Kalikala Cuisine Kona’s Best-Kept Secret

December 2, 2019, 10:21 AM HST (Updated December 2, 2019, 10:21 AM)
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Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte. PC: Karen Rose
Farmer Fettucini with Shrimp. PC: Karen Rose
Kalikala Salad. PC: Karen Rose
Pacific Scallops. PC: Karen Rose
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Fronting Aliʻi Drive in Kailua-Kona, Kalikala Cuisine is a quaint and unassuming presence in an otherwise busy tourist area.

In 1968, the open-air venue was once a bar named Akamai Barnes, which was built for a Hollywood film called “Kona Coast,” starring Richard Boone. In 1970, the bar burned down, and the empty lot sat vacant until 2017 when Richard Bate and Crystal Butori opened the doors to their new restaurant, Kalikala Cuisine.

For the last two years, Kalikala Cuisine has quietly served up a fresh breakfast and lunch menu to locals and tourists alike, with little or no marketing. This month, the mom and pop shop opened up their doors for dinner, and the coconut wireless has begun to light up with rave reviews.

“Richard and I started our business with a food cart,” said Crystal Butori, owner and chef of Kalikala Cuisine. “Our inspiration comes from our passion for hospitality, and cooking with fine ingredients.”

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Butori started her culinary journey as a pastry chef in Oregon, eventually taking her skills to Hilton Waikoloa and Holualoa Inn.

“I’m from Seaside, Oregon and when I was in high school, Chef James Beard taught summer school near my home,” she said. “He would hire high school students to assist him and they got to attend his classes for free. So, I did that for a few summers and it was great. It was like going to culinary school, but not having to pay for it.”

Today, Butori enjoys using only fresh ingredients, and challenges herself to create inventive dishes while pairing together unique flavors using fresh herbs and spices. She makes her pasta fresh daily and pairs it with delicious veggies and seafood to invent meals full of flavor and excitement.

“If you want fresh food that is full of flavor, come see us Kalikala Cuisine,” said Butori. “I think everyone who comes in here to dine, walks away with memories they will never forget. They always come back. Nothing leaves the kitchen that we’re not very proud of.”

Some outstanding dishes to start with at Kalikala Cuisine are the Pacific Scallops, served with wasabi ginger, lemon sauce and dragonfruit sauce. The Kalikala Salad is one of the best salads on the island and is made with organic artesian greens, pears, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, fresh herbs, gorgonzola cheese, macadamia nuts and lilikoi vinaigrette.

A delicious main course is the Farmer Fettucini, made with hand crafted pasta, butternut squash, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, avocado, mango, garlic, herbs, roasted pine nuts, parmesan and feta cheeses, and lemon butter sauce. For an extra treat, add shrimp, fresh catch, or chicken.

If your still hungry, try a piece of their rich, chocolate peanut butter tart.

“The Island of Hawaiʻi is our biggest inspiration with its natural beauty and abundance of fresh, colorful fruit and vegetables, as well as fresh caught seafood,” said Butori. “Every plate is a piece of art to us. We put our creativity, care and heart into creating delicious, nourishing meals.”

Kalikala Cuisine may be Kona’s best kept secret today, but it won’t be a secret for much longer. Kalikala Cuisine is located at 75-5695 Aliʻi Drive. For more information, call 808-327-5254.

Karen Rose
Karen Rose is a writer and journalist living on the Big Island of Hawai‘i. Her writing focuses on food, wine, travel, arts and entertainment. She never met a food she didn't like—except black licorice.
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