I absolutely adore traveling and exploring new culinary delights. One place that always manages to tantalize my taste buds is Honolulu’s Chinatown, a true foodie paradise! This vibrant area boasts an incredible fusion of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese cuisine that never disappoints – trust me, I’ve spent countless hours relishing the diverse flavors with my boyfriend.
So here’s the deal: I’ve put together a list of the top Chinatown restaurants you simply can’t miss. Not only have we dined at these gems time and time again while vacationing in Honolulu, but I’m also quite certain they’ll tickle your fancy too. From traditional eateries to modern fusion spots, and barbecue joints to elegant dining experiences – there’s something for everyone in this definitive guide!
But wait – are you concerned about dietary preferences or finding the perfect spot for every occasion? Worry no more! My list covers it all: meat-lover havens, vegan-friendly haunts, hip hangouts complete with full bars… You name it!
Warning: Be prepared to make your friends back home insanely jealous when you share pictures of these mouthwatering meals.
Ready to embark on a culinary journey like no other? Let’s dive right in and discover the best eats that Honolulu’s Chinatown has to offer!
#1 Lucky Belly – The Best Restaurant in Chinatown Honolulu
Address: 50 N Hotel St, Honolulu, HI 96817
Lucky Belly is an unassuming underrated restaurant that serves excellent food with great portions, fresh ingredients, and a pleasant atmosphere. The inside of the restaurant is small but well planned with spacious and comfortable seating including booths, high chairs, and a small modern bar.
I love this place for its food quality and its perfect atmosphere for dinner. The working hours are from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm Monday through Saturday. We make a reservation because they get busy, but if there is space, or you don’t mind waiting, they do take walk-ins. There is usually enough parking nearby at the street meters.
The food is both vegetarian and vegan-friendly. The best choices are the ramen bowls and plate dinners. All are priced well. My favorites include the shrimp Kim Chee bowl, Belly Bowl with pork belly, bacon & sausage, and crispy duck tacos with honey sriracha.
Service here is amicable and helpful. Every time we visit we are greatly greeted and promptly seated. The staff can also make great suggestions and give recommendations on the food depending on your taste and dietary restrictions.
This is my number one restaurant in Chinatown – Honolulu because:
- The food is high quality, well-seasoned and the portions are large and filling.
- The ambiance in the restaurant is modern, elegant, and perfect for a casual dinner or a fun date.
- There are many vegan and vegetarian options and the kitchen is accommodating.
- Service is friendly, prompt, and knowledgeable about the food they serve.
#2 O’Kims – Top mom-&-pop joint serving traditional Korean
Address: 1028 Nuuanu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96817
The food at O’Kims is really special and high quality. They have a well-planned and diverse menu with vegan options, monthly specials that rotate, and unique desserts. The restaurant offers pickup and delivery options (order online), but the best experience is dining in. They have lunch and dinner service.
There is simple seating inside and outdoor covered dining space on the patio that is well-spaced out and surrounded by plants. Service is friendly, and accommodating and it’s a real family-owned atmosphere. For me, it’s a hidden gem and I wish it never changes. For the best seating or a bigger group, make sure to make reservations.
The Korean chicken meal is amazing with deep-fried chicken, house-made gnocchi nuts, purple rice, green salad, and kimchi. My other favorites are the truffle mundoo, Kalbi plates, short ribs with sweet shoyu seasoning, roasted root veggies, and rice.
They do not serve alcohol but their drinks are amazing and unique. My favorite is the Yuzu lemonade with delicious bits of yuzu floating around. For dessert, my pick would be the Basque cheesecake. No matter what you order here it will be delicious, made from scratch, and prepared family-style.
This is a close second pick for the best restaurant in Honolulu’s Chinatown. Visit them because:
- The food is homemade, made from scratch and delicious.
- The portions are generous, served with multiple side dishes and the prices are low.
- They have inside and outside seating with friendly and kind service.
- They have monthly specials and new and changing items on the menu with delicious desserts and drinks.
