In the know: What's heating up Honolulu's food scene this month

In the know: What's heating up Honolulu's food scene this month
Hamada General Store. | Photo: Dennis L./Yelp
By Hoodline - Published on September 16, 2019.

Curious where Honolulu's in-the-know crowd is eating and drinking? It's easy to spot lines out the door, but some underlying trends are harder to see.

We took a data-driven look at the question, using Yelp and SafeGraph, a dataset of commercial points of interest and their visitor patterns, to deduce which restaurants have been getting extra attention this month.

To find out who made the list, we first looked at Honolulu businesses on Yelp by category and counted how many reviews each received. Rather than compare them based on number of reviews alone, we calculated a percentage increase in reviews over the past month and tracked businesses that consistently increased their volume of reviews to identify statistically significant outliers compared to past performance. Then we analyzed foot traffic data from SafeGraph to validate the trends.

Read on to see which spots are on a hot streak this autumn.

Hamada General Store

Photo: juliann c./Yelp

Open since July 2019, this traditional American spot, which offers salads, coffee and tea and more, is trending compared to other businesses categorized as "American (Traditional)" on Yelp.

Citywide, traditional American spots saw a median 1.2% increase in new reviews over the past month, but Hamada General Store saw a formidable 240% increase, with a slight downward trend from a five-star rating a month ago to 4.5 stars today.

It's not the only trending outlier in the traditional American category: IHOP has seen a 4.6% increase in reviews.

Located at 885 Queen St. in Ala Moana-Kakaako, Hamada General Store offers menu items such as poke bowls, tofu and salmon salad and kimchi reubens.

Hamada General Store is open from 7 a.m.–2 p.m. on Monday-Saturday. (It's closed on Sunday.)

Kuhio Grille

Photo: crystal r./Yelp

Whether or not you've been hearing buzz about Diamond Head-Kapahulu-St. Louis' Kuhio Grille, the Hawaiian spot, which offers barbecue and burgers, is a hot topic according to Yelp review data.

While businesses categorized as "Hawaiian" on Yelp saw a median 1.5% increase in new reviews over the past month, Kuhio Grille bagged a substantial 178.6% increase in new reviews within that time frame, with a slight upward trend from a three-star rating a month ago to its current 3.5 stars.

Open at 3036 Waialae Ave. since August 2019, Kuhio Grille offers menu items such as chicken katsu, yakitori chicken and pork cutlets.

Kuhio Grille is open from 10 a.m.–9 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. (It's closed on Wednesday.)


Photo: shirgeru C./Yelp

Waikiki's Deck. is also making waves. Open since 2013 at 150 Kapahulu Ave., Floor 3, of the Queen Kapiolani Hotel, the cocktail bar and breakfast and brunch and New American spot has seen an 11.3% bump in new reviews over the last month, compared to a median review increase of 1.2% for all businesses tagged "American (New)" on Yelp. Moreover, on a month-to-month basis Deck.'s review count increased by more than 210%.

There's more than one hot spot trending in Honolulu's New American category: Basalt has seen a 6% increase in reviews.

Deck. offers menu items such as whole branzino, sauteed scallops and baked cheese lobster risotto. Over the past month, it's maintained a mixed 3.5-star rating among Yelpers.

Deck. is open from 6:30 a.m.–11 p.m. on Monday-Saturday and 6:30 a.m.–10 p.m. on Sunday.

Kamana Indian Cuisine

Photo: mick k./Yelp

Downtown Honolulu's Kamana Indian Cuisine is the city's buzziest seafood spot by the numbers.

The Indian spot, which offers desserts and seafood and opened at 1104 Bishop St. in 2018, increased its new review count by 8.3% over the past month, an outlier when compared to the median new review count of 1.3% for the Yelp category "Seafood." According to SafeGraph foot traffic data, visits to Kamana Indian Cuisine increased by more than 50% over the past month.

It's not the only trending outlier in the seafood category: FISH Honolulu has seen a 7.2% increase in reviews, and Zigu has seen a 5.8% bump.

Kamana Indian Cuisine offers menu items such as sweet potato masala, palak paneer and mushroom matar.

Kamana Indian Cuisine is open from 10 a.m.–9 p.m. on Monday-Saturday. (It's closed on Sunday.) According to SafeGraph, people tend to visit Kamana Indian Cuisine on Wednesdays and Tuesdays, and it attracts a quarter of its total visitors over those two days. If you’re planning your visit, you may want to try its slower periods on Saturdays.

Japanese Restaurant Rinka

Photo: lori l./Yelp

Ala Moana-Kakaako's Japanese Restaurant Rinka is currently on the upswing in the Japanese category on Yelp.

While businesses categorized as "Japanese" on Yelp saw a median 1.8% increase in new reviews over the past month, this sushi bar and Japanese spot, which offers hot pot and more, increased its new reviews by 11.5% — and kept its rating consistent at four stars.

Open for business at 1001 Queen St., Suite 105 since February 2019, Japanese Restaurant Rinka offers menu items such as sushi, shrimp tempura and tamago omelets. 

Japanese Restaurant Rinka is open from 11 a.m.–10 p.m. daily.

This story was created automatically using local business data, then reviewed and augmented by an editor. Click here for more about what we're doing. Got thoughts? Go here to share your feedback.