Last spring I visited the Big Island of Hawaii. Prior to the trip my anticipation was growing by watching Mark Wiens video of his trip to Hawaii to see what new food I could try. I wanted to try tuna poke, Portuguese donuts called malasadas, the loco moco which is a Hawaiian style hamburger and even spam. On google maps I was searching for the best restaurants on the Island. I was prepared and excited to go on a food adventure.
Loco Moco With Spam
Spam is a popular food item in Hawaii and I have never had it. After a few days of searching for ‘Spam near me‘ on google, I finally found the place. I wanted to have spam prepared by a proper Hawaiian, so I found a breakfast diner with good reviews in the small town near the base of Kohala called Waimea. It is called the Hawaiian Style Cafe. The menu is large and columned with typical American diner food, but with a Hawaiian twist. Their menu includes Hawaiian sweet bread french toast, Stew luau, hamburgers and much more. But I found my section of the menu: The Loco Moco Came Next. Out of the selection of different Loco Mocos, I chose The Big Mok. It was served with white rice, portuguese sausage, link sausage, egg, gravy and it had what I was looking for. Spam. Taking my first bite of spam was important for me. I cut off a slice of the pink rectangle and started chewing. I have to say, it wasn’t bad. Sure it tasted like it had jumped out of a factory window onto my plate, but it wasn’t bad. The meat was salty, crispy, and made my mouth water a little. And the rest of the meal was great. Especially the portuguese sausage. It was strong, hardy and really hit the spot. Hawaiian Style Cafe is a place loved by locals and for good reason.
Grocery Store Pork
One of the hidden gems on my Hawaii trip was found in a tiny grocery store in the northern town called Hawi. We stumbled upon Nakahara Grocery Store for some water and just before paying we found a small hot foods section. I only remember the warm pork and rice sitting under the heater and it looked too good not to try. We took the pork outside to eat on a picnic bench. It was surprisingly fantastic. It was so tender, flavorful, and had a red outerlining. The pork paired nicely with the rice. For me it was the first time that I had experienced a meal so good coming out of a small shop like that. It makes me excited about what other meals I can have like this around the world in the future.
Island Fish And Chips
In an area called Waikoloa there is a small shopping center with surf shops, Tommy Bahama and a small art gallery. But then you’ll see an upright surfboard used as a sign to lead you behind the shops to a small fish and chips stand called Island Fish and Chips. I actually think that I ordered the fish tacos, but I did try the fish and chips. The fish is fried in a thick light batter and the fish tastes very fresh. I made sure I joined it with malt vinegar. They are the kind of fish and chips you want when you are craving and you enjoy them with a view of a small lake where the fish was probably caught. I ordered fish at almost every restaurant that I ate at in Kona. The fish is just so darn good and fresh.
Holy Donuts is right. When I do crave donuts, I often find that they taste cheap like grocery store donuts or they’re normally pretty dry. But every once in a while I find a place that make incredibly memorable donuts. We found this unique donut shop walking through a wide alley coming out of a parking lot in Kailua-Kona. Their exterior design is of a big blue bus with writing saying: ‘Our donuts are created from our original recipe’, ‘We fry them in small batches every hour , get’em while they’re hot!’. Obviously we had to get’em. When we went inside we found an array of beautiful donuts. Then a 15 year old girl came out to greet us. She helped us by describing the donuts, but I already knew my answer. They had an elvis donut, which I knew meant peanut butter, bacon and bananas. This donut was fantastic. It had a peanut butter glaze over the donut with bacon and bananas set up next to each other until they met at at the end of the circle. Lastly was a drizzle of peanut butter.
Two Ladies Mochi
At the beginning of the trip we got a brochure and one section of the brochure gave a small list of recommended places to eat. And one of the places caught my attention. It was a little spot called Two Ladies Kitchen. They sell mochi, but not the kind that I expected. Arriving at the shop in Hilo there was a line coming out of the door as the shop is too small to fit their popularity. Like I said, this mochi was not what I was expecting. When I think of mochi, I think of green tea ice cream wrapped in a dough ball. But it was different. It was proper Japanese mochi with a Hawaiian twist. In the dough, they wrapped up strawberries or used the nectar of passion fruit and made many others with Hawaiian flavours. We got a box of random flavours. I’ve got to be honest. Some of the balls had acquired tastes, but most were unique and familiar at the same time. They were soft all the way through, and I tried a bit of all of them and they are pretty filling. I felt a little sick after having so many. This mochi was a new experience for me with some great and some interesting, but I know that if I ever get back to Hilo I am definitely stopping by Two Ladies Kitchen.
Throughout this trip I had some pretty memorable meals either because of the food or the view or even both. It made me curious about what other gems are left on the other Islands. Someday I’ll have to find out. I kind of fell in love with it. I’ll see you in the next post.