Sake in Japan’s city of Saijo

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Novice and experienced sake drinkers will want to have the city of Saijo as part of their Japan trip itinerary.  Sake brewing has been going on in Saijo for centuries and the brew masters have perfected their craft.  Saijo is home to many sake breweries.  Eight different sake breweries are within walking distance from the main Saijo train station.  These breweries are open year-round and give visitors an opportunity to learn the method behind sake brewing.  At the breweries visitors can sample sake and buy sake bottles.

Saijo Sake Festival

Those traveling in Japan during the fall time should plan their visit to Saijo for the second weekend in October.  Every year during this weekend Saijo hosts a Sake Festival.  The festivities begin the moment one exits the train station and walks on Saijo’s main boulevard.  On this street, you’ll find various food stalls, vendors selling clothes or trinkets, and cosplayers dressed as samurai with whom you can take photos.  Besides food stalls and vendors, you’ll find activities for children such as carnival games and jump houses.

Outdoor Izakaya

For the best food options continue on the main boulevard to the outdoor izakaya.  This outdoor Japanese style pub has seating for 5,000 people in the center of a courtyard.  Around the perimeter of the courtyard are food stalls.  Here one can eat made to order dishes such as fried noodles with pork and egg.  Other food stalls sell grilled chicken or karaage, chicken that is deep-fried in oil.  Besides the foods stalls and seating the izakaya has a stage for performances and special talks by local groups.  When you have finished eating, be sure to take any garbage to the trash station for proper disposal and recycling.

Sake Hiroba

The main attraction for the Sake Festival is Sake Hiroba.  In Japanese Hiroba means plaza.  Within Sake Hiroba one can sample various types of sake from breweries found throughout Japan.  To enter Sake Hiroba you must buy a ticket from the booth next to the entrance to the plaza.  Your entrance ticket comes with a small cup and large booklet.  The small cup is yours to keep and used to drink the sake.  The booklet comes printed only in Japanese and lists the various sake available to sample within Sake Hiroba.  Each different available sake has a letter and number designation.  The designation refers to the tent in Sake Hiroba where you can find that specific sake.

Sake Hiroba has over 1,000 different sakes from five different regions available to sample.  The five regions are Chugoku, Chubu, Kinki, Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa, and Hokkaido Tohoku Kanto.  A different color tent differentiates the various regions.  To get the most out of visiting Sake Hiroba be sure to try at least one sake from each region.  When you are ready to sample sake wait in the line leading up to the tent.  When you reach the front of the line place your cup on the stand and let the pourer know the number corresponding to the sake you wish to sample.  For non-Japanese speakers, a list of the sakes available are on a printout on the stand.  Just point to the number for the sake you wish to drink.

Reaching Saijo

Saijo is best experienced as a day trip from nearby Hiroshima.  From Hiroshima’s main train station board the JR Sanyo Line to Saijo’s main train station.  The trip takes thirty-five minutes, one way.  Those traveling to the Saijo Sake Festival will want to arrive as early as possible as the event gets crowded by the afternoon hour.

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Saijo

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Saijo Train Station: 34.431089, 132.743586
Saijo Main Boulevard - Sake Festival: 34.427585, 132.743039
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Saijo Train Station
Sake in Japan’s city of Saijo
Saijo, Japan
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Saijo Main Boulevard - Sake Festival
Sake in Japan’s city of Saijo
Saijo, Japan
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Dining Options on Miyajima Island

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While researching Miyajima one may assume that this tiny island with its Shinto shrines and scenic views of nature might lack an entry in any culinary journal.  Those that make that assumption find how wrong they were the moment they walk around Miyajima’s main streets.  Step into any restaurant and feast on seafood caught in the local waters.  Get a jolt of caffeine while sipping espresso drinks or indulge in ice cream served on a sweet bun.  Satisfy your food cravings by sampling any of the snacks offered by the local street food vendors.

