Hilo Bay Cafe

The best meal we’ve had in Hilo, possibly the best we’ve had on the island. It’s a shame we didn’t discover it much sooner. It’s just slightly too far to walk, so we wouldn’t have gone much anyway, but we would have taken guests there.

It’s not cheap. Dinners for the three of us are consistently in one of three levels: around $20-$25 for all of us, around $50, or around $70-$80. This meal (with drinks and appetizers but no dessert) was about $90.

But the quality of the food was at a level I would expect in NYC or other cosmopolitan area. The dishes were all varied from each other, full of flavor, and each plate had a range of flavors and textures. The interior … Read the rest

Big Island Candies

Big Island Candies makes and sells high-quality chocolate.

It’s located just off of Kekuanaoa st, which takes you from the airport onto Kilauea ave. I’ve passed it many times without realizing it was there. It’s a large facility and they make the chocolates right there so you can watch the candies being made. The image of several white-coated workers dipping cookies into enrobing chocolate is not quite as exciting as the Willy Wonka movie would suggest, but it’s still fun.

A lady by the door hands out samples before people are even completely inside and that sense of sharing and generosity is nice. There are lots of high-quality chocolates and some novelties such as chocolate-covered fortune cookies and even chocolate-covered squid.

The downside when I was … Read the rest

Cafe Concerto

We wanted to go somewhere special for a ‘date night’ and chose Cafe Concerto, which happens to be right down the street.

The decor has some nice touches, and it’s easily one of the fanciest places in town, but that’s saying very little here. Our food was quite good: well-prepared, flavorful, hot, and the right amount to leave just enough room for the tiramisu and the complimentary digestiv (homemade limoncello and cream). The plating was a bit plain, which was a little bit of a surprise, but maybe I’m too used to Italian places that slather everything with sauce, then dump lots of parsley and grated parm.

If you put Cafe Concerto in any big mainland city, it would feel very modest, but I think the … Read the rest

Full Moon Cafe

Full Moon Cafe has some of the better Thai food we’ve had. What we ate was in fact, probably some of the best-prepared food we’ve eaten in Hawaii. It managed to be full of flavor without relying on simply adding more fat and salt. Most of the food so far in Hilo has been mediocre, but Full Moon Cafe is an exception.

The location is also quite pleasant. So much of Hilo is run down, but FMC is not.

Unfortunately, the service we had was terrible. It’s one thing to be slow and apologetic, or rude but efficient. There’s no reason for being both slow and rude.

The prices are on the high side, but you can find some more reasonably-priced dishes.

Their hours are very … Read the rest

Prabha’s Indian Restaurant

Prabha opened in the Summer of 2012 and relocated to their current location in November. They are one of the few (if not the only) all-vegetarian restaurants in Hilo (if not the whole island). Almost all of the dishes are vegan. The ones with paneer are the exception.

The food is served on a steam table and weighed and you pay by weight at $8/lb, which is a little odd, but worked out for us. The three of us ate for around $23 and it was plenty of food. The dishes were familiar Indian food, curries with cauliflower, spinach, potato, acorn squash, and breadfruit. The sauces were lighter than the ones I’ve had at most other Indian restaurants, which tend to use lots of cream. The … Read the rest

Hawaiian Brain Freeze

A very good shave ice and ice cream place in the Hilo Shopping Center in Kilauea just south of downtown Hilo.

All the usual flavors plus uncommon ones including azuki bean and kulolo.

Haven’t tried them all but I can attest to the ones we’ve had, and a young guy was very enthusiastic about the pistachio when we were in there.

hawaiianbrainfreeze.com

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Kay LC – Kay’s Lunch Center

We finally went to Kay LC for lunch on a rainy Christmas Eve. It’s close by and we’ve walked past it many times without going in. The menu is what would be considered traditional Hawaiian food, a cross between American diner and east Asian fast food. So you can get pancakes and veggie omelet, or Chinese 5-spice pork belly and fried ahi, or tonkatsu bento box and sushi. It’s greasy, and that’s part of the point. It’s “hangover food” as T-bone says, although you don’t have to be hungover to enjoy it. Three of us ate there (and were full for many hours after) for $23

684 Kilauea Ave, Hilo, HI.
(808) 969-1776

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[google-map-v3 width=”480″ height=”350″ zoom=”15″ maptype=”roadmap” mapalign=”center” directionhint=”false” language=”default” poweredby=”false” maptypecontrol=”true” pancontrol=”true” … Read the rest

Short & Sweet Bakery

One of my (minor) complaints about life here is that there don’t seem to be any decent delis, or even any crummy ones. The culture of the northeast, of crusty bread and big sandwiches, doesn’t exist here. Maybe it’s the Asian cultural influence of eating food with rice instead of bread, or maybe wheat has never thrived here as a crop, or maybe it’s because the introduction of bread to Hawaii was through the Portuguese, who left a tradition of very soft, sweet, cake-like bread – bread that is tasty but not suitable for sandwiches.

So it was a pleasant surprise to get paninis at Short & Sweet. They were the kind of sandwiches I miss from Philadelphia. They also make bagels and breads and croissants … Read the rest

Big Island Pizza

This is probably our main guilty pleasures here. When we just don’t feel like cooking, we can walk over to B.I.P. (we can actually see it from the lanai) and order a pie. It’s not the cheapest pizza around but it’s better than the alternatives of Domino’s and Pizza Hut.
(There’s also a traveling pizza hot truck with a portable wood oven that makes excellent, inexpensive pizza, but it’s in town only on Tuesdays)

bigislandpizza.com

They have online ordering and an interesting menu, with toppings ranging from mashed potatoes to coconut prawns. They have lots of sizes, including a mammoth 28″ pie for $92.

The best part is probably their crust (although all the ingredients are fresh and I have no complaints about them). Hawai’i in … Read the rest