most well-known furniture and design centers on Oahu, and for good reason. At its Honolulu location, the Honolulu Design Center, and its other locations in Kapolei and Aiea, you’ll find top brands—Greenington Bamboo, Ekornes and Natuzzi Italia, to name just a few—for your living room, dining room, office space, outdoor area, bedroom and beyond. It’s also worth mentioning that the Honolulu Design Center is also home to Amuse Wine Bar and Stage Restaurant, so you’re shopping trip can be that much sweeter.

1250 Kapiolani Blvd., Honolulu, HI; 4450 Kapolei Parkway, Kapolei, HI; and 98-1005 Moanalua Rd., Aiea, HI

 


Pacific Home

This retail shop and in-house interior design firm has roots on Oahu and Maui, but can cater to customers around the world. Pacific Home’s catalog of more than 150 brands include Bernhardt, Sunset West Outdoor, Selamat, their own in-house line and more. You can shop in their two showroom locations and custom order. Expect to find a wide selection of sustainably conscious inventory, including organic, reclaimed, hand crafted and USA-made products.

720 Kapiolani Blvd., Honolulu, HI

 

Valyou Furniture

If you’re an IKEA fan, you’re especially going to appreciate Valyou Furniture. This new(ish) shop, founded right here in Hawaii, offers quality furniture at a reasonable price. Valyou’s aim is to keep inventory in stock and keep it cost-effective. No more waiting three months for your sofa to arrive! The furniture and home decor available showcases the latest trends, and brands include the in-house label as well as others like Lemons & Me, Foundry and Mario Capasa. Finally, Hawaii residents can find affordable furniture without sacrificing style and longevity.

704 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI and 91-5431 Kapolei Pkwy., Kapolei, HI

Posted in Decor & Design
June 21, 2021

Live Well in Kaimuki

photo by Kaimuki Soap Co. via Keep It Kaimuki

 

Kaimuki is one of Honolulu’s oldest neighborhoods, and perhaps one of the most charming. The area, which lies among the tony neighborhoods of Diamond Head, Mānoa Valley and Kāhala, boasts a unique small-town feel yet is just a short drive from the city, marking it one of—and easily accessible to—the best parts of Honolulu. 

 

The beauty of this dynamic community is that everything is at your fingertips. From fine dining to trendy gastropubs and unique gift shops, Kaimukī offers a lifestyle that is as culturally diverse as its residents.

 

As many neighborhoods in Honolulu are experiencing complete renovations and overhauls, the heart of Kaimuki is still the various locally-owned shops and businesses. Many establishments have been around for decades, such as the family owned and operated surf shop Downing Hawai’i and the beloved local home and hardware store City Mill. Perhaps equally important as the neighborhood’s rich past is the excitement of its present and future. A burgeoning food scene and abundance of mom-and-pop shops have turned Kaimuki into a go-to neighborhood to find some of Oahu’s top tastemakers and for living well.

 

Kaimuki is brimming with places that invigorate mind, body and soul. Think Palolo Valley’s Ka‘au Crater hike for a glimpse at the stunning waterfalls, hot yoga classes and a handful of quaint coffee shops for solo time or to connect with loved ones. Here are just a few of our favorite healthy eateries and wellness-minded shops in Kaimuki.

 

Support Local, Feel Good at Awa + Olena

Head to Awa + Olena, a “feel good store,” for a variety of locally sourced wellness essentials, clean beauty brands, home goods and jewelry. Shop owner Amanda Watkins is almost always behind the counter eager to spit knowledge on each item she’s so carefully curated. Expect to find brands from all over the islands in one well-stocked spot, such as A’o Organics, Malama Mushrooms, Maruyama Jones Farm, Matt Bruening Label, Hawaii Medicinal and so much more. Its fresh aesthetic and bright pink accent wall elicits a good feeling the moment you step inside. 

1152 Koko Head Ave.

 

 

Eat Well at Coco Bloom Kitchen

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Coco Bloom Kitchen opened its doors in 2020, moving forward with the idea to provide healthy and delicious meals to the masses. The energizing menu of items features locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, and are always free of additives, preservatives and pesticides. Sandwiches and burgers are technically less healthy, but the curries are chock-full of veggies and the salads and smoothies are almost too pretty to eat—almost. This new Kaimuki cafe is located in the Times Supermarket plaza on Waialae, where there’s plenty of free parking so there’s no excuse not to stop in, show your support and savor something sans guilt.

