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2 foodies visiting the big island

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5 replies to this topic

#1 loremipsum

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 11:02 PM

my fiance and i are visiting the big island in a couple weeks. we've gotten a bunch of great recommendations off this board -- you guys are great.

in addition to various restaurants, we're looking for any food-related events or finds. we're big fans of sushi, so for example, is there a place where we can go pick out fresh uni out of the sea? or, visit a fisherman and get some fresh toro or abalone? :)

any suggestions would be very much welcomed!

many thanks!

#2 skchai

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 03:26 AM

andrew, you might try this thread:

Hawaii - Big Island recs sought for a lot of recommendations.

Don't know about the fresh uni out of the sea though . . . other than trying a wholesale market or finding out about someone through a friend. But perhaps someone else here has a better answer than I do.

Sun-Ki Chai

Former Hawaii Forum Host

#3 NVNVGirl

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 10:09 AM

Although all the fish is so fresh there in any restaurant, you can always go down to the harbor...it's just off the Queen K highway as you are going into town (Kona) from the airport.

My favorite places to eat there (aside from the big hotel restaurants on the Kohala coast which are all FABULOUS) in town are Bubba Gumps (you can watch the sea turtles if you sit outside on the deck), Huggos (not Huggos On the Rocks), maitais and pupus at the Kona Inn, and Roy's at the King Shops.

At almost any grocery store there, they sell incredibly fresh poke of all types in the meat/fish dept. The Safeway on Henry Rd is one of my favorites, but the Sack-n-Save in Lanihau Center is also very good.

Have a great time....it's almost Ironman time! If you're there on Oct. 16th don't miss it...you're going to be competing with a lot of triathletes and their families for reservations and space, so make sure to secure your reservations for anything that you really want to do! If you aren't aware, there will be thousands of athletes there for a couple of weeks before and after the race...plan accordingly if you aren't one of them :smile:

#4 FoodZealot

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 01:42 PM

in addition to various restaurants, we're looking for any food-related events or finds. we're big fans of sushi, so for example, is there a place where we can go pick out fresh uni out of the sea? or, visit a fisherman and get some fresh toro or abalone? :)

loremipsum, welcome to eG. I'll offer some tidbits which are to the best of my knowledge, but hopefully other eGers will jump in and correct me or add comments.

The Big Island has a few unusual ocean products, but I don't recommend trying to harvest your own. I don't know if you're ocean types, but every year, even very experienced, lifelong gatherers of these items are swept off the rocks by waves and are injured or die. I hate to sound like a wet blanket, but that's not much of a vacation. Even if you just stand near the water, respect the power of those waves, don't turn your back to the ocean, and don't stand on wet rocks. If you're staying in Kona or Kohala (West side of the island), the waves and shoreline tend to be less dangerous.

There are various types of sea urchins in Hawaii, but AFAIK there's no uni industry in Hawaii. I've heard that people eat the roe of purple urchin-like creatures that are attached to rocks at the surfline. I'm guessing that all the uni in restaurants is imported from California or elsewhere, but I don't know for sure. Another caveat, urchin spines can be a serious hazard. I suppose you might be able to find a boat that would lead snorkeling/scuba trips and ask them about your interest.

There are also limpets (called opihi) at the surfline which are considered a great delicacy. Rarely, they might be available in a supermarket.

Abalone is probably the most available, since it is raised as an aquaculture crop. They bring up cold sea water to recreate conditions in the Northern Pacific. These are fairly available in markets and restaurants. Prawns and spiny lobster are also raised this way, I believe. You might also see moi (threadfin) on menus - it's a fish that was reserved only for royalty during ancient Hawai`i, but is now farmed.

The Suisan fish auction in Hilo is no longer operating, the last I heard. I'll try to find out if it's been replaced by another one that you could see. If you're staying in Kona, as NVNVGirl mentioned, you might consider going down to the pier or Honokohau Harbor in the afternoon to see the sportfishing boats come in with marlin and such.

Personally, the seafood that I miss the most from Hawai`i are the small tunas (various kinds of bonito) and other fish like opakapaka (pink snapper), onaga (red snapper), uhu (parrotfish), mullet and kole (a tang, I believe).

The Omiyage thread mentions some other possibilities.


#5 IrishCream

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Posted 06 October 2004 - 02:15 PM

I just returned from a week on the Big Island. Don't expect to see any lava flowing...it's dead :sad: . My fave meals were two lunches at the original Merriman's in Waimea, lunch at Bamboo on the NW coast, and strange as it may sound, reasonably priced Mexican food and steak at Pancho & Lefty's in Kailua. Bamboo is for sale...no saying how much longer it will be serving up reliable food. Have fun!

#6 loremipsum

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Posted 06 October 2004 - 06:26 PM

Many thanks for the responses. We're very much looking forward to our trip.

It seems like there's a pretty limited set of places to eat, but they all sound delicious and amazing. We'll also definitely hit up the Hilo Farmer's Market. It'd be interesting to see how the produce is different from our local Ferry Building Farmer's Market here in San Francisco.

How is the sushi in Hawaii? Do the catches of tuna ever make their way as toro nigiri? :)