The Fungs go to Hawai’i… Part ONE
My wife’s family have never really traveled much together and we decided about a year ago to try to have a family trip to Hawaii. So after much planning and waiting we were finally ready to go! Quick shuttle ride to LAX, breeze through security thanks to TSA PreCheck and we sat down for a nice lunch at Skewers, right next to our gate. Just a note about the TSA PreCheck, earlier this year we had decided to sign up for GlobalStar as we had a trip to Paris planned for May. Included in the GlobalStar program is enrollment into the TSA PreCheck program as well. The application requires a thorough background check, interview and a $100 fee. The ease of returning from France, going through immigration and customs was well worth the effort. The ability to use the TSA PreCheck lines through the airport security is a nice perk as well. Going and returning to LAX we only one person in front of us in line at the security checkpoint. I just wish that people would read the TSA PreCheck instructions and familiarize themselves with the process. Both times the people in front of us had no clue what to do, which is frustrating as the short wait would have been halved if they knew what they were doing… oh well, what can you do?
Getting through security so quickly gave us plenty of time to find our gate and settle in for a leisurely lunch. We found some seat with good view of the gate and waited for them to call our zone. I wish that all of the gates would designate areas for each zone rather than allow passengers to stand around the gates blocking the entrance. For our international flights, it was nice that they had organized queues for each zone. So, after an unexplained one hour delay with Delta having to switch planes at the last minute (slightly worrisome!), we finally arrived at Kailua Kona airport, tired but happy to finally be on the Big island again!
Day One -Kailua Kona
Our first day would be getting some supplies and checking into the house that we rented through Home Away but first we needed some food and coffee to get us started on the right track! We had read reviews that Daylight Mind Coffee Company had great views of Kailua Kona and so we headed down Ali’i Drive to check it out. We decided to share the braised short rib loco moco for breakfast and it really hit the spot, it was a great version of the local specialty. If you’ve never had a loco moco, you’ll have to try one the next time you come to the islands. Usually it is a hamburger patty served over rice and a fried egg, topped with brown gravy. We’ve had a few versions of the loco moco over the years and this one ranked among the best. the views here were also excellent and we would highly recommend this place if you are in Kailua Kona!
After breakfast we headed over to the Farmer’s Market across the street and picked up some fresh fruit and some vegetables for the house. The selection here is nice and there are lots of local vendors selling other trinkets, souvenirs and jewelry as well. Our friends were also staying in Kona nearby so we called them up and offered to drop off some fruit. We hung out at their nice beachfront house for awhile before deciding to grab some lunch at a local favorite, Broke Da Mouth Grindz. Broke Da Mouth is located in the northern industrial area of Kona, definitely away from where most of the tourists hang out. We had read some reviews of the place and so we had to come check it out. We ended up ordering two combination plates to share with us and my wife’s parents who arrived just in time for lunch. Broke Da Mouth is hawaiian slang meaning that the flavor or taste is so good that your mouth will be broken and they are accurate with that description. They specialize in Filipino cuisine like adobo and lechon kawali but also Hawaiian lunch plate items. Adobo is a slightly sweet and vinegary sour braised dish and they prepare it very well here. Lechon Kawali is also pork and it is roasted with the crispy rind left on the fatty meat, also very well made and goes great with the housemade sweet chili sauce that is bottled in tequila bottles on every table. The braised short rib was tender and flavorful but the real star of the show was the Garlic Furikake Chicken! Garlic chicken can be found at many Hawaiian food joints and furikake is the seasoned seaweed and sesame seed flavoring that’s found on top of almost everything here on the Big Island. But Broke Da Mouth is known for the Furikake Chicken and the reputation is well deserved! Crispy without greasiness, garlicky but not overpowering, slightly sweet capturing that ultimate in umami flavoring. We devoured it all and were left wanting more!
Overall, the food and service were great and it kept us coming back, in fact we visited three times over the week we were in Hawaii! The place is small and it is in a hard to find plaza just off Kaiwi and Luhia, just south of Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway. I think the only downside is the pricing, it is not cheap but we thought that the quality and flavor of the food was worth the price. Our family and friends tried quite a few things on the menu and enjoyed it all!
After the great lunch with friends it was time to hit up Costco and then on to check in at the house that we rented for the week. Located in Holualoa which is mauka (uphill) from Kona about 15 – 20 minutes, the home is located in the famous Kona Coffee belt, away from the tourists and crowds of Kona. Located on the mountainside it definitely felt like we were escaping. Situated on a few acres of a small ranch with goats, sheep and even a cow it was a great environment for relaxation and a different experience for the young kids in our group. With 11 adults and 3 children we needed a place with plenty of space and this place was the perfect fit, however we would probably not stay so far away next time as it was inconvenient if we needed to “run down the hill” for supplies or breakfast.
That evening my wife and I went down into Kona for a late dinner at Huggo’s on the Rocks where we sat in chairs on the sand, next to the bay where we could see the fire dances of the luau’s across the water. Not to be confused with the nicer Huggo’s next door, this place was the perfect end to a long day, with a pina colada, live music and the lights reflecting off the water! This was just the start to our Hawaiian adventure we were calling Fungwaii2016! Thanks for reading and Part Two will be up soon!