3221 Waialae Ave., Suite A3

 

 

Shop Sustainably at Everyday Better by Green Meadows

If you’re looking for eco-conscious housewares and gifts in Honolulu, head to Everyday Better by Green Meadows, a hidden gem tucked away by the former Goodwill Kaimuki store on Koko Head Ave. Owner Katie Meadows opened the shop in 2019 determined to offer more sustainable alternatives to everyday essentials and lifestyle items that don’t skimp on style. Most, if not all, brands you’ll find in the shop are locally made, helmed by women or are family-owned and operated, much like the shop itself. Whether you’ve been living zero waste for a while now or you’re just starting your journey into reducing your carbon footprint, this eco-friendly shop in Kaimuki should be on your short list of go-tos. 

1223 Koko Head Ave., suite 2

 

 

Taste the Rainbow at Jewel or Juice 

This longtime, family-owned business has been serving up some of the best acai bowls, smoothies and juices on Oahu for more than 15 years from its Kaimuki location. Jewel or Juice's ingredients include tropical island favorites like pitaya (dragon fruit), passion fruit, guava and lychee, plus superfoods like blue spirulina, bee pollen, chia seeds and more. Not to mention, this is the place to get your greens, as it has more than eight options for green juice and smoothies that are flavorful and pack a punch (of the good stuff). This no-frills cafe on the corner of Koko Head and Waialae Avenue is one of those rare gems that truly serves the community, rather than just catering to tourists.

3619 Waialae Ave.

 

Read more about Kaimuki here, and stay up-to-date on neighborhood happenings by following #KeepItKaimuki, which celebrates the small business community of Kaimuki.

June 21, 2021

How to Sell Your Home in Hawaii

Kitchen interiors, Pacific Properties Hawaii

 

Though Oahu’s housing market has seen some record highs since the beginning of 2021, if you’re looking to sell your house in Hawaii there are several things you should think about to maximize your home’s price. And, of course, we at Pacific Properties Hawaii are here to make selling your home as speedy and stress-free as possible. 

 

Here are just three of our tips for getting your home ready to sell in the hot Hawaii market (or any market, really).

 

 

LET GO OF ANY PERSONAL ATTACHMENTS TO YOUR HOME

Remember, you’re trying to sell your home, not just show it off. The overall goal is to help potential buyers envision themselves living in the house, not envision how you lived in the house. That being said, you’ll want to make sure to create a blank slate so that a variety of people with different tastes can picture themselves living there. You’ll want to clean, declutter and depersonalize, which means removing personal photos, tchotkes, family heirlooms, etc. It doesn’t mean you have to get rid of the items entirely, but you may consider renting a storage unit and only keeping what’s absolutely necessary in the house while you’re showing to potential buyers.

 

 

MAKE NECESSARY IMPROVEMENTS, NOT MAJOR RENOVATIONS

While it’s true that homes in Hawaii are selling at record speed, making some small improvements can often yield bigger returns. Going back to wanting your home to appeal to a variety of people, you don’t want to undergo a major renovation in a specific style and risk turning off certain buyers who can’t see the potential to add their preferred style. Not everyone is going to want an uber modern kitchen or a farmhouse chic bathroom, so you’ll want your home to be as neutral as possible.

 

On the other hand, it is important to make necessary improvements like fixing anything that’s noticeably in disrepair or giving walls a fresh coat of paint. These relatively low cost improvements give your house a facelift and offer buyers the blank slate they’re looking for in a home. Replacing light fixtures is also a good idea. It’s another simple and low cost home improvement that can really update a home and increase its perceived value. (Here in Hawaii, a good ceiling fan can be worth its weight in gold.) Lastly, you’ll want to look at your landscaping—aka curb appeal. After all, a buyer’s first impression begins before they even walk in the door. You can hire a professional, or opt to do it yourself. You don’t have to have a green thumb, you just may have to put in some sweat equity. At the very least, you’ll want to get rid of any dead plants, clutter or debris.

 

Home staging 

before & after

 

CONSIDER STAGING YOUR HOME

If your budget allows, you may want to consider staging your home. Professional home stagers know how to appeal to the masses and transform homes to show personality and potential. Staging your home with the right pieces not only helps buyers envision themselves in the house, but it also provides some spatial awareness. They can actually see what furniture would maximize the space in the living room, or how big of a bed can fit in the main bedroom, for example. Plus, even if it’s an older plantation-style home, strategic staging can often make your home look more modern, and therefore, make the home seem more valuable. 

 

Interested in learning more? Feel free to contact us!

 

~ Joe & Mary Anne

Oct. 1, 2020

7 Deadly Sins of Making Burgers

Common mistakes to make a perfectly wrong burger.

