Creating Culinary Magic at New Beach Grill in KonaMay 31, 2019, 5:15 PM HST (Updated September 8, 2020, 10:52 AM)
West Hawai‘i residents are flocking to one of Kona’s newest restaurants, which is receiving rave reviews for its unique, delicious dishes and spectacular view.
Magic’s Beach Grill officially moved out of its food truck location earlier this year and into a newly renovated beachfront space on Aliʻi Drive in Kailua-Kona.
“Come in with an open mind and expect to be wowed,” said Executive Chef Dan Robayo. “We want to show off what the Big Island has to offer. I no longer like to use the term ‘farm-to-table’ because it’s become so cliché. Everybody says it, but not enough people are actually practicing it.”
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Robayo is proud that Magic’s Beach Grill is a community driven establishment which relies heavily on local farmers and food producers. He creates dishes with the freshest ingredients purchased from as many as 60 different local farms. Being a positive part of the Kona community and culture is important to Robayo and restaurant owner Matson Davis, founder and former president of Kona Brewing.
Davis refurbished the building, which once housed Dorian’s restaurant, then Jameson’s by the Sea. The building sat vacant for years, much to the disappointment of Kona residents. It’s reopening was welcomed with open arms, and Magic’s Beach Grill is quickly turning into a favorite local establishment.
“I’d say about 60% of our customers are locals and the feedback we’ve received so far has been super positive,” said Robayo. “One of everyone’s favorite dishes has been the ulu fries. I knew we would sell a lot of ulu, but I didn’t think it would add up to 10,000 pounds a year!”
Kimchi also takes center stage in two of Magic’s most popular menu items, the Kimchi Gumbo and the Kimchi Rueben sandwich.
“Our Kimchi Gumbo is a traditional southern gumbo made with Portuguese sausage,” said Robayo. “We add okra that one of our chefs grows for us. Then we add fresh local fish, organic free-range chicken and Portuguese sausage. However, instead of using traditional cabbage with onions and celery, we add kimchi, giving it some heat.”
“The Kimchi Rueben is probably our best-selling lunch sandwich,” he continued. “It sells out so fast, we can’t keep it on the menu. It’s made with coconut-braised corned beef with house kimchi and a nice little island dressing. All of our bread comes from a Mamane Bakery and they’re making us a really nice herbal sourdough for this dish.”
Recommended starters are the must-have Ulu Fries with a trio of sauces. The sauces include malt vinegar aioli, spicy ketchup and mango mustard. The Garlic Shrimp with chili marinade, edamame, and candied lemon peel is delicious, and the candied lemon peel takes the dish to a whole new level of culinary heaven. For those craving comfort food, the Deviled Egg Duo adds a unique twist to the traditional dish with kimchi and bacon, and avocado and furikake.
Some stand out main courses include, the Lemongrass BBQ Ahi, a gorgeous dish of seared rare ahi with lemongrass BBQ sauce, Okinawan sweet potato puree and grilled broccolini. The Misoyaki Kanpachi melts in your mouth and is made with edamame and Chinese sausage succotash, candied carrot puree and corn shoot radish salad. Meat lovers will enjoy the Steak Frites, a 10-ounce grilled skirt steak with coffee rub, goat cheese, uniquely delicious smoked tomato and hand cut fries.
Dessert is a must at Magic’s Beach Grill. The Bread Pudding is served warm with banana brulee and buttered rum sauce. The Okinawan Sweet Potato Haupia Pie is sent from heaven with macadamia butter cake, sea salt caramel and macadamia nut toffee crumble.
“I believe in letting the ingredients shine and being mother nature’s middle man, so to speak,” said Robayo. “I think food is communal, in that it brings everybody together. I feel the world would be a better place if we all shared a table together.”
Magic’s Beach Grill is located at 77-6452 Ali‘i Drive in Kailua-Kona. It is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, and brunch on Sundays.