Looking for a guide to the best Ko Olina restaurants? This guide from a Hawaii local tells you everything you need to know.
Which Ko Olina restaurants are worth your time? Which ones you should you 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 some sort of 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.
Take Advantage of the Location
The restaurants in Ko Olina boast an absolutely amazing location. After all, these lagoons are picture-perfect! While not all of the restaurants on this list boast oceanfront views, all of them are just a quick walk away. So don’t forget to explore the lagoons either before or after your meal.
In addition, these restaurants are also close to many of the best hotels on the west side of Oahu. So if you’re looking for restaurants near the Aulani, restaurants near the Four Seasons Ko Olina, or restaurants near Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club, these will all fit the bill.
The Best Ko Olina Restaurants to Visit
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.
Over the years, the menu at Mina’s Fish House has gotten progressively more island-inspired. (Does that mean Chef Michael Mina has been taking a lot of trips to the islands? Very possible.) Try the Hawaiian butterfish puolo, the 20-ounce kurobuta pork chop, or the lobster pot pie.
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., happy hour includes a limited selection of seafood-forward and island-ispired appetizers, including togarashi-spiced big reef squid and blistered shishito peppers.
Just in case you find yourself becoming a fan of Michael Mina’s culinary flair, there is currently one other Michael Mina restaurant that you can visit on Oahu, which is 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 fresh fish ($46) to the Big Island Cheeseburger ($18), 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 ($9.50 at happy hour, $19 regular price), pumpkin patch ravioli ($9 at happy hour, $18 regular price), and Hamakua wild mushroom & truffle oil pizza ($10 at happy hour, $22 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.
After Island Vintage Coffee closed up shop, I had to find a new coffee shop (*not* Starbucks to recommend. Luckily, The Hokulea Café is just as great as Island Vintage Coffee, if not a little better.
Situated within the Four Seasons, the Hokulea Cafe serves up coffees 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 ($36), veal saltimbocca ($74), and the dry aged duck breast ($72)
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 lilikoi semifreddo ($13)? Or perhaps you’d prefer something a little more traditional, like a tiramisu ($13). 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.
Black Sheep Cream Co.
If you’re hoping for something sweet, head to Black Sheep Cream Co. There have been many ice cream shops at this spot in Ko Olina over the years. For a long time, it was a little place called Two Scoops. But sadly, they had to close their doors.
After Two Scoops closed, a couple of other ice cream places tried to make it work, but none stuck until Black Sheep Cream Co. This ice cream shop serves up some of the strangest flavors around, but they are worth a try! Will you order the cereal killer, the spill the tea, or the mochi mama?
That said, one of the main downsides of Black Sheep Cream Co. is the rotating flavors. While this is a plus for some businesses, it’s a con for Black Sheep Cream Co. Since they have so many flavors, you sometimes have to wait literal weeks before your favorite gets back on the menu.
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.
When I first found out about the new poke spot in Ko Olina, I was so excited. And then I took a peak at their food, and to say I was disappointed was an understatement.
Tropic Poke doesn’t make authentic Hawaiian poke. Their dishes are more like health bowls with raw fish than poke bowls. And this upset me, because all of the visitors in Ko Olina come to Hawaii wanting to try traditional poke! And then instead they get poke just like the in authentic versions that they can get on the mainland.
Instead of going to Tropic Poke, stick with one of the other great Ko Olina listed above. And if you want to get some poke (which I really hope you do!), check out my list of the best poke places on Oahu.
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.
For a long time, there were no chain restaurants in Ko Olina. But then Starbucks popped up a while back, and I have to say that it’s not my favorite development.
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 Hokulea Café at the Four Seasons instead of Starbucks.
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!
Want to keep this list of Ko Olina restaurants for when you travel out to the Hawaiian Islands? Pin this post!