quick reviews, Oahu and Big Island
We're back :-(. But we had a great time and some very good eats :-).
Here's a quick rundown:
12/23 - arrived Oahu around 4:30pm. We taxied over to Mei Sum for dinner. Our taxi driver tried quite hard to discourage us from eating there. He recommended the place across the street, which had won 'best chinese restaurant' awards. I can't remember the name of the place, but it was full of tourists and Mei Sum was full of asians, so we went ahead and had dim sum. It was good, the best being an eggplant dish with fried garlic pieces on top.
12/24 - Breakfast at Eggs and Things. I believe coconut syrup may well replace my long time favorite of maple syrup on pancakes, yumm. I had ahi and eggs. The ahi was fine, though a little overcooked. Lunch was hot dogs from the stand at the submarine exhibit next to the Arizona memorial (later start than we planned meant we didn't get done at the Arizona memorial till after 2pm and then the kids still wanted to tour the submarine). Dinner at E&O Trading Company. I understand this is a chain, but we don't have it here in Northern Virginia, so it was a first for us. I really enjoyed this place. Service was attentive but not overbearing. Food was good, not over-the-top but tasty and well-presented. The roasted chile and cilantro sauce was terrific. We tried the ribs, the duck breast and the indonesian style fish. All were very tasty. Unfortunately, as we were still really on east coast time, my younger son was falling asleep, so we didn't stay for dessert.
12/25 - Breakfast at the airport, enough said. We arrived in Volcano Village to discover that Thai Thai was open for lunch, so we ate there. The eggplant and basil curry was delicious, though hot was too hot for me to completely enjoy it. I was less impressed with our other curry (I think it was a green curry, though my memory is fading already). Christmas dinner was a buffet at Volcano Lodge in the park. It was pedestrian at best, though I did discover some very good ahi poke sitting on a side table that was very good. (I've never had poke before that, so I have nothing to compare it to, but I liked it).
12/26 - Breakfast at the lodgings (Hale Ohia cottages, we enjoyed our stay in the cottage, the papaya was good, the tea breads only so-so). Lunch was a picnic that we picked up at the Hilo farmers market and the KTA. Hummus and chapati went over well (I can't eat tahini so I don't know how good it was, but it disappeared quickly), the veggie rolls were delicious. Had my first malasada at the farmers market, it didn't impress, but later ones were better. We grabbed some ice cream at the Mauna Loa mac nut place, coconut macademia nut was the best. Dinner was supposed to be a the Kilauea Lodge, but we couldn't work out the timing so we ate at the Seaside restaurant in Hilo instead. The calamari strips were a little strange, very tender, quite tasty, but thicker than any calamari I had ever had before. I had a miso-sauced butterfish dish. The sauce was way too strong on the top piece of fish, but the underneath piece of fish was delicious. One son had the fried Aholehole, it was just so-so. The other had Ahi with the mac nut pesto and it was perfectly done and very flavorful. I can't remember what my husband ate that night.
12/27 - Breakfast at the lodgings again, lunch at Tex's. The malasadas here were terrific, big fluffy pillows of sweetness. I had the chinese wrap for lunch, it was not to my taste. The local wrap (pork) was better and the kid's hamburgers were terrific. Dinner was at Merriman's as part of a farm/dinner tour. The tour was ok, the dinner was outstanding. We had lamb and fish, a pickled vegetable salad and a vegetable ragout. Everything was outstanding, strong but well-balanced flavors. Dessert was passion fruit mousse with a coconut macnut cookie. Next time, we'll eat here again, but skip the tour and order off the menu.
12/28 - Breakfast at the Hawaiian Style Cafe in Waimea. Wow! I had a smoked-pork omlette that was out of this world. Portions here are huge, you might want to share a meal. Lunch at Merriman's Market Cafe was casual and while not as complex as dinner the night before, it was still quite good. I had the eggplant and goat cheese sandwich. Others had pasta, lamb flatbread and a hamburger all of which I tasted and all of which I'd eat again. Dinner at the Island Breeze Luau. I guess everyone has to do at least one luau and this one was not too bad. I really enjoyed the lomi lomi salmon and the pork was quite tasty. We tried the poi, my husband was the only one who really liked it, but anything that is 'pudding' like is good to him :-).
12/29 - Breakfast at the Coffee Shack, south of Captain Cook. This was ok, nothing to write home about. I had a papaya special, filled with 'fruit' (apples and canned peaches, why in hawaii am I eating canned fruit?) and passionfruit yogurt. The tropical bread pudding was a little dry. Lunch was at a korean bbq in the safeway shopping center. I had Kal Bi, it was tasty but the vegetable sides were disappointing. Dinner was back in the same shopping center, at O's Bistro. This place was terrific. We didn't have reservations, but by forgoing wine with dinner were able to get a table outside. I was 'fished' out so had a rib-eye for dinner. It was tender and delicious. My husband had a steamed mahi-mahi that he enjoyed so much he's going to try and recreate it at home. Kids had 2 different pasta dishes, one southwestern and the other a cream-based sauce, both very good. We heard from the waiter that the restaurant will be moving to a new shopping center at the Hilton Waikola Village sometime in the not too far distant future.
12/30 - Breakfast at the Manago Hotel (we stayed here, it was fine but we could have done without the roosters crowing all hours of the night). The food was fine, nothing special, though the papaya I had with my eggs was the sweetest I had all week. Lunch was bento boxes from Teshima's, provided by the Kona Boys on our snorkeling tour. The fish was a little dry, the beef better. It was good enough that next time we're back on the island we'll probably give the restaurant a shot. Time to leave :-(, we grab dinner at the Pine Tree Cafe on our way to the airport. This was surprisingly good. I had something called pork luau, which was shredded, smoked pork mixed with some kind of greens, very good though a little salty. Husband had katsu dip (fried, boneless chicken) that everyone enjoyed. One son had something similar to Kal Bi, it was very good. I can't remember what the other son had, but he didn't share it whatever it was.
Thanks again for all the info.
oh good, so glad you got to Thai Thai on Christmas: when I saw your other post about Christmas dinner in Volcano, it was already after Christmas, but I was glad to see that you weren't still contemplating going to Huggo's (it's several hours away!)...and thought to myself: I bet Thai Thai was open Christmas....It is a favorite of mine in Volcano, and much,much better than the Volcano House (IMO)...
for future trips or for others reading this: It is well-worth staying at a place with a kitchen in Volcano, since restaurants are in short supplyand the park is worth a few days exploration...(I am not a big fan of the Kilauea Lodge btw)
thanks for the report back!
Very nice report. You have added quite a few places, not often covered, to this board. When folk ask for non-fine-dining on the Big Island, I'll quickly point them to your post. Your efforts are appreciated. Glad to hear that there is still good food in Hilo. I always worry, as it is SO off the radar screen of most, and is such an interesting town. I urge travelers to split their Big Island adventures between both sides, but most just head to Kona, 'cause their travel agent told them that there was nothing in Hilo, except rain. Unfortunately, they will miss a lot.