The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


SPECIAL REPORT: Guide to favorite Obama restaurants in Hawaii


On the menu at Alan Wong's: Richard Ha's Whole Tomato Salad: Li Hing Mui Ume vinaigrette. (Photo: MJP)

Headed to Hawaii? Interested in dining where President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama dine? Want to eat the same foods served to world leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in November?

Using a list compiled by Obama Foodorama, the website that specializes in everything related to the White House and food, The Hagstrom Report dined at each of the following establishments during the American Farm Bureau Federation convention in January. Here are our impressions.

3435 Waialae Ave., Honolulu | 808-735-5900
This restaurant is the most authentic and local of the Obama restaurants, what Obama Foodorama founder Eddie Gehman Kohan calls “hyper local.” It is a neighborhood establishment located outside the downtown area.

Chef-owner Ed Kenney still cooks at the restaurant in the evening and is the only one of the chefs at the Obama restaurants you are likely to see cooking on an average day. Many of the vegetables — some of which are unknown on the mainland — come from the MA’O Farm and local farmers’ markets, while beef comes from the Big Island. Kenney drives to the other side of Oahu each week to pick up the pork.

A warm, friendly establishment that requires reservations indoors but has a deck area where you can go at the last minute.
Alan Wong's Poki-Pines

Alan Wong's Poki-Pines: Crispy won ton wrapped ahi poke, avocado, wasabi sauce. (Photo: MJP)

1857 King St., Honolulu | 808-949-1939

This is an expensive, special-occasion place that is probably the finest restaurant in Hawaii. Wong, who is French trained, combines traditional European cooking with Asian fusion, but he also sources his vegetables locally. This restaurant is off the beaten track on the second floor of an obscure building but it is worth the trip.

Modern Hotel, 1775 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu | 808-943-5900

Masaharu Morimoto, known to millions as the star of the television shows “Iron Chef” and “Iron Chef America,” has this restaurant on Waikiki.

The white decor is beautiful and the food, particularly the sushi, is exquisite and unusual. Morimoto cooks here himself when he is in town — he cooked for three weeks over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays — but he divides his time between here and his other restaurants on the mainland.

2233 Helumoa Rd., Honolulu | 808.237.6999

A very fine sushi restaurant, but not as unusual in decor or food as the others. It also serves Hawaiian beer. Nobu has also become a chain with restaurants on the mainland.

ISLAND SNOW KAILUA Dessert or a mid-day break
130 Kailua Rd #115, Kailua, Hawaii | 808-263-6339

This shave ice shop is in a shopping center near the Kailua beach where the Obamas spend Christmas. It is a modest place, but the shave ice — a combination of ice cream, ice and flavorings — is delicious. It has pictures of the Obama family.

Where the Obamas might go next

Hawai'i State Art Museum, 250 Hotel St., Honolulu | 808-536-5900

Many tourists ignore or avoid downtown Honolulu, but the area has many attractions including the Aloha Tower, the former royal palace, the state capitol and the Hawaii State Art Museum, where Ed Kenney of Town has opened Downtown, a restaurant that serves lunch and on the first Friday of each month is open in the early evening.

46-499 Kamehameha Highway, Kaneohe | 808-235-2192

This establishment in Kaneohe, the largest town near Kailua, where the Obamas rent a house to spend Christmas. It’s owned by Mark Noguchi, the chef who demonstrated local cooking at the Farm Bureau convention.

Noguchi, known as “The Gooch,” was trained at the Culinary Institute of America and worked at Town under Kenney before he decided to open his own establishment outside Honolulu. It is about a half hour drive from Honolulu in good traffic, but buses also go to Kaneohe.

Alan Wong's North Shore Farm-Raised Tilapia: Saimin noodles, lobster, Naked Cow Dairy Truffle butter nage. (Photo: MJP)