Here’s our report from a week on the Big Island. It had been over five years since we’d been to the Big Island, it was great to be able to take Saddle Road to make the trip from Kona to Hilo reasonable – we finally got a chance to try more food on the Hilo side. Highlight was finally getting to Two Ladies Kitchen.
Dave’s Plate and Coffee Shack (Waikoloa Village): stopped by for an early breakfast. Malcolm is very personable. Got the fried rice with egg on top, with a side of tuna-macaroni salad and cut fruit. My wife liked her French toast. Cute place.
Island Lava Java (Kailua-Kona): the oceanview was wonderful the morning we stopped by. Excellent mac nut pancakes with a small cup of fresh fruit and crispy bacon. My wife got the excellent croissant with avocado, provolone, and ham. If you are in Kona, a good place to hang out.
Ken’s House of Pancakes (Hilo): the best pancakes we had on the trip – good fluffiness, a hint of crisp, huge if you order the pancake specials. The trio of syrups (coconut, passionfruit, guava) were a nice addition to the berry and regular syrup. Got margarine once instead of butter – they must have run out. Coffee was excellent too. At a second visit we sampled the fried rice – hard to go wrong with the combination of sweet Chinese sausage, Chinese barbeque pork (char siu), and bacon – and the homemade corned beef hash with hash browns, both excellent.
Da Fish Place Lunch Wagon (Kawaihae): this is in the bus next to the shack, a la food truck. Got the fish plate with mahi mahi sautéed with salt and pepper, came with a salad and a mix of brown and white rice. My wife got the mahi mahi fish burger. The fish was good, the fish tacos also looked pretty good.
Hilo Lunch Shop (Hilo): Inexpensive, grab and go local flavor; a plethora of fun foods to take out. Our eyes got bigger than our stomachs as we got a spam musubi, a cone inari, some nori chicken (fried nuggets wrapped with nori), fried chicken (a bit dry, but it was already starting to get late), breaded ono, an egg foo yung, bean sprout salad, cucumber salad, and mung bean noodles. Go early – it is still on plantation schedule, we’d guess the food is best in the morning and they close in early afternoon.
Da Poke Shack (Kailua-Kona): good poke for snacking, got the Pele’s Kiss (not that spicy) with furikake rice and a seaweed salad. My wife got the special spicy ahi (a little spicier) with a crab salad instead. Hard to find – it is on the water side of Ali’i Road.
Allen’s Table (Waimea): the old Huli Sue’s. We went at lunch so they still had parts of the old Huli Sue’s menu, but unfortunately they were out of corn pudding and banana cream pie. The BLT was pretty amazing – really thick cuts of bacon! My wife got the pineapple mint iced tea which was refreshing, especially since she got the tasty Portuguese sausage meatball sandwich. Curious how their dinner compares with Merriman’s quality.
Café Pesto (Kawaihae): an old standby for us, we had the seared ahi on a bed of soba and vegetables, while my wife got the wok-fried scallops and shrimp on rice noodles with coconut sauce. Both were excellent.
Merriman’s (Waimea): We really enjoyed our meal here. I started with the mobeeto – an interesting take on a mojito with hints of lavender along with the mint and basil, and colored red by beets. We started with the loco moco which is more of a deconstructed fried rice with a thick slab of bacon (this was really good), jasimine black and white rice, a poached egg on the side, and eggplant puree. My wife’s kurobata pork chop was fantastic – it was melt in your mouth consistency when it first came out on a bed of cheesy polenta. I got the lamb riblets and loin on a bed of orzo with spinach. Also excellent but the pork chop was better. Finished up with the chocolate purse with savory toasted coconut and caramel sauce with vanilla ice cream.
Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai (Keauhou): this is in the old Wendy’s location. We got a seat on the veranda overlooking the shopping mall but with a clear view of the ocean. It was a great view with the vog turning the sunset dark orange, and with the tiki torches along the wall. We started off with the margarita (black salt) and a virgin drink. We got a complementary minestrone soup and salad with oriental dressing, along with bread. Both entrees were excellent – the lau lau fish (walu) was very tender, and the short rib on the chow mein noodle bed was very tasty paired with a glass of Qupe syrah. The entrees were good sized, all in all a very enjoyable meal. While it wasn’t Merriman’s, it felt like a classic Hawaii meal for pretty good value, we would definitely go back.
Brown’s Beach House (Waikoloa): final dinner of the trip, hard to beat a sunset/torchlight dinner by the beach. Most interesting drink of the evening was the lillikoi margarita with li hung mui powder instead of salt. The bread was excellent with the roasted tomato aioli. Started with an amuse-bouche of seared ahi with a light touch of truffle oil on seaweed, followed by appetizers the kabocha soup and the dinner salad, followed by the king salmon entrée and two starters posing as a second entrée – the scallops and the short ribs. We also got a tasty side of roasted corn. Finally, finished up with the creamsicle. Outstanding presentations of great food, my wife preferred this to our dinner at Merriman’s for the combination of food quality and atmosphere.
Anuenue Shave Ice (Kawaihae): this was upstairs in the same building as Café Pesto. A bit too much syrup, but good consistency on the shave ice which is what we look for.
Itsu’s Ice Shave (Hilo): There was a lot of shave ice, although it was packed a bit too much. Maybe we should not have gotten the bowl, because it was really heaped on. Good, but we liked Anuenue better.
Two Ladies Kitchen (Hilo): OMG. The strawberry mochi is to die for. Unfortunately a no-no to bring back to the mainland due to agricultural restrictions. The manju and mochi are all excellent. Don’t miss this!
Itsu's Fishing Supplies
810 Piilani St, Hilo, HI 96720
Hilo Lunch Shop
421 Kalanikoa St, Hilo, HI 96720
Ken's House of Pancakes
1730 Kamehameha Ave, Hilo, HI 96720
Island Lava Java
75-5799 Alii Dr Ste A1, Kailua Kona, HI 96740
65-1227 Opelo Rd, Kamuela, HI 96743
, Kamuela, HI 96743
Brown's Beach House - The Fairmont Orchid - Kohala Coast
1 North Kaniku Drive, Kohala Coast, HI 96743
Dave's Plate and Coffee Shack
Highlands Shopping Center, Waikoloa Village, HI 96738
61-3665 Hwy 270, Kawaihae, HI 96743