Hawaii is known for its variety of cuisine inspired by Polynesia, Asia, America and more. From popular luau food (think Kalua pig, lomilomi salmon and poi), the islands cater to a wide range of palates, making it the perfect place for the novice and veteran foodies alike. Food stylist Megan Tomino is part of this exciting culinary scene, and she brings her experience in San Francisco and New York back to her hometown of Honolulu—working with companies such as Hawaiian Airlines, and the Emmy award-winning show “Family Ingredients” (featuring famed Hawaii chefs Ed Kenney and Sheldon Simeon). We got the inside scoop from Megan on some of Hawaii’s hot spots and more.
There’s always something fun to do in Hawaii if you know where to look, whether it’s an art show, food event, concert, or just a simple beach day.
Q: How does Hawaii inspire your work?
A: I feel lucky to be from a place that embraces every culture and discriminates against very little. In the work I do, I try to stay true to what it means to be from our islands and try to tie in any extra Hawaii related educational components when possible.
Q: After stints in San Francisco and New York City, why did you decide to come back to Honolulu?
A: The quality of life in Hawaii is unmatched. I could finish a tough day of work and take a short drive to one of the most pristine beaches on the North Shore and have it completely to myself. We have the most ono food of almost every culture at our fingertips, and wherever you go you’re always treated like family. You can’t beat that— I could go on and on!
Q: What are some of your favorite activities to do on the island?
A: There’s always something fun to do in Hawaii if you know where to look, whether it’s an art show, food event, concert, or just a simple beach day. Right now I love how our generation is working to revive and preserve Hawaii’s culture—take a lei making workshop from Meleana Estes, go to an Aloha Got Soul event where they spin old time island jams, or learn to pound poi for free at the Waimanalo Co-op.
Q: Where do you live now and what do you love most about your neighborhood?
A: I’m living in Mililani and my favorite thing about it is its proximity to Wahiawa, North Shore, and the west side.
Q: Your favorite breakfast spot is...
A: My house! I love making breakfast, but if I had to choose a restaurant it’s definitely Kaimuki Superette. They make a dish called the “Hapa Bowl” that is the most perfect breakfast. Soft-boiled eggs and homemade pickles top the most delicious crispy fried rice… and don’t forget to add bacon.
Q: Your go-to lunch spot is...
A: My favorite lunch is a soup and sandwich. I love Andy’s turkey sandwiches with their minestrone soup, it instantly takes me back to college days. I’ll often order the soup special and the ahi club sandwich at Kaimuki Superette.
Q: At dinner we can find you...
A: This is a tough one because I have a lot of go-to spots for dinner, and they all usually have a bowl of noodle soup on their menu. My bank statement generally shows repeated spending at Sorabol and The Pig and the Lady.
Q: The best cocktail is/is from:
A: I must admit I’m not much of a drinker, but I know The Pig and the Lady, Mud Hen Water, and Encore Saloon have great bar programs. However, I’m not one to order a cocktail with my meal— my Japanese blood just can’t handle it.
Q: Best late night meal:
A: My favorite late night restaurant is Izakaya Naru. It’s a small Okinawa-style izakya shop that has a wonderful menu and specials every day. Their soki soba is extra comforting and their taco rice is mind-blowing.
Q: Other local creatives/business owners who inspire you:
A: Joe Serraro and Napali Souza, owners of Salvage Public; Daeja Fallas, photographer; Ty Sanga, film director; Roger Bong, DJ of Aloha Got Soul; Aly Ishikuni, owner of Mori Hawaii; Lindsey Higa, blogger/stylist; Matt DeKneef, writer and editor at Flux Magazine; Ara Feducia, stylist and editor at Flux Magazine.
Q: Where do you go or what do you do to get away (in Hawaii)?:
A: On Oahu I love to take staycations at the Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club. I love their vibe and the brunch at Mahina & Sun’s is so yummy.
Q: Hidden gem(s):
A: We’re so guarded with our hidden gems, but here are a few: i-Naba for homemade soba, Shige’s in Wahiawa for fried saimin and teri burgers, and Thyda’s taco truck for lengua tacos, beans and rice!
Q: Your weekend agenda:
A: My weekends usually consist of beach days with my dog, Gus, visiting the farmers’ market, catching-up with friends over a meal, and usually spending time with my family. Keep it simple!