Hawaii Eats: Tanioka’s and Zippy’s

For the back half of our visit to Oahu we stayed at Disney’s Aulani Resort [averagetraveller.com] which is located in Ko’Olina on the leeward coast of the island 17 miles northwest of Honolulu. While your affordable eats selection is slim inside Ko’Olina, there are some great options within driving distance of the resort area.

Taniokas Seafood and Catering Sign Hawaii

Tanioka’s Seafoods and Catering

One of my favorite lunch spots is Tanioka’s located in Waipahu which is about half way between Honolulu and Ko’Olina. Tanioka’s is a deli-style walk-up counter service place that serves poke, bento boxes, and plate lunches. Their selection of raw fish and fried foods had me drooling the moment I got inside. Note that there are no tables there so it is strictly take-out. You should also arrive early because the parking lot fills up quickly as the line-up goes out the door. On my first visit I got there around 11:30am on a weekday and didn’t have too much trouble.

Poke, Chicken, and Inari from Taniokas Hawaii

As you go through the line you go past many Japanese style snacks and sweets and then a cooler with boxes of sushi and fresh tuna. Next is a deli display filled with many different types of Poke that you buy by weight and then a place where they will take your order for hot foods from the menu above the counter. Finally as you head towards the cashier there are other fried goodies and of course spam musabi available for you to grab. Mixed plates each cost around $10 depending on how many items you want. We picked up food there twice to eat back at our hotel. I tried a bunch of different pokes, their fried chicken (both times!), inari, fried rice, as well as a lau lau plate lunch and all of it was worth returning for.

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Zippy’s Restaurants

In all of my previous trips to Hawaii I’d never really noticed Zippys. They are all over the island but I never gave them even a first thought. Upon researching food for my most recent trip [averageytraveller.com] I discovered that they are kind of like the Hawaiian version of Denny’s. Reading through various food forums there was a split between those who believe that Zippy’s offers pretty average chain restaurant food and those who have a fondness for a place that they grew up with.

Luckily for me there is a Zippy’s in Kapolei which about a 10 drive from Ko’Olina so I had my opportunity to check it out. We arrived at around 6pm and the restaurant side was full with a few people waiting in the entrance for a table. In addition to the restaurant (which did, in fact, look and feel much like a Denny’s), there was also a Napoleon’s bakery and a take-out counter. As we looked over the menu’s we found that they had very familiar looking plate lunches and bento box combos along with burgers, salads, and other Denny’s style food items.

Zippys Hawaii Take-out Containers

Zippys Hawaii Take-out Food

As you can see in these pictures, we opted for take-out. I had a lau lau and kalua pig combo with soup and I also tried the fried chicken. As promised, the food was good but not great. The pork had clearly been sitting under heat lamps and was a little dry and the fried chicken was a little on the greasy side. Zippy’s is also known for their Guava Chiffon Cake, which was very pink and just subtly sweet. The cake is worth a try just to experience guava in cake form.

Overall I’d have to agree that Zippy’s is pretty average food; however, I recommend that you try it out. Sometimes we pick a place to eat just because it’s convenient and there are enough Zippy’s around that any visitor owes it to themselves to find one instead of defaulting to a fast food chain that you could find anywhere else in the world.

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This post was shared with Travel Photo Thursday hosted by Budget Traveler’s Sandbox.


13 thoughts on “Hawaii Eats: Tanioka’s and Zippy’s

  1. We just returned from Ko Olina (Marriott Vacation Club) and decided two of our favorites were Thai Lao (Thai) and Hapa Grill (Hawaiian) in Kapalei. But thanks to you I have a new destination next year in Waipahu. . .loved this post!!

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