Looking for a guide to the best Ko Olina restaurants? This guide from a Hawaii local tells you exactly which Ko Olina restaurants are worth your time and which ones you should avoid. Will you opt for a romantic Italian restaurant? Or perhaps a Ko Olina restaurant with a bit more of Hawaii’s iconic fusion flair?
I grew up going to Ko Olina a few times every single week. I popped by so often that I figured out everything there is to know about the Ko Olina lagoons – from where to find turtles to where to get a slice of beach all to yourself to where to eat the best food. As for the food scene in particular, between the handful of hotels and the Ko Olina Center, there are several Ko Olina restaurants to choose from – and sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish the best from the worst. Luckily, this guide to the best (and worst!) Ko Olina restaurants is here to help!
What Should I Know About the Best Ko Olina Restaurants?
Make Reservations in Advance
Ko Olina is a rather small area packed with tons of guests. That means that all of the good Ko Olina restaurants are packed on any given day. To make sure you eat when you want to eat, be sure to make reservations in advance! That said, it honestly doesn’t have to be too far in advance. For most Ko Olina restaurants, you can make a reservation that very same morning with no problem! Just be sure to make a reservation if you’re particular about when and where you want to eat in Ko Olina.
Partake in Happy Hour
Even if you’re not a drinker, happy hour is your friend. A few of the restaurants in Ko Olina can get a little pricey, so to experience the same delicious food without the cringe-worthy bill, head over for happy hour! If you’re wondering whether a restaurant has happy hour, check our guide below or just directly call the Ko Olina restaurant.
Best Ko Olina Restaurants
Mina’s Fish House
If you’re looking for delicious flavors that are pretty foreign both to your palette and to the island, Mina’s Fish House is a fantastic option! This Ko Olina restaurant is owned by an acclaimed Egyptian American chef named Michael Mina, who owns over 40 other restaurants across the globe. Because of his unique background, Michael Mina’s dishes embody flavors that can’t be found at any other Ko Olina restaurant.
Mina’s Fish House is situated within the Four Seasons Oahu, yet as close to the ocean as possible, giving the restaurant unparalleled views of the Ko Olina Lagoons. It’s a great place to take in the picturesque landscapes of Hawaii.
The menu at Mina’s Fish House has been inspired by cuisines from all around the world. Try the phyllo-crusted butterfish ($45), the char-grilled heritage pork chop ($40), or the black garlic & miso black cod ($50). And you certainly can’t forget to get a delicious dessert, like the amazing yuzu crème fraiche cheesecake ($12).
While pretty much all of the dishes at Mina’s Fish House are fantastic, they do have one signature dish: the Hawaiian Seafood Tower. Made with the highest quality selection of freshly caught seafood, this seafood tower is perfect for a special occasion.
As with many of the pricey Ko Olina, there is also a happy hour available at Mina’s Fish House. Every day from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., the happy hour includes a limited selection of appetizers and lafas ($11). (There’s also a burger ($13) if you’re not a super adventurous eater.) Be sure to try the crispy cauliflower ($9), because it’s absolutely delicious!
Just in case you find yourself becoming a fan of Michael Mina’s culinary flair, there are a couple other Michael Mina restaurants that you can visit on Oahu, including Burger Hale, Mi Almita Cantina, The STREET Food Hall Honolulu, and STRIPSTEAK Waikiki.
Monkeypod Kitchen may be the best Ko Olina restaurant. As a matter of fact, it’s so good that it made it onto my list of the best Oahu restaurants. Just across the street from Disney’s Aulani and the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina, this accessible Ko Olina dining experience is run by Chef Peter Merriman.
Chef Merriman got his introduction to the food world when he was very young, as his mother was an established food writer. A couple of decades later, Chef Merriman found himself cooking in a restaurant at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel on the Big Island. Since then, he’s opened up several restaurants across the Hawaiian Islands featuring the freshest ingredients from Hawaii’s local farmers, ranchers, and fisherman.
At Monkeypod Kitchen, Chef Merriman’s commitment to using fresh, local ingredients is very apparent. From the organic macadamia nut crusted Mahi Mahi ($41.95) to the Big Island Cheeseburger ($15.95), every aspect of Chef Merriman’s menu is meant to delight your taste buds while also supporting the local community.
To get the best bang for your buck, head over to this fantastic Ko Olina restaurant during Happy Hour, which is every day from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. You’ll get discounted drinks, $10 Kiawe-wood fired pizzas, and half-price appetizers! If you go during happy hour, I highly recommend the Kauai shrimp & Hamakua mushroom potstickers ($7.98 at happy hour, $15.95 regular price), pumpkin patch ravioli ($7.98 at happy hour, $15.95 regular price), and Hamakua wild mushroom & truffle oil pizza ($10 at happy hour, $19.95 regular price).
