Crispy Saba, char siu and lomi tomato at The Pig & The Lady.


Lee Anne Wong, of Top Chef fame, knows her way around some Koko Moko.

True, if your Honolulu trip revolves solely around hanging out at your Waikiki resort, you’re going to spend your days feasting on plenty of uninspired poke and Kalua pig. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but we know you’ve come to Food Republic to help you push things forward in the culinary arena. Instead, abandon the beach for a few hours and venture to one of these six new-ish joints that are really making noise with locals. They won’t be filled with guests donning plastic leis, but there will be an abundance of quirky ambiance to complement their fine food and drink.

For All Day Brunch: Koko Head Café
Kaimuki — long a gastronome zone thanks to beloved restaurants like 12th Ave Grill, Town and Salt Kitchen & Tasting Bar — is where Lee Anne Wong presides over Koko Head Café. Every day Wong, the New York transplant of Top Chef fame, makes a serious brunch all morning and afternoon long. Sit on one of the bar stools or slither into a bright booth for savory bacon-kimchi-cheddar scones and the Koko Moko, Wong’s rendition of the classic Hawaiian dish, featuring garlicky rice laced with mushroom gravy and topped with a sunny-side up egg and all-natural Maui beef patty. Sip a wasabi-yuzu Bloody Mary and contemplate squeezing in an order of the day’s dumplings. 1145c 12th Avenue, 808-732-8920

For Serious Vietnamese: The Pig & the Lady
The banh mi sandwiches and noodle soups Andrew Le and his Vietnamese mother served at the farmer’s market and their pop-up restaurant were such a hit, it was just a matter of time before the Pig & the Lady morphed into a bustling brick-and-mortar operation. Night after night, the communal tables at this Chinatown hotspot are packed with friends sharing pork– and seaweed-strewn pappardelle and 12-hour brisket pho. Another reason to settle in is Kyle Reutner’s drinks, including the Hogwild, in which citrus-amped Scotch gets poured over coconut water ice cubes. 83 N. King Street, 808-585-8255

For Hawaiian Regional Cuisine: MW Restaurant
Last fall, Wade and Michelle Ueoka, the longtime husband-and-wife protégées of Hawaiian culinary god Alan Wong, opened MW, a place of their own at the Shops of Kaplioani. While Wade is busy reimagining arancini with unagi and butterfish and dressing adobo-braised pork shanks with mung bean potato cakes, Michelle meticulously crafts confections. One taste of her deconstructed graham cracker-chocolate-banana cream pudding, or dense macadamia-praline crunch candy bar, layered with salted caramel and Waialua chocolate, and it is clear dessert is no mere afterthought. 1538 Kapi’olan Boulevard, Suite 107, 808-955-6505

For International Flavors: Grondin French-Latin Kitchen
This cultural mash-up, a Chinatown newcomer, is the brainchild of Jenny Grondin and David Segarra. The couple, who spent years working at New York City’s Fatty Crab and Fatty ‘Cue restaurants, tapped chef Andrew Pressler — who also did time with Zak Pelaccio — to create dishes that gracefully meld two distinct culinary traditions. In the quiet afternoons, come for chicken sofrito sandwiches piled high on baguettes; in the evening, spicy micheladas lead to delicate duck mole crêpes and bone marrow with sorrel remoulade. 62 N. Hotel Street, 808-566-6768,

For Frozen Treats Gone Wild: Wing Ice Cream Parlor
Shave ice rules Honolulu, but dessert lovers who want to sink their spoons into ice cream need look no further than this not-quite-18 month-old offbeat Chinatown shop. When he’s not on his double-necked bass guitar, Miller Royer, the musician behind one-man band Brainplane, also churns out frosty ice cream in flavors like floral pandan and local mango, best when licked from a homemade waffle cone.  1145 Maunakea Street Suite 4, 808-536-4929

For Great Beer and Cocktails: Bevy
It’s been open less than a year, yet Bevy, awash in metal and recycled wood, has become a fixture in on-the-rise Kakaako (stop by Honolulu Beerworks for a pint of the Sheltered Bay IPA beforehand.) Beyond the captivating industrial aesthetic and wall of rotating local art, chef Petra Lindeson’s creations, like smoked beets topped with housemade goat cheese crème and candied pecans — off the new tapas menu — are washed down by co-owner Christian Self’s cocktails, including a from-scratch sarsaparilla julep 661 Auahi Street, 808-594-7445

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