FOOD FOR THOUGHT
A delicious weekend in Hilo
By Wanda A. Adams
Advertiser Food Editor
The Taste of Hilo took me to that misty waterfront town over the weekend, and the eating was good.
Dinner at Hilo's Caf Pesto was one of those rare times when everything goes right: From the baked goat cheese appetizer to the extraordinary fresh apple crisp, the food was delicious. The service was welcoming and the waitress didn't bat an eye when my husband ignored the menu and asked for "just a little plain pasta." Good job!
There's more good news for Hilo-area diners. At the Taste of Hilo Sunday, we judges tasted 15 dishes in an hour (somebody had to do it). And the winning entree Grilled Kaua'i Plantation Shrimp with Roasted Kamuela Tomato Duo and Spring Lamb Garlic Grilled with Mache Salad came from a restaurant that's not even in business yet. It's Restaurant Kaikodo, with a kitchen team led by chef "Bones" Yuen, expected to open next February, a companion business to an art gallery of that name in the old Toyama Building in Hilo.
The dessert winner was a quartet of extraordinary "miniature tropical fruit pastries" from another newish business, O'Keefe & Sons Bread Bakers. These fresh fruit-and-pastry delicacies were so buttery and the fruit flavors so true, that I wanted to keep eating them long after I needed to move on to other dishes to be judged.
Among the chefs' ideas were a number that home cooks could use, notably an easy grilled fish by a Hilo Hawaiian Hotel team of Philip Paranial, Tenny Manner, Aaron Taberejo and Brandon Wong. They marinated mahi in a blend they call shogun sauce, then grilled the fillets so that the fish was moist and infused with flavor and yet pleasantly caramelized. Later, I got them to tell me the technique: Make a marinade with 1/2 cup EACH of red wine vinegar, shoyu, water and sugar; add a tablespoon of finely grated ginger and a tablespoon of ketchup or tomato paste and fresh-ground pepper to taste. Marinate boneless fillets 1 to 2 hours and quickly grill 1 to 2 minutes a side. The chefs served this with a drizzle of commercial sweet chili sauce, but you also can make a sauce with the marinade by bringing it to a boil, reducing the heat to simmering and thickening the sauce with a slurry of cornstarch or arrowroot and water.