Confession: I spent four days last week traipsing through Kona (aka getting sunburnt at my hotel’s pool). Unfortunately, taking a couple of vacation days only means coming back to the office with loads of work to catch up on.
At my desk I sat, reminiscing about the food I ate and the food I returned to here at home, wondering what I was going to write for Gastronome this week. Then, inspiration struck.
Here I present to you a very random amalgamation of a few of my favorite things at the moment.
A spicy ahi bowl is one of those things I easily could eat multiple times a week. Eating out gets expensive, so I’m always looking for alternatives, especially with something so saturated in the food scene right now.
One afternoon, hungry and on my way back to the office after an interview, I stopped at Marukai Market Place, intent on buying a musubi. Marukai has quickly become my go-to quick-lunch place. But there in the refrigerated case, I saw a spicy ahi bowl. I looked at the price tag and quickly put my ume musubi back — the price tag informed me that it was only $7.
The size of the bowl is just right — there’s enough, but not too much. The presentation is simple, served in a plastic takeout bowl with only furikake sprinkled on top and ginger on the side, and the fish is never too fishy (albeit sometimes full of too much gristle).
In a nutshell, it’s exactly what I always am craving.
BEST RESTAURANT TO WATCH FOR
A 40-minute drive away from my hotel in Kona was Merriman’s in Waimea.
With hype already beginning for his recently announced Merriman’s location in Ward Village on the ground floor of Anaha, I thought it best to further investigate.
It. Was. Awesome.
It’s really no wonder, considering restaurateur Peter Merriman’s current partnership with Bill Terry for Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman in Ko Olina gets just as much buzz. His is a concept that emphasizes farm-to-table ingredients. Really, all I ask is that Merriman’s brings the same brunch dishes I sampled in Waimea to Anaha.
The Keahole Lobster Salad, for instance, I craved again later that day. Hirabara Farms baby fennel brightened each bite, and I can only hope to somehow replicate its guacamole jalapeno vinaigrette.
Likewise, the Hawaiian Hogs Ham Benedict had all the traditional trappings of a bennie, but jalapeno hollandaise brought out smoky, peppery flavors.
If there is one thing I will return to Kona for, it is Merriman’s.
Sadly, for now, I will have to wait patiently. The projected opening for Merriman’s at Anaha isn’t until June 2017.
The silver lining? Next year, be on the lookout for Moku — a new concept by Merriman and Terry opening in Salt at Our Kakaako.
(ONE OF THE) BEST HAPPY HOUR
Bevy is one of those places you might worry about fitting in at if you aren’t the right amount of hipster. And yet, once you’re in, it feels perfectly comfortable with a diverse crowd going in and out.
Happy hour isn’t too shabby either. Drink specials, like a specialty cocktail and champagne, were $5 when I stopped in last week. Certain beers on tap were only $3.
Then there’s its menu — a playful, always changing combination of classic tapas, some with a twist. Its Bruschetta, for instance, had such nuanced flavors that I’m rethinking my usual interpretation of the dish at home. A layer of fig compote and brie cheese brought out sweet notes I’d never associated with Bruschetta, and arugula was the right addition of pepper.
If that’s not enough to convince you, then consider this: Oysters are only $1.