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Hawaii (Big) Island
Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
Locals gather at this small, historic restaurant 15 minutes south of Kailua-Kona whenever they're in the mood for fresh sashimi, puffy shrimp tempura, or hekka (beef and vegetables cooked in an iron pot) at a reasonable price. Teshima's doesn't look like much, inside or out, but it's been a kamaaina (local) favorite since 1929 for a reason. You might want to try teishoku (tray) No. 3, featuring sashimi, tempura, sukiyaki beef, rice, miso soup, sunomono, and more. Or order the popular bento box lunch. The service is laid-back and friendly, and the restaurant has been family owned and operated by five generations of Teshimas. No credit cards.
An array of authentic soft-taco choices (beef and chicken, among others), burritos, quesadillas, and excellent homemade tamales are served up at this local hideway in Kailua Village. Breakfast entrées include traditional rancheros and more. Order at the counter, take a seat outside at one of a dozen yellow tables with blue umbrellas, and enjoy all the good flavors served up in those red plastic baskets.
In the funky Without Boundaries gift shop in Hawi, Sushi Rock isn't big on size—its narrow dining room is brightly painted and casually decorated with various Hawaiian and Japanese knickknacks—but discerning locals and akamai (in the know) visitors come here for some of the island's best sushi. The restaurant prides itself on using fresh local ingredients like grass-fed beef tenderloin, goat cheese, macadamia nuts, and mango in their Island-inspired sushi rolls. They also serve up a variety of cooked seafood, chicken, noodle dishes, and salads for lunch and dinner. Everything is plated beautifully and served either at the sushi bar, at one of the handful of indoor tables in the restaurant's small dining room, or on the covered front patio. There's also a full bar. sushirockrestaurant.net. Credit cards accepted.
The name says it all. Fresh local ingredients highlight proprietor Sombat Parente's menu (many of the herbs come from her own garden) to create authentic and tasty Thai treats like coconut curries, fresh basil rolls, eggplant stir-fry, and green papaya salad. You can have most dishes prepared with your choice of tofu, pork, beef, chicken, or fish. The weekday lunch plate special is a steal ($7-$9). And if you can't leave the island without it, Sombat's famous pad thai sauce is available to take home in jars. www.sombats.com. Credit cards accepted. Closed Sun., no lunch Sat.
The Nakagawa family has been running this eatery since the early 1920s. The latest son to manage the restaurant has transformed both the menu and the decor, and that, paired with the setting (the restaurant sits on a 30-acre natural brackish water fishpond) makes this one of the most romantic and interesting places to eat in Hilo. You can't get fish fresher than this. Islanders travel great distances for the fried aholehole (young Hawaiian flagtail) and talapia that's raised on the aqua-farm. Other great dishes from the sea include furikake salmon, miso butterfish, and macadamia nut-crusted mahimahi. The Pacific Rim menu includes plenty of selections for landlubbers, too. Arrive before sunset and request a table by the window for a view of the egrets roosting around the fishponds. www.seasiderestaurant.com. Credit cards accepted. Closed Mon. No lunch.
Oahu: Ocean House Restaurant
Kauai: Plantation Gardens
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