Hawaii Cheese Dishes
Ooey, Gooey Cheese: It stretches, it bubbles, it tantalizes you with warm, salty flavors. You know you can’t deny yourself the melting goodness of cheese. We found the 18 most irresistible cheese dishes in town. Here’s where to indulge.
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Sometimes a bowl of Cheerios just doesn’t cut it. Start your day off right with breakfast from Soul, which won a gold place 2011 Hale Aina Award for Best New Restaurant. The Steak & Eggs Three Cheese Frittata ($13) has all the essential elements of a hearty breakfast: braised short rib, Hamakua mushrooms, sautéed onions and bell peppers, all enveloped in fluffy eggs and generously topped with Havarti, mozzarella and Swiss cheeses. You’ll have a hard time going back to cereal afterward. Breakfast is only served on Saturdays at 9 a.m. 3040 Waialae Ave., 735-7685, pacificsoulhawaii.com.
Da Big Kahuna
Da Big Kahuna’s garlic cheese balls are so addicting they put other pizza joints’ breadsticks to shame. Balls of dough are baked in butter and garlic and topped with mozzarella, provolone, Cheddar, Romano and Parmesan cheeses. Order the regular size, which includes 12 warm, cheesy puffs ($5.95), because, once you bite into these salty creations, you’ll realize the six-piece menehune size ($3.45) will not be enough. Trust us. 550 Paiea St., 833-5588. bigkahunaspizzahawaii.com.
Buca di Beppo
With a twist of a fork, the cheese manicotti at Buca di Beppo oozes ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses from its large, tube-shaped pasta shells. The serving includes four cheese-filled manicotti placed on a bed of homemade marinara sauce, and the small size ($17.95) could easily feed two people. A big appetite is necessary, because after dipping each bite into the surrounding sauce, you’ll wish you could eat it all. Kids will love the gooey texture, while adults will love that it’s a hearty meal with enough to go around. 1030 Auahi St., 591-0800, bucadibeppo.com.
Vegetarians don’t usually get invited to a katsu party, but at Hukilau, they are welcome. The Portobello Katsu Mushroom Sandwich ($12) features a breaded, deep-fried Portobello mushroom, a slice of melted Brie cheese, roasted red peppers, grilled onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and a sweet and tangy sundried-tomato spread. The Brie’s abounding, earthy flavor pulls the entire dish together. This entrée is part of Hukilau’s lunchtime menu. 1088 Bishop St., LL13, 523-3460, dahukilau.com.
The Beach Tree Restaurant and Bar
We sampled the Truffle Ricotta Flat Bread ($12), a crispy, free-formed flatbread topped with fresh Puna goat cheese ricotta in-fused with shavings of truffles, black pepper and parsley, then drizzled with truffle oil and topped with micro basil and oregano. Encouraged, we dove into a second offering, made with Wow Farms tomatoes, fresh Puna chèvre, bits of basil and shallots, and topped with micro greens. It tasted like summer. Both were awesome dishes to devour while chatting with a friend over sangria ($10) and the sound of the surf. At the Four Seasons Hualalai, 72-100 Kaupulehu Drive, Kailua-Kona, (808) 325-8000.
There is ravioli, and then there is this ravioli, perfectly executed. Hawaii Island Goat Cheese Ravioli ($15 for an appetizer portion or $34 as a main course) is just one example of executive chef George Gomes’ talent for using local ingredients to make stellar dishes. The server brought us an exquisite Russian porcelain bowl and lifted the cloche to expose perfect morsels of ravioli swimming in a corn broth with local Pioppini mushrooms, chunks of Keahole lobster, fresh edamame, local Nakano Farms corn and housemade bacon from local pigs. The ravioli were plump and filled with Puna goat cheese and herbs. In a matter of minutes we managed to clean our plates, wishing for more even though we had an entrée coming. At the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, 62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Drive, (808) 882-7222.
Tutu’s Soup Hale
The “Hale” in owners Bert and Sage Mccluskey’s restaurant name is fitting: Customers play checkers, browse the bookshelf or talk story on the couch while a comforting, vegetarian meal is crafted in the kitchen. The Potato Boat ($7.95) is a staple here: a whole baked potato, sliced in a bowl covered with melted cheese, topped with fresh, spicy salsa and a dollop of sour cream. The thick layer of steamy cheddar blankets the tender potato slices so generously that cheese ends up in every bite. Sound simple? It is, served up for breakfast or lunch. Kinipopo Shopping Village, 4-356 Kūhio Highway, (808) 639-6312, tutusouphale.com.