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Wandering Chef: Matthew Accarrino in Oahu

By Jen Murphy

Aug 29, 2012

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Matthew Accarrino, the chef of San Francisco’s SPQR, recently made his first trip to Hawaii. “We had a hotel on the strip in Waikiki and while there is a large mix of western restaurant imports like Morimoto and BLT Steak, we didn’t eat at them,” says Accarrino. “There’s a huge Japanese influence there so we tried to eat at a lot of the noodle chains and authentic, local spots.” Here, he shares his favorite food finds on Oahu.

Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin
“The thing about the Japanese is that they are food specialists. They hone in on one food and make it perfectly. In the States you can get tonkatsu, sushi and soba all in the same place. But in Japan they want to focus on one thing. This restaurant on Oahu specializes in tonkatsu, a deep-fried pork cutlet. They even make their own tonkatsu sauce.”
255 Beachwalk,  Honolulu, (808) 926-8082

Waiola Shave Ice
“There was a line of locals ten deep at 9 a.m. waiting for shave ice. The machine that makes the ice is at least 50 years old. The fluorescent colored ices made with fake syrups didn’t appeal to me. I liked the ices made from natural ingredients.”
2135 Waiola St., Honolulu, (808) 949-2269


“Town has the vibe of Chez Panisse or a San Francisco farm-to-table restaurant but with Hawaiian flavors. They use local ingredients in really interesting ways. Seaweed is incorporated into the butter and I’ve had poi [mashed taro] before but never a poi cake. It was like they steamed the poi into the cake.”
3435 Waialae Ave., Honolulu, (808) 735-5900, townkaimuki.com

Leonard’s Bakery
“Hawaii felt like diabetes central. Everything was topped with spam or deep-fried. One of the island staples is the malasada. These are round, Portuguese doughnuts that are deep-fried and covered in sugar and often filled with chocolate cream, Bavarian cream, coconut cream, or passion fruit or guava jam. Leonard’s is the more mainstream place to go for them. It’s been around since the 50s.”
933 Kapahulu Ave., Honolulu, (808) 737-5591, leonardshawaii.com

Leonard's Bakery

 Champion Malasadas
“Everyone knows Leonard’s but Champion made me feel like I was lost in time. It’s very old-school. The malasadas are made to order and cost 60 cents. I haven’t paid less than $1 for something in I don’t know how long. A coffee from Starbucks costs $4. The malasadas here are filled with hot Bavarian cream and are dusted with sugar. There is nothing healthy about them.”
1926 South Beretania St.,  Honolulu, (808) 947-8778, championmalasadas.com

 Liliha Bakery
“I was fascinated by the sponge cakes they make here. They made them out of the most unusual ingredients like green tea and purple sweet potato. They also sell malasadas here.”
515 North Kuakini St., Honolulu, (808) 531-1651, lilihabakeryhawaii.com


International Marketplace Farmers’ Market
“The farmer’s market had really good pineapple, macadamia nut honey, mountain apples, giant green onions. Otsuji Farm had a stall selling something called an Okinawan Potato Banana Fry, which was basically a fritter of purple potatoes and flattened bananas that were topped with maple syrup. It was a cool idea—something I’d riff on at some point. They were the best thing we ate at the farmers’ market.”
2330 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, mahikufarmersmarket.com

Madre Chocolate
“The owner of Madre used to be an aid worker in South America and he sources many of his ingredients from there. He makes all of the chocolate in his shop and some is made using cacao beans from the island. He also adds in island ingredients, like coconut, passion fruit, and pink pepper, which is an invasive species on the island. He makes an earl gray tea bar using tea grown on the island as well. His chocolate had more character than any I’ve had. I’m trying to get his chocolates in my restaurants.”
20 Kainehe St.,  Honolulu, (808) 377-6440, madrechocolate.com

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