Roy’s Hawaii Kai is the “Original Roy’s” in Honolulu, Hawaii

It all started here in 1988, when Roy Yamaguchi infused Hawaiian cuisine and ingredients with international flavors and techniques. The Hawaii Kai flagship restaurant location also has a beautiful view of Maunalua Bay. The Roy’s spans the Hawaiian Islands with 5 locations plus 21 on the mainland.

Menu changes daily based on availability of local ingredients. Here’s are some items you might see on your visit:

Prix Fixe appetizer plate includes Blackened Ahi, Chicken Spring Roll with Maui pineapple sweet and sour chili sauce, Kiawe Wood Smoked Szechuan Spiced Baby Back Rib, and Mini Hawaii Kai Style Crispy Crab Cake with spicy sesame butter sauce. Beautifully seared ahi was bright reddish-pink and succulent. The chicken spring roll was crispy on the outside with perfectly cooked vegetables and chicken inside. The szechuan pork rib was tender with a sweet and spicy Asian barbeque sauce on the outside. The mini crab cake resembled a croquette and bursted with lots of crab flavor and meat. Rating: 5/5

Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi was served atop a Maine lobster essence and served with red potatoes and asparagus. The plating was just stunning with ying and yang color effect. The fish was succulent and the macadamia nut crust added a contrasting crispy texture. Rating: 5/5

Classic Trio includes Blackened Ahi, Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi, Jade Pesto Steamed Monchong. The ahi paired well with the peppercorn brandy lobster sauce. I loved the garnish of pickled ginger, cabbage, and ogo. The monchong paired perfectly with the pesto and contrasted well with the bok choy in sizzling shoyu. A furikake musubi was served as a side item but I was way too full to eat it. Rating: 5/5

Macadamia Nut Tart was topped with vanilla bean ice cream. The tart shell tasted like Hawaiian-style shortbread cookies. The macadamia nut filling resembled a Hawaiian version of pecan pie. The nuts on top were caramelized imparting a sweet roasted flavor. The ice cream was very creamy and paired well with the macadamia nuts. Rating: 5/5

I must say, I have been to many Roy’s locations on the mainland, but nothing compares to the caliber of flavors and presentation at Roy’s Hawaii Kai. If you’re a Roy’s fan, this is a must stop when in Honolulu.

Atmosphere: 5 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Décor: 5 out of 5 stars
Food: 5 out of 5 stars

For more information:
6600 Kalanianaole Hwy
Honolulu, HI 96825
Hours: Monday through Friday from 5:30pm, Saturday and Sunday from 5:00pm

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Merriman’s Waimea is home of Hawaiian Regional Cuisine in Kamuela, Hawaii

A little more than half way between Hilo and Kona, Hawaii is an upcountry town of Waimea. Chef Peter Merriman began his flagship restaurant, Merriman’s Waimea, over 20 years ago where locally sourced produce, meats, and seafood are only minutes away. From the exterior, it looks like a country store, but inside a tropical, fine dining journey awaits you.

Menus change with the trade winds and seasons. Here are some creations you might see on the menu.

Wine Flight du Fortnight is your opportunity to try four related but vastly different wines together. The flight totals 8 ounces of wine. On this visit, these wines were on the menu: Descendientes de J. Palacios “Villa de Corullon” (Bierzo, Spain) 2007, Elena Walch, Lagrein, D.O.C. (Alto Adige, Italy) 2008, Grant Burge Wines “Holy Trinity” (Barossa Valley, Australia) 2003, and Finca Sandoval, Manchuela (Manchuela, Spain) 2006.

Amuse bouche of edamame and pea puree is served with purple potato chips. The puree reminded me of guacamole with its green color and texture. But the flavor is more starchy than buttery. It is a stunning little palate of color. Rating: 4/5

Hirabara Greens topped with brown butter lilikoi dressing, Pepeekeo Peppercorn Brittle, Honopua beets, Nakano tomato and cucumber, and Big Island goat cheese. The ingredients have the perfect balance of flavors from sweet beets, brittle, and tomato; creamy and earthy goat cheese; and refresh and crispness of the cucumbers. It’s hues of color are also so beautiful! Rating: 5/5

Peter’s Original Caesar Salad is made with Hirabara Farms baby romaine, shaved parmesan, and croutons. The dressing is creamy but needs a bit more anchovy and garlic flavor. The lettuce is crisp and slightly sweet. Rating: 4/5

Hirabara Farm Earth Grown Lettuce Salad is topped with fennel, cucumber, radish, sweet onion, Waimea tomato, fresh squeezed lime and extra virgin olive oil. It is a simple salad with a lot of flavors. The lettuce varieties used have qualities of greenness, sweetness, and slight bitterness all their own. The lime and olive oil accentuate the flavors of each vegetable for an umami flavor. Rating: 5/5

Pan Roasted Mahi-Mahi is served atop Ninole heart of palm, Goo Farms peppers, bamboo-steamed sticky rice, and tamarind-lemongrass fumet. The mahi-mahi is perfectly roasted and it is soft and silky like butter. The heart of palm, peppers, and tamarind-lemongrass fumet give this dish an Asian flare. All of the juices that are left can be soaked up with the sticky rice with no drop to waste. Rating: 4.5/5

House Cured Pipikaula is sliced Kahua striploin sliced and served with cream corn, roasted eggplant, Nakano onion rings. The pipikaula is saltier than I am accustomed to. The meat was perfectly grilled, but had to be immediately paired with the cream corn to balance the flavor. The onion rings were the star of this dish with light, tempura-style batter with a juicy, sweet onion in the middle. Rating: 3/5

