We all know the tourism industry on Oʻahu is back on the incline, as people from all over the world want to come and visit Hawaiʻi. Many of Hawai'i's tourists come from Asia, so lately, we have been seeing more Asian-themed areas open up. 

A few months ago we had the new opening of Shirokiya, also known as the Japan Village Walk, in the new section of the Ala Moana Shopping Center on Oʻahu.

We were so excited to see what new eats were going to be introduced to us at this new location. It's awesome to see a whole floor dedicated to food, but when you go down to get some grindz, it all adds up way too fast. Since the hype has been calming down, people usually just go there for the $1 beers. 

The food alley hype shows no signs of stopping, as on their website and social media sites announced that a new gourmet food alley opened on December 1st at the Waikiki Shopping Plaza. I have mixed feelings about this new place from a college student's perspective.

What Is a Food Alley?

Instagram photo by Yuuki Yokoyama

youkmph on Instagram

In Japan, a food alley is called a yokocho. They're generally hallways of little hole-in-the-wall restaurants that serve appetizers or speciality dishes and, of course, drinks for the late night working man or woman.

Most of the old (and the best) food alleys are outside, hidden from the main streets. These places are usually really cheap (I'm talking about $5 for a ramen bowl, people) and each place has its own special environment, joining with the good hospitality of the owner. 

Pros and Cons of the New Waikiki Yokocho

At the Waikiki Yokocho, there are three different alleys that have different concepts. Engawa Terrance is at the entrance, welcoming you with cafés and their supposedly famous whiskey bar. Noren Street consists of all of their savory restaurants. Lastly, there's Ramen Road, which doesn't need an explanation. Check out their list of all the restaurants here.

PROS: The most exciting thing about the Waikiki Yokocho is that there will be more food places to eat at. On their website, they claim that all of the shops that will be opening up are from Japan, so all of the food will be authentic Japanese cuisine. For example, there's Sobaya Maruki, a soba shop from Sapporo, Tonkontsu Kazan (Volcano) Ramen, Shichi Musubi and more. 

Since the all-new restaurants are opening up, that also means that more job opportunities are opening up. To make things easy, here is their employment page.

CONS: Since this is opening up in Waikiki, the struggle of going into town and finding parking will be another problem.  There are plenty of empty malls and less-populated places that have more parking, and could handle more people. Local businesses in those places could also benefit from more foot traffic.

Also, similarly to Shirokiya in Ala Moana, Waikiki Yokocho is geared towards tourists that have money. So, unlike the food alleys in Japan that are affordable, their prices are probably boosted up a few more dollars so we have to spend more. Which is no bueno for us poor college kids.  vegetable, herb, oil, wine
Alyssa Nurre

Personally, I was really excited for this place's opening ever since I heard about it, and I think the concept is great since I love Japanese food. It's going to be hard to resist going there, and to spend as little of my money as possible, but maybe a few drinks from Nana's Green Tea will do *wink wink.*

I highly recommend going there and checking out the new eats; it's located at the bottom level of the Waikiki Shopping Plaza.