Situated just off of Kapahulu Avenue next door to its sibling business, Rainbow Drive-In, Hawaii’s Favorite Kitchens (HFK) highlights a diverse mix of local food vendors and products that offers something for everyone! Find family-friendly favorites like the waffle dog by KC Drive Inn, as well as select Rainbow Drive-In specials like the chili bowls. Need an intriguing Hawaii-inspired gift? Then look no further than our t-shirt and tank assortment by Hawaii Nostalgia!
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Seiju Ifuku, the founder of Rainbow Drive-In, learned to cook while in the Army serving with the famous 100th Battalion during WW II. He participated in campaigns in Italy and France. After the war, he worked at the famous Kapiolani Drive-In, now the site of Wailana Coffee Shop and Condominiums, then, together with Ayako, opened a smaller version of this as Kalakaua Drive-In, currently the site of Cheeseburgers in Waikiki, at the corner of Ala Moana Blvd and Kalakaua Ave.
In 1961, in the midst of major economic changes in Hawaii, they took a chance and opened Rainbow Drive-In in Kapahulu, a small, local community at the entrance to Waikiki. They opened serving 50-cent chili with rice and $1 barbeque steak plate lunches alongside 25-cent hamburgers and 14-cent French fries — all food that was geared to families, nearby workers and the Waikiki beach crowd.
Seiju and Ayako’s philosophy was to serve plates with generous portions of hearty, simple food, with two scoops of rice and a side of macaroni salad at a reasonable price.
They kept their prices low and counted on the volume of sales to keep the Drive-In going. They raised prices very slowly and moderately so their customers would not be shocked, and they never charged taxes believing that their patrons should know exactly what each item cost. And they insisted on quick, attentive service, because they knew that the working person had only a limited lunch period.
While Hawai‘i has recognized this popular eatery with local awards, Rainbow Drive-In has also caught national attention with features on the Travel Channel, Cooking Channel and the Food Network’s Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives with Guy Fieri.
Keeping sight on their original philosophy, these traditions continue as the drive-in heads into its fifth decade of serving Hawaii.
KC Drive Inn
The Asato family opened KC Drive Inn as a carhop in 1934 on the corner of Ala Wai Boulevard and Kalakaua Avenue. It quickly gained a reputation as a late-night hot spot, luring couples, families and Waikiki entertainers.
In 1981, KC Drive Inn moved out of Waikiki to a 20,000-square-foot property at corner of Kapahulu and Harding avenues, popular for its local-style food and friendly service. Its signature menu items were the Waffles Dogs — hot dogs coated with a slightly sweet batter and cooking in a waffle iron until the edges are crispy — and Ono Ono Shakes
In March 2005 the beloved family-run restaurant — and the last car hop in Hawaii — shut its doors, a year after the family closed another landmark Oahu restaurant, The Wisteria, on King Street.
Dayton Asato, one of owner’s sons, continued the tradition of Waffle Dogs, serving this island favorite at bon dances, festivals and pop-ups around the state and in Japan.
*KC Drive Inn was originally founded by George Knapp and Elwood Christensen around 1928. The Asato Family bought KC Drive Inn in 1934.
Lin's Hawaiian Snacks
Lin's Hawaiian Snacks presents an extensive array of your favorite Hawaiian and Asian snacks, including crack seed, li hing mui, and other dried fruit, nuts, candy and seafood.
In 1982, Shin and Jim Lin immigrated to Honolulu from Taiwan to be near their family.
Now, more than 20 years later, the brothers are running a thriving business selling Hawaiian and Asian snacks with outlets at the Ward Famers Market and the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet.
Lin’s market commenced Aloha Stadium Swap Meet operations in 1985 selling vegetables and a line of swimming toys.
The brothers have since changed their product line to become one of the favorite places in the islands for Hawaiian and Asian snacks.
Crack seed, fruit, nuts, chips, cookies and more can be found at both locations.
The best seller, according to Shin, is the li hing pineapple. “People love li hing pineapple” says Shin. “I was one of the first to introduce it about 17 years ago.” Shin offers samples to customers as they walk by and he guarantees their satisfaction.
