kruizing with kikukat

Monday, April 16, 2012

Restaurant Chatter: Full Moon Cafe

Surfboard sign outside the restaurant
Hilo is now in the recovery phase...recovering from the 49th annual Merrie Monarch Festival.  The Merrie Monarch Festival is a week-long hula extravaganza, dedicated to the memory of King David Kalakaua, who was known as the "merrie monarch".  In that week, Hilo is abuzz with craft fairs, traditional Hawaiian food offerings, and dancing exhibitions.  The week culminates with three huge events.  The Miss Aloha Hula contest takes place on Thursday evening.  The halau (dance troupe) kahiko competition is on Friday evening, and the halau auana competition is on Saturday evening.  Each halau is led by a kumu hula (main hula instructor).  Announcement of the winning halau takes place on Saturday, following the auana competition, so Saturday is a very late night.  This year, there was no Big Island halau represented in the competition.  Kinda sad.

glass noodles with pork
If you are here and hoping to see Merrie Monarch Festival pics, I will save you a lot of trouble and tell you there are none in this post, and there will not be any until, possibly next year (50th anniversary of the festival).  I did my best this year to avoid the crowds this year.  Next year, I plan to hang out at events and see the "head gear".  It amazes me how some women have these elaborate floral arrangements atop their head.  Makes me wonder how much salons charge to put something like that together.  Or would a florist be the one to do it?

close-up of glass noodle dish
I was hoping to eat some Hawaiian food this week, but it didn't happen.  In my attempt to avoid the throngs/masses/asses of people everywhere with even a remote connection to the festival (Ken's Pancake House, Farmers Market, KTA...yes, KTA), I cut off the possibility of Hawaiian food (okay, well, I did go to KTA, but not on Sunday).  I decided to  play it safe and do Thai instead.

penang curry with tofu
In spite of being a small town, Hilo definitely has its fair share of Thai restaurants.  I know of at least five places in the downtown area.  There are two Thai restaurants on Kalakaua Street alone.  Chiang Mai is located next to Kalakaua Park (where lotsa bums & ne'er do wells hang out).  Further makai (towards the ocean) on the next block is Full Moon Cafe.  Full Moon Cafe is a gem of an eatery that serves up fresh food with vibrant flavors.  And bums aren't hanging out in the immediate vicinity either.

spring rolls---only okay
I wanted to try the pad thai, but I was intrigued by the glass noodle dish.  It was delicious.  The Help wanted to try a curry dish so he chose penang curry with tofu (note to self:  next time, go with green curry and shrimp or chicken).  Its not that the penang curry wasn't good; green curry is Kikukat's favorite thai curry.  The jasmine rice was nice and fluffy.

The only somewhat disappointing dish was the spring rolls.  I swear its the same mediocre spring rolls served at Charley's Thai Restaurant in Waimea, and I swear it comes frozen in a bag from Costco.  The spicy peanut sauce that came with it was very tasty...full of peanuts.  Its a shame it wasn't paired with good spring rolls (Hilo Rice Noodle or Royal Siam).  The Help ordered Thai iced tea, which he liked but I found "bleccchhh".  I can't get past the burnt bamboo taste which can't even be covered up with tons of sugar and condensed milk.  If I wanted to eat burnt bamboo, I could do it for free with the bamboo in my yard!

peanut sauce for spring rolls
Overall, I did enjoy Full Moon Cafe and will definitely be going back to try the pad thai and green curry.  The service was fast and courteous, and the tables were large enough to accommodate the multiple dishes we ordered.  They even had Diet Coke (as opposed to Diet Pepsi)!

tables are large enough to accommodate dishes without crowding
Parking is available on the street, just be sure to go when its not movie time or else you'll be competing with Kress Cinema movie-goers for parking stalls.  A few doors up from Full Moon Cafe is Full Moon Coffee (same owners, do doubt).  Full Moon Coffee serves breaksfast-type food, sandwiches, and, of course, coffee drinks.  I can't remember if I saw any burnt bamboo drinks on their menu.  No matter. . .I wouldn't order anyway.

Work-wise, the week went well. . . nothing remarkable.  I considered calling in sick on Wednesday.  I was very congested and sinus-y, probably an allergic reaction to one of the placeholders who was at a meeting with me on Tuesday.  I'm convinced that some people just talk to hear the sound of their own voice.  And the more they talk, the more they let on to how little they know.  No wonder the Hawaii educational system is so messed up.

Speaking of messed up, most of my lunches for the week  were, predictably, egg-salad sandwiches.  I like egg salad, but I think there should be a two-day limit on eating them.  I'm so over egg-salad sandwiches for a while. I broke down on Thursday and went to J & J for a lechon (fried pork belly) plate.  Forgive me, but it was either that, pigs feet adobo, or go nuts, so I sacrificed my arteries for the greater good.

I paid a weekend visit to my new favorite pampering place, Nicole's Salon & Spa in Keaau.  I needed grooming (Jennifer) and a pedi-paw clip (Tiffany).  I figured Keaau was beyond the Merrie Monarch inundation zone. Ross welcomed me back with open arms, and I showed my appreciation by buying two Free People blouses.  I was tempted to buy a few more things, but I figured I could go back anytime (until Lent next year).

I also paid another visit to Hilo Bay Cafe and tried to do a mobile post from there, but due to technical difficulties, I wasn't able to post the title/picture/text combination from my phone.  I'm still trying to figure out whats wrong.  I am able to post text from my phone, but once I add the picture, it won't go through.  This is even more puzzling because I managed to post a title/picture/text last weekend.  I tried doing a post from my iPad, and it worked okay, but I refuse to carry my iPad around with me and use it as a camera just to post.  Like I said, the frustrating part is that it was working just fine last weekend.

I'm ending this week's post with a joke from my pal Kevo, his contribution to the Merrie Monarch Festival.  "How does a kumu hula say hello?"  The answer:  "halau".  Ya get it?  Hello?????  Halau?????  Awwwwww. . .
some people need to learn how to park

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