Prior to COVID, I hate to admit that I’d only been to Hilo Bay Cafe once (having lived here less than two years), to treat friends visiting from Seattle. We had a wonderful evening, and I vowed to return soon. Then life got busy (doesn’t it always?), and then COVID made things come to a sad halt. I have ordered from their takeout menu a couple of times since March, wanting to support local and help businesses stay open. Last week, however, I was finally able to dine in the restaurant (on their beautiful deck) with a friend. What a treat! The views are beautiful- you can see Mauna Kea, the shops along the waterfront, Hilo Bay, and up the coast. Rivaling the view was the food.
We started with the Parmesan custard with roasted eggplant and red peppers, served with toasted bread. The custard was so smooth and creamy that it spread beautifully on the warm bread. I’m not usually an eggplant person (most people either love it or hate it), but the way it was prepared could make me a convert.
For our entrees, my friend chose the Lihiwai Louie with shrimp and purple watermelon radishes. I was a bit wistful because the colors were so beautiful that I wanted to reach my fork over and steal a bite (I resisted, bc, COVID, and, bc, manners). I chose the cold somen noodles with the fresh catch sashimi, ahi, and quickly felt better about not getting the salad. So many places for my palate and chopsticks and to go! One mouthful of noodle, egg, and fish; the next mouthful of lettuce, hearts of palm, fish. And on and on. So good.
Beautiful day, beautiful food, beautiful company. Looking forward to my next visit to Hilo Bay Cafe.
Long-time foodie and gourmet home cook Lisa Atkinson created Paradise Hand Pies & Catering to bring the art of the savory and sweet hand pie to Hawaiʻi. She began cooking at eight years old. It wasn’t until after living for a year in France that she began to educate and expand her palate and learn to appreciate local food culture, including her own Native culture.
She’s traveled the world searching for the perfect hand pie ingredients. She’s cooked elk, duck, and buffalo from Oregon; sampled numerous varieties of pork in Sardinia; tasted red deer with gravy, and whitebait sandwiches in New Zealand; shared community favorites of musk ox, moose, Eider duck, halibut, and crab in remote villages in Alaska; and downed local meat delicacies in Ireland and Scotland.
Transplanted from the rainy Pacific Northwest to sunny Hawaiʻi Island, she’s decided that there is no time like the present to embark on a new adventure to blend her passion for food with her love of sharing that food with her new community. Blending Island favorites with a global perspective—the results are delicious!
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