Much like FOY (Friend of Yoso) Kyle, for some reason I have a problem calling the Big Island, "Hawai'i Island". Don't quite know why.....I just do. So it'll just have to be the "Big Island of Hawai'i" I guess.
Our flight took us just under an hour and we got to our rental car in minutes. It was early, but we were a bit hungry (so what else is new). We hadn't been to the Big Island in quite a few years. We stopped at KTA in Kona, but man, the place looked really dreary. There was a time where we could almost live out of KTA, the hot food, the poke, you name it. For some things, it looked like times had changed. And of course, the prices had gone up quite a bit. Hard to believe I bought the exact same sized bottle of Sriracha at Thuan Phat for $1.79 just 72 hours ago! Yikes, $5.69, and that's on sale!
Kona looked a bit depressed and the Missus wasn't a big fan of a good portion of super touristy Ali'i Drive...heck, She was acting almost like a local! We decided to head to Kealakekua, less then 10 miles out of Kona, where the "highway" was just a single lane going each way. Kealakekua actually looks a bit busy......the Missus made sure to stop in almost every "health food" store She saw, just to check it out.
I've always been charmed by the town of Kealakekua, population somewhere around 1,700. The population belies how busy Mamalahoa "Highway" always seems to be. Kealakekua and Captain Cook still have some of that old "plantation/farm town" feel.
You'd miss our stop for a late breakfast if you blinked. On the side of the road is the simple sign for Teshima Restaurant.
There are two parts to the restaurant....well possibly more if you consider the knick-knacks and snacks they sell. The main dining room is located on one side and a bar with even more seating on the other.
It felt like I was going back in time and eating at one of those "old time" places of my youth.
Growing up, places like this were for special occasions. Nothing fancy, but solid, respectable food. My mom's favorite place for her birthday was the now almost decade closed Wisteria Restaurant. As I got older, a better job, with better money, places like Wisteria became a several time a week place. I thought it would be great for the Missus to eat in these old school shops. Reid, of Ono Kine Grindz states that Teshima's opened as general store in 1929 and kept expanding, becoming a restaurant in 1940......old school enough for you?
We were a bit early for the lunch menu, so the Missus ordered the "special".
Two onigiri with a local kine tamago(egg omelet), Spam, teri beef, and a lightly fried fish. For some reason the Missus really liked the miso soup, which was pretty plain and straight-forward. She also loved the tsukemono and sunomono. I got the Spam and the teri beef which was on the sweeter and tough side. The Missus had Her doubts about the fried fish, which I told Her was going to be decent....it wasn't oily, nor fishy at all. She enjoyed it the most.
She enjoyed the fish so much that She poached mine from the "Japanese breakfast" I ordered.
This came with tsukemono and sunomono, I ordered my egg easy over....miso soup, which I gave to the Missus in exchange for the Spam, some fishcake which had been browned, and the fish which looked pretty plain but was quite nice.
Of course the egg went on my rice......
I can't resist the drippy egg photo I guess........
The food isn't fancy, nor particularly amazing, but is honest "old school local Japanese" fare, and has probably been served the same way for the majority of the last 70 years. We've done the Waikoloa Resort thing in the past, we decided to go fairly "old school" on this trip and this, now fourth generation restaurant was a great way to start. One amazing story is that Shizuko Teshima, "Grandma" is still around! She's 105 years old and I heard she still comes by! Man, if these walls could talk!
79-7251 Mamalahoa Hwy
Kealakekua, HI 96750
One of the things we'd never done while in Kona was to check out a Coffee Farm. Since we were in Kealakekua, where most of the Kona coffee is grown, we thought we'd check out Greenwell Farms and I'm glad we did. There's a tasting stand, where we tried some of the best coffee from an airpot I'd ever had. Established by Henry Greenwell from England and his wife Elizabeth in the 1870's, we found out that Greenwell Farm processes 80% of the Kona coffee in the world. The reason you don't hear about them is two-fold. First, they only roast a small amount of coffee for mail order and sale on the premises. Second, they dry the rest of the coffee to the "green bean" stage and it's shipped out for final roasting.......some of the names thrown out to us, Peet's, Caribou, Starbucks......
We found all of this out on the short 20 minute tour which took us to the weigh and processing station.
Where we first got to see and taste "cherry", the red, ripe coffee bean, then take a look at the "green bean", the dried coffee.
The coffee is laid out to dry......at this point it can't get wet. We were told that a Japanese engineer designed the solution to protecting the drying beans from the rain. It's amazingly simple. You can see it in this photo. The simply have a roof on a slide that you can move to protect the beans.
As we returned to the stand and our car, we were shown this patch of rather scraggly looking coffee plants, which looked like had been pruned many times.
These were some of the original coffee plants brought here from Guatemala.
We learned so much during this short tour....the consistent 4pm rains, the volcanic soil, the perfect rainfall and sunlight, basically, the much over-used Terroir is what makes Kona Coffee what it is.
81-6581 Mamalahoa Hwy
Kealakekua, HI 96750
Stand open daily from 0800 - 1700
Oh, and one more thing I found out. Much like if a local "Bruddah" in the area asks you "eh, you like smoke" he ain't talking about cigarettes. When you see signs in the area that say "Buying Cherries", they're not referring to Bing or Rainier's..... it's coffee they are after. They call the fruit cherries...... We'd been wondering about that as we drove up Mamalahoa Highway. We had a great time and the Missus is still enjoying the coffee we bought here every morning.....