4 days on Hawaii Island
First stop was Ken's house of Pancakes. The food is not gourmet, and in general the breakfast items are the best. I had banana pancakes with a side order of Portuguese sausage. I like Ken's because they actually mix the banana into the batter. I think the banana should have been a ltitle riper this time, but still better than in a lot of places. Later we had shave ice in the "Lower Store" where the Old Mamalahoa Highway meets Kulaimano Road. Very fine ice, nice syrups. That night was dinner at another second choice, Hilo Rice Noodle Soup Restaurant. Friend got won ton min, I got pho with rare beef and beef balls. The noodles were very good. The broth had a nice flavor, but not a lot of flavor. I should have followed my friends lead, the won ton min looked better.
Saturday breakfast was items picked up at the Hilo Farmer's market. Any day of the week this is worthwhile, but on saturday morning it's a real treat. I live less than two miles from the KCC farmer's market on Oahu, but this puts that to shame when it comes to fresh produce. Just outstanding. Lunch was Pizza at Mike's New York Pizzaria in Pahoa town. Sort of an accidental stop because other plans fell through and we were hungry. I doubt it would stop traffic in NYC, but it was pretty decent pizza. That evening was dinner at Kilauea Lodge in Volcano Village. I had the roast duck breast special, friend had the Paupiettes of beef. We started with sautéed mushrooms (i'd have called them braised with that much liquid) he had the hunter soup (rabbit) I had the green salad with house dressing. For dessert I got the bread pudding (kind of like calling a fresh croissant "bread") he had some sort of sweet potato and haupia creation. We both left very happy. It remains my favorite restaurant, and I freely admit it is as much ambiance, the staff, and memories that make it so, but the food certainly helps. Afterwards a short drive over to see the Volcano. A lava pool at the crater is invisible, but at night it illuminates the steam/vog plume with an amazing glow. Truly awesome.
Sunday morning I had some fruit from my shopping the day before (and wished I had bought some macadamia nuts). Lunch was at Reuben's Mexican. Hawai'i doesn't have great Mexican food, and by Hawai'i I mean the state, not just the island. Reuben's is no exception. It was OK, but if you are visiting from the southwest, Mexican food is not what I would focus on. I had a chile relleno and a chicken enchilada, which I enjoyed. Forgot to mention that I went to church that morning at Holy Apostles (Episcopal) and the people there made sure I enjoyed what they call coffee hour. I gather they have toned it down because it was becoming a heavy buffet lunch, but it was still some good eating. That afternoon there was an annual Girls Day event at UH HIlo with heavy pupu's provided by women owned businesses. Lots of good stuff. Standouts were a couple of different offerings from Abundant Life, chocolates and cookies from Big Island Delights (not to be confused with Big Island Candies, also worth visiting,) and some Kalua Pig and Cabbage from Ken's (which I didn't know was a woman owned business.) This isn't to say many other things weren't also great, just those stuck in my mind. Later that night three of us went to the restaurant at the Imiloa Astronomy Center. I'm not sure what nights but they have a prime rib dinner buffet for $30. it looked good, but after a heavy lunch and way too many pupus, all three of us ended up having the salad bar. Probably not as much tropical fruit as many of you would expect, but all the vegetables were nice and fresh even though we got there just before closing.
Monday morning I woke early and strolled over to Ken's a second time and had a chili moko (rice, hamburger patty with a topping of chili instead of brown gravy, I skipped the egg on top.) Hey, i only had salad for dinner . . . That afternoon a late lunch at Merriman's in Waimea (Kamuela.) Friend had the mahi and i had the burger. Both very good. Prices at lunch are less than at dinner, but the offerings are simpler too. Less than $30 for two of us (no alcohol.) On the way back to Hilo we stopped at Paauilo for cokes. Fortunately they were out of spam musubi or I would have had one of those too.
So much for the two weeks of dieting before my trip. It's always hard to leave the Big Island, this time was no exception.
Great report. My sister will be going to Hilo, Volcano, and Kamuela in a couple of weeks and your account has whetted her appetite.
Did you happen to see any red bananas at the Hilo market? Haven't seen them on O'ahu in a long time and am hoping she can find some and bring them back.