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Hawaii (Big) Island
Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
This restaurant serves heavenly interpretations of sushi and contemporary Asian cuisine. More than a few dishes have won awards, including the shrimp dynamite in a creamy garlic masago aioli and unagi glaze, and the Dungeness crab ramen with Asian truffle broth. There are tried-and-true favorites that are mainstays, however, the menu is consistently updated to include new and exciting options such as the Hawaiian moi sashimi rolls and the Japanese yellowtail nori aioli poke. You can certainly make a meal out of the appetizers and sushi rolls, or try some of Sansei's great entrées from both land and sea. Go for an early dinner on Sunday and Monday when menu items are half off from 5 to 6 pm (limited seating; first come, first served). Or opt for a late-night meal on Friday and Saturday when sushi and appetizers are half off from 9:30 pm until midnight (you just have to put up with the karaoke singers; 21 and older). www.sanseihawaii.com. Credit cards accepted. No lunch.
Located at the Shops at Mauna Lani, the Hawaii location of the popular Louisiana steak-house chain serves the same sizzling steaks and heaping sides the restaurant is known for throughout the country. Ask about early evening "Prime Time" specials that include a salad, entrée, side, and dessert for a fraction of the price. They also have vegetarian options, but Ruth's Chris is a true steakhouse in every way and as such is best suited to meat lovers. Steaks come sizzling; tasty, classic sides, which are à la carte, include creamed spinach, sautéed mushrooms, and potatoes au gratin. www.ruthschris.com. Credit cards accepted. No lunch.
A downtown Hilo fixture, this authentic Thai eatery keeps things simple in the ambience department. But you don't need a dramatic view when you can choose from a menu that includes five kinds of curries and plenty of stir-fried meals. The tangy stir-fried garlic shrimp with coconut milk and wild mushrooms is particularly good. Don't leave Hawaii without sampling some green papaya salad. www.royalsiamthai.com. Credit cards accepted.
If you're looking for consistently decent food and you're staying nearby, Roy's fits the bill. The venue overlooks the lake at the Kings' Shops, which, granted, is not an oceanfront setting by any means. If you're simply in the mood for a light meal, you can easily fill up on the enormous selection of great appetizers, and the extensive wine-by-the-glass list offers good pairing options. The three-course meal is a good bet, or try the butterfish or blackend ahi for a melt-in-your mouth encounter. The menu changes nightly, with a lot of specials like the ancho-chili-pepper seared sea scallops or grilled Hawaiian ono taco. www.roysrestaurant.com. Credit cards accepted. No lunch.
It's not the best Mexican food you've ever had, but if you're in Hilo and you're jonesing for some carne asada or chicken flautas, Reuben's has got you pretty well covered. You could make a meal out of their warm chips and salsa alone, and they're known for pouring a stiff margarita in all sorts of interesting flavors like lilikoi (passion fruit), guava, mango, coconut, and watermelon. This is a lively place to spend your afternoon or evening, and it's open all day for lunch and dinner. www.reubensmexican.com. Credit cards accepted.
Oahu: Ocean House Restaurant
Kauai: Plantation Gardens
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