Let’s Talk Food: Happenings around town

  • Courtesy of AUDREY WILSON
  • Courtesy of AUDREY WILSON Kimchi for purchase at 5-Spice.
  • Courtesy of AUDREY WILSON Specials at 5-Spice.
  • Courtesy of AUDREY WILSON Papaya stuffed with ahi salad from Paul's Place.
  • Courtesy of AUDREY WILSON Fish bowl with noodles at Paul's Place.
  • Courtesy of AUDREY WILSON Caprese crostini from Paul's Place.
  • Courtesy of AUDREY WILSON Reuben sandwich from Park Cafe.
  • Courtesy of AUDREY WILSON O.G. Loco Moco from Park Cafe.
  • Courtesy of AUDREY WILSON Shakshuka from Park Cafe.
  • Courtesy of AUDREY WILSON Pastrami bomb from Park Cafe.
  • Courtesy of AUDREY WILSON Roasted vegetable cobbler from Park Cafe.


5-Spice has two locations, one at Puainako Town Center and the other at 2064 Kinoole St. Its new location, a free-standing building with parking in front, a beauty shop and a physical therapist office in back, is next to Klein Natural Health and Wellness office.


Jinsoo Iida, owner of 5-Spice, said his bentos are still very popular, but there is now an assortment of items you can order. The kitchen is back, with two cooks and one prep cook, and it prepares breakfast items as well as lunch and dinners selections such as meat jun, boneless Korean chicken, chicken katsu, loco moco plate, oyster chicken or lemon chicken, just to name a few. The hamburgers are very popular, with reasonable prices of $4.25 for a gravy burger, $4.99 for a kimchi, cheese, teri or bacon burger or the huge 5-Spice burger for $6.99.

The day I visited the recently opened location on Kinoole Street, the specials of the day included bulgogi, mandoo long rice soup, spicy fish, furikake chicken, egg fu young, mushroom chicken with vegetables, curry chicken, orange chicken, beef tomato and chicken cutlet.

Jinsoo said the kimchi is his mother’s recipe and is available for purchase in the refrigerator.

The Kinoole 5-Spice is open 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. It also has pupu platters available by calling 657-4009.

5-Spice has been around for awhile, with Mrs. Iida, Jinsoo’s mother, opening first in 1984 next to Cronie’s Bar and Grill. She moved to Puainako Town Center in 1985 and has been there since. Mrs. Iida retired and spends most of her time now on Oahu, near grandchildren.

Park Cafe

Park Cafe, located at 475 Kinoole St., across of Lincoln Park, took a short break in January and February and re-opened with a new chef, Khadijiah Quesera. Her specialty is kosher cooking. In fact, when I talked to her she had just been to Maui to cater a kosher dinner for Passover.

I asked her what she considered her specialty and she laughed and said comfort, homestyle food from her grandma’s kitchen. She said everyday she is having fun in the kitchen, creating foods she learned.

The lunch menu has an array of hot sandwiches such as the Monte Cristo, classic Reuben, The Cubano, an open-faced Croque Monsieur and “A Kentucky Hot Brown.” Cold deli sandwiches include ham, turkey, corned beef or pastrami. Eggs &Brunch things include Sizzlin’ Home Fried Skillet, two eggs and grits and lox and bagels. Mrs. Johnson’s Shrimp and Grits has Grandma’s Creole spices.

There is history in this location, as the original loco moco was created in that very same building. Lincoln Wreckers Athletic Club put rice, a beef patty and gravy and called it loco moco. The egg was added later at May’s Diner, now Koji’s Lunch Shop. If you are a fish lover, you can get ahi three ways — house-poached, ahi tuna salad sandwich or salad and ahi carpaccio “pescatore style.”

Want to eat vegetarian? There are three selections of 100% plant-based specialties — house cheese steak, roasted vegetable cobbler or Israeli shakshuka. The Fast and Famous Hot sandwiches include hot pastrami, French dip or BBQ house smoked pork.

Park Cafe is open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. On Friday and Saturday, dinner is served beginning at 6 p.m. Call 969-7587 for reservations.

In honor of her grandmother’s birthday in May, chef will have cornbread and black-eyed peas for dinner with “love on the plate.”

808 Sweet Shack

Located above Cafe Pesto’s bathroom, in the former Hata Building, 808 Sweet Shack recently opened its doors, serving housemade desserts and drinks. Amy Gallegos, who recently moved to Hilo from Dallas, worked in the food service business for an airline and was exposed to the delectable desserts served in the first-class seats. Her love of creating desserts and being her own boss led her on a journey to look for retail space in Hilo.

Knowing about my sensitivity to wheat, she made a flourless chocolate cake that was so smooth and decadent.

Paul’s Place

Paul Cubio opened Paul’s Place eight years ago, and I heard wonderful things about his food but had not dined there. Thanks to friends Diane and Steve, who invited us to join them, we were able to enjoy the cuisine there. It can seat only up to eight people, six preferably.

It is located at 132 Punahoa St., Hilo.

Hilo Huli

The Rotary Club of South Hilo’s Hilo Huli starts at 11:30 a.m. this Sunday, May 5, at Moku‘ola (Coconut Island).

Ka’u Coffee Festival 2019

At 9 a.m. tomorrow, May 1, at the Ka‘u Coffee Mill is the Ka‘u Mountain water system hike.

To make reservations, call 928-0550.

On Thursday, May 2, there is a Ka‘u Valley farm tour and lunch. Call 987-4229 for reservations.

At 10 a.m. Friday, May 3, at ‘Aikane Plantation there is a BBQ buffet, hayride and entertainment. Call 987-4229 or 731-5400 for reservations.

During the evening there is Ka‘u star gazing at Makanau Mountain. Call 928-0550 for reservations.

The Ho‘olaule‘a is from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, May 4, at Pahala Community Center.


Call Chris Manfredi at 929-9550 for more information.

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.

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