Locals and tourists alike enjoy this island favorite.
“I love to see the look on their faces; that look of pure enjoyment when they taste it,” says Shin. “I want the people to remember it, especially the tourists, so when they come back to Hawaii, they will come back to Lin’s Market for the li hing pineapple.”
Makai, Poke by Rainbows
Founded in Fall 2020, Makai, Poke by Rainbows continues Hawaii's Favorite Kitchens' offerings of locally-sourced poke. Whether you are in search of an Instagram-worthy poke bowl, or looking for it to complement your meal (sold by the pound), our Makai line offers locals and visitors a vaster variety of menu items.
Shimazu Shave Ice
Shimazu Shave Ice opened in 1999 in Mililani. Inspired to provide Hawai’i with the best quality shave ice, the late Kelvin Shimazu began his business as a small kiosk at the Mililani Marketplace. However as word got out about Shimazu’s delicious and unique shave ice flavors, it was time to expand.
In 2006, the first official store opened in the heart of Kalihi and with more than 80 flavors to offer, quick and friendly service, and the support of the community, Shimazu’s was able to make it’s way to becoming one of the best shave ice destinations in Hawai’i. Soon after, they were featured on Ultimate Japan, Bizzare Foods, and Unique Sweets.
In the beginning, the hardest aspect of running Shimazu’s was the transition from a kiosk to a storefront. Nonetheless, Shimazu’s continued to provide Hawai’i with their unique and fine shave ice. The flavors are truly one of a kind because they are all created with Shimazu’s special recipes, incuding suggestions from customers. Some of the most popular combinations include: Classic Rainbow, Red Velvet and Creme Brule, and Tropical Flavors (Liliquoi, Mango, Guava).
In 2015, Shimazu’s expanded to Hawaii’s Favorite Kitchens located in Kapahulu. Continuing to use real cane sugar in all of the syrups, Shimazu’s reputation of selling the yummiest shave ice made with love and care didn’t change one bit.
When asking the current owner, Kendall Shimazu, what he would like his customers to know about Shimazu’s Shave Ice he responded with, “I want to keep making the best quality and consistent shave ice for as long as I can. I love hearing what different flavor ideas my customers have to suggest to me because that way, there’s something for everyone. My dad wanted to make shave ice the ‘correct’ way and that’s what I intend to do.”
Hawaii Nostalgia Studio was established in 1987 by Wayne Nishimoto. At a young age, he discovered his joy in collecting items such as baseball cards, 50th state Big-Time wrestling articles, Hawaiian bottles, Coca Cola memorabilia, etc. In 1987, Wayne purchased his first original acrylic paintings of the Old He’eia Kea Store and the Hygienic School on the windward side.
However, Wayne’s love for collecting became quite expensive, which is where he came up with the idea of Hawaii Nostolgia Studio. With the help of artist Joe Pimental, they were able to begin production of art for picture frame establishments and large window displays that were also supported by autograph signing sessions.
In the early 90’s, Wayne decided to switch things up and take similar nostalgic ideas and reproduce them on t-shirts with the help of artist Benjy Ito. Since then, they’ve done more than 80 designs and are actively marketing more than 40 designs on an ongoing basis.
Some of Hawaii Nostalgia Studio’s most popular designs include Rainbow Drive-In, The Old Honolulu Stadium, Coco’s Coffee House, Arakawa’s, and the Civic Auditorium. With the hopes to expand in the future to a possible Nostalgic Thematic Store or Lunchroom, Hawaii Nostalgia Studio plans to continue the legacy of producing products that help customers reminisce the good old days.
The most unique aspect of Hawaii Nostalgia Studio is their ability to produce art that can show Hawai’i from an original and traditional standpoint. With the purchase of one of Hawaii Nostalgia Studio’s products, you are participating in the process of “Keeping The Memories Alive”.
Note: T-shirts and tank tops by Hawaii Nostalgia and Shimazu Shave Ice are available for purchase in our eatery, for $24.95 each.