Hawaii Regional Cuisine on Hawaii’s Big Island
In 1991, 12 Hawaii chefs established Hawaii Regional Cuisine, a culinary movement that inventively blends Hawaii’s diverse, ethnic flavors with the cuisine of the world.
One of the main tenets of Hawaii Regional Cuisine is to take advantage of the freshest island ingredients: cattle raised on the islands’ upland pastures, fruits and vegetables grown from volcanic soil, and fish from one of the best managed fisheries around. The fertile farms and gardens all around the Big Island offer fresh produce and the upcountry pasturelands around Waimea nurture grass-fed beef and lamb. These are the ingredients that go into the famously delicious, creative dishes served in the finest Big Island restaurants. You can tour Kahua Ranch to learn about Hawaii’s rich paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) past.
But you really need to taste these creative dishes to see what Hawaii Regional Cuisine is all about. Two of the original chefs behind the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement have restaurants on Hawaii’s Big Island: Peter Merriman (Merriman’s Restaurant in Waimea) and Roy Yamaguchi (Roy’s, Waikoloa Bar & Grill on the Kohala Coast). Honolulu Magazine has named Merriman’s the best Big Island Restaurant for 13 consecutive years (There are also Merriman’s locations in Kapalua, Maui and Poipu, Kauai). Roy Yamaguchi is a James Beard Award winner based on Oahu, but has locations here in Waikoloa as well as Poipu on Kauai, and Lahaina on Maui, as well as Waikiki, Hawaii Kai and Koolina on Oahu. Another James Beard award winner, Sam Choy, is at home in Kailua-Kona where he hosts Kai Lanai. Other fine restaurants in resort areas throughout Hawaii’s Big Island from Hilo to the Kohala Coast also feature the unique flavors of Hawaii Regional Cuisine.