Photo By Ed Morita

Frolic team picks: Best new Hawaii restaurants of 2018

Literally dozens of worthy restaurants opened in Hawaii this year. These are the Frolic team's top personal picks
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From new poke shops to Mainland chains debuting their first Hawaii locations, we could hardly keep up with all the new restaurants that opened this year.

We scrolled through our Instagram feeds, reflected on a year’s worth of eating and came up with these personal picks for best new Hawaii restaurants that opened in 2018. To keep things completely random (read: This is not a ranking), we've listed them alphabetically by writer. First up: a restaurant selected by two on the Frolic team.

Lineage

Lineage (pictured above) offers a good balance of upscale plantation dishes and a healthy dose of nostalgia. The food evokes happy memories in anyone who grew up with family from the plantation era. When the server removed the lid from the pot of lauya — a dish of beef shank, short rib, cabbage and potato — the aroma instantly transported me back to my grandfather’s kitchen. — Ed Morita

After much anticipation, Lineage finally opened on Maui at The Shops of Wailea — and I loved it! The menu felt like a personal journey through Sheldon Sheldon’s life — from his childhood in Hilo to his time cooking at Star Noodle to competing on "Top Chef." Since I grew up eating family-style, that part felt familiar. The Filipino dishes were less familiar, but all so unique and tasty. The cocktails are yummy, too. In the short time since its opening, Lineage has earned a top spot on my list for after-work gatherings and meetups with out-of-town friends. — Rebecca Pang

3750 Wailea Alanui Dr. • Wailea, Maui • 808-879-8800 • lineagemaui.com

 

Paris.Hawaii

Chef's counter at Paris Hawaii. — Photo by Thomas Obungen
The open kitchen and chef's counter at Paris Hawaii. — Photo by Thomas Obungen

Paris.Hawaii is a destination and experience. A fine dining restaurant with only two seatings per night for an eight-course prix fixe menu that changes seasonally. Every dish features local ingredients prepared with French techniques. From the opener of Hawaiian espresso to the Maui onion soup to the perfect cube of Big Island beef with sea asparagus, each dish is simple but surprising, thoughtful and superbly executed. If this is where Hawaii regional cuisine is going, it’s going to be a delicious ride! I had the pairing of five local teas; that was different and interesting. Wine and beer pairings also available. — Grace Ryu

413 Seaside Ave. • Waikiki • 212-9282 • paris-hawaii.us

 

Pioneer Saloon Kakaako

Pioneer Saloon Kakaako
Pioneer Saloon's Kakaako spot: Bright and airy with more space to eat. — Photo by Melissa Chang

Offering table service in a bright and open dining area, Pioneer Saloon brings its menu of local favorites with a Japanese twist to Kakaako's Salt complex. While the original spot on Monsarrat Avenue transports diners to Somewhere Out West, USA, the new location reflects the ultra-hip sensibilities of its contemporary surroundings. Go for the perfectly cooked seafood and make sure to get the french fries with mentaiko (spicy cod roe) mayo for umami-laden happiness. — Gregg Hoshida

675 Auahi St. • Kakaako • 600-5612 

 

Yakitori Ando

yakitori ando

Takashi Ando is the undisputed master of yakitori in Hawaii. Months after the closure of Kohnotori, his longtime izakaya haunt, news of Ando's triumphant return with his own restaurant had me excited beyond belief. His attention to detail and customer service take seemingly simple skewers of grilled meat and elevate them to crave-worthy status. I’m pretty sure I want that grilled mochi bacon to be my last meal. Jason Chin

1215 Center St. • Kaimuki • 739-5702  

 

Goen Dining + Bar

Goen Restaurant and Dining

If my roommates didn't tell me that Goen Dining + Bar was the latest restaurant by Roy Yamaguchi, I wouldn't have guessed it. I've always considered Roy's Hawaii and Yamaguchi's newer Eating House 1849 restaurants as upscale places for special occasions. 

