"Hidden Waikiki" is our first-ever, user-friendly guide to the under-the-radar spots we hit when we visit our backyard, world-famous, ever-fascinating and wholly unique Hawaii resort area.
You'll find the entire feature in our current March/April issue, on sale now nationwide or available for individual copy purchase using our Apple Newsstand HAWAII Magazine iPad and iPhone apps. Purchase a digital subscription to HAWAII Magazine for iPad, iPhone or Android tablet and you’ll get the issue with “Hidden Waikiki” immediately as part of your subscription.
Hawaii’s biggest, most-visited resort destination reveals a whole lot more for folks in the mood to explore—from groovy eateries and night spots tucked away on its backstreets to tiny noodle shops and eclectic local retail stores hiding in plain sight off the main drags, Kalakaua and Kuhio Avenues. In “Hidden Waikiki” we reveal our favorites of these.
Throughout April, we're sharing a few excerpts from our “Hidden Waikiki” feature here on HawaiiMagazine.com. Below is the second category we're sharing:
"Hidden Waikiki" Guide
Stepping into this tiny Japanese restaurant in the basement of a nowhere-near-the-beach Waikiki hotel after dark is like stumbling into a hidden sushi bar on some Tokyo backstreet. The menu is all about Japanese bar food (everything from ahi sashimi to monkfish liver). And the prices are easy on the pau hana (after-work) wallet.
Hawaiian Monarch Hotel • 444 Niu St. • (808) 942-5304
L'Aperitif at La Mer
The L’Aperitif bar menu at the Halekulani hotel’s award-winning oceanview French restaurant La Mer is akin to a splash of Paris cool in warm Waikiki. Crafted by Colin Field, longtime head bartender at the Ritz Paris hotel’s pioneering Bar Hemingway, L‘Aperitif pairs refined sips with elegant eats (a martini-style mojito Havatini with an oyster lychee-ginger sorbet, for example) to create palate-awakening highs.
Halekulani Hotel • 831 2199 Kalia Road. • (808) 923-2311
The post-midnight scene at Wang Chung's karaoke bar. Photo by Aaron Yoshino.
If you can find it—and you’ll have to walk through the right back alley behind the right Japanese restaurant (Odoriko) to do so—you just might find Wang Chung’s to be the most welcoming and refreshingly unpretentious late-night karaoke bar in Waikiki. A massive song list makes up for Wang Chung’s smallish interiors, the latter of which becomes a positive as late p.m. warbling turns to early a.m. belting out.
2410 Koa Ave. • (808) 921-9176 • Website
Karaoke GS Studio
Want your own version of Lost in Translation’s Bob Harris-and-Charlotte karaoke scenes minus the trip to Tokyo? Get lost in the darkened hallways and private rooms of this walk-up Japanese karaoke bar buried in the interior of a nondescript side-street hotel. There’s food and cocktail room service, an impressive menu of Asian and English tunes and no one will find you here if you don’t want them to.
Aqua Waikiki Joy Hotel • 320 Lewers St. • (808) 921-3576 • Website
Wailana Coffee House
A massive, 24-hour-a-day menu featuring every conceivable local comfort food dish, old-school American diner staples, big breakfast plates, Portuguese sweet bread French toast, macadamia nut pancakes and the funkiest coffee house cocktail lounge we’ve ever seen. After a long night out, but before bed, Wailana is always ready for us.
1860 Ala Moana Blvd. • (808) 955-1764
Grabbing late night eats at Genius Lounge. Photo by Aaron Yoshino.
A laidback backstreet escape from the cacophony of Waikiki's main drags, Genius Lounge offers up a solid menu of Japanese-inspired eats and cocktails (shochu, sake and Japanese whiskys rule here) in a modern-meets-retro, wood-accented setting warmly illuminated by candles and soft lighting. A sublime after-hours spot for noshing and chat.
346 Lewers St. • (808) 626-5362 • Website
Arnold's Beach Bar
Waikiki’s best dive bar isn’t for folks who demand stuff like, say, hand-cut ice, fresh-ingredient-infused cocktails or locks on the bathroom stalls. Despite its name, it’s also a bit of a walk from the beach. But if you’re after a late-night spot where the beer is always cold and cheap, the décor is quasi-tiki bar, locals are talk-story friendly and the atmosphere is so laid back it’s almost horizontal, Arnold’s is forever welcoming.
339 Saratoga Road • (808) 924-6887 • Website
Check out our 50 other “Hidden Waikiki” picks, listed in these 12 categories …
“Edibles, Pt. 2”
“On the Edge”
“At the Zoo”
… in HAWAII Magazine’s new March/April 2014 issue, available in bookstores and on newsstands throughout the U.S. and Canada, or by subcription in its print edition, or digital editions for iPad, iPhone and Android.