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Hawaii (Big) Island
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What this restaurant lacks in ambience it certainly makes up for in quality and value. We're talking about light and crispy tempura; tender, moist teriyaki chicken; and about 25 specialty sushi rolls that, on average, will cost you a mere $5 per roll. If you're a sushi lover, be sure to try the "hospital roll" with shrimp tempura, cream cheese, cucumber, and spicy ahi, or the "volcano roll," a California roll topped with flying fish eggs, dried fish shavings, green onions, and spicy mayo. Don't let the low price tag fool you—the service is friendly and the food here is fresh, filling, and delicious. Open Monday through Saturday, 10 am to 2 pm, and 5 pm to 9 pm. Credit cards accepted. Closed Sun.
Located inside the Fairmont Orchid at the garden level, this restaurant appeals to both steak and seafood lovers. Chef Darren Ogasawara highlights everything from Australian A6 Wagyu rib eye (seasoned with five different kinds of Hawaiian sea salt) to the delicious hamachi-and-avocado sashimi served with ponzu-garlic sauce. Dry-aged meats from Kulana Farms are served on cedar planks, while free-range chicken and sustainably caught Hawaiian seafood round out the offerings. Chef Darren can adjust the menu to meet special dietary considerations; the gluten-free vegetable tempura or soy-free udon noodle are just as flavorful as the originals. Everything on the menu is made from scratch, including the sauces, plus the fish is as fresh as it gets. www.fairmont.com/orchid. Credit cards accepted. Closed Tues. and Wed. No lunch.
Though it sits right on the edge of the hotel's golf course, this is not just a restaurant for golfers. A short walk from the main entrance to the hotel, the newly renovated, spacious dining room has seating both inside and out, and service is quick and correct. Number 3 serves up a great lunch menu with dishes such as ahi sashimi and beer-battered fresh-fish tacos. www.maunakeabeachhotel.com. Credit cards accepted. No dinner.
It may not be beachfront with a view of the sunset, but this addition to the Shops at Mauna Lani is worth a visit for its casual Japanese pub food with a touch of local inspiration. Chef Norio Yamamoto's tasty lunch and dinner menu includes his signature tuna tataki, crispy whole moi, hamachi kama (broiled Japanese yellowtail cheek) and seafood papaya (shrimp and scallops with veggies baked in a papaya). There are excellent sizzling plate items like short ribs and rib-eye steak, hot and cold noodle dishes, and, of course, the outstanding sushi. Most people make a meal out of sharing several small plate items so you can sample a bit of everything. Save room for the tempura banana drizzled with chocolate and caramel for dessert. It's best to make a reservation; you can also get some of the menu to go. www.monsterasushi.com. Credit cards accepted.
A welcome addition to the South Kona dining scene, Mi's is a classy, white-tablecloth establishment in a hole-in-the-wall location next to a liquor store on the mountain (mauka) side of Highway 11. The restaurant's husband-and-wife owners prepare homemade pastas and focaccia daily. Daily specials are always delicious and usually include a lasagna, focaccia, and risotto option. The homemade herb-cheese ravioli is rich and delicious, and even the salad options are a notch above, with ingredients such as candied macadamia nuts, roasted beets, and sautéed haricots verts. Homemade desserts are worth saving room for, particularly the banana-rum flambé. www.misitalianbistro.com. Credit cards accepted.
Oahu: Ocean House Restaurant
Kauai: Plantation Gardens
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