Archive for the 'Restaurant Reviews' Category

Cafe Concerto

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

I’ve been meaning to post about this place since my first visit in 2005 and can’t put it off no longer!

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Really, I think this is the only “real” italian restaurant in Hilo.  Chef Lando Landi, a native Italian, puts so much love and passion into his food that it creates a wonderfully warm family style atmosphere in his little restaurant.  Cafe Pescatore has nothing on this place. 

The food here is so fresh, homestyle, affordable and unpretentious.  Perfect for a fun romantic date or even a get-together with friends over wine (BYOB!).  There is even a great wine store next door (Grapes) if you need to get a bottle (closes at 6pm).

Fresh Caprese Salad

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Super juicy tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and fresh salad. Good stuff.

Penne with Pesto.

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Best pesto I’ve ever tasted. Fresh, bright, rich and full of flavor.  Pasta was cooked perfectly al-dente.  I highly recommend trying any of their dishes with the wonderful pesto!

4-cheese Ravioli w/spinach.

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This practically melts in your mouth and is soooo delicious.  I could eat 2 (or 4) plates of this!  Nothing beats freshly made ravioli — you gotta try it.

Cappellini w/meatballs

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Refreshingly light and bright sauce with freshly made meatballs. I love how they keep their pastas fresh, light and flavorful.

Pasta with clam sauce  (Pasta al vongole)

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Very nice  with a kick of spiciness.  I appreciate that the chef was not afraid to make this spicy!  

I can’t forget to mention the bread!  The chef actually brought out fresh loafs and cutted them up for the guests.  The bread was so wonderfully yummy straight out of the oven.  We couldn’t have enough!

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Creme Brule

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Soooooo so good!  Highly recommended!

Tiramisu

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Light, refreshing and swimming in rum :) — not too rich like many other Tiramisu’s.

The chef also serves a free homemade “digestive”, sorta like a limoncello, but with his own flavors.  He makes different flavors all the time.  Tonight it was fresh ginger.  Don’t turn down the opportunity to try it! It’s a perfect ending to the meal. :)

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If you haven’t yet tried this place, you are missing out.  Definitely one of Hilo’s gems.  A meal for two is well under $40 yet tastes like a $100 meal.

Cafe Concerto
808 Kilauea Ave., Hilo, HI 96720
Phone: (808) 934-0312 (call to check their hours/days open)

Brown’s Beach House

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

I don’t think I ever mentioned this before, but on the weekends (and some weekdays) I am a wedding photographer.  One of the best perks is all the great food I get to experience… plus no weird looks when taking photos of the food since that’s part of the “job”.  The last wedding had some of the best food ever, at the Brown’s Beach House at the Fairmont Orchid in Kohala.

Paauilo vanilla Keahole lobster bisque (island raised)

Words cannot describe the awesomeness of this bisque.  The first taste is an intense sweet and rich hit of lobster with a nice touch of sherry and hints of vanilla.  The beauty of this is that the lobster and even the vanilla is locally grown! In the middle is an extra soft medallion of something (sorta like an extra soft tofu texture or custard), matching the smoothness of the bisque… not really sure what it was.  When you break the it, it instantly soaks up all of the flavors of the bisque, just melting in your mouth. Very possibly the best liquid form of food EVER.

A fresh salad with heirloom tomatoes and two kinds of beets.  I don’t normally eat beets, and I think it has been mostly because of bad experiences from canned beets.  This salad totally changed my impression though.  I love beets now.  Croutons were so good and it was dressed perfectly.

Kiawe Grilled New York Strip

with mashed potatoes mixed with sweet corn, asparagus, and some of the most delicious mushrooms (I think these were local hamakua mushrooms)… the steak was wonderful, served with a rich demi-glaze.

Here are the huge mushrooms.

Also served, but not mine was fresh mahi-mahi.  I had a bite and it was very fresh and perfectly cooked.