Tori-I

With Miyajima’s proximity to water, seafood dishes take the top spot at many of the island’s restaurants.  Miyajima’s most popular seafood dishes include conger eel and oysters caught in local waters.  For a taste of both conger eel and oysters visit Tori-I.  Those who wish to eat oysters may order inside the restaurant or from the takeout window to the right of the entrance.  Order the oysters raw, grilled, or deep-fried.  Those that order the grilled oysters will find them seasoned with a soy-sauce based sauce.  Diners sitting inside the restaurant may choose from such dishes as udon with shrimp or grilled conger eel.  The grilled conger eel sits on a bed of rice in a bento box.

Miyajima Itsuki Coffee

For a classic cafe experience head to Itsuki Coffee.  The menu at Itsuki Coffee has various espresso choices, served either iced or hot.  Besides espresso the menu features pastries such as muffins, scones, and biscotti.  This cafe is perfect for visitors needing a caffeine fix or somewhere to sit and unwind.  Itsuki Coffee’s décor is modern but warm with wood accents.  Seating is available inside, or outside with weather permitting.

Melon-Pan Ice

Regardless of the day’s temperature, few can resist the draw of warm baked dessert bread with ice cream.  The chain Melon-Pan Ice opened a location in Miyajima, where tourists and locals both line-up for tasty treats.  Melon-Pan is the name of a sweet bun popular in Japan.  The bread bun is soft in the inside but the top has a thin layer of crispy dough that resembles that of a cut and diced melon.  Melon-Pan Ice takes the fresh-baked warm bun, cuts it in half, and adds a scoop of ice cream.  The resulting combination is so delicious that a nearby sign proclaiming it as “Japanese soul food” isn’t an exaggeration.

Miyajima Street Food

For those in need of a quick bite, or if you don’t have time to sit at a restaurant, you’ll find many street side vendors selling various snacks.  One dish in particular to try is a fried pastry made in the shape of a star.  These fried stars come filled with your choice of cheese, custard cream, or red bean.  Non-fried options include fresh-baked steamed buns filled with beef.  Another popular street vendor sells rolled up fish cakes, grilled and served to customers right off the hot stove.

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Miyajima Dining

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Tori-I: 34.298210, 132.321439
Itsuki Coffee: 34.296495, 132.320779
Melon-Pan Ice: 34.295516, 132.321621
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Tori-I
Dining Options on Miyajima Island
Miyajima, Japan
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Itsuki Coffee
Dining Options on Miyajima Island
Miyajima, Japan
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Melon-Pan Ice
Dining Options on Miyajima Island
Miyajima, Japan
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Unique Eats in Hiroshima, Japan

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Modern day Hiroshima, Japan is more than its memorials.  The sprawling metropolitan’s various restaurants offers visitors delicious Japanese cuisine.  In Hiroshima, you will find tasty pastries at Andersen Bakery and St. Marc Café.  At Masui enjoy tonkatsu and Japanese curry dishes.  As for other traditional dishes, such as okonomiyaki and ramen, be prepared to eat these made with a Hiroshima twist.

The Original Andersen Bakery

Andersen Bakery, which has locations throughout the world, came from humble beginnings.  The story of Andersen Bakery began when its founder Shunsuke Takaki visited Europe in 1959.  Shunsuke fell in love with Danish pastries and he vowed to bring these delicacies to the people of Japan.  The first Andersen Bakery opened in 1967 in Hiroshima.  The success of this shop led to the franchise opening bakeries throughout Japan.  Later, more Andersen Bakery locations opened in the United States, Hong Kong, and where the inspiration came from, Denmark.

You will find the main Andersen Bakery at what once was the Hiroshima Branch of the Teikoku Bank.  After the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima renovations on the building began.  The first and second floor of the building are home to Andersen Bakery.  The first floor of the building, known as the Bakery Market floor, offers customers a variety of baked goods and pastries.  Visitors can buy coffee or tea to drink along with their fresh-baked purchases.  The second floor, known as the Kitchen floor, offers customers a variety of meal options.  Select from grilled and stewed foods, sandwiches, salads, pizza and pasta, and Chinese dishes.  Besides those options the Kitchen floor has a full delicatessen, desserts, and beverages.

