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Dining: Coasting Through Kohala's New Restaurants

Three new reasons to check out the Big Island’s dining scene.


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(page 4 of 4)


From hotel chef to burger joint: Edwin Goto of Village Burger.

Photo: Olivier Koning

Unable to choose, we ordered three burgers for the two of us. Two were beef, a Hawaiian Ranch Burger (“Depends on which ranch has beef that day,” says Goto) and a Wagyu beef burger from Kahua Ranch, just 20 minutes up the mountain. The third was that relatively rare, new Big Island product, Hawaiian Red Veal.

All three were remarkable, thick, handmade patties, juicy, not greasy, touched only with salt and pepper and the grill. The rancher’s beef was a little brighter in flavor than the Wagyu, whose flavor ran deeper on the finish. The veal was a scootch drier, of course, but wonderfully light on the palate. All of them tasted like real meat.

Everything you can get on the burger—tomato marmalade, avocado, goat cheese—is raised within a couple of miles of the restaurant. The buns are from Holy’s Bakery in Kapaau.

Make sure to order Goto’s housemade fries covered with what he calls Parmesan goop. Rich, salty, sticky, cheesy.

Goto came out from behind the counter. “Try these,” he said. Milkshakes with ice cream from Tropical Dreams, a company located all of a mile away. Big, thick, rich shakes. “People ask how I can charge $6 for a milkshake,” says Goto. “I’m not going to sell anyone a milkshake that doesn’t have a lot of real ice cream in it.”

He darted behind the counter, where he hangs out 10 or 11 hours a day. “What’s it like running a tiny burger joint after major hotel kitchens?” I asked.

 “At the end of day, I feel like I’ve really done something,” he said, “even if it is only make burgers.”

My wife looked at the check: $7.50 for the Ranchers, $8.50 for veal and $11 for Wagyu. “Same prices as almost everywhere,” she said. Then to Edwin, “When are you going to come to Oahu?”

“Oahu’s possible,” he said. “Depends on lease rents.”

Somebody please cut him a deal. 

John Heckathorn has been writing award-winning restaurant reviews for HONOLULU Magazine since 1984.

 

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