Many first-time guests at the Kamuela Provision Company, an oceanside fine-dining restaurant on the Big Island of Hawaii in the sprawling Hilton Waikoloa Village resort, don’t expect the food to compare to the spectacular sunset view from their al fresco tables. But, if the large number of repeat visitors is any indication, the restaurant’s regional cuisine can certainly hold its own.
Wilhelm Pirngruber, the concept’s food and beverage director and former executive chef, pays homage to the Hawaiian regional cuisine movement that was in its infancy when the resort opened the restaurant in 1988. He and his chefs have continued to bring fresh regional ingredients to their kitchens over the years, minimizing the importation of ingredients from long distances, a practice that once was common on the island.
“We always look at the food trends. As soon as something local becomes sustainable, we put it on the menu, whether it’s produce, farm-raised wild mushrooms, tropical fruits or farm-raised fish,” Pirngruber says.
“We are usually at capacity every night with one-and-a-half turns,” he says, explaining that a staggered seating system maintains sanity in the kitchen and properly timed courses.
The 60 outdoor seats typically fill first, since the 110 indoor seats lack full ocean views. The weather cooperates almost every night of the year to make dining amid Pacific breezes and lit torches a pleasurable experience.
Most of the regular menu can be served year-round, except for some of the wild-caught fish and certain fruits. Hawaiian fish availability depends on the weather.
“If it’s bad weather, the fishermen don’t go out,” Pirngruber says. He also expressed concern that increased exports of some popular fish, such as blue-fin tuna to Japan, are depleting the supply.
Some variety of Hawaiian snapper usually is available, so the restaurant is able to serve its most popular seafood entrée, macadamia nut-coated baked snapper, each night. The fish is brushed with mango chutney and served with a coffee liqueur cream sauce.
Ahi also is plentiful. A favorite appetizer uses marinated Big Island ahi in poke, a Hawaiian version of ceviche, with seaweed and red sea salt.
While a nightly luau is held elsewhere on the resort property, some of the kalua pork that is pit-roasted all day finds its way to Kamuela Provision Company’s tables. Two appetizer preparations are kalua pork spring rolls and a broth-based dish with clams, kalua pork, sweet Chinese sausage, white wine and cabbage.
Such dishes reflect the melting pot of cultures that have influenced Hawaiian cuisine. Immigrants from China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, the Portuguese Azores, Puerto Rico, Europe and mainland United States all have made a mark on Hawaii’s cuisine. Ethnic influences are evident in dishes like satay with wasabi-flavored potato salad, roasted poblano crab relleno and all-American steaks.
AT A GLANCE Cuisine: Hawaiian regional Opened: 1988 Location: 69-425 Waikoloa Beach Dr., Waikoloa, Hawaii Website:
Cuisine: Hawaiian regional Opened: 1988 Location: 69-425 Waikoloa Beach Dr., Waikoloa, Hawaii Website:
“Originally, this was a steak and seafood house. We still have a lot of people who order steaks,” Pirngruber says.
European-style desserts incorporate local ingredients, including Molokai limes and other island fruits, Kona coffee ice cream and, of course, coconut, pineapple and macadamia nuts. The signature dessert is a trio of sweets with a miniature sugar bottle, stuffed with a message on a tiny scroll. Guests often order customized messages for special occasions.
The Hilton is in the process of upgrading all the resort’s restaurants, and Kamuela Provision Company is set to improve its seating options. “We will put in a show kitchen and a chef’s table. Our goal is to have partial ocean views from every seat inside and to extend the bar,” Pirngruber says.
|Quartet of Big Island Treats Lobster Martini, Seared Blue Pacific Ahi, Chilled White Jumbo Shrimp and Local-Style Limu Poke
|Sesame-Crusted Chicken Satay and Honey Shoyu-Glazed Beef Satay Over Wasabi-Flavored Potato Salad
|Kalua Clams with Lup Cheong Fresh Clams, Kalua Pork, Chinese Sausage, White Wine and Cabbage
|New Wave Mauka and Makai Tender Filet of Beef Served on Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Sautéed Spinach Topped with Tempura Lobster and Seared Foie Gras
|Guava BBQ Grilled Free-Range Bird Island Guava BBQ Sauce-Marinated Chicken, Served with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Vegetables
|Beef-o-Rucco Single-Rib, Lehua Honey- and Shoyu-Braised Beef Short Rib, Osso Buco Style
|Chopstix and Pasta Lobster, Clams, Shrimp, Fresh Island Fish and Asian Noodles, Tossed with Ginger and Lemon Grass-Flavored Creamy Tomato Sauce
|Macadamia Nut Baked Hawaiian Snapper Fresh Snapper, Brushed with Mango Chutney, Coated with Macadamia Nuts Served with Coffee Liqueur Cream Sauce, Steamed Rice and Vegetables
|Pacific-Style Bouillabaisse Shrimp, Clams, Lobster and Fish in Saffron, Ginger and Lemon Grass Broth with Red Curry Aïoli Croutons
|KPC Dessert Trio with a Message in a Bottle Crème Brûlée Big Island Pineapple Sorbet Chocolate Marquise: Rich Chocolate Mousse “Island” with Macadamia Nuts Served with our Message in a Sugar Bottle (We customize messages with 24 hours notice)