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Go Treasure Hunting for Big Island Restaurant Gems

October 26, 2016, 10:18 AM HST
* Updated September 8, 11:18 AM
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Looking for great food at a great price? How do you feel about out-of-the-way places? If you’re game, these two spots may become your new favorites.

“Eat the lobster-crab cakes. Just go. We ate there two days in a row, because it’s so good.”

That was the advice I got from a friend regarding Sun Dried Specialties Fish Bowl in Kealakekua, and boy, was he right.

The Fish Bowl isn’t the easiest place to find, but it is well worth your effort. The restaurant is located in a sort of light industrial-residential area, on Haleki‘i Street in Kealakekua.  I took some pictures (see slideshow) so that you’ll have some landmarks. You can either sit inside or outside at a covered picnic table.

I went with my friend’s advice and had the lobster-crab cakes, and folks, they were fantastic! I look forward to trying more things on the menu, but if that means I have to pass on the lobster-crab cakes, then Houston, we have a problem.  Crispy with seasoned panko on the outside, but rich, creamy and flavorful inside, I was one happy camper.  A zippy aioli topped my cake, which I had over white rice.

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That also came with ocean salad or crab mac salad.  The mac salad sounded  great; I couldn’t resist (and it was so good, that it is my new favorite island mac salad).  It was very rich, and I told myself I’d only eat half and finish the rest for my dinner…  but I ate the whole thing.

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My husband chose the ahi burger, which was served on an onion roll with lilikoi dressing and fries.  The fish was cooked perfectly and he appreciated the fresh bun as well as the crispy fries. He also cleaned his plate and said it was great.

While we ate, which was late in the day, the place was still humming with patrons either dining in, picking up or getting some poke (which looked delicious).

If I lived on Haleki‘i Street, owner Bryan Fujikawa would be my BFF.

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Parking:  Ample.  Prices: $9.99–$13.99.  Spotlessly clean, friendly, very casual. Phone:  (808) 323-3512. Hours:  Sunday, 9 am.–5 p.m.; Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–7:30 p.m.; and Saturday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

“Don’t forget to write about Pahoa Fresh Fish (Fish and Chips)! It’s out of the way but it’s worth it!”

My friend, Lynn, who lives in Pāhoa, thankfully reminded me of this tiny spot.  We’ve eaten there probably a half-dozen times over the years and we love it, but we just don’t get out to Pāhoa that often.  But believe me, it’s worth the trip.

Located in a shopping center known as the Pāhoa Marketplace, you’ll find it on the left as you drive in, not far from the shopping center entrance.  It also functions as a fishing supply store.  It’s sort of bait-and-tackle meets fish-and-chips.  There are stools at the counter and also tables outside.

What makes their fish and chips so good?  I think it’s the fact that the fish is so fresh, for starters.  The batter is also good, and the fryer itself, an impressive piece of equipment, does a bang-up job.

Fish is crispy, never greasy, nor overcooked.

There are usually a few types of fish to choose from—ahi, mahi-mahi, salmon, ono.  The fish comes with waffle fries, also terrific, and a really good coleslaw (and I’m  picky about coleslaw). My husband is very partial to their tartar

My husband is very partial to their tartar sauce and suggests you buy extra. They also serve sandwiches, wraps and tacos.  Servings are very generous.

Location: 15-2670 Pāhoa Road, Pāhoa. Parking:  Ample (located in a shopping center). Prices: $9.25–$14.25. Clean, friendly, casual. Hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. (808) 965-8248.

Sun-Dried Specialties - entrance. Photo credit: Marla Walters

Sun-Dried Specialties. Photo credit: Marla Walters

Ahi Burger at Sun-Dried Specialties Fish Bowl. Photo credit: Marla Walters

Ahi Burger at Sun-Dried Specialties Fish Bowl. Photo credit: Marla Walters

Sun Dried Specialties. Photo credit: Marla Walters

Sun Dried Specialties. Photo credit: Marla Walters

Sun-Dried Specialties. Photo credit: Marla Walters

Sun-Dried Specialties. Photo credit: Marla Walters

Picnic area at Sun-Dried Specialties. Photo credit: Marla Walters

Picnic area at Sun-Dried Specialties. Photo credit: Marla Walters

Fish and Chips at Pahoa Fresh Fish. Photo credit: Marla Walters

Fish and Chips at Pahoa Fresh Fish. Photo credit: Marla Walters

Menu Board, Pahoa Fresh Fish. Photo credit: Marla Walters

Pahoa Fresh Fish. Photo credit: Marla Walters

Pahoa Fresh Fish. Photo credit: Marla Walters

Pahoa Fresh Fish. Photo credit: Marla Walters

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