Hualalai Grill

Hula_grill Today, someone gave me the low down on what local food is on the Big Island.  Taro, rice, spam and sweet potatoes.  I had in my mind that it would be fish which would be simple, fresh and delicious but it isn’t exactly like that.  Everything is very heavy handed.  I’ve decided if it says poki, I will pass. 

We went to the Hualalai Grill last night.  The beauty is that we are staying where the restaurant is.  The island basically has one road and to drive down to Kona from where are takes 30 minutes which I’d rather not do at night.  It is super dark and that makes dinner an hour round trip.  What can I say, I live in NYC and I much prefer the quick taxi or jump on the subway.  Not a big driver.  Also, I am the designated driver.  We all love Fred but prefer that he is not behind the wheel.  He has many attributes but driving is not one of them. 

Hualalai is a beautiful setting.  Open airy breezes running through the restaurant.  Great service too.  The menu has a slant towards Asian spices.  Dinner was mixed.  Josh loved his.  He had two appetizers which many of us have been doing nightly.  He began with a pulled pork quesadilla which was pretty good.  Flavorful meat in between soft tortillas and a good dipping sauce.  Josh was thrilled.  His second appetizer was ordered by three of us, the hoisin BBQ ribs.  A small simple cole slaw was laid underneath a large green leaf which the ribs were put in.  Emily found the cole slaw and we all thought it was a strange location.  The ribs were spicy and pulled right off the bone.  Very good and lots of flavor.  To start I had the Poki Tuna.  Last time.  Jessica liked it, I didn’t love it.  A disc shape of chopped tuna that had been flavored with a chili and sesame oil served over chopped avocado and crunchy chips.  It just didn’t do it for me.  Emily had the special minestrone soup which she sent back, enough said.  Instead, her and Fred went with the red/yellow tomato soup.  They liked it.  I thought it was bland.  I have actually made this myself.  One soup is made with yellow tomatoes, the other with red.  You pour the soups simultaneously in the bowl which makes a really beautiful dish.  Half yellow, half red.  There were some frozen aspects to this particular dish.  Floating frozen tomatoes in it.  Tasted very much like canned tomato juice.  Fred had the ginger crusted Onagi with mushrooms and other vegetables.  It was good but again not omigod.   I am sorry someone didn’t order the braised short ribs because it sounded good but in this weather I wanted light.  Many entrees are heavy and although I have steered clear of that, I have a feeling that is what is good.

So today I talked with the concierge about the food possibilities on the island.  Bottom line, she told me to steer clear of poki.  She also said that the food as a whole is good but not great.  We are doing the Pahui’a tonight which you can actually get a piece of fresh fish simply grilled which is what I sort of thought we’d be able to get every night.  Wrong. 

I did enjoy last night but I would have liked to try everything on the menu and then decide which was the best.  I think it is a mixed bag.  Beautiful place and probably one of the top places on the island.  Also, if you are staying at the Four Seasons, it is key.  You can drink and walk vs. drink and drive.  One sweet spot is going down to the water for a drink to watch the sun set.  There are a big things of s’mores set up too which Josh particularly enjoyed.