Taste the Local Delights of the Big Island at Bamboo Restaurant
Now the largest town on the north end of the Big Island, Hawi is also the turnaround point for the biking portion of the the Ironman World Championship Triathlon each year.
In the early 20th Century, Hawi was a bustling commercial center for the sugar cane industry. This fueled a busy hotel that housed workers who came to farm the plantations. After a few short years of success, the hotel ultimately closed and was purchased by the Takata family who ran a grocery store in the building where Bamboo Restaurant and Bar is now housed.
After the grocery store moved down the road, and extensive renovations brought back original charm, Joan Steffy Channon, Bamboo’s owner, opened up a beautiful restaurant that serves local island delights.
It’s not just locals and tourists who sing the praises of this amazing restaurant: not only has it been voted Best Restaurant on the Big Island, but has also received the coveted Zagat rating of “Excellent” and received 2-stars from Foder’s. Rachel Ray has also paid a visit to Bamboo, highlighting its popularity and good eats.
As we walked into the restaurant, we saw a tongue-in-cheek sign that set the mood for our dining experience:
While we can’t confirm the “Naked Chefs” part, we do know that the atmosphere was fun and lively with great music & dancing and delicious food. We started our meal off with drinks: I had a Passion Fruit Mojito, while Carol enjoyed a Passion Fruit Mai Tai, which was perfectly fruity.
We then asked Joan to bring us a house specialty, and before we knew it, the Big Bamboozler showed up on our table. This sampler platter had 3 of their most popular appetizers, all three of which were unbelievable. The Chicken Sate Pot Stickers were hands-down the best pot stickers we’ve had in our entire lives. Wow!
They were served with their famous, spicy, sweet chili mint sauce, which added a really nice finish. The Thai Coconut Prawns also had a delicious sauce of coconut milk, garlic and ginger. The finale to the trio was a Kuala Pork Quesadilla which was topped with tropical fresh fruit salsa and sour cream. The flavors were all very familiar to us, but we’ve never before enjoyed them together in that combination.
Holy gastronomical adventure Batman!
After our appetizers, we enjoyed the Bamboo Salad which had organic locally grown greens, local macadamia nuts, and local papaya seeds. The great thing about this restaurant is that all of their ingredients come from Hawaii, so you know it’s going to be fresh and yummy! The salad was outstanding! We wished we could have another, but we knew it was time to move onto the Main Event, the entrees!
We ordered the Barbecued Pork Babyback Ribs or “broke da mouth” ribs, as they’re called, with homemade roasted pineapple barbecue sauce. This was absolutely wonderful, and a TON of food! It was very sticky and messy, but they kindly brought us warm, damp washcloths to clean up.
Psst … don’t tell anyone, but Carol was a real mess after eating these! 🙂
Joan then made an announcement to the entire restaurant, asking for those that had previously visited Bamboo to raise their hands. She welcomed those back, and then welcomed the first-timers. It was a lovely gesture that we really appreciated. Next, Chasity Cazimero began a traditional hula dance. We really enjoyed seeing some of the local culture up close and personal while dining.
We were getting full, but we kept going so that we could share as much as possible about this place! We tried the Bamboo Sliders which were Hawaiian BBQ pork sliders cooked Luau-style in a traditional Imu underground pit, then served on sesame buns.
We put up our white flag, as we didn’t think we could fit anything else into our bellies, but Joan convinced us otherwise, and served us a Small Bites sampler of three of their most popular sweet treats. This was perfect for a chance to have a little something sweet without a full dessert.
Each selection was just wonderful, and we think this is the best casual dining restaurant on the entire island! Next time you’re on the Big Island, stop in to the Bamboo Restaurant and Bar for a delicious, local dining experience!