After dining at Monkeypod Kitchen, you’ll likely want to try another one of Chef Peter Merriman’s restaurants. Luckily for you, there are a couple more on Oahu. Located in the trendy area of Kakaako, Moku Kitchen serves up dishes that are very similar to those at Monkeypod. For a more elevated dining experience, visit Chef Merriman’s newest restaurant, Merriman’s, in Honolulu.
If you ask Hawaii locals to name the most famous Hawaii chef, there’s a good chance that they’ll name Chef Roy Yamaguchi. As a matter of fact, Roy’s Hawaii also made it onto my list of the best restaurants on Oahu! Chef Yamaguchi’s culinary ties in Hawaii date all the way back to his grandfather, who owned and operated a tavern in Wailuku, Maui during the 1940s. Yamaguchi then decided to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and has since opened a collection of restaurants across the world.
However, it’s important to note that Chef Yamaguchi sold off his restaurants on the U.S. mainland over 20 years ago! So even if you have eaten at one of his restaurants, there’s a good chance that you haven’t actually gotten the chance experience Chef Yamaguchi’s admirable culinary talent. Roy’s Hawaii in Ko Olina will give you the chance to do so.
The ambience at Roy’s Ko Olina is perfect for a romantic evening. So if you’re staying at Ko Olina for a honeymoon or anniversary, Roy’s Hawaii is the fantastic place to go for a celebratory dinner.
While the ambience is nice, the food at Roy’s Ko Olina is the real star. Enjoy the Open Fire Citrus Grilled Japan Hamachi ($49), the Sous Vide Lamb Rack ($54), or even a Hawaiian Style Mixed Plate ($24-$71.50). And don’t forget to order one of the delectable desserts to top of your extraordinary fusion-flavor-filled meal.
If the price tag at Roy’s Ko Olina is a too much for your budget to handle, consider popping by for happy hour (known as Aloha Hourz), which runs daily from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Enjoy a handful of appetizer options, including Mongolian spiced baby back ribs ($9) and garlic sweet chili edamame (soybeans) ($6).
If you’d like to dine at other Roy Yamaguchi restaurants during your time on Oahu, stop by Roy’s Beach House at Turtle Bay on the North Shore, Goen Dining + Bar in Kailua, or Eating House 1849 in Waikiki.
Island Vintage Coffee
While many of the Ko Olina restaurants on this list are owned and operated by renowned chefs, Island Vintage Coffee offers guests another option. This locally owned café serves up delicious cups of 100% Kona Coffee. After all, you’re in Hawaii! Why settle for something less?
And coffee isn’t all that Island Vintage Coffee has to offer. They also have an assortment of breakfast foods, acai bowls, poke bowls, and sandwiches. My personal favorite is the lilikoi (passion fruit) moana bowl (16 oz for $9.75, 24 oz for $12.75). Served up in an adorable Island Vintage Coffee Mug and topped with local fruits, the lilikoi moana bowl is fantastic.
Basically, if you’re looking for a quick, causal place to grab some food in Ko Olina, Island Vintage Coffee is a great option.
The Hokulea Café is a wonderful little spot to visit at any time of day. Situated within the Four Seasons, this Ko Olina restaurant serves up coffees ($7-$9) and pastries in the morning and wines by the glass in the afternoon. This Ko Olina restaurant with an ocean view and an open-air lanai (balcony) is perfect if you’re just looking for a place to relax and enjoy the beautiful atmosphere of Hawaii.
I’ll be honest. Overall, Hawaii doesn’t have the best Italian food. (Asian and fusion flavors tend to be our forte instead). But Noe is an exception. Also located within the Four Seasons, this classy restaurant brings divine Italian flavors right to your table.
The first thing you should order at Noe is the whipped ricotta appetizer ($17). Everyone raves about it! The combination of ricotta, truffle honey, and almond is so unique. It’s truly something you can’t get anywhere else. Then, there are slew of entrees that Noe’s guests love, including Noe signature tagliatelle with mushroom and truffle ($31 or $46, depending on the size), veal Milanese ($68), and the braised prime beef short rib ($65).
To top off your fabulous Italian meal, Noe also has quite the selection of desserts to choose from. Will you opt to try the tropical crispy meringue ($16)? Or perhaps you’d prefer something a little more traditional, like a tiramisu ($16). Either way, you surely won’t be disappointed.
‘Ama‘Ama may be the best Ko Olina restaurant within Disney’s Aulani Resort. Open for all every meal of the day, you really can’t go wrong with this oceanfront dining experience. Just for breakfast, there are so many fantastic options, including the ‘Ama‘Ama breakfast sandwich with truffle oil ($26), the traditional loco moco breakfast ($21), the buttermilk pancakes with a tropical fruit sauce ($20), and the ‘Ama‘Ama benedict ($23).
