Thursday, June 3, 2010

Food on the Big Island on the Kona side (Pahu I'a, Merriman's, and Roy's)

We recently spent a week on the Big Island. We stayed in a condo and made a lot of our meals there. Since we stayed near Waikoloa Village, we only visited Waikoloa Village Market and the grocery store (Island Gourmet?) at the Queen's Market in the Waikoloa Beach resort.  Both had a few gluten free products but not a lot.  I'd like to find a natural foods store in Kona next time and visit a farmer's market. Waikoloa Village Market had the best corn tortillas, but Island Gourmet had some excellent grass-fed local beef. Obviously prices were higher at Island Gourmet.  I didn't check the vegetables at Island Gourmet, but the ones at Waikoloa Village Market were strictly meh, *except* they did carry some locally grown produce, mostly conventionally grown.  That produce (string beans, mixed greens, purple sweet potatoes) was excellent.

Restaurant Reviews
Merriman's Market Cafe (3/5)

Service was friendly. There weren't a lot of options for gluten free people, but they did have a number of salads, and you could add a protein to the salad. Also the cooks were familiar with what gluten free means. They got the little things right like not adding bread to my salad without me reminding them.

I had a strawberry, tomato, bacon, greens, and goat cheese salad with some grilled swordfish on the top. It was tasty, and I believe much of the vegetables are locally grown.

I prefer to just make my own lunch in the condo while staying in Hawaii, but this was a decent lunch.

Roy's (2/5)

Service was great and the food was tasty--I had mochong with a macadamia nut crust, some curry sauce, and roasted asparagus.

However! As a gluten free person, there was literally one main entree that I could eat. That was particularly frustrating at a more upscale restaurant. It wouldn't be that difficult for them to invest in some wheat-free soy sauce. Additionally, the mains were much too large. They didn't indicate this, so there was no way to ask for a half portion.

Pahu I'a (at the Four Seasons) (5/5)

They had a special gluten free menu. Everything I ordered was perfect--a tomato-avocado salad, 3 juicy shrimp pan-fried in tapioca starch, and a main of cod with a miso glaze. The dishes were both a delight to look at and eat. If you can, go early in the evening, around 6p and get a beach front table so that you can listen to the waves and watch the sun set as you dine. A wonderful, romantic evening. I'm sure this is not the last time we will go there.‎

Merriman's Restaurant (5/5)

Tasty, one of the better meals I've had on the big island. They offer a 'smaller portion' that is actually a half order at maybe 20% off the regular price. If you don't want to waste food but want to eat a reasonable portion size, I highly recommend that option.

It's definitely on the pricey side, but I really enoyed my dish--it was some kind of fish (uki, I think), with a butter sauce, fennel and diced potatoes and carrots. Our salad had beets, pickled fennel, goat cheese, some green beans, and a perfectly ripe tomato.

I like that they emphasize local produce, fish, and meat.

They understood gluten free and were familiar with what was safe to eat. Only about a third of their fish dishes were ok, but nearly all the meat dishes were fine.

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