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May 29, 2012 08:40 PM

Big Island trip report 5/23/12

i was on the big island 5/23-5/29. thanks to my parents, i got to eat at more upscale places than usual!

Merriman's Waimea - after hearing all the rave reviews on chowhound, i was expecting a more formal and stuffy atmosphere, however there was no hint of pretension. the place was small and casual. staff were dressed casually and allowed visible tattoos and piercings (fine in my book). we were there for lunch and i was suprised how reasonable prices were (the dinnertime menu was expensive tho). i had a fish sandwich for about $14 and it was excellent. we also shared ahi poke. the seasoning was right on, but i have never had this extreme grade of sashimi quality fish as poke. what a treat! the food was bursting with freshness and flavor. you HAVE to try this place and lunch here is affordable.

Merriman's Market Cafe - sausage pizza for $13. nice personal size. crispy crunch. i was surprised here that the prices were about the same as Merriman's Waimea for lunch. good stuff.

Ruth's Chris Mauna Lani - ordered new york strip blue rare. it came out almost medium and the server noticed and asked if i wanted a new one, which i did. the second cut of meat came out with a pepper crust (?), which was actually ok, as i like pepper and would have seasoned it from the pepper shaker. this time the center of the meat was still cold (hooray), but it was still cooked a little. it was a good steak, just not as good as many of the wonderful meals i have had at other ruth's chris locations. i have decided recently (and not based merely on this ruth's chris review), that i will stop ordering steak at restaurants and just eat flash fried steak at home, as it is hard to get as rare as i want in most places, and even the expensive supermarket cuts are a lot cheaper than at a steakhouse. i want to enjoy eating out by having dishes that are much superior than i can make myself. i do still recommend ruth's chris as a great restaurant with great service and atmosphere.

to be continued shortly.

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  1. eddie aikau's - we were in a party of over 10 people and no one else was in the restaurant at around 6p. we were rapidly seated and ordered, but our food did not come for almost an hour. our waiter was very apologetic, but we were hungry! there was a live band singing some mellow hawaiian tunes and even a song by local artist jack johnson. when the food did come, it was good tasting and in a nice quantity. i would think on their good nights the place could be just fine; my penne with grilled chicken was ok. my virgin bloody mary was seasoned oddly - strong and not very drinkable. i tend to like my marys like hot v8 with dash of celery salt, pepper, and worchestershire - not citrusy.

    monstera - this place was great! we had great seats at the sushi bar and were seated right in front of sam, the owner. i had the tuna tataki which was very flat slices of tuna that was seared around the perimeter. nice light sauce on the side and on a bed of fluffy, thin radish shavings. the portion was small, but of extreme quality. here the black sesame seeds were nice. i had several pieces of salmon sushi (very good), one maguro (good), one whitefish shiromi (ok). i forget which specific fish it was, started with a "k" and they ran out of it. sam said that they had even tried to buy some from sansei nearby (excellent sushi restaurant) but they had run out as well. we shared a shrimp tempura roll and a volcano roll (tempura roll with added spicy sauce). both were good. i also ordered the salmon skin roll, but i have to say that it was pretty bad. there was some herb/leaf that was in there with the lettuce sprouts that lent a bitterness or dirtiness to the taste. i have loved every other instance of salmon skin rolls i have had, but this one was overpowered by that flavor. DEFINITELY skip this one. my dad had teriyaki chicken and we loved it because it wasn't sickly sweet like so much teriyaki is - you know that syrupy brown ooze. this was light, with a balanced flavor. ono! my mom had the tofu steak, which was blocks of silk tofu with a fried batter. it was good. i would recommend monstera.

    sam choy's - brie wonton was good! i got the cheeseburger and enjoyed it. ordered rare, but was more medium rare. there were a few good bites that were pink. the flavor of local beef is really fresh and tasty, so it saved this burger. we had a far drive from waikoloa, so i don't think we'd make a it a point to come here again.

    manago hotel - i like this place. had the pork chops again. not as good as the previous time i was here, but still good. i really enjoy it, it's homey and comfortable. prices are reasonable.

    teshima's - my dad wanted to eat @ keies cafe down the road, but they were closed, so we luckily ended up here. he had mentioned before that this place had good shrimp tempura. and was it good! batter was very light, sauce was sweet. very crunchy and tasty. best ever? pretty much! i had a hamburger steak rare and asked for eggs on top to make a loco moco, but our server did not give me any and also forgot to give my mom extra veggies instead of rice. she also reprimanded me for picking green tea icecream before she had listed all the flavors. (i still got the green tea). but she was an old lady, so i guess it was ok. they did do a nice rare burger, i was very very happy with that. ono! definitely try the tempura. the trip down to captain cook from waikoloa was worth it to hit here and manago hotel.

    volcano island honey - we went here to take a tour and got into bee suits and looked in the hives. you truely have not tasted honey unless you have tried honey like this! i will never eat honey that comes from a plastic bear again! the tour was really great, and we got to taste test several varieties of honey - a pure keawe honey that was thick and dense, pearlescent and white. a silky textured keawe honey (more liquidy), a winter blend of keawe honey with honey from other flowers, a ginger flavored honey, and a lilikoi honey. it's such an eye opener, like the first time i tried real sushi! go to

    coconut grill - this place is more casual but had the best crab cakes i have ever had. $13ish. crab cakes are something i usually stay away from cause i have been disappointed in the past. these were recommended, so i tried em and loved em. now i pass on the recommendation to you.

    i think that's it.

    we flew back to honolulu today and did eat at two places for lunch and dinner, so i'll give a brief review here.

    palace saimin - new owners (same family), regular, easy to remember hours, great new barbecue sticks. my favorite saimin place.

    new eagle cafe - this place has new owners too. fresh baked buns came delivered to our table from the same pan as was in the oven by the owner. i had a pork cutlet but should have gotten the prime rib. i am picky- prime rib done rare is almost impossible to find, but my mom's was almost there, and they have straight horseradish, not the creamy stuff. good price for the double cut.