While breakfast is fantastic, many say that lunch and dinner might be just a tad better. For lunch enjoy a lobster roll with bacon and avocado ($27), take a huge bite of fresh fish tacos ($23), or savor a half-pound grilled chuck burger ($21). By the time dinner rolls around, ‘Ama‘Ama is transformed into a fine dining establishment. Enjoy a 14-ounce ribeye ($52), a pair of Colorado lamb chops ($54), or a plate of day boat scallops ($39). And we certainly can’t forget about dessert. For either lunch or dinner, finish off your meal with pineapple cheesecake ($12), mocha Chantilly cake ($12), or warm Honokaa honey mochi cake ($12).
La Hiki Steak
The Four Seasons Resort Oahu is just filled with all of the best Ko Olina restaurants. In addition to Mina’s Fish House, Noe, and Hokulea Café, this resort is also home to the wonderful La Hiki Steak.
At this premier steak restaurant, you can get just about any cut of meat you can imagine. Grass fed, locally raised Kunoa beef (Market Price)? Yes! Japanese Wagyu ribeye ($30 per ounce)? Yup! USDA Prime New York strip ($59)? Of course! Then, pick from a variety of enhancements, sauces, and sides to spruce up your meal, including a red wine reduction ($2), charred broccolini ($8), shaved truffle ($12), or even half a lobster tail ($16). And don’t forget to pair your meal with a delicious drink and a fantastic dessert.
Situated inside Island Country Markets is the Teapresso Bar. As many boba lovers on the island will tell you (and there are many), Teapresso is one of the best. There are so many customizable options that there’s bound to be a drink that you like. If you’ve never tried boba (also known as bubble tea) before, try out the classic Teapresso Signature Milk Tea with large boba.
*Pro Tip: If you’re feeling adventurous, try the bursting boba!
Worst Ko Olina Restaurants
While I love the location of Little Opihi’s just outside of Disney’s Aulani Resort, I simply can’t justify putting it on the list of best Ko Olina Restaurants. Despite the fact that this convenient little walk up is literally five steps away from the sandy shores of the Ko Olina lagoons, the menu just isn’t all that great. Composed of primarily snacks, rolls, and Mickey-shaped desserts, there isn’t really anything special on Little Opihi’s menu.
As an alternative, take a couple of extra minutes to head inside the Aulani and stop by Ulu Café or Mama’s Snack Stop. At Ulu Café, you can get Disney twists on some of Hawaii’s local treats, like spam musubis, malasadas, and the famous Dole Whips. At Mama’s Snack Stop, you can get dishes that are a little more familiar, like fish & chips and coconut shrimp, with just a mild local twist.
Ko Olina Hawaiian Bar-B-Que
Many visitors to Hawaii are suckers for anything branded “Hawaiian.” “Hawaiian pizza,” “Hawaiian luau,” “Hawaiian food!” And while all of those phrases have the potential to show visitors true Hawaiian culture (with the exception of Hawaiian pizza, of course), many times these ideas are just used to bring visitors in. And that’s exactly what Ko Olina Hawaiian Bar-B-Que does.
By far the worst rated Ko Olina restaurant at just 2.5 stars on Yelp, Ko Olina Hawaiian Bar-B-Que definitely does not do Hawaiian food justice. While the portions are large, the flavors just aren’t there. So while you can order local dishes like chicken katsu and loco moco, Ko Olina Hawaiian Bar-B-Que will simply leave a bad taste in your mouth and probably discourage you from trying fantastic Hawaiian food in the future.
For a much better plate of Hawaiian food, head over to Helena’s Hawaiian Food in Honolulu, Highway Inn in Honolulu, or Waiahole Poi Factory in Kaneohe. Even though the drive is quite long from Ko Olina, it’ll be worth it, since the food is much better.
Papalua Shave Ice
Because Papalua Shave Ice is located within Disney’s Aulani Resort, the product put out by this Ko Olina restaurant is meant to appeal to kids. That means bright colors, lots of sugar, and a Disney connection. So while you may be able to get some shave ice in the shape of Mickey, the ears will melt off within a minute or two, the flavors will be much too sweet, and the ice will be far too coarse.
For a far better version of shave ice, head into the nearby town of Kapolei just five minutes away and visit Island Shave Ice & Creamery.
Recently, Starbucks opened in Ko Olina, and I have to say, it’s quite a disappointment. While you’re in Hawaii, you want to experience as much of the local flair as possible – starting with your morning cup of coffee. So instead, consider getting your coffee from Island Vintage Coffee (which uses 100% Kona Coffee) or Hokulea Café instead of Starbucks. After all, they are practically the same price.
Are there other amazing (or awful) Ko Olina restaurants that should have made it onto this list? Or do you disagree with my opinions? Let me know in the comments!
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