I was stuffed already, but I could not turn down a chocolate mousse cake.  So rich .

I’m coming back here some time later for sure on a special occasion with just my wife and I so we can thoroughly enjoy a meal.  The service was very nice and our table was right on the beach, like literally on the sand.  It is a very romantic restaurant.

Brown’s Beach House
Fairmont Orchid
1 North Kaniku Drive 
Kohala Coast, Big Island, Hawaii  96743
808/885-2000

Hi-Ho Mongolian Grill

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

Sweet, a brand new restaurant right in the heart of Hilo!  Hi-Ho Mongolian Grill, a franchise with other locations in Illinois and Iowa, opened just a few days ago. It was pretty busy when we got in, like any new place opening in Hilo… anything new is super exciting for us!

It’s a pretty neat concept:  you choose a bowl size (little khan, mighty khan, barbarian khan), or all you can eat, then you fill it up with a nice variety of veggies and meats…

… they had seafood too… shrimp and scallops…

… some noodles too… don’t be shy to pile it up since it shrinks.

Then the fun part, putting on your sauces!  I wasn’t feeling too adventurous so I just followed the recommended recipe on the sign and added a bit more of the “mongolian fire oil” — spicy stuff! (click on the image to make big)….

Then you hand it over to one of the chefs and they cook your food on this HUGE flat wok which gets super hot.  It was a lot of fun watching — they totally put on a show, throwing the bowls and food in the air.

Finished bowl (mighty khan “medium” size).  Pretty huge.  Next time I’ll get the smaller bowl… or get the bigger bowl and take home the leftovers. :)

Served with a great tasting egg drop soup and bowl of rice.  It’s a lot of food!

They even have a little desert which comes with the meal… some fresh fruits and pudding.

It was all very yummy and fresh.  I would come back another time.  Next time I will change my sauce recipe… it was a bit too sweet and salty for me.  I’ll be more adventurous next time.

Prices are pretty reasonable (click to make big):

Service was very nice and friendly too.  It’s great that we have this new place in Hilo!

Hi-Ho Mongolian Grill
194 Kilauea Ave
Hilo, HI 96720
(808) 961-1777

Fujimamas Restaurant & Sushi Bar, Kailua Kona

Monday, May 12th, 2008

Bev and I celebrated our 2nd anniversary here and it was wonderful! We had such a great time. The food was amazingly fresh and super ono. Ambiance was really warm/intimate, and the service was friendly… and not too obtrusive, which was nice since it was our anniversary.

They offer different places to sit. You can choose outside or inside on tables, the sushi bar, or on the floor in the tatami room. We wanted to sit in the tatami room… it’s really cozy. :)

We started with some nice genmaicha (green tea, $5 a pot).

The kitchen brought out little samples of roasted eggplant with tomato and creme fraiche on a toasted baguette which were delicious. I love it when the kitchen surprises you with little goodies!

We then ordered some sushi! Starting with some local snapper ($8) and Maguro ($6).

Hamachi ($7) and more Maguro (since it was so good!).

Wowzers this is some ono sushi! Super fresh and was prepared perfectly. The waitress said that the fish just came in that afternoon. Too bad they never had some of the other sushi we wanted (chutoro & saba) — she said that they only will serve the fish if it’s absolutely fresh. It was a great to know how important freshness is to them.

At this point, we ordered a couple Kirin beers on tap.

We had to try one of their rolls. This is the Four Tower roll ($12 or $14, i forget).

You know, I don’t remember exactly what was in here… I think it was some kind of combination of tuna, salmon, yellowtail, shrimp, crab, avocado, fried up tempura style… for sure I got that wrong… anyone who knows please post a comment. It was scrumptiously good. My only problem with rolls is that it’s hard to appreciate all the ingredients in the roll… especially with top quality ingredients like this, but as a whole, it was yummy. The sauce was nice and spicy and it came with a wakame salad.

