Heeia Kea Pier: Locally-Sourced and Styled
Sitting on the Dock of the Bay: Locally sourced, and still local-style, at Heeia Kea Pier.
Off a sleepy, shore-hugging loop of Kamehameha Highway, a little after Kaneohe turns into country, lies Heeia Kea Pier. Maybe you remember it from small-kid time—this peaceful Kaneohe Bay spot has been a favorite haunt of the bamboo pole and bread-bait crowd for a generation. They’re still here. Little boats still bob gently in the electric-blue water. The beach is still lined with coconut palms and hau. Some guy, who may have been here since 1979, strums an ukulele and sings. And at the far end of the pier, out on the water, you’ll still find Heeia Kea Pier General Store and Deli.
Food-wise, that means the day’s brief menu might include whole-fried papio that was swimming yesterday in Kaneohe Bay; juicy hamburgers made with grass-fed, hormone-free Kuahiwi Ranch beef; stir-fries of local vegetables; and sweet ice cakes (including the nostalgia-inducing Green River flavor) for the small fry. The health-minded can have brown rice, but old-fashioned, crinkle-cut fries are also in the works. “We’re trying to serve people more responsibly,” says Noguchi, but he isn’t a hard-liner either.
It’s an approach that has already won a loyal following and made Noguchi a firm part of the pier’s community—which, to him, is as important as the food itself. “Some people are already calling it Gooch’s place,” he says, with a faraway look in his eye. In an era of short-lived eateries, it might even be Gooch’s place for another generation: his lease runs for 35 years.