We didn't love. . . finding the place. It's on a side street (natch) near Ala Moana Shopping Center.
Side Street Inn, 1225 Hopaka St., Honolulu; (808) 591-0253.
Seoul Garden Yakiniku
Prices: $8.95 to $22.95
Honolulu is known for its Asian cuisines, and if you enjoy Korean food, Seoul Garden Yakiniku is the place. The restaurant, near the Hawaii Convention Center and Ala Moana Hotel, caters to office workers at lunch ($5.95 to $8.95) and tourists at night. Owner Yun Hee Im opened the comfortable, clubby-looking restaurant five years ago. Try the yakiniku (bite-sized morsels of grilled meat), grilled corvina ($14.95) or oxtail soup ($8.95). And if you're a novice, just ask a waitress to explain the cuisine.
We loved. . . the helpful waitresses.
We didn't love. . . the neighboring businesses, including Betty's Love Boutique and a strip club.
Seoul Garden Yakiniku, 1679 Kapiolani Blvd., Honolulu; (808) 944-4803.
This Japanese department store in giant Ala Moana Shopping Center is a giant in its own right and another unusual place to grab a meal. You can visit the store to buy electronics, but once you venture onto the food floor, you might be distracted for hours. Shirokiya has dozens of things for customers to taste: sliced octopus, seasoned squid with eggs, fried sardines. OK, so maybe none of these appeals. But there's also a snack bar and deli with such things as ramen noodles, sockeye salmon and great tempura. We tried the salmon bento box ($6.70) and curry udon ($7.45). Both were hits.
We loved . . . the unusual fare.
We didn't love . . . the scarcity of seating.
Shirokiya, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu; (808) 973-9234.
Prices: $8 to $10.50
Aloha food may be tasty, but it can be salty and high in fat and carbs. To balance our 20-under-$20 list, we visited Well Bento, where healthful meals are the only thing on the menu. This tiny takeout joint isn't much to look at -- a small kitchen on the second floor of a commercial building -- but beautiful plates of organic fruits, vegetables, seafoods and tofu are produced inside Tod Brown's hole-in-the-wall eatery. Try the grilled salmon plate, served with salad and brown rice ($9.30) or the Zen macrobiotic ($8), a vegetarian plate with boiled root vegetables.
We loved. . . the fresh veggies and dedicated staff.
We didn't love. . . the heat in the kitchen. This is takeout only.
Well Bento, 2570 Beretania, No. 204, Honolulu, (808) 941-5261.