#3 Mei Mei Chinese Style BBQ – The Best Chinese Restaurant in Chinatown, Honolulu
Address: 1120 Maunakea St Suite 123, Honolulu, HI 96817
This is literally a hole in the wall with the pest plate lunches, freshly prepared meat, and generous portions – seasoned to perfection. It’s also hard to find, so if you’re looking for it, it’s in the small shopping center off the main road (Maunakea Marketplace), inside their food court.
Service is quick, the food is well packed, and perfect to take to the park, beach, or even a hike. Though eating it hot and delicious right off the BBQ is your best option. I enjoy their food because the sauces are impeccable, the meat is lean and the sides are well paired with the meat.
The menu is simple. My favorites include the Shoyu chicken, Char Siu pork spare ribs, cold ginger chicken, and roast duck. All the meat is perfectly crispy on the outside and juicy and well done on the inside. I always ask for extra sauce.
The prices are so good it’s worth multiple visits and experimenting with different meats. We eat here whenever we have the opportunity and love to take the food on our picnics.
Mei Mei Chinese Style BBQ is the best meat lovers plate lunch because:
- They have generous and perfectly done plate portions of pork, chicken, and duck, with great seasoning and sauces.
- Service is quick and friendly and the food is perfectly packed to go.
- This is a very cheap meal, especially for the high quality and lean meat they serve.
- They have a mixture of authentic and modern dishes, so there is something for everyone on their simple menu.
#4 Chengdu Taste – Best traditional Szechuan dishes
Address: 808 Sheridan St Ste 209, Honolulu, HI 96814
This is a local favorite and with good reason. The food here is much better than I can describe. The tastes are both exotic and familiar and they all go together perfectly. They have both lunch and dinner service. And we prefer to have lunch here.
The inside of the restaurant is large, breezy, and spacious. Tables are well spaced apart, there is plenty of room on the tables and the chairs are comfortable. If you visit during the day, there is plenty of natural light available. The food is ordered from your table online, and then the servers bring it out. They are always nice and friendly. You can even pay online when you order.
They have a diverse menu serving noodles, pork, beef, chicken, fish, lamb, and even some great vegetable options. Some of my favorites on their menu are the BoBo Chicken in sesame sauce, toothpick lamb with cumin, Kong Pao Chicken (I love it spicy!), and Mung Bean jelly noodles. The fact is, no matter what you pick from their menu, you will get a made-from-scratch, tasty and authentic meal. No chance you will leave hungry. (We always overeat!)
Check out Chengdu Taste because:
- The food is well seasoned and tasty and there are many carefully picked choices for everyone’s taste.
- The space is clean, elegant, spacious, and modern.
- Service is quick and friendly, and it’s easy to order and pay online.
- They have a mixture of traditional and modern food suitable for everyone’s taste.
- It’s a great place for a casual sit-down lunch or dinner.
#5 The Pig and The Lady – Modern Vietnamese with communal tables
Address: 83 N King St, Honolulu, HI 96817
This award-winning Vietnamese fusion restaurant is one of the most popular spots to dine on the island. In fact, it’s so popular, celebrities have been spotted dining here. The restaurant has a full bar, parking, vegan and vegetarian options, and even offers takeout and delivery. We not only love the food here, but the space is inviting and the atmosphere is great.
They serve lunch and dinner. And since it’s a hot spot for tourists and locals, we always make a reservation ahead. They offer modern industrial-style seating in the restaurant including seating at the bar, tables, and some booth seating. There is modern artwork and it’s not too noisy, so it’s perfect for a nice casual meal.
The menu is huge and there is a lot of food to choose from. It’s one of the reasons why one visit just isn’t enough. My favorites include the Bo Kho Bolognese, Fried Curried Coconut Catfish Vermicelli, Grilled lemongrass lamb meatballs, and Ahi tataki toast & aged black garlic toast. For fans of Vietnamese cuisine, particularly the iconic dish pho, you might also be interested in checking out our guide to the best pho in Oahu.
For dessert, you must try the Guava and mascarpone soft-serve ice cream (I take mine accompanied by one of their delicious cocktails!)
Service is efficient, professional, and accommodating. They check in on you and provide great service even when they are full and busy.
