I had a special lunch today with the irrepressible chef Sam Choy and his wonderful wife Carol at a new Kona restaurant called He’e on 74-5590 Palani Rd in a small shopping centre. We talked story for an hour about all sorts of things interspersed with the locals paying homage to him at the table. It was quite a sight because it seems everybody knows Sam, they’ve all eaten at his various restaurants over the years and he’s loved by them all. He’s a character and a happy one who acknowledges each of them and seems to know what’s happening with their families, jobs and businesses. His catchcry is ‘Never trust a skinny chef.’
Sam insisted I accompany him to this wonderful new place that has only been open for a week but has already got the buzz among the locals. The chef worked at Teshima’s which is a venerable Japanese / Hawaiian institution about ten miles out of Kona with a 30 year or more history. Though the chef may have honed his chops there, he has his own twists on the cuisine and the results were fabulous–chicken stir fry, panko crusted tempura and spicy ahi poke were peak experiences. Fresh ingredients, happy and engaged servers, a clean light and cool environment with great foods at low prices. I only wish I was going back again but no time. Tomorrow am is the Cream of the Crop 20 Kona Coffee growers tastings and a 1 pm flight to Maui.