Goen's vibe is completely different. Think trendy but casual, contemporary and unpretentious. Goen is basically my new go-to neighborhood pau hana spot, perfect for a casual dinner, girls' night out or first date. Bonus: Prices are lower and there are more shareable plates so a small group can easily try the entire menu in two or three visits. — Kelli Shiroma

573 Kailua Rd. • Kailua • 263-4636 • https://www.royyamaguchi.com/

 

MyungRang Rice Hotdog Hawaii

Myungrang Hot Dog
Photo from Myungrang Hot Dog Facebook page

Normally you just give me one KC Waffle Dog or andadog and I'm good. I no eat hot dog too often, but I'll gladly chance 'em if something innovative comes along. When I first saw MyungRang's kiosk I thought wuz just going be like boring corndogs on a stick until — I saw their intriguing offerings. Ricecake HotDog. Mozzarella Hot Dog. Da funky-looking Potato Hotdog where get cubed potatoes stuck into da batter. And da one that people keep stopping to ask about, their crazy SQUID INK hot dog. Thanks to MyungRang I'm back into my hotdog kick again! — Lee Tonouchi

1450 Ala Moana Blvd. • Ala Moana • 770-906-3946 

 

Rangoon Burmese Kitchen

Rangoon Burmese Kitchen
Photo by Thomas Obungen

I like new restaurants that open my eyes to this world and the bigger one beyond, that keep the local food scene evolving. So it was a little bit surprising to find myself drooling over the second location of an established restaurant. Dagon in Moiliili is parking-challenged; the new Rangoon Burmese Kitchen in Chinatown is not. That simple fact opened for me a world of flavors at once familiar and exotic. Rangoon is where I've been seven times since it opened in August. Whoever I go with, I get the pork and pumpkin stew, mango salad and a side of coconut rice. If extra hungry, the crispy fried tofu pockets stuffed with freshness and lime sprinkles. On a cold day, the moh hin ga fish chowder with noodles. And those people, they go back and order the same things. By the way, it's still BYOB. — Mari Taketa

1131 Nuuanu Ave. • Chinatown • 367-0645

 

Restaurant XO

It was hard to pick a favorite from the many great restaurants that opened this year, but my family actually helped me decide. I have relatives who visit at least once a year, and they always ask me what the latest and greatest are. So I base my recommendations not just on new and delicious, but spots that are easy for them to access, with or without me. XO Restaurant is owned by two former cooks from Senia, Kenny Lee and Aleina Chun, so they bring the creativity and inspiration from Senia to make contemporary new dishes and flavors in a more casual environment. For a while, the environment was a little too casual, but they recently renovated so the surroundings now match the food. The menu is always changing, but thankfully you'll always find the special adobo butter fried chicken on the menu. — Melissa Chang

3434 Waialae Ave. • Kaimuki • 732-3838  

 

Zigu

zigu

Zigu is one of the new faces of Waikiki dining, offering an experience that is quintessential for any visitor and a menu that even locals rave about. Masaki Nakayama’s menu spotlights Pono Pork belly in a simmered kakuni treatment with laulau, smoked Waimana eggs in a potato salad, and local kale in house-made udon that I find myself craving. The izakaya format is fun, captivating and oishii and gives you an excuse to work your way through the growing sake and shochu list. If you’re wondering where I’m at on most Friday evenings, it’s here at the counter, taking it all in. — Thomas Obungen

413 Seaside Ave. • Waikiki • 212-9252 • zigu.us

 

Tsurutontan Udon Noodle Brasserie

Until this year, each time I left Tokyo from Haneda Airport, I made it a point to dine at Tsurutontan Udon Noodle Brasserie in Terminal 4F. You can imagine my excitement when they opened their first location in Hawaii. Known for offering udon in more ways than you can imagine in giant serving bowls, Tsurutontan is a noodle lover's dream. In addition to udon, you will also find sushi, tempura and other Japanese dishes. Try the Spicy Tuna Tartare Cones and the Uni Creme Udon. — Toby Tamaye

2233 Kalakaua Ave. • Waikiki • 888-8559