Don’t miss out on grabbing a meal at The Pig and The Lady because:
- This restaurant has a diverse and large menu of modern Vietnamese food incorporated with American food and fusion.
- The food is tasty, well made, and served beautifully. The portions are filling, creative, and well-priced.
- The venue is well laid out, and elegantly decorated, and the service is friendly, well-trained, and efficient regardless of how busy they are.
#6 Duc’s Bistro – The best upscale Vietnamese & French cuisine
Address: 1188 Maunakea St, Honolulu, HI 96817
I love this restaurant for its unique and tasty combination of French and Vietnamese food combinations. It’s a more elegant and date-worthy restaurant with nice details, but still not fine dining, so you feel the pressure to dress up.
The outside of the restaurant is not much to see. It’s simple and unassuming. The inside is elegant with white tablecloths, well-spaced tables for privacy, and a nice spacious bar. Decorations include some fine artwork on the walls and traditional Asian details.
We have visited several times, and with a reservation, there is no waiting for your table. The staff is nice and attentive, without rushing you. They can try to sell you certain foods, but I recommend making your own decision according to your personal taste, rather than taking their advice.
The bar is great and the drinks are well-made and strong. They make a mean martini and have a great wine selection. For beer lovers, there are some high-quality imported choices. There are several food gems I love here, so I highly recommend the green papaya salad, crab cakes, and Cari Ga Chicken Curry. For dessert, they have a well worth and creamy Crème Brûlée and Tapioca. All the food we’ve tried is fresh and well-seasoned.
Visit Duc’s Bistro for an elegant dinner because:
- They have a unique and interesting menu combining French and Vietnamese fusion food.
- The food is well prepared, fresh, and presented beautifully.
- They have a high-quality bar with wines and beers from around the world. The bartender makes the best martinis on the island.
- The restaurant is well decorated, elegant, and perfect for a nice date or quiet meal with a friend.
- Service is efficient and attentive. They can help you pair your meal with some excellent wine.
Top Honolulu Chinatown Restaurants
|Restaurant Name||Address||Notable Features||Reasons to Visit|
|Lucky Belly||50 N Hotel St, Honolulu, HI 96817||An unassuming underrated restaurant with great food portions, fresh ingredients, and a pleasant atmosphere. Open Monday through Saturday, 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm.||High quality food, good ambiance, friendly service, many vegan and vegetarian options.|
|O’Kims||1028 Nuuanu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96817||High-quality traditional Korean food. Offers pickup and delivery options with indoor and outdoor dining space.||Homemade and delicious food, generous portions, friendly service, monthly specials and unique desserts and drinks.|
|Mei Mei Chinese Style BBQ||1120 Maunakea St Suite 123, Honolulu, HI 96817||A hole in the wall restaurant in a food court serving delicious Chinese-style BBQ.||Generous portions of perfectly cooked meat, quick service, affordable prices, a mix of authentic and modern dishes.|
|Chengdu Taste||808 Sheridan St Ste 209, Honolulu, HI 96814||Serves traditional Szechuan dishes in a spacious, elegant setting. Offers both lunch and dinner service.||Tasty and well-seasoned food, quick and friendly service, order and payment done online, suitable for casual dining.|
|The Pig and The Lady||83 N King St, Honolulu, HI 96817||Award-winning Vietnamese fusion restaurant with communal tables. Offers a full bar, vegan and vegetarian options, takeout, and delivery.||Diverse menu, tasty food, elegant decor, efficient and professional service.|
|Duc’s Bistro||1188 Maunakea St, Honolulu, HI 96817||Offers a unique blend of French and Vietnamese cuisine in an elegant setting.||Unique menu, fresh and well-prepared food, high-quality bar, perfect for a date or quiet meal.|
HAWAII FOOD TOUR in Honolulu’s Chinatown
If you are a foodie, you can’t miss out on all the great restaurants in Honolulu’s Chinatown. This great area, nestled between Hotel St and Maunakea St, and just a short drive from Waikiki and Downtown Honolulu, Hawaii, offers some of the best cuisines from all over Asia with fusion influences from France, Italy, and more.
