by: Joy Andres

*For our friends who might not know what “broke da mout” means, here’s our version of a definition: broke da mout: adj. a phrase that describes how delicious a certain food is. i.e. “the food was so delicious that it broke da mout.

Hawai’i is scattered with different kinds of food for every palette—Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, American, Italian, and really anything you can imagine; however, it wouldn’t be a local blog if I didn’t give you a few of my favorite local grind spots on the island of O’ahu!

            Let’s start off on the south side of the island—you’re getting out of the water, or cruising down the side of Diamond Head, when hunger suddenly strikes! You’re craving poke or an island style snack, but you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on poke that everyone already knows about…where do you go? Tucked away in a neighborhood area is one of my favorite poke spots that has creative options, local favorites that you don’t see too often, fresh Filipino dishes, and the best part? They don’t have a line out the door. Fort Ruger Market looks like a convenience store from the outside, but once you enter, the smell of boiled peanuts and pickled garlic begin to make you smile. They offer a variety of fresh poke, plate lunches with adobo, lomi salmon, lau lau, and my favorite…squid lu’au. It’ll be hard to resist telling all your friends about this place after you taste their food, but trust me, you don’t want to spill your favorite “pick some poke up and head to the beach” spot!

            Traveling a bit past Diamond Head, into Hawaii Kai and finding a meal that won’t break your wallet sounds like a challenge, but there are some spots that will fill your tummy, and keep the money in your pockets. Your family just came down from the Makapu’u hike, and poke just won’t do it for you; you’re feeling like something filling—but not heavy, local—but something different. In the back of Koko Marina Center, is a little family owned pizza shop called Sophie’s Gourmet Hawaiian Pizzeria. Some of the toppings may be a little intimidating at first, but trust me, if you’ve never had char siu, portuguese sausage, and pepperoni, on top of sriracha red sauce, and a cilantro aioli (aka their Hawaii Pie-O)…you’re DEFINITELY missing out. Not only can you feed the family for under $20, but you can sit outside on the Marina and enjoy the view, the food, and the time with your loved ones.

            You finally get the whole family in the car, and make it up to the North Shore with the intention of going to the shrimp trucks, only to find that the waiting time is over 45 minutes, and they’ve up’ed their prices by…well…a lot. Where should we go? If you’ve ever watched the famous movie “50 First Dates” with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, you might’ve noticed that majority of the movie takes place in a cute little café called the Hukilau Café. Believe it or not, it exists in real life, and their local lunches will have you leaving happier than when you arrived. With daily specials for everyone, and their famous Hukilau Burger (a juicy deluxe teri burger with a fried egg and cheese), it’s no wonder the locals want to keep this place a secret! If you decide to give their menu a try, be sure you make it in time—I’m not sure why they close at 2pm, but it might be because they want to go to the beach too!

            Sometimes the places you least expect to be “broke da mout” level yummy, are hidden in plain sight. Barbeque Kai, blends in with the buildings surrounding the little restaurant, but the food that they make stands out in a crowd. Located on the west side of O’ahu in Waianae, Barbeque Kai makes plate lunches that are “must pick ups”, on the way to Pray for Sets beach. Their Chicken Katsu Curry, Garlic Shrimp Plate, or their Fried Noodles Plate are some of their most popular lunches, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg; you’ll have to see for yourself if you want to understand why I named this place one of my favorite spots on the island that don’t break your wallet, but “broke da mout”.

            With more and more modern restaurants popping up on the island, the small-family owned restaurants can sometimes be forgotten about, or buried under the hype of the newest spots. Don’t forget to support your local families, and try out some of my favorites that “broke da mout”, but don’t “break da wallet”!

(Fort Ruger Market Surf n Turf Poke Bowl)

Written by Joy Andres

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