View from John Domini's Restaurant in Waikiki.
I just got back from Hawaii and what a beautiful place it is. Although we stayed in the super touristy Waikiki beach, we still had a wonderful time. I did a little research on some good eats in the area. I was glad I did, because our concierge was less than helpful. We heard quite a few people say, "I don't eat in Waikiki." As our trip progressed we began to understand that the slew of chain restaurants and high prices would discourage one from eating around here. We did manage to find a couple gems.
Another view of the water.
When you're on a tropical island, you want to be able to look at the water as often as possible (at least that's my strategy). I was hopeful about John Domini's because of its good reviews and view of the ocean. We walked into the restaurant fairly early in the evening, to find only a few other tables occupied. The lack of a crowd can make one nervous, but we were not to be disappointed. The wait staff was friendly, albeit a little pushy about certain dishes. The local fish came highly recommended.
Lucky for us we were able to see the fish up close and personal. Whether or not this really aided in our decision, it was cool none the less. I ended up ordering the Opakapaka, with the waiter recommending the lemon butter sauce.
AJ was set on ordering Mahi Mahi that evening, but our persuasive waiter managed to steer him towards the local beauty - Onaga. Crusted with macadamia nuts and stuffed with crab, how could you go wrong?
Besides eating as much seafood as possible, you have to order tropical drinks while vacationing in a beach destination. You have to. The mojito has always been my favorite drink of choice, more refreshing than alcoholic. John Domini's prepared this one beautifully - fresh mint and lime juice, with rum, simple syrup, and club soda. A little on the sweet side, this mojito was the perfect accompaniment. AJ had been talking about pina coladas, but went with the coco cabana - a combination of pineapple juice, coconut rum, midori melon, and a dash of cream. A sweet tropical blend that screamed Hawaii.
Opakapaka sauteed in a lemon butter sauce with capers.
Our entrees came out fairly quickly to our delight. The portions were quite large. The fish were fresh, warm, and flaky. My lemon butter sauce was light, yet creamy, working well with the mellow white opakapaka. Although to be honest I think lemon butter sauce works well with cardboard.
Macadamia crusted Onaga stuffed with crab and tempura prawns.
AJ was pleased with his dish as well. The sweet crab meat and crunchy nuts were a welcome addition to the moist onaga. Both dishes were served with sauteed veggies and your choice of brown, white or fried rice, or mashed or baked potatoes. Our fried and brown rice were both rather bland. The fish are clearly the main event.
Happy faces and happy bellies.
Bottom Line: John Dominis is a pretty pricey place to eat. But the service, view, and wonderful seafood makes this destination much more appealing than the Cheesecake Factory on the Waikiki strip. Afterall, if you're on vacation you might as well do it up.