 

1. You’re buying the wrong lean to fat ratio

And so: your burgers aren’t tasty

Too often I go to barbecues and the burgers are dry and overcooked. This is typically due to people opting for 90% lean to 10% fat ratio ground beef. The optimal percentages are 80% lean to 20% fat. One thing to note, finding the 80/20 ratio is difficult in Hawaii and many times I see 85/15 ratios. If that's your only option, by all means, go for it. Fat is flavor. We are making a burger people, not a kale salad- stop trying to make it healthy. 

 

 

2. You're buying cheap meat

And so: you’re nervous about eating or serving rare or medium rare

My personal temperature preference on a burger is rare to medium rare, but if you're buying cheap meat from your local grocery chain where it’s been sitting for half a week in the case of shrink-wrapped, pre-pattied ground beef - it can get a little dicey. If you can afford going to a butcher, have them ground it while you wait- it will make a huge difference. Butcher & Bird grinds their meat daily so that's a great option too.

 

 

3. You’re adding anything other than salt and pepper (which should be done just before cooking) to the meat

And so: you’re not even making a burger

The number one offense is adding anything like onions, eggs or herbs to the meat. You’re essentially making a meatloaf sandwich. With eggs especially because it limits the temperature to which you can serve your burgers. Unfortunately, I have found too many “burger” joints in Hawaii adding eggs to burgers. A telltale sign is when they only offer temperatures medium or higher. I find this blasphemous.

 

4. You’re adding salt to the meat before making patties

And so: your burgers are not tender

Don't salt your meat until you have finished making the patties and just before they go on the grill. Adding salt before making the patty will draw out the water in the meat and start to dissolve the proteins which makes them cling to each other. The finished texture will be springy like a sausage, not tender like a burger. Which leads us into number 5.

 

 

5. You’re over-handling the meat and packing your patties too tight

And so: your burgers have a tough rubbery texture

Another great way to get a tough texture is packing your patties into tight hockey pucks. The result will be a similar experience to chewing on one. Over-handling the meat causes the proteins to get worked up, making the burgers less tender. Form the patties just until you think they won’t fall apart while cooking. Keep in mind the proteins and fat will bond once they cook so you can pack them a lot looser than you think. No need to beat a dead cow.

 

6. You’re not making an indentation in your patties

And so: your burgers are not cooking evenly and becoming spherical

Burgers contract while cooking, causing the middle to puff up which makes for uneven cooking and a real b*tch to hold toppings. By making a small indentation in the middle of the patty your burgers will cook evenly, and be nice and flat.

 

7. You’re pressing the patties down while they cook

And so: your destroying all the flavor and juiciness of your burgers

The only acceptable reason to press your patties while cooking is if you are making a smash burger on a flat grill. Other than that, you are pressing all the delicious meat juice straight out of the burger. STOP!

Sept. 23, 2020

A Brief Condo Construction Update

New Construction Condos in Honolulu - Where are we now

With many of our new construction condo buyers wondering what is the status of the development they purchased, we decided to take a closer look at what's going on. For the majority of new developments Covid is not affecting projects which have entered the construction phase- construction is deemed an essential service and there were no shutdowns.

 

Last week we drove around Honolulu looking at some new development projects and found that they are full steam ahead. Our first stop is Azure.

Azure

When we pull up to the building it is buzzing like a beehive. Hard hat cladded men line the street directing a queue of cement trucks waiting to pump their payloads into the sky. They are pouring the 31st floor and there are only 11 more floors to construct. The widow installation is well under way and lanai railings started last week. Inside Azure, the construction team is working the interior walls, electrical, and plumbing. Azure is expected to hit their targeted completion date about a year from now.

 

Our next stop is Ward Village by Howard Hughes. We visit their 3 sites: ‘A’ali’i, Ko’ula, and Victoria Place.

In a recent chat with one of our trusted sources at Ward Village confirmed the developer is not experiencing any completion delays for both ‘A’ali’i, and Ko’ula. For Victoria Place, sales remained strong during Covid and Howard Hughes hit their 70% mark. In the photo below you'll see there is some action happening on the site where Victoria Place will be erected. 

 

‘A’ali’i

‘A’ali’i is looking great. The building is already topped out with most of the windows and balcony railings installed. It seems the interior buildout should be commencing shortly.

 

Ko'ula

Ko’ula is making great progress since coming out of the ground. We can see the famed Wallumns (casted in orange molds) preceding the next story of the building being constructed. The wallumns are not only a handsome architectural feature of the building, but allow Ko’ula to have no interior columns eating up square footage in the homes. The fourth floor of the tower has been poured, and forming of the fifth level has commenced.

