Jul 2009

Hawaiian Style Cafe – Waimea

During my vacation on the Kona Coast, my family resided in a faux village called Waikoloa. Located a half-hour from the happening city of Kona, Waikoloa was a soulless bubble consisting solely of condominium clusters, luxury hotels, golf courses, and two malls that Tiffany’s, Louis Vuitton, and Macaroni Grill called home. Waikoloa’s complete isolation from reality reminded me of the expatriate communities in Saigon, down to the wrought iron gates out front. Although I’m not positive, I’m pretty sure that Waikola means “no grindz here” in native Hawaiian.

In order to avoid eating at the Mac Grill, I coaxed locals working in Waikola to divulge where they ate when they were off-the-clock. The most popular answer was Hawaiian Style Cafe in Waimea. On Lush’s final day on The Big Island, we made the drive out to the distant cowboy village to eat among fellow grindz seekers.

The interior of Hawaiian Style Cafe is pleasantly dated. A U-shaped counter, which easily sat twenty-five, ran along the main dining room. There were a handful of bright red booths to the left of the counter and a few tables in the back room. Lush and I grabbed two seats along the counter with a great view of the open kitchen. I informed Lush that open kitchens are all the rage on The Mainland.

All lunch plate joints in Hawaii seem to offer the same collection of condiments—Aloha shoyu soy sauce, mustard, ketchup, Tabasco sauce, Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce, and Aunt Jemima.

Lush and I decided to share a plate lunch after eyeing the huge portions in front of our fellow Hawaiian Style Cafe-goers. We chose a Mix Plate ($9.75), which allowed us to choose any two plate lunch entrees off the menu, plus two scoops of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad. We selected the Korean chicken and the Pulehu ribs.


The wonderfully seasoned fried chicken was reminiscent of Kyochon’s soy garlic variety. I was hoping for a snappy skinned specimen, but this one lacked the classic tautness of KFC. The beef short ribs, which were grilled with Hawaiian rock salt, were slightly under-seasoned but satisfying nevertheless. The bed of shredded cabbage beneath the meat helped to cut the grease factor.

The lone scoop of mac salad was all mine because Lush is grossed out by mayo-laden pasta salads. Hawaiian Style Cafe’s mac salad was special because it included canned tuna and peas.

I’ve been thinking a lot about plate lunches since my trip and have come to the conclusion that they were aesthetically influenced by Japanese bento boxes. By employing ice cream scoops, side dishes can be separated from one another without resorting to individualized compartments and sacrificing visual appeal. This is a theory in progress…

In addition to our more-than-enough-for-two plate lunch, Lush and I shared a pancake ($2.25) in order to avoid the $2.75 split fee. We are tricky mothers.

Next door to Hawaiian Style Cafe was a little snack shop called Crack Seed, etc. Crack seed are preserved fruits that have been cracked or split with the seed or kernel partially exposed as a flavor enhancement. See here for the Vietnamese equivalent. For fifty cents, we picked up a refreshing and tasty li hing mui ice. I desired another as soon as we finished it, but Lush wouldn’t let me because too much salt isn’t healthy. Wah wah.

Instead, we visited Mauna Kea Snow, which was located on the other side of Hawaiian Style Cafe. Our shaved ice was flavored with lime, passion fruit, and li hing mui powder. The li hing mui powder was so bomb that I opted to snort it.

Hawaiian Style Cafe
65-1290 Kawaihae Road
Kamuela, HI 96743
Phone: 808-885-4295

Crack Seed, etc.
65-1290 Kawaihae Road
Kamuela, HI 96743
Phone: 808-885-6966

Mauna Kea Snow
61-3616 Kawaihae Road
Kamuela, HI 96743
Phone: 808-887-2665‎

Hawaiian Style Cafe on Urbanspoon

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9 thoughts on “Hawaiian Style Cafe – Waimea

  1. If I open a little snack shop, I want to call it Crack Seed, etc.

    Thanks for organizing the Indo feast BTW! My sis and I had a great time!

  2. You are a wise gastronomer indeed, asking where the locals eat. When all you see around you are chain restaurants and paper-cutter meals being prepared, it’s always the wisest choice.

    How funny. While I’m reading the words “crack seed”, my mind races to drugs for no apparent reason. Just a second later, I see you snorting the li hing mui powder in the picture below. 😉

  3. Ok, what amuses me here is that after the fried chicken, ribs, macaroni salad, rice, cabbage, and pancake, you were all: I need some crack seed (!).

    AND THEN, you were all, I need some shave ice.

    C’mon, tell the truth. You have a hollow leg, right?

  4. Anjali – Any business with a name that great is sure to thrive! And I’m very happy to hear that you and sis had a great time at Ira’s!

    Phil – Maybe I was subliminally influenced by Crack Seed as well! I usually don’t snort anything 😉

    Steve – I did! And I thought of you. I went to Quinn’s almost by the sea in Kona. Great fish, but the prep was mediocre. Hence, nothing to write home about.

    Fiona – I just have an insatiable passion for life! Okay, okay, and a hollow leg.

    Sook – If you were there, you’d do it too!

  5. I can’t believe you actually snorted the li hing mui powder 😛
    The gastronomer is actually pretty wild as I’m finding out from this post and our Baja trip 😉

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