Big Island Restaurant Advice
We're heading for the Big Island next week, spending five nights at the Mauna Lani and five at the Four Seasons. Which restaurants would you recommend at these hotels? Since we don't want to indulge every night and will need a change of pace, are there good and reasonable restaurants outside the hotels that aren't too far away? Thanks!
Pahu i 'a blew me away, but it's been a year. We hit Alan Wong's Hualalai Grille this time and I admit we did not do the tasting menu, but I wasn't all that impressed. They gave us a big run-around on making reservations - said they were only available at 6 or 8:45 and fully booked in between. Took the 6, and well over 50% of the tables were empty the entire time we were there. Service was very good. Nice, but very expensive wine list - no big surprise. We weren't all that hungry and split the lobster pizza appetizer. It was good and a bit different, but nothing I'd go back for or have to have again. Had fish (it was an ocean bass & I'm spacing on the name right now...) Again, good, well-prepared. Just nothing to get all that excited over. Alan was in the kitchen, but making a promo video. not cooking (which would have been unusual anyway, but our fingers were crossed when we heard he was there...) Don't think we'll be running back, but realize we didn't order the way those who have highly recommended it did.
For a change of pace, and I am not sure if they let non-guests dine, but the Kona Village Resort next door is lovely. If you can, make reservations for their Hale Samoa Restaurant & ask to sit outside. Right on the beach & beautiful at sunset, which is pretty early this time of year... Just a nice, 'Old Hawaii' feeling - very romantic - I had their abalone with angel hair pasta and a citrus beurre blanc - yumm!! The hearts of palm salad less exciting - slivers, not the round cross sections I love to peel layer by layer :) Their Paniolo Night is also fun and very good food for a BBQ.
re: torta basilica
Aloha Torta! Great hearing from you - Melekalikimaka! Thanks for your observations, we're going over to Mauna Lani for a long weekend in March. I myself still think making the trek to Merriman's is certainly a must, I have never ever been disappointed in the what seems to be almost 20 years of dining there.
And Roy's I really like it there and yes it is noisy but that misoyaki butterfish cannot be equalled. I just had lunch yesterday at Roy's in Waikiki and had a great wonderful time. They sent out an amazing sashimi tray and an amazing sushi and crab cakes and we had not even looked at a menu thus far. Once we did we had a great lunch and it was at the end of service so it was fairly low key. He's in town by the way, he was at KCC signing his salad dressings so my husband caught up with him and as I was not there he called up and I had a nice chat with Roy. He's also hanging out with Nobu this weekend, Nobu is here for the holidays and was sitting in the lobby of the Parc signing books although not many people were there I don't think people really knew he was doing that in the afternoon. He was great fun to meet and we had a nice time chatting about food and drinking.
In the years that we've dined there, things have certainly changed. I suppose a lot has to do with the patrons on any given night, but it has never come close to what we experienced on the first two trips.
Last two trips, Waikoloa Hilton was filled with a national insurance conference and then a mortgage banker's conference. The noise level, on both visits, was beyond my comfort zone by +50db. The chef had changed, and the food was nothing spectacular. The service was hurried and hit-or-miss. With reservations, there was a 45 min. wait. Last trip, we took a "pass," and did not even bother.
Just did a local (Phoenix, AZ) Roy's and it was spectacular - quiet with great food and stellar service. That's the way it should be.
A couple of years ago, I'd have agreed with you. They changed exec. chefs (I hear she moved to corporate and will verify with Roy Yamaguchi in April), and then things went downhill a bit. Last trip, the food was down the Roy's scale, and the noise level was way over the top. All things considered, it was not that good a meal, especially compared to what it once was.
I'd rate either of the two restaurants at the Four Seasons as head and shoulders above it, and the AW's location is in about the same price-point.
Just a personal observation,
>are there good and reasonable restaurants outside the hotels that aren't too far away?
If you've been to the Big Island before, then you don't need to hear this; you have your own opinion. I was there for a week last summer. They call it the Big Island, but the various very different areas aren't long drives away. Your hotels' resort area is a very small part of the island. There is a great diversity of scenery, and other places to eat, on the island and that's the attraction of the Big Island to me. Not very far to the East is the town of Waimea/Kamuela with quite a bit of good food. South of your area is Kailua Kona and south of that is lush and beautiful with other food choices. North and East of your area are other areas and choices. If you decide to venture out, do some searching on this site and you'll find a lot of recommendations.
Some recent threads, that you might want to check out:
For me, the dining is best at the Four Seasons: Alan Wongs: Hualalai Grill, http://www.hualalairesort.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=ig.page&CategoryID=149
Pahu i`a, http://www.fourseasons.com/hualalai/dining.html
Daniel Thibaut, http://www.danielthiebaut.com/
And then I'd add Merriman's, since Alan Wong gave me a personal recommendation to dine there.
We had a really bad evening at the Canoe House at Manua Lani, but that was some years ago. Service was the bottom of the barrel, the food was mediorcre, but the venue was excellent. I'm sure that they have changed chefs, sommeliers and all of the wait-staff. If not, I'd never dine there again.
I used to really like the Roy's at Waikoloa, but was less impressed on the last trip. The exec. chef had been changed, and the noise level was highly elevated. The food was OK, but nothing that I'd stand in line for, or put up with screaming patrons.
More searching on this board will yield many more spots across the price spectrum.
[EDIT] For some reason, the other links did not post, only Merriman's. I understand why it is a "beta" feature.
Merriman's Market Cafe
69 250 Waikoloa Beach Dr#j-106, Waikoloa, HI