Lotus Cafe

Costco hulks in a vast squat industrial park in a lava field outside of Kona. It is sentried by furniture outlets, T-shirt printers, and, curiously, The Most Delicious South East Asisan Food I Have Ever Ever Had.
The other day after a grueling trip to Costco, baby and I were tired and hungry and I saw a "Now Open" sign flapping in an industrial strip right above the Big Box Behemoth. I pulled up into the driveway and wedged into a parking spot between cement mixers and asphalt pounders, stacks of broken down crates, and dusty pieces of furniture, and made my way to the entrance of Lotus Cafe.
Inside all the chaos disappears: you are first greeted by a man-sized stone slab running melodiously with water, then you enter a cozy breezy cafe, constructed ingeniously in a cavernous warehouse with draped tents and whirring fans.
The laminated menus introduce the philosophy of the place: "Hawaii's only Asian Style Natural Foods Cafe: Serving organic food and beverages, prepared from only the finest local, natural and organic ingredients." The cafe is entirely solar powered, and all of the ingredients are either grown on the owners' farm or bought from local growers. The spice mixes and seasonings are all ground and mixed fresh, never store bought. That said, I still wasn't prepared for the intensity and playfulness of the spices and flavors.
I got the Taster's Special "3 different taster portions & rice for 13.95"
The cute waitress brought out the three small dishes on a large plate, and baby and I proceeded to dig in:
Burmese Ikan fish curry with tender cubes of mahimahi in a slow-burning black pepper broth,
Singapore style coconut marinated chicken katsu, marinated in with mango salsa on a bed of cabbage and carrots
Creamy massaman curry with shrimp-- sweet with the deep rich sugar cane flavor, laced with bias-cut whole green chiles, and intensely spicy in that subtle, slow-burning way.
For dessert I had a tiny cup of their home-made coconut gelato-- which tasted a bit too soy-based and vegan-righteous, but was still refreshing for the long hot drive home.
Every day since eating there I've been fantasizing about going back-- the flavors are still alive in my memory, especially that fresh sugar-cane sweetness, and that delicate burn.


  1. My mouth's watering. I better not let Byron read this, he may book a flight to Hawaii!

  2. OK, I know one for-sure stop during our May visit...! Can't wait.

  3. Thanks Kristi and Pa,
    Mai mai, ai mai!
    Come come, come and eat!


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