WikiFresh Opens Restaurant in Hilo
I’ll tell you right now: The hardest part is choosing what you want. A staff member gave me a helpful menu card beforehand, and I thought I had my selection all worked out. When it was my turn, however, I cracked under the pressure. Fortunately, the WikiFresh staff is very patient.
That’s right, folks – WikiFresh is finally open. Located in the old DeLuz Chevrolet building on Kilauea Avenue in Hilo, it is open, and boy, is it busy.
I asked co-owner Ian Whiteside what he wanted to stress about the restaurant, in which he replied, “simply great food, starting with simply great ingredients.”
Although WikiFresh has been a presence at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo campus for months, I hadn’t been able to get over there to try things out. I was delighted when I heard they were opening a restaurant.
I attended the “soft opening” and also had a pre-opening tour while they were under construction. If you were ever in the DeLuz Chevrolet car showroom, you will be amazed at the changes. The interior has been done over in modern concrete, stainless steel, and distressed wood. A palette of paint includes grays, blacks, and a real “pop” of bright green. Furniture is comfortable and modern; there is seating inside (but you can order to go). The parking lot has also been re-done, greatly simplifying ingress and egress on two busy streets.
Whiteside stressed to me the emphasis on freshness. “We want the fresh ingredients to shine; there won’t be any crazy stuff. There is very little salt, no added sugar, and no butter.”
Here is how it works. You choose your “style,” meaning a regular or large bowl, wrap, or three tacos. Next, you pick a grain (white rice, brown rice or quinoa). Next up, a veggie: Peppers and onions, vegetables, or black beans. Then, you pick a protein (chicken, pork, turkey, beef, or quinoa). Next, you add your choice of tomato, pineapple, or papaya salsas, a glaze (Hawaiian chili, cilantro lime pesto, sour cream, or teriyaki) and finally, a topping: Guacamole, peanuts, cheese, sunflower seeds, or jalapenos (Now, can you see why I dithered?).
My wrap was delicious, once I was finally able to commit. I opted for white rice, pork, greens, black beans, tomato salsa, sour cream and cheese. Prices run from $7.85 to $10.75, excluding extras and beverages.
“No cutting corners,” said Whiteside. The staff has clearly been trained in “clean as you go,” quickly wiping up spills and keeping the (completely visible) food preparation area spotless. Hot foods were steaming hot, and cold foods were appropriately chilled.
Locally-made Atebara chips are also available, as are various refreshing beverages, including beer and sangria.
Partners in the venture include Whiteside, local attorney Peter Kubota, and Jan DeLuz. Collectively, they came together with a mission to operate “a people-first culture combined with Tropical Fusion cuisine in a fast-casual environment, and the dedication to local charities.” Their vision is warmly supported by family and friends, who packed the recent opening.
A private party room is also available.
WikFresh Restaurant is located at 1177 Kilauea Avenue in Hilo. Phone: 930-9454; fax is 930-9455. Parking on site; spotless bathrooms. Open Sunday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.