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Eating Experiences on the Big Island

18 Jul 2008  Family vacation
3.5 of 5 stars based on 6 votes

We mostly followed the recommendations of Big Island Revealed and didn't regret most of them. Below is just a smattering of some of our experiences that may help you make decisions on where to eat.

  • 1. Big Island Grill
    Big Island Grill, Kailua-Kona, Island of Hawaii

    My boyfriend liked BIG better than I did, but I think I was turned off by a weird thing that happened our last day. I enjoyed their giant B.I.G. Saimin bowl, and their roast pork was pretty good. Also, liked their teri beef. The last time we were there, our waitress tried to move us to a table to the side. However, when we arrived there were glasses and a backpack there. The waitress insisted they had left but as it turned out they were just in the bathroom. So when the original party returned they were more than a l ittle peeved that the waitress was moving their stuff! So, we had to go BACK to the other table while all the locals glared at us like we chose to go to that other table. It was very embarrassing.

    the portions are gigantic, and the food is pretty good so a good value. An elderly gentleman at the next table ordered a hot roast beef sandwich and it was gigantic.

  • 2. Island Lava Java
    Island Lava Java, Kailua-Kona, Island of Hawaii

    Very good breakfast here, with tables right on Alii Drive. Super for people watching. Definitely order the iced mocha, it was the best my boyfriend and I ever had anyplace. Fresh squeezed juice combos are nice too. Their cinnamon rolls are supposed to be great but we didn't have one. Very good coffee!

  • 3. U-Top-It

    We ate here twice, once for lunch and once for breakfast. The food is YUMMY but a bit overpriced for what you get. For the BI, it's not bad though. The idea here is you order different toppings for their taro crepes which are quite tasty. I had corned beef hash and a Berries Royale pancrepe and enjoyed both. The Berries Royale had strawberries, blueberries and raspberries (I think??) on a vanilla custard with whipped cream on top. Stan got a pancrepe with fried rice and an egg and loved it.

  • 4. Shave Ice General Overview

    I've had shave ice over here on the mainland many times so I knew what to expect --- or at least I thought I did. I love them in a large cup with azuki beans on the bottom. Looks like on the BI they only serve them in these strange bowl/cone hybrids.

    Scandinavian Shave Ice is the first place we went. It's located in a prime location on Alii in the heart of town. The only problem is this place has sizes that are totally ridiculous. The "keiki" (child's) size was about as big as a newborn's head. There is no way anyone could possibly finish it. As we arrived, a guy had just purchased a large and that was bigger than anyone's head I've ever met! You can get it with ice cream in the middle but that's about it. It was okay but I wouldn't return there again because I don't want anything that large.

    I preferred the shave ice at the kiosk at the shopping mall behind Hilo Hattie's. The girl who served us acted like we were really bothering her but she did do a nice shave ice and nice smoothies. AND she HAD azuki beans. She also had coffee drinks and bubble teas. I was refreshed, not stuffed and just enough sugar to feel good.

  • 5. Teshima's
    Teshima's, Kealakekua, Island of Hawaii

    I just loved the look and whole ambience of this restaurant. The food was excellent, never had any Japanese food like it. Stan recently returned from his second trip to Japan and said their food was very reminiscent of what he had there. Having said that, this is not a cheap place. Evan ordered the teri beef and shrimp tempura combo (all entrees come with miso soup, cuke salad, pickles, rice) and it was over $20! However, very tasty and perfectly prepared. I had the butterfish (black cod) with their homemade teriyaki sauce and it was really good. Came with some squares of tofu in the same sauce. Very fine eating but be prepared to pay. There were other less expensive choices like udon or donburi but we wanted to try the plates with everything on it.

  • 6. L & L Hawaiian Barbeque

    I normally abhor chains, let me just say. L & L was in the Keahou Shopping Center which was a 2-min. drive from our condo. We were starving on Day 1 and decided to try it because it was there. Can I just say that the food is fine! Also, it was one of the only places anywhere on the Big Island we found that served lau lau pork (pork steamed in ti leaves - yum!) We must not have been looking in the right places. We've had Hawaiian BBQ on the West Coast and it is as good or better than anything over here. It is definitely fast food but not bad at all. The saimin is a little meager. The Aloha DID have Spam and green onions as advertised. However, we're talking a tablespoon of green onions and 5 tiny strips of Spam the size of a baby finger Bandaid. Interestingly enough, we went to the local multiplex to see The Dark Knight last weekend (grrrreat movie), and were stunned to pull into the parking lot and see L & L had opened a franchise just yards from the theater! Yesterday, I picked up lunch and the food was as good, and the service much friendlier and quicker than in Kona. They've been chosen as top plate lunch location several times by the Honolulu Advertiser and other publications.

  • 7. Nori's Saimin & Snacks
    Nori's Saimin & Snacks, Hilo, Island of Hawaii

    My sister, Gina, lent me the Lonely Planet Big Island book and they recommended Nori's strongly. We are always in search of good noodles (something Portland is sadly lacking. Besides some good Vietnamese pho places, we have only found one really good ramen place, Biwa's.) So while in HI, we wanted to eat noodles as often as we could. After an exhausting 2 days in Volcano country, we were on our way up to the Waipi'o Valley and decided to lunch at Nori's. It was yummy! They have mostly a huge selection of noodle combinations along with variations of loco moco and other plate lunch types of dishes. Curly ramen, udon, saimin, and soba. You can order plain or with wontons. The standard bowl has green onions, kumabako (fish cake) and char shiu. I had a small saimin with wontons, standard, and was completely filled up and satisfied. Stan ordered the large curly ramen with wonton special which added veggies and a chicken teriyaki skewer. Evan got a large standard curly ramen with wonton. I couldn't help noticing a woman who ordered a salad with what looked like chicken katsu on top, looked great, very fresh and huge! Nori's has great character and was filled with locals. That's always a good sign. We were not disappointed in our choice! Next time, we want to try Cafe 100 which I understand is also very good for similar types of food.

  • 8. Sandy's Drive-in, near Captain Cook Monument

    Annie Parks, the enthusiastic, bustling owner of Kayak Central at Pineapple Park, recommended we go to Sandy's for local cuisine, after we kayaked the bay to the monument. We had one of the cheapest and really tasty meals of our entire trip there. I had one of the very best double cheeseburgers I've EVER eaten. In 52 years, that's saying something. On first glance, the burger was very small so I was prepared to be disappointed. After the first bite, I forgot all about that! The patties were obviously hand-formed, juicy and yet, not greasy. The bun was fresh, very soft. The cheese was the best part. It was a huge SLICE of I think, American, although it didn't taste like the plastic I normally associate with that type of cheese. It was nice melted in with the ketchup and mayo (I normally HATE mayo), in perfect proportion to the patties and the bun. It was AWESOME! When you are eating perfection, you don't need a huge burger to enjoy yourself. Stan ordered his first loco moco and was swooning. I think Evan got a pork rib sandwich which looked great. We all had drinks including my Hawaiian passionfruit/pineapple juice and our total bill came to a whopping $15.