Macadamia Nut Crusted Ono is served with Hirabara Farms ginger sautéed broccolini, black forbidden rice, roasted Hamakua mushrooms, and miso-white wine truffle reduction. The macadamia nut crust adds a crisp texture on the outside and also helps seal the juices in the fish. The black forbidden rice has a nutty flavor which works well with the fish. The miso-white wine truffle reduction is luxurious! Use the rice to sop up the sauce. You don’t want to waste a drop! Rating: 5/5

Low Line Cattle Company Local Beef “Butcher Cut” is served with whipped potatoes, sautéed sweet corn, grilled Waimea asparagus, and red wine-roasted shallot sauce. The beef is so tender and juicy. Even though it resembles a “meat and potatoes” dish, it is much more than that. You can taste that everything is so fresh from the meat, the potatoes, and the vegetables. It’s amazing how the rich volcanic soil on the island makes everything so vibrant. Rating: 5/5

Hawaiian Hogs Berkshire Pork “En Vise” is a perfectly pan-roasted pork chop with pork “meatloaf” topped with roasted tomato served with stewed vegetables and polenta. The pork chop is meaty, tender, and juicy. The outside is perfectly caramelized from the pan.  The meatloaf ball had an Italian flavor profile to it. The roasted tomato acts as the “marinara sauce”. Polenta is a perfect side dish as it helps clean the palate between bites for the uber pork experience. Rating: 4.5/5

Merriman’s Original Work Charred Ahi is seared on the outside – sashimi on the inside. The ahi is top notch. Definitely sashimi-grade as it is so soft and tender. The fish on its own has a sweetness to it and a dip in the shoyu makes it perfect. The black forbidden rice is okay as a side, but would be better with just plain sticky rice. Rating: 4.5/5

Waimea Strawberries served with Hanaoka Farms passion white chocolate sabayon and Original Hawaiian Chocolate Shortbread. These are the best strawberries I have ever had! They are so sweet and juicy. The only strawberry that I have had that even come close are grown in Oxnard, CA. The sabayon is creamy and tastes like a crème brulee without the ramekin. The shortbread cookies are light, but buttery in flavor. Rating: 5/5

“Original Hawaiian Chocolate” Purse served with red wine caramel and vanilla ice cream. If you are a chocoholic, this is the dessert for you. The presentation is presented like a wrapped gift of chocolate dreaminess. With sweet and sour wine caramel mimicking a raspberry coulis, it works well with the chocolate. The vanilla ice cream is creamy and acts like a cream anglais that balances with the chocolate and wine flavors. Rating: 5/5

Get your okole out of the hotel and follow the rainbow to Merriman’s Waimea!

Atmosphere: 5 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Décor: 5 out of 5 stars
Food: 4 out of 5 stars

For more information:
65-1227 Opelo Rd
Kamuela, HI 96743
Hours: Brunch – Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 1pm; Lunch – Monday through Friday from 11:30am to 1:30pm; Dinner – nightly from 5:30pm to 9:00pm

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KTA Super Stores makes fresh poke varieties in Hilo, Hawaii

KTA Super Stores have been locally owned and operated since 1916 on the Big Island of Hawaii. I have a ton of childhood memories at this supermarket in my hometown of Hilo, HI. After my family moved to the mainland, my grandpa was always excited to see his grandchildren over the summer. My grandpa would make a trip to KTA to pick up a carton of Meadow Gold Guava Juice and Miko Pupu Rockets. These items would be waiting for me in the refrigerator after he picked us up from the airport. As we grew older, we made our own trips to KTA to stock up on our local favorites from Portuguese sausage, Punalu’u breads, bento, and poke. Put on a pot of sticky rice before you go to the market so you can start chowing down when you get home.

KTA has a large selection of different pokes to choose from and are sold by the pound. The base flavoring is usually shoyu (soy sauce), sesame seed oil, and Hawaiian salt. Here are some of our favorites:

Hokki Gai (surf clam) Poke is chunked clam mixed with sesame seeds, ogo (seaweed), green onions. The clams are so sweet and slightly briny. The ogo adds a slight crunchy texture. The green onion adds a refreshing flavor. Rating: 5/5

Marlin Poke is chunked swordfish mixed with ogo, minced garlic, sesame, and chili pepper flakes. Swordfish is a meaty fish with an assertive flavor. The garlic and chili pepper tame it down to bring sweetness out of the fish. The ogo adds a slightly briny flavor to tie it all together. Rating: 4/5

Spicy Tuna Poke is chunked tuna mixed with tobiko (fish roe), green onion, and diced onion in a spicy mayo. Similar to what you would find in a spicy tuna roll in a sushi bar. The difference is that this is chunked rather than minced so texturally you’ll have the soft tuna chunks and the crisp, pungent diced onion. The tobiko bursts in your mouth with sweet briny goodness. Rating: 5/5

Tako Poke is tako (octopus) mixed with ogo, minced garlic, and chili pepper flakes. The tako is sliced and acts like a sponge, absorbing all of the flavors, yet retaining the sweet tako flavor. The ogo’s slightly crunchy texture contrasts nicely with the tender tako. Rating: 4.5/5

Wakame Salad is a good side dish to poke or to put your poke on instead of rice. KTA seasons it perfectly with a balance of sweet, sour, and salty flavors. You have the natural briny flavor from the seaweed itself and then the sweet sour flavor of rice vinegar. I could eat a whole plate of this! Rating: 5/5

If you’re looking for quick eats, KTA has an abundance of choices. Poke No Ka Oi!

For more information:
50 E Puainako St
Hilo, HI 96720
Hours: Daily from 5:30am to 12:00am

Melissa’s Deluxe Pantry Box Recipe Series: Quinoa Cranberry Pudding Parfait

Melissa’s Deluxe Pantry Box in this post was provided by Melissa’s Produce but the opinions expressed here are my own.