Onomea Chef Crystalyn Costa's Guide To Williamsburg | Tasting Table NYC

The Hawaiian-born chef shares her favorite spots for eats and drinks

When trying to cope with the freezing cold weather, there's only one thing to do: field dining tips from a native Hawaiian, if only to feel closer to tropical weather and a lei.

Crystalyn Costa is the founder of Onomea in Williamsburg—one of the city's first takes on Hawaiian cuisine. Her Havemeyer Street restaurant offers sweet-and-salty plates like shoyu chicken drumstick with sides ($13) of mayo-laden macaroni salad and fried rice (cue your inner fat kid). There's also the ubiquitous island treat: Spam musubi (Spam and rice wrapped in nori; $5), which is not to be missed.

It's a real a melting pot of flavors—Polynesian, 1950s American and Japanese. Yet, it's also uniquely its own.

"Growing up I spent a lot of my time cooking with my grandma," Costa says. "Onomea, means 'favorite or best place' in Hawaiian. Cooking with her was just that. Living in New York there was no home-style, comfort Hawaiian food to cure my homesickness. I figured there had to be other people feeling the same way, so here we are."

Photo: Courtesy of Lodge

When she's not introducing locals to new flavors, Costa can be found ordering burgers, bourbon and excessive amounts of sushi. Here are her essential Williamsburg spots. We owe her thanks, or as she says, mahalo nui.

Coffee: Oslo

Costa's order: Americano ($2.50 to $3.50)

Why she loves it: "I'm not much of a coffee drinker," she says. "But when I am, I like it bold."

Breakfast: Harefield Road

Costa's order: In classic style, she goes for the Harefield eggs ($12)—poached eggs, smoked salmon and, of course, hollandaise.

Why she loves it: "Perfectly poached eggs, every time. Plus, a nice variety of fruits and a Bloody Mary with every meal."

Lunch: Roebling Tea Room

Costa's order: Burger ($19), done "all the way."

Why she loves it: "It has a fried egg on it, and I love burgers with the fried eggs on top. Plus, the house sauce, a mayonnaise speckled with pickles and onions, is amazing—I could eat it with a spoon."

Snack: Lodge

Costa's order: Cool iceberg wedge salad ($9) topped with applewood smoked bacon and blue cheese.

Why she loves it: "Always super fresh and crisp, and it has bacon on it. I love the house-made ranch dressing."

Dinner: Bozu

Costa's order: Rather than nigiri or sashimi, she delves into Bozu's signature "bombs" (balls of rice topped with fish or veggies). Think of it as sushi in Munchkin form.

Why she loves it: "The Hotate bomb ($6) has raw scallop that melts in your mouth. It has just a hint of heat. I could easily order six of them."

Drinks: Skinny Dennis

Costa's order: This girl out of Hawaii likes drinks out of the South, like bourbon mint sweet tea ($8).

Why she loves it: "Country music is always blasting on the sound system, and peanuts line the bar. I grew up country, so it really brings me back."