Lifestyle

Tina’s Garden Gourmet Café Offers Original Take on Thai

March 12, 2015, 5:01 PM HST
* Updated September 8, 12:16 PM
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Tina’s Garden Gourmet Café has been serving its unique fusion of garden-fresh Thai food in Hilo for over 10 years.  The Café’s owner and head chef, Panida “Tina” Wu, is a Thai native and her menu shows her roots while giving patrons a taste of the contemporary using 100% fresh local ingredients.

Her specialties include the garlic salmon wrap, tom kah traditional Thai soup, pineapple curry, green curry with heart of palm, and black bean fish.  But wait, there’s much, much more.

The menu touts a healthy number of appetizers, both in quantify and effect, ranging from spicy tuna to summer rolls to steamed vegetables.  There’s noodle dishes, wraps, and more delectable curries than you can wave a chopstick at.

And there’s pizza.  Thai pizza that is.  The fusion pies come with red curry, pumpkin, pineapple, coconut milk, spinach, cheese, and your choice of protein.  As an added perk, the menu is full of pictures so you won’t have to guess what your meal will look like or gawk at your neighbor’s plate.

If you’re an herbivore, rejoice.  There’s vegan and vegetarian offerings galore, as well as spice levels to suit any palette.  Several gourmet salads put a unique spin on garden greens, including the ‘cora-cora’ orange salad mixing fresh herbs, veggies, and a homemade dressing, and the asparagus salad, tossed with mint, veggies, peanuts, and homemade sauce.  But meat-lovers need not be discouraged.

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Entrees like the Black Bean fish fuse wild opakapaka with garlic, ginger, onion, and a black bean sauce, while sweet and sour shrimp activate all of your taste buds with fresh vegetables and a house sauce.

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There’s plenty of soup to go around.  Made fresh after you order, the portions are generous and come with market vegetables of the day and your choice of protein.  The tom kah traditional Thai soup is especially satisfying, made with a coconut milk-base, mixed vegetables, and apple bananas.

A number of fruit smoothies blending various fruits and other ingredients like lime, mint, and coconut milk complete the menu’s fresh garden offerings with a touch of sweet.

Dine in or take out, Tina’s also provides catering.  The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Friday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m, and is located at 168 Kamehameha Avenue at Hilo’s bayfront.

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