Just back from a relaxing week in Hawaii. We rented cottages in Volcano and Puako so didn't eat out much, choosing to cook instead. But a few Chow notes to share...
The Hilo Farmers Market was definitely worth the trip. We picked up the freshest, best ahi I've ever eaten, along with a selection of good organic salad greens and veggies. I also got some mangosteens, which were quite tasty. One of the coffee and mac nut sellers also was growing cacao, and had some fermented beans to taste -- interesting to me that they only need to be fermented for the characteristic chocolate flavors to be in full force.
Up in Volcano, we did have dinner one night at Thai Thai. Very good curries and green papaya salad, okay spring rolls.
In Hawi (North Kohala), we skipped Bamboo for lunch and found a little Mexican-themed lunch place called Hula La's. Really great fish tacos, Hawaiian style: grilled ahi, avocado, greens (arugula and red leaf lettuce), and salsa (choice of four -- the papaya was excellent with this) on soft corn tacos. Yummy.
While we were in Puako, we were directed to a great little fish market in Kaewaihae, just across the street from the general store. Advised to go early, they sell just what comes in that morning from the boats in the harbor below. We had a choice of mahi mahi, ono, ahi and tombo tuna the day we went and chose the mahi mahi, which was delicious.
We also had dinner one night at the newer Merriman's Market Grill at the King's Shops at Waikoloa. While it is indeed a nice, fairly casual bistro, the food is way beyond the "sandwiches, light lunch" impression I had gotten from another poster here. Very good Mediterranean themed menu and an excellent wine bar. We had a good combination of hummous and red pepper-walnut dips, a shared roasted beet, ricotta salatta, and greens salad, and an entree of dayboat Mahi Mahi roasted "tagine-style" with Moroccan spicing (not really a tagine) including olives and preserved lemon, served over saffron cous cous. Excellent preparation that I would love the recipe for. The wines by the glass were interesting too -- nearly as good as some of the wine bars in SF, with about 20 wines by the glass.