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Dining around Hawaii, the big island (long!)

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We have recently returned from a 3 week holiday in Hawaii, where we visited Oahu, Hawaii and Kauai. We used chowhound a lot for our research on where to eat during our holiday (thank you chowhounds!) and so I wanted to report back on our dining experiences.

This is my summary of our dining highlights on the Island of Hawaii...

We spent most of our dining time in Volcano Village which had (surprisingly for us) quite a few cafe and restaurant options. All of the venues I list below are on Old Volcano Rd.

Lava Rock Cafe is a standard type diner. We went once in the afternoon for coffee then returned on another night for burgers. The service was super friendly. The food was fine. The decor was no frills.

Kilauea Lodge Restaurant - We stayed at the lodge and so had breakfast there (included in our rate) every morning. We thought the breakfasts were fine (if a little heavy). We enjoyed our 2 dinners at the restaurant more. There was a good mix of options on the menu, which had a definite european feel for us, with a few items changing daily. Over our 2 dinners we had a variety of surf n turf (Kona lobster and steak), antelope schnitzel and mahi mahi cajun style. The atmosphere in the dining room was very cosy (it was cold and wet outside, even in June) in front of the fireplace. Its a good idea to book a table ahead as the dining room did get quite busy and I noticed that they tried to stagger the bookings.

Kiawe Kitchen - this was our favourite dinner over our 4 nights spent in Volcano Village. The service and food was great. We thought that they were quite slow clearing tables and the backlog of people waiting to dine but in the end we were very glad that we waited the half an hour for a table (we arrived at 8pm on a Friday night and someone ahead of us in the queue actually convinced us to wait it out, they had been there before). We enjoyed our shared anti-pasti starter (it was huge and had a mix of vegetables, meats, cheeses etc). The rack of lamb special was excellent. We shared a peach tart for dessert. Delicious. Great wine list too, with lots of interesting glasses from around the globe by the glass. They don't seem to take bookings unless you have a group of 6 (but I have heard different things on this topic).

We had a few foodie stops around Hilo that we enjoyed and I want to mention:

Baker Toms - Great malasadas and an interesting chat with the baker himself! Its on the highway, a few miles north of Hilo on the way up to Waimea.

What's Shakin - Fresh shakes and smoothies in a nice setting on the scenic route. They have food too, we tried a turkey frank with a mango and tomato salsa. Sounds strange but it worked!?!? Loved seeing their dragon fruit up on the trellis behind the shack.

We enjoyed seeing and sampling the food on offer at the Hilo Farmers Market on Saturday morning too.

Our only real dining experience on the western side of the island of Hawaii was Pahu i'a at Four Seasons Hualalai (on the Kona coast). We'd booked ahead for a 6pm sitting to be able to enjoy the sunset. We were very happy to be given a table for 2 right by the path between the restaurant and the beach. The setting was lovely and the service very attentive. We started with their signature Mai Tai which was a very sophisticated version. We went for the ahi poke with breadfruit which may not have been our favourite poke on the trip but it certainly was the most theatrical, being prepared right by our table. To add to the theatre, the poke was followed by the conch shell blowing and lamp lighting ceremony which happened right in front of us on the beach. A stand out for us was the local abalone with kaffir leaf and coconut. I also really enjoyed my main which was ahi crusted with seaweed. We both went for souffle for dessert. I was disappointed with the texture of the souffle, particularly my chocolate selection. The wine list by the glass was OK, I didn't think the selection on offer warranted the prices. Overall we had a really enjoyable night out. Total bill was $320, before tip.

Kauai and Honolulu still to come...

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  1. Thank you for the write up! We're hoping to head to this island so it was great to see some reviews. Did you manage to find any shaved ice? We're hoping to find the best one on this island!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Nevy

      I am sorry to report our time on the big isl was shave ice free. We did have some great shave ice on Kauai and Oahu though.