We were tempted to just eat more sushi, but had to try one of their entrees (for research reasons, I told Bev). It was really hard to choose. We decided on their Wok Lacquered Prawns with Caramelized Onions ($17).

Hoooo brah. Dis was seriously broke da mout’! For real, these prawns were super juicy and cooked perfectly. The caramalized onions rocked. The sauce was so tasty — very very rich and not too sweet. It complimented the prawns perfectly. Very generous portion too.

And for desert, a Kona coffee chocolate cake with tahitian vanilla cream and chocolate sauce ($8 I think?).

Now I’ve had a lot of chocolate cakes, but I gotta say this was one of the best I’ve ever had. What made this one special is how well the coffee complimented the chocolate. It had a very deep dark roasted nutty flavor. The cake as a whole also was not too sweet, which allowed the chocolate and coffee shine. Add to it the Tahitian vailla and the rich chocolate sauce, and it was perfect! The Tahitian vanilla cream had a really nice flowery sweet flavor. Could it get any better???

Thank you Fujimamas for the wonderful time. It was very memorable! We will be back.

Fujimamas Restaurant & Sushi Bar
75-5719 Alii Drive (right next to Panchos & Lefty down a small alley off of Ali’i Drive)
Kailua Kona, HI 96740
(808) 327-2125
www.fujimamas.com

Hawaiian Style Cafe, Waimea

Monday, February 18th, 2008

Hawaiian Style Cafe

Visiting this place today brought back my passion in food blogging, something I’ve missed for a long time. In fact, I was so excited to share with you guys about this place I couldn’t wait (even though I still have a backlist of places I still need to write about). Hawaiian Style Cafe is my new favorite place for SERIOUS GRINDZ.

Hawaiian Style Cafe Inside

Brah!!! Just look at my breakfast, “Da Tita Mok” ($8.25):

Da Tita Mok (Loco Moco)

Huge thick flame-broiled hamburger patty, 2 thick slices of spam, moist and crunchy chicken cutlet, 1 egg, grilled onions, fried rice, and rich tasty brown gravy over everything.

It tasted just as good as it looked. The hamburger patty was great quality local beef and fresh. It was actually on the leaner side but still very moist and meaty. Kind of like Ken’s burger but thicker and more moist. The chicken cutlet was my favorite. So moist and crispy on the outside and perfect with the gravy, which was very rich and homemade-tasting. Fried rice was really good too… not too salty and it didn’t overpower the rest of the dish. Grilled onions was a good touch and the spam was cooked just right. My only complaint was that the egg was a little overcooked on the bottom, but it was still nice and yolky. Wow. Quantity and quality.

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Bev ordered two pancakes ($2.25/each pancake) but we actually shared everything.

Pancakes

HUGE HUGE HUGE. I liked these. Soft. Spongy. Moist. I do wish they had a bit more cake-like texture because it was a little too spongy/bouncy. I also wish that it was more crisp on the edges. I still would order these again. They were so soft and tasty.

Pancake closeup

Here’s the specials menu that was up (they even have “Stew Luau”! aka Beef Luau):

Hawaiian Style Cafe Specials

Here’s the Breakfast & Lunch Menu:

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How was the service? Friendly, local-style, like walking into your favorite Aunty’s kitchen… but very slow and sometimes forgetful (they were really busy). If you are in a rush to go somewhere, don’t come here. This is somewhere to go when you have all morning to eat and digest and all afternoon to sleep. One thing we missed was that you need to sign-in to the right of the door then wait until there are free seats.

The food made it all worth it though. I can’t wait to go back! I wish they were in Hilo!

Hawaiian Style Cafe
65-1290 Kawaihae Rd, Kamuela, HI 96743 (map)
(808) 885-4295

Samosa plate from Akmal’s

Friday, October 26th, 2007

Samosa plate from Akmal's

Two fresh and crispy yummy samosas with garbanzo bean curry and a refreshing salad ($6.25). Search this site for an earlier review of Akmal’s.