Although eating in Waikiki is known to be expensive, with upscale dining options every few blocks of the Waikiki strip…there are ways to eat well in Waikiki without having it cost an arm and a leg. There are ways to eat on the cheap in Waikiki.
I’m a huge fan of eating. I wouldn’t say I am an absolute foodie, though. Gone are the days of enjoying leisurely time at a restaurant since now we have a baby who can’t stay quietly with us in a restaurant for 2 hours.
Since we are staying in Waikiki for 5 weeks, it was prudent to stretch out our food budget and not eat out every day.
Here my Trip Report on Eating Cheap in Waikiki:
Groceries on the Cheap
We rented a car to drive into Waikiki and then used it the next day to buy as much as we could at Walmart and Don Quijote’s. Both are open 24 hours of the day and located within one block from each other.
At Walmart, we bought eggs, waffles, a large pizza (‘fresh’ not frozen), 3 bottles of wine (don’t worry this will last us for weeks, not days), butter, and milk (also diapers and an infant bathtub).
Don Quijote’s is a Japanese supermarket that has everything that you could think of, lots of variety (a number of different sake options if you peruse their alcohol section) at good prices. There are three Don Quijote supermarkets in Honolulu, one being located at Waikiki.
At Don Quijote’s we bought vegetables, fruit, and meat. A week of groceries for breakfast, lunch, and dinner was about $140 USD and we ‘supplemented’ this with a few meals out or with takeout. The meat was very fresh at and some cuts were actually cheaper than at home, in Canada. We found some Okinawa sweet potato (I’ve never had it before and was inspired by Mr. Tako Escape’s Okinawa trip) and gave it a try, it was delicious and I was amazed at the vibrant purple colour. It has a very unassuming light tan colour when you see it at the grocery store. The colour is the same nutrient that colours blueberries and other high antioxidant fruits. In fact, it has 150% more antioxidant than blueberries.
At Don Quijote’s there were also a lot of pre-made meals like chicken katsudon and bentoboxes. All were within the range of $5.95 to $9.50. As you can see below, we bought a few of them.
In fact, one ‘special’ bento box of the day (they only make 25 of them a day) was $3.99. It was fried fish on a bed of rice and seaweed, macaroni salad, cabbage, and a few pieces of chicken karaage and it was delicious. So much healthier than fast food (and more economical too). Here’s the bento box below- can you believe that was $3.99?
We cooked a lot in our Airbnb. Here we fried up some steak, boiled some Okinawa sweet potato, and sauteed some cabbage for dinner. This homemade steak dinner cost us about $7 per person. Other examples of meals cooked at home include some spaghetti and meatballs, marinated beef ribs, fried noodles, and pork chops.
I fried up some yakisoba, the package (noodles and sauce) was $1.99 and the thinly sliced beef was $4.60. For each serving it was around $3.50.
We didn’t just eat in though, we did check out some other cheap eats. Fancy restaurant visits were rare though, because of our baby. Baby GYM did seem to enjoy the ambient noise of food courts, so we went to the Ala Moana foodcourt.
Shirokiya japan village walk
This is in the basement underneath Nordstrom and is probably one of the best food courts in Honolulu, known as the Shirokiya Japan Village Walk. It is located in the Ala Moana mall. We usually grab some ramen here at the Ramen Gashoken (link to their Instagram page) shop and the broth tastes very rich especially since they add a bit of spicy kick to it. The regular ramen is $11.75 per bowl.
Probably one of the best things about Shirokiya Japan Village Walk is that there is $1 beer. $1 for a pint of beer. Enough said! Probably the cheapest place in town and the Primo beer (Hawaii’s beer) tastes decent too! It’s a light beer but I’m not a beer afociondo. If that’s not good enough, then $2 Heineken pint should be enough to convince you to head to Shirokiya Japan Village Walk.
In addition to cheap eats, the decor is very pretty, with cherry blossoms hanging from the ceiling (well, fake cherry blossoms anyway).
After reading Retire by 40’s food summary fro his trip to Waikiki, I had to try Maguro Brother’s Hawaii, since he said it was the only place he wished he ate at twice!
We attempted THREE times to go here without success. First was before 5:30pm (they are only open from 5:30-9pm at the Waikiki location), then it was on a Sunday (it was closed), then it was on a holiday (it was closed). The anticipation was obviously killing me!
Finally, the day came to try out Maguro Brother’s (our forth visit), we arrived right at 5:30 and there was already a line up. We ordered the King Salmon ($11.50) and the Limu (meaning seaweed or algae) Hawaiian poke ($8.50). The tuna in the poke was very very fresh. It was very good and worth attempting to go there four times.
We got take out (there’s no room to sit down and eat) and then sat on one of the many comfortable seating arrangements on the ‘grand lanai’ at the new International Market Place (completely revamped and now upscale) and enjoyed the evening ambiance.
I did go there a second time when my friend was visiting, and had the spicy mayo poke. I also tried her ube poke. It was pretty good. So I ate there twice!
Sansei Sushi has a happy hour that gives you 50% off their menu. It is located at the Waikiki Marriott hotel building. The Happy Hour is on Sundays and Mondays from 5:30-6:00pm. The doors open right at 5:30 (5:15 if you sit at the bar) and you have to do all your ordering by 6pm to get the 50% off deal. There’s usually a huge line up and they don’t take reservations.
I’ve had the crab ramen with asian truffle broth (regular price $18.50, $9.25 after discount) and it was delicious and very flavourful but not a big portion.
Here’s another popular dish their panko crusted Ahi Tuna sashimi roll it was yummy! It was $6.75.
This early bird dinner specials at Sansei is perfect when you have a young baby in need of their bedtime routine soon! We got out of there pretty quick though because baby GYM started crying despite us alternating rocking him in his stroller with our non-dominant hand while we tried to scarf food down as fast as we could.
frugal cheap treat
Leonard’s bakery is famous for their malasadas and pao doce. Malasadas are a Portuguese donut minus the hole. I tried the ‘original’ flavour and the Li Hing flavour (which is a local favourite because it has sweet and salty flavours). It’s about a 30 minute walk from the Waikiki strip.
Each malasada is $1.15 and the ones with cream in it are a little bit more at $1.50.
Across Leonard’s is Safeway if you need to pick up more groceries.
Finally, when you’re walking on the Waikiki strip and if you’re interested in a sweet treat, you can always head into one of the Honolulu Cookie Company shops and have a sample (or a few) of their delicious shortbread cookie samples.
There you have it, a quick run down of some of the places we ate at in Waikiki. For more food pics of the food I ate in Waikiki, add me on Instagram! I had a delicious Acai bowl from Island Vintage Coffee that was NOT frugal (it was $9.50) but it was a nice splurge.
Tried my first Island Vintage coffee acai bowl. And waited 30 min in line. It wasn’t frugal ($9.50 or so) but it was soooooo good! I think it can be replicated at home with a berry smoothie. . . . #hawaii #islandvintagecoffee #konacoffee #acaibowl #delicious #foodinsta #breakfast #passionfruit #papaya #banana #honey #organic
Readers, do you have any other cheap eats or must eats places in Waikiki that you would recommend?