Flora / Fauna
Special Cuisine of the Big Island
While Big Island cuisine may not yet equal Honolulu’s gastronomic stature, there are more and more choices available representing a full East-West variety. At the luxury resorts along the Kohala coast, a number of restaurants rival any in the gourmet galaxy, and some local star chefs have started sophisticated restaurants of their own.
Pacific Rim cuisine is the name given to the unique blend of exotic flavors of East and West, a hybrid that has become a basic of upscale restaurants. A similar culinary category is Hawaiian Regional Cuisine, a new type of cooking that incorporates the fresh ingredients of the island with many of the cooking styles of the islands’ immigrants — Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, and Filipino.
Finest among the local ingredients are the fish that inhabit Hawaii’s waters. Along Waterfront Row in Kailua-Kona are places offering fresh seafood — some of the catches made on deep sea fishing charter boats that day. You can have a different kind of fish every night, from tender and delicate ono (Hawaiian word for delicious) to moist and tasty mahimahi. You could also choose rich and meaty ahi, served grilled or raw in sushi and sashimi. Accompany your fresh fish with a salad from of greens and vegetables grown on the slopes of Mauna Kea. You have a meal that’s as good as it gets.
Hilo also has a number of fine dining places as well as many casual family restaurants whose good food and friendly create a different type of ambiance. Throughout the island, you can find delicious “down home” cooking of any nationality in local-style cafes, grills, and saimin shops. Local food tends toward the filling variety — meat and chicken stews, macaroni salad, “two scoops rice,” and a side of poi (mashed taro root), but it is definitely tasty. If you’re willing to avoid the fast-food scene (Hey, you can get that on the mainland!), you can discover a whole new world of ethnic food at inexpensive restaurants — Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Hawaiian, and Filipino.
And don’t forget the luscious fresh fruit of the Big Island — bananas (try the small and sweet apple bananas), papayas, mangos, guavas, lychees, pineapples, liliko`i (passionfruit), and coconuts. Some find a tropical fruit salad with fresh coconut is the ultimate gourmet treat.