 

Victoria Place

Overall, it's really great to see the projects that we most advise our clients to buy are doing so well. 

 

April 19, 2020

Virtual Museum Tours

Virtual Museum Tours

The recent quarantine has many of us going down the rabbit hole of social media content, recipes, and work out videos. We though we would share some interesting content where you can take in some culture. Google has recently released Arts and Culture where you can view a myriad of art and take in more than Ina Garten's bread recipe. 

 

Virtual Museum Tours

Virtual Museum Tours

Virtual Museum Tours

Virtual Museum Tours

Virtual Museum Tours

 

Dec. 9, 2019

Neighborhood Spotlight: Kalihi

Kalihi Alicias Market
Photo courtesy of Alicia's Market

Home to the Bishop Museum and a few gorgeous hikes, along with a blustering collection of traffic-heavy commercial centers, the mixed-use Kalihi neighborhood is a study in contrasts. Kalihi-Palama lies at the southwest edge of O‛ahu, tucked between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu. 

Once an ahupua‛a in the traditional Hawaiian land use system, today the neighborhood is split down its middle by the Likelike Highway and is made up of six microneighborhoods: Kalihi Kai, Kalihi Area, Kalihi Kua, Kalihi Valley, Kalihi Upper, and Kalihi Lower. 

These schism are echoed in other contrasts: the neighborhood is at once old-school O‛ahu, resistant to the development that has changed the faces of neighborhoods like Kaka‛ako, and a thriving locus for innovative artists and businesses, who come for affordable rents and easy access to Downtown and stay for the community they find. 

Plate Lunch Every Day

If you like to eat and you enjoy food adventures, a working familiarity with the side streets and storefronts of Kalihi will serve you well. Often missing from glossy-mag restaurant reviews are some of the most flavorful and compelling meals to be had on O‛ahu (many of which come in Styrofoam). Here, a shortlist of plate lunch favorites, plus a little something for dessert:

Ethel’s Grill

Everything about Ethel’s is a bit of a task: it’s cash-only, the seating is limited, it’s difficult to find, the parking is limited, the kitchen closes at 2pm, they are closed on Sundays and Mondays, and the ambiance is more lunch counter than destination meal. None of that matters. The food—local style plate lunch, but elevated—is the only thing that matters. The best way to eat here is to bring friends and share: do the mochiko chicken and ahi tataki, plus the daily special (recent specials: super tender ahi kama (jaw), salmon with watercress and miso pesto). 

Helena’s Hawaiian Food 

As the foodie and fine dining scenes expand all over Honolulu, some things stay constant. Helena’s has been serving staples of local food to grateful diners since 1946 (approximately a millennium in restaurant years) and proudly bears a James Beard award. What may well be the best pipikaula on O‛ahu can be found inside the storefront, along with kalua pig, laulau, exceptionally delicious squid luau, and plenty more. Again, bring a group if you can—everything is served family style in small bowls, and the strong game is to taste a bit of as many dishes as possible. 

Alicia’s Market

Another beloved local institution, Alicia’s is nestled into a nondescript storefront on Mokauea Street. Family-run since the 1940s, the food here brings together the heart of home cooking and the expertise of a professional kitchen. They are best known for their huge array of poke varieties, but smoked meat is my pick—char siu ribs any day of the week, or, just on Fridays and Saturdays, lechon (suckling pig). 

Liliha Bakery 

The iconic bakery has called Kalihi home since 1950, and whether you are a “sweets person” or not, you haven’t really given yourself the Kalihi food tour until you’ve had a Liliha coco puff: choux pastry filled with chocolate pudding and topped with chantilly mac-nut frosting. Small enough to eat even if you aren’t exactly starving, these treats hit the pastry trifecta of sweet, creamy, and doughy. The other move (less classic and more filling but never disappointing) is the poi donut, brilliant purple underneath its deep-fried outside, redolent of sugar and taro.

Kalihi_Poi Donuts at Liliha Bakery Photo: Poi donuts at Liliha Bakery

 

What’s Ahead?

With median listing prices well below the island-wide average and occasional gems coming on the market—particularly back in Kalihi Valley, which feels tucked away from the bustle of the Dillingham-adjacent areas—Kalihi is proving attractive to new residents. The strong sense of local community is palpable. If you become a repeat visitor at any of the beloved plate lunch spots, you’ll see many of the same faces, day in, day out, some on their way to work at the State Capitol, others on their way to work at the docks, eating side by side. 

 

Header image of the Kalihi Valley, courtesy of maaachuuun.