Smiley’s Local Grinds (Kauai)

Okay, it’s time to start the Kauai meal reports back up before I forget about them completely. So far I’ve put up brief reports of a couple of Chinese/Thai lunches in Princeville (eaten outdoors at Lotus Garden) and a Hawaiian lunch in Lihue (taken away from Mark’s Place and eaten in a park). This report is also of a Hawaiian lunch in Lihue. We ate it the day following our Mark’s Place meal. The plan had been for us all to spend a part of the morning at the Kauai museum in Lihue, then drop my mother-in-law back at our rental to relax while the rest of us hit a beach. But thanks to some car trouble and Budget Car Rental the morning didn’t go quite according to plan. I know you’re dying to get the details on this—there’s nothing more fascinating than reading about other people’s vacation drama. Don’t worry I’m going to tell you what happened in great detail. Continue reading

Mark’s Place (Kauai, Summer 2022)

Back to Kauai (I wish). We spent the morning of this day doing a lovely hike on the Kuilau Ridge Trail. Some problems with our rental car’s keyless entry system then required a trip to the rental counter at the airport in Lihue. Casting around for places to eat we landed on Mark’s Place, a restaurant that got lots of positive reviews online for their Hawaiian fare. As with many other places on Kauai and the Big Island, they were not open for dine-in in June/July. Unlike Hana Hou, however, they were not even letting people in to order or allowing them to eat at their outdoor tables. We lined up outside the front door to order and once our food was ready we could either eat in our car or take it away. We opted to drive to a park in the vicinity and had a nice lunch on a picnic bench there. Continue reading

Hawaiian Style Cafe, Hilo (Big Island, Summer 2022)

And so I come to my last formal meal report from our time on the Big Island. We ate lunch at Hawaiian Style Cafe in Hilo after a morning spent visiting the wonderful Tropical Botanical Garden (a stop I very highly recommend if you are ever on the Big Island). Hawaiian Style Cafe has another location in Waimea—I’m not sure which the original is but I believe they both serve more or less the same menu. It’s a large restaurant but we arrived for a late lunch on Sunday and ran into a very long wait for a table. We were told that takeout would be much faster and that there was a park not too far away where we could comfortably eat our lunch. And so we opted for that. Continue reading

Hana Hou (Big Island, Summer 2022)

Back to the Big Island. We spent most of our first full day on the island at Volcanoes National Park. A few days later we went back and hiked the Kilaua Iki trail which is a loop trail that takes you down the hillside to what was once a lake of lava and is now a lake of stone, all the way across it and up the hill again. The total distance is not very impressive—just about 3.3 miles—but it’s a stunning walk as you go through tropical foliage down to the crater and then walk across a barren rocky landscape before ascending once again into tropical green. I recommend it highly. Our plan for after the hike was to grab some lunch and visit the Punalu’u black sand beach before heading back to our rental. As per Google, the closest lunch spot to Punalu’u beach was Hana Hou in Naalehu and rather than eat again at Volcano House it was there we went. Herewith a brief account of the experience. Continue reading

Randy’s Huli Chicken (Big Island, Summer 2022)

My meal reports from the Big Island, where we spent a week towards the end of June, have so far covered both a formal restaurant (Volcano House at Volcanoes National Park) and a more informal affair at Kona Grill House, where a formal kitchen prepares food to be eaten casually at outdoor tables. Today I have a review for you of a more informal setup yet, one that’s not very unusual on the Big Island and probably elsewhere in Hawaii as well. Randy’s Huli Chicken sets up their grilling apparatus by the side of the Mamaloa highway, a little south of Kona, and they grill their namesake chicken—and other things besides—till they run out. Your best bet if you don’t want to be disappointed is to go early. We’d passed them the day before we stopped while on the way to a beach further away and had made a mental note to pick up food for dinner in the evening. By the time we got back there—long before sunset— however, they were long gone. We made no such error the next day, stopping in for an early lunch after a visit to a coffee farm in the vicinity. I am happy to tell you that the food is very good. Continue reading

Volcano House (Big Island, Summer 2022)

Our first afternoon and evening on the Big Island saw us eat lunch at Kona Grill House, do some grocery shopping and settle into our rental. The next morning we woke up bright and early (being on Los Angeles time) and headed out to Volcanoes National Park. It was about an hour and a half drive and we arrived shortly after the park opened. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but the park is utterly amazing. We spent the morning and afternoon walking along several trails and in between we got lunch at the Volcano House. The Volcano House is a historic hotel situated not too far from the Kilauea crater—the crater rim trail passes the restaurant in the rear—and has a restaurant that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (closing in between—check hours before going). It’s located very close to the Visitor Center. Reservations are required for dinner but lunch—at least going by our experience—is far less busy. The view can’t be beat and the food is quite creditable too. Continue reading

Kona Grill House (Big Island, Summer 2022)

We left for Los Angeles in early-mid June and after a week or so there headed off to Hawaii for about two weeks. We spent most of a week on the Big Island and another on Kauai. I will spare you the rest of our vacation stories—we hiked, snorkeled, lounged on beaches and visited museums and botanical gardens—and tell you only about the food we ate. This was a very different vacation for us as none of it revolved around food. There were no specific restaurants we were aiming to eat at and none of our days were constructed with eating in mind: on all days we ate where we happened to be or picked up food on the way back from where we’d spent the day to where we were spending our nights. Nonetheless, we ate quite well. And it turned out that Hawaii is a very easy place to eat with our kids, as grilled or stewed meat with rice is almost universally available. There were two constants across our holiday: we consumed a lot of shave ice and god, did I eat a lot of poke. I may as well get these reports started with our very first meal on the Big Island, eaten just an hour or so after we picked up our bags at the airport. Continue reading