Woo! The year is finally almost over, and it can’t come soon enough — ‘cause let’s face it, 2016 has been a real doozy. I was feeling all moody and existential about it until I decided to do an end-of-the-year wrap-up for Gastronome, and realized how much good food I got to indulge in this year.
So without further ado, I present to you the best of the very best Gastronomes of 2016.
Water Drop Vegetarian House
801 Alakea St.
I love this place so much that I am willing to cast aside my usual instinct of staying in the office for lunch and walk the 15-20 minutes it takes to get to Water Drop Vegetarian House.
The menu constantly rotates, but everything I’ve ever eaten has been simple and flavorful. Plus, the best part is that I feel pretty damn healthy eating here, too.
1810 University Ave.
Before discovering Ban n, it had been ages since I was able to enjoy soft serve without worrying it would kill my stomach moments later. But at Ban n, everything is dairy-free, made with frozen and blended bananas that have that same smooth texture.
My favorite is the acai, topped with strawberries, bananas, honey, granola and bee pollen — and it’s the one I’ll be sticking with for quite some time.
Five Guys Burgers and Fries
Two locations (in Mililani and Kapolei)
I’ve been back to Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Mililani a few times since the preview I was invited to back in July, and let me tell you: It still tastes as good as the first time. It’s nothing fancy or distinguishable — just a good ‘ole fashioned burger.
My recommendation for those with a decent appetite: the Little Hamburger. Yes, its name indicates a smaller burger, but this one is pretty big, even for me. And go for the Cajun Fries, which have a nice kick.
Alan Wong’s Honolulu
1857 S. King St.
By far the best dining experience I had this year, if only because of the attention the staff gave to my lactose intolerance. Plus, the food was amazing.
If you have the time and are feeling adventurous, don’t hesitate about sampling from the tasting menu. At the very end, it comes with The Coconut, a light and sweet haupia sorbet that even I — someone who is not yet fully enamored by that flavor profile — feel was the best dessert I had all year.
The Kahala Hotel & Resort
5000 Kahala Ave.
This was a fun one because we celebrated Metro staffers Christina O’Connor and Ni-cole Kato’s birthdays (born on the same day, no less) here with afternoon tea.
The atmosphere at The Veranda, where afternoon tea is served, is relaxing and breezy — luxurious because the desire to sink into a chair and simply be is so overwhelming.
The sweet and savory goodies — my favorites were the Pickled Egg Salad Crostini and Brown Sugar Shortbread with Guava Preserves — along with a cool glass of champagne only made everything that much more fun.
SALT at Our Kakaako
660 Ala Moana Blvd.
Since Moku opened in October, I’ve returned at least five times. (Most recently, last week, when the Metro staff took me out for my birthday.)
A lot of the reason why I like Moku so much is because of the ambiance. It’s casual and always crowded, so easing into comfortable conversation is no problem. Even better, the food is worth returning for, too.
My favorites remain the Organic Kale salad and Roasted Squash Ravioli, though I’ve also been enjoying the burgers lately as well.
2017 GOALS Are there any new restaurants you’re excited for? Let me know what I should eat next by emailing email@example.com