At the heart of Chinatown, you’ll find the bustling Chinatown Market Honolulu and the always lively Kekaulike Market. Whether you’re searching for a No frills dive bar or a boutique wine bar, a place for delicious lunch, or even a spot to enjoy a Block party, you can find it all in this vibrant district.
The restaurants in Chinatown offer a vast variety of dishes. Don’t forget to try some Baozi and Lamb Lumpia at the Chinese restaurant or sample the fusion influences with Foie gras and Bánh mì on your plate. The food scene is so diverse that it’s not unusual to find French fries alongside Miso soup, or Kimchi fried rice served with a side of Mozzarella. Pacific Ocean seafood is a staple in Hawaii, and nowhere is it better showcased than in Sashimi or a Hot pot of Chinook salmon or other Seafood. A fine Cantonese cuisine restaurant might even offer a Standing rib roast or Smoking (cooking) style meats sourced from local Livestaurant.
With chefs like Chris Kajioka, Anthony Rush, and Inthira Marks helming the kitchens, these Hawaiian eateries also do an excellent job of incorporating local ingredients, from Local egg yolk to Pork belly Bao, in their dishes. For instance, at Senia, Chef de Cuisine Matthew Resich is known for his creative use of ingredients. He may serve you an Hors d’oeuvre featuring a Bone from Livestock raised in Oahu, or he may craft a Confit of Chicken as food, topped with a Herb-infused Mug of Coffee.
What can one expect when visiting Honolulu’s historic Chinatown for a great dining experience?
Visiting Chinatown in Honolulu offers a diverse range of culinary delights, including comforting comfort food and exciting Mexican cuisine straight from Mexico. From bowls of steamy pho to plates of sizzling kung pao chicken, the culinary scene here mirrors that of a busy diner in New York City. Specialty dishes incorporate local ingredients like egg yolk and hot peppers. Don’t forget to visit Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery for a taste of their famous pie. While walking around Chinatown Market Honolulu, the smell of fresh fried rice will invite you into the many Chinese restaurants in the area.
Where would you recommend having the best pork belly dish in Hotel St, Honolulu?
The Lucky Belly restaurant on N Hotel St, Honolulu serves an amazing Belly Bowl featuring pork belly along with other delicious options, such as their succulent poke bowls. If you’re craving something sweet, make your way to Beretania St where you’ll find bakeries serving flaky Almond pastries.
Brick Fire Tavern offers Italian inspired cuisine like wood-fired pizzas topped with Italian sausage, all prepared using fresh farm-to-table ingredients. Their new menu includes a unique take on the classic Carbonara with San Marzano tomatoes and smoky Pancetta. They also serve decadent cheese dishes that make them one of the restaurants worth checking out in downtown Honolulu, Hawaii.
Are there any popular wine bars or nightlife spots on Smith Street to visit after exploring Hawaiian antiques in Chinatown, Honolulu HI?
Smith Street has some excellent wine bars where you can unwind after shopping for Hawaiian antiques in Chinatown, Hawaii. Try out the Fête, a popular place known for their craft cocktail movement and an excellent happy hour deal. Afterward, you can groove to some pop music at a nearby nightclub.
How does Hotel Street contribute to the nightlife scene of Chinatown Honolulu?
Hotel Street boasts several lively establishments including dive bars that add character to the bustling nightlife scene of Chinatown, Honolulu. One can experience the vibrant culture while sipping a whisky or a quick espresso at a coffeehouse, making your trip more memorable.
If you are a fan of food adventures, consider a visit to Waikiki and Kaka’ako for an even broader range of flavors like Bibimbap from South Korea or sushi delicacies such as Japanese amberjack. Whether you’re looking for a fun place to hang out or planning your next trip, Honolulu has a plethora of options that cater to your food and fun cravings. Don’t forget to read the Honolulu Magazine for the best deals in town.
Visiting Oahu, Hawaii, you’ll find history, culture, and delicious food, from Chinatown to Waikiki and all the vibrant districts in between.
Last Updated on July 28, 2023 by Brigitte