Like a chump, I was determined to try a Hawaiian pizza while I was on the island. Before I went to Hawaii, I thought it was just the pineapple that made it typical. Then I found out that the whole joint was basically Pork City. They take their pigmeats seriously over there. The Luau pizza at Coffee Shack, a tiny cafe on a cliff over Kealakekua Bay, was totally different from the pizza I like.
The crust was thick and way breadier than any I’ve ever had. But it was still great! I just took it as its own thing; it was a de facto separate species of pizza. The ham, which really carried the whole pizza, was much better than the flaccid Canadian bacon that we typically eat this with on the mainland.
A lot of Midwestern Vietnamese kids are accustomed to their parents jonesing after “banh mi Ba Le,” and my cousins and I weren’t surprised when our parents took us to the Ba Le in Kailua Kona TWICE. It was pretty dingy-looking, but in a comforting way. We grabbed a bunch of banh mi to go, and I got the lemongrass chicken. Pretty great, and cheap too.
The second time around, the owner, an older Vietnamese woman, came out and chatted with us the whole time we were there. I was coming down with laryngitis, so I had a huge bowl of pho ga. Soooo good.
When we went to Hilo for a day, I scoured the internet for a cool, off-the-beaten-path lunch spot; the Hilo Lunch Stop came up a lot. Situated in an industrial center near the Queen Liliuokalani Gardens, the cafeteria-style restaurant seemed to be a favorite among the area’s working class.
I really loved it! There were so many offerings that I had never seen before, like a cornucopia of musubis, salads, ceviche-like fish preparations, and all things be-Spammed. I shamefully admit that I got overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of choice. I settled on their nori chicken, the typical macaroni-and-potato salad, and a tofu and mystery fish patty. Though they didn’t look like much, they were all so tasty!