Restaurants & Bars

A few more Big Island Notes (but still a bit long)

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A few more Big Island Notes (but still a bit long)

susancinsf | May 6, 2005 08:27 PM

Trying to catch up on my trip postings...

We snuck away for a few days on the Big Island over Easter weekend....with such a short trip, and most of time spent diving, we didn't have a lot of time for food explorations, so just a few notes:

Izakaya Kai: the find of this trip. Highly recommended. (See post below)

Alan Wong's Hualalai Grille: our other dinner out, a celebration of hubby's upcoming Master's Program graduation. We stayed at the Four Seasons on our honeymoon, so it always has a special place in our hearts; we enjoyed a stroll on their beach before dinner (and were very pleased we weren't staying there this trip: lots and lots of kids, and most of them obviously going stir crazy with the less than ideal weather.)

The number of kids was obvious when we walked into the Grille: the bar area was packed with families eating dinner...we were still half an hour early for our reservation, and were asked to wait in the bar. Fortunately, we grabbed the last table in the bar area. We then waited, waited and waited some more for the cocktail server, who ignored both us and the table next to us. At one point while we were still waiting, she actually started slowly folding napkins at a service area... Hubby eventually got us some drinks from the bar (table next to us followed suit), and we were finally seated for dinner about 20 to 30 minutes after our reservation time.

The dining room was also packed, though a little less crazy than the bar. Our seat along the outside was pleasant; the glass doors to the patio were closed due to high winds.

Food: very good to excellent, but nothing truly outstanding. Started with a limpet shooter, out of curiousity (I see the things diving all the time). Tasted like the sea and not much else (no surprise there). I was curious about a tomato salad on the menu, made with a whole dressed tomato, and asked the server if it really could be ripe in March, even in Hawaii with its longer growing season. He assured me that it would be the best tomato salad I ever ate, so I decided to try it. Well, not even close to the best, the quality of the tomato itself was only marginally better than what is in my local stores right now...my fault for being sucked in by the server's hype...

Can't remember the rest of the meal, and didn't take notes. Overall, we weren't really disappointed, other than with the service, which I don't think is yet quite up to Four Seasons standards, but not wowed either. I probably wouldn't rush back, but would give them another try after they've settled in a bit, and not on a holiday weekend...

Honokohau Harbor: I've known about the restaurant at the small boat harbor north of Kailua town for years, so have no idea why it took me so long to try it! Finally we did (and still can't remember the name, but it is the only restaurant actually in the Harbor)....what took us so long! A *great*place for a post-dive lunch or a last meal on the way to the airport. Extremely fast and friendly service in an open air setting, and lovely cold schooners of Sierra Nevada, along with fresh mahi sandwiches, reasonable prices, generous portions. Another winner!

KTA on Palani vs Safeway: since we cooked the rest of our meals, a comment on the grocery stores: Safeway (in the shopping center above Borders) is probably the cheapest grocery store (the farmers markets are probably cheaper for produce), but I prefer KTA on Palani just above Alii Drive. For one thing, they have local brands of bread, salad dressing, ice cream etc...which adds to the fun of cooking in immeasurably. In addition, the fish selection at the Safeway (other than the poki selection, which is decent) is horrible: even worse than the fish selection at the Potrero St Safeway back home, and I didn't think that was possible! OTOH, there will often be fish caught the same day on sale at the KTA; our dinner one night was some of the most delicious, fresh ono I've ever had! My strategy for a longer stay would be to buy staples at Safeway or Costco, everything else at KTA or the Farmers Markets....

and on a non-Chow note, we hit the jackpot on our choice of a place to stay this trip: Silver Oaks Ranch. Highly recommended, and it does have a fairly well stocked kitchen, which is a must on the Big Island, where good ingredients are easier to find than good restaurants...

Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

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