The 2020 Hale ‘Aina Award Winners: Hawai‘i’s Best Restaurants

Amanda M. Rye


12 20 Rigoopen

A spread from Rigo, Hale ‘Aina Best New Restaurant winner. Clockwise from top left: patatas bravas, daikon tacos with pork belly, crostini with prosciutto and papaya, porchetta, fried shishito peppers, yellowtail ceviche. Photo: Olivier Koning.



It’s been a tough year for Hawai‘i restaurants—making it more important than ever that our readers showed their support by nominating their favorites. In our 37th annual Hale ‘Aina Awards—the state’s longest-running dining awards—we spotlight how our Restaurateurs of the Year have been helping fellow food businesses, ask experts to pick libations for every mood and check in with a chef who gave cooking lessons on YouTube. Find their stories below, plus a full list of 121 winners here.



Restaurateurs of the Year

Community Circle

12 20 Mw Owners

Wade Ueoka and Michelle Karr-Ueoka. Photo: Olivier Koning.



This couple lends a helping hand not just because times are tough, but because it’s what they’ve always done.


By Mari Taketa  •  Photography by Olivier Koning


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How to Gogikui

12 20 Hm Gen 1200px Ay

Photo: Aaron K. Yoshino



Switching things up, Korean style, can make your next turn at the grill so much better. Learn how to gogikui at the best yakiniku and Korean barbecue restaurants in Hawai‘i.


By Mari Taketa  •  Photography by Aaron K. Yoshino


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Best New Restaurant: Gold

We Go, Rigo

12 20 Rigo 4plates



Rigo, opened by Japanese restaurant group Huge, brings luxury and maximalism to the masses in the form of a Spanish Italian restaurant.


By Martha Cheng  •  Photography by Olivier Koning


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Mixed Feelings12 20 Haleaina Drinksopen


Whether we’re dining out at a favorite restaurant or relaxing over a meal we take home, enjoying good food and an adult beverage can help transform your day or week, especially now when our sense of time seems altered. Here is our Hale ‘Aina experts guide for a drink to pair with almost every mood.


By Robbie Dingeman • Illustrations by Janelle Kalawe-Ching


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Best Tasting Menu: Bronze

Just Chill

12 20 Pai2

Photography & Plating by Aaron K. Yoshino.



Pai Honolulu’s takeout menu has a few meals that are not so hot. And that’s a very cool thing.


By Christi Young • Photography & Plating by Aaron K. Yoshino


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