Ok it's time I reveal a secret. In addition to reading blogs and putting out requests for advice on Twitter, there are a couple of other ways I find good restaurants in Honolulu. One is on Yelp. You have to carefully evaluate each user submitted review, but if you can read between the lines, you can find some real gems. The other great source is the best restaurant listings from the local newspaper, the Honolulu Advertiser. Not once have I been steered astray with their top picks.
A little hole-in-the-wall I was curious to try because of numerous reviews in newspapers, blogs and on Yelp, was Dew Drop Inn. You may think the Dew Drop Inn is the classic Mobile, Alabama roadhouse that inspired the Jimmy Buffet song "Cheeseburger in Paradise" but that's not the only Dew Drop Inn.
Dew Drop Inn is located downtown just a block from the Honolulu Art Academy. It's such a great Chinese restaurant it made me even sadder than I already was to leave Honolulu, because I only got to try it on my last night in town. The menu is easy to navigate because there are pictures of every single dish. The owner and chef is Taiwanese but his family was originally from Shanghai and there are lots of Northern style recipes. We ordered wheat based dishes that were steamed, boiled, pan fried and baked and not one of them disappointed.
We tried two different kinds of dumplings, a fairly standard boiled dumpling which was very well executed, with a bit of a smoky flavor.
We also ordered pan fried dumplings which had a combination of a pork sausage and preserved turnip greens in it. These were very tender but crisp on the top. The order and the dumplings themselves were very large and even cold the next day they were delicious.
A most unusual dish was the thin and crunchy baked "sesame pockets" filled with a combination of shredded pork, pressed smoky tofu and vegetables. I loved this dish! It was a bit like a sandwich but with a most savory filling, even better than Mu Shu Pork.
Finally we ordered a special, the beef and green onions with steamed buns. Juicy and sweet onions were paired with tender and garlic flavored beef. I have never had a stir fry dish such as that with steamed buns, but it was great.
My advice? Dine with a group, order a lot of wheat based items, and go early in your trip, because after one meal, you will want to return!
Dew Drop Inn
1088 S Beretania St