St. Marc Café

Another great choice for pastries, sandwiches, and coffee is the restaurant chain St. Marc Café.  These cafes became popular throughout Japan for their chocolate croissants.  These chocolate croissants, called Choco Cro, are so famous that often people call the cafes by the name of Choco Cro and not St. Marc Café.  Look for special varieties of the Choco Cro that mark events such as the holidays Halloween and Christmas.

Hiroshima’s Take on Ramen

In the simplest terms, ramen is a bowl of broth with noodles.  Yet, as one travels throughout Japan they find a variety of styles and takes on this simple dish.  In Hiroshima, their style of ramen is tsukemen.  Chefs first cook the tsukemen noodles and serve them dry.  Patrons dip the noodles into broth before eating.  Establishments that cook up tsukemen serve their customers two separate bowls.  In one bowl you will find your tsukemen noodles, meat, and other sides such as eggs.  Another bowl has the broth.  Add the noodles, meat, and sides into the bowl with the broth, mix it around and enjoy.

A popular chain specializing in tsukemen noodles is Bakudanya.  Here you can choose what level of spiciness you want for the ramen’s broth.  A handy heat chart details the spice level from zero to a hundred.  Pick the level of spiciness you can handle.  Bakudanya offers more dishes beyond ramen such as rice wrapped in seaweed and karaage (Japanese fried chicken).

Tonkatsu and Curry

A popular Japanese dish is tonkatsu, breaded deep-fried pork.  Combine this dish with Japanese curry and you have a hunger quenching dining experience.  Masui in Hiroshima is a hard location to miss.  Next door to the restaurant is a deli with a sign reading “Sukiyaki and Foreign Food” with a bull’s head and the word beef emboldened over it.  Right next to the deli is the entrance to Masui.

Before entering Masui stop by the display case housing various dishes.  These plastic recreations of the dishes Masui serves may help you decide what to order.  Upon entering the restaurant, you will have your choice of table seating or a tatami table.  Tatami is a mat, and will mean removing your shoes as shoes should not touch the mat.  If needed, you may ask for an English menu.  Order the tonkatsu with curry for a treat of a meal.

Hiroshima and the Okonomyaki Playground

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese style savory dish similar in texture to an omelet and similar in shape to a pancake.  Associated with the areas of Hiroshima and the Kansai region of Osaka, the okonomiyaki dish comes in two different styles.  In Kansai, Osaka chefs mix the ingredients before using them to form the omelet pancake.  Cooking okonomiyaki in Hiroshima involves the ingredients being layered to form the omelet pancake.

Foodies that seek amazing okonomiyaki will want to visit Okonomimura.  This playground for okonomiyaki lovers offers multiple food stalls on three floors.  There are over twenty food stall on floors two, three, and four.  Pick a stall that looks good to you and saddle up to an open seat.  To keep things simple just let the chef know if you want meat or seafood and sit back and enjoy the show.  Right in front of you the chef will cook up your food.  Before you know it, you’ll be dining on a delicious Hiroshima style okonomiyaki.

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Hiroshima Eats

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Andersen Bakery: 34.394735, 132.457210
St. Marc Café: 34.394070, 132.455778
Bakudanya: 34.387256, 132.460120
Masui: 34.394534, 132.463102
Okonomimura: 34.391289, 132.461894
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Andersen Bakery
Unique Eats in Hiroshima, Japan
Hiroshima-shi, Japan
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St. Marc Café
Unique Eats in Hiroshima, Japan
サンマルクカフェ, Hiroshima-shi, Japan
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Bakudanya
Unique Eats in Hiroshima, Japan
Hiroshima-shi, Japan
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Masui
Unique Eats in Hiroshima, Japan
Hiroshima-shi, Japan
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Okonomimura
Unique Eats in Hiroshima, Japan
お好み村, Hiroshima-shi, Japan
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Osaka’s Foodie Destinations

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Foodies will fall in love with Japan’s city of Osaka. Nestled in the Kansai region of Japan, visitors to Osaka will find plenty of variety to choose from when deciding on where to eat. Popular dishes include ramen, Japanese pancake omelets called Okonomiyaki, sushi made from just caught fish, and a local delicacy called Takoyaki and nicknamed Octopus Balls.

Entrance to Ichiran - Osaka, Japan

Entrance to Ichiran

Ramen preference form at Ichiran - Osaka, Japan

Ramen preference form at Ichiran

Ramen at Ichiran

The restaurant chain of Ichiran is known for producing high quality delicious bowls of ramen. Osaka’s district of Dotonbori has two Ichiran restaurants. Opt for the original location right by the canal. If the original location is busy, with a line of people waiting, do not be dissuaded as the line moves fast.

Ichiran makes ramen made to order. If you’re waiting in line, a server may hand you a form. This form, available in English, lists preferences for selecting your ramen. Fill this form out so you will be ready to order once you reach the front of the line. The form will have you select strength of flavor and level of richness for your bowl. You can select toppings such as garlic, green onion, or sliced pork. If you opt to add Ichiran’s original hot sauce to the ramen check the box for the level of spiciness you prefer.

You’ve made it to the front of the line when you reach a vending style machine. Don’t worry though, your food won’t dispense from this machine. You will use the machine to place your food order. You will select the ramen you want which will set the base price of your meal. Besides the ramen select items such as an egg, seaweed, and drinks, including beer. You will pay through the machine and be given tickets printed with various parts of your order.

Private booth inside Ichiran - Osaka, Japan

Private booth inside Ichiran

Ramen at Ichiran - Osaka, Japan

Ramen at Ichiran

From the machine you will sit at a private booth. Designed for one person, partitions between each booth move to the side if you are eating with someone else. Once in your booth layout the form you filled out, along with the printed tickets from the vending machine, at the front of your table. These tickets signify what extras you bought and the form you filled out tells the servers and chefs how to prepare your ramen.

As you sit in your private booth, you will see only your server’s legs. You won’t speak to the server but you will hear their voice letting you know what they are delivering to your table. After you have received your food, a lowered blind gives you privacy. You won’t even see the legs of the server anymore. Just sit and enjoy your ramen in blissful foodie solitude.

Sign for the entrance to Kiji - Osaka, Japan

Sign for the entrance to Kiji

Plate found at Kiji - Osaka, Japan

Plate found at Kiji

Okonomiyaki at Kiji - Osaka, Japan

Okonomiyaki at Kiji

Okonomiyaki in Osaka

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese style savory dish similar in texture to an omelet and similar in shape to a pancake. Associated with the areas of Hiroshima and the Kansai region of Osaka, the Okonomiyaki dish comes in two different styles. Cooking Okonomiyaki in Hiroshima involves the ingredients being layered to form the omelet pancake. In Kansai, Osaka chefs mix the ingredients before using them to form the omelet pancake. The Osaka style of Okonomiyaki is what you will find in other parts of Japan.

Head to the Umeda Sky Building’s Takimi Koji Alley for a fantastic Okonomiyaki experience. Here you will find Kiji, with its friendly staff and owner. Although you won’t find an English menu, the staff knows enough English to ask you if you want your Okonomiyaki made with seafood, chicken, beef, or pork. The chefs will create as many omelet pancakes as you want. In the center of the table is a hot plate that will keep your Okonomiyaki warm while you eat. Enjoy the fantastic flavors the chefs bring together to make the exquisite Okonomiyaki.

Entrance to Endo - Osaka, Japan

Entrance to Endo

Menu for Endo Sushi - Osaka, Japan

Menu for Endo Sushi

Fish Market Sushi

Sushi in Japan is way and above fresher, compared to sushi served in other parts of the world. It doesn’t matter if you eat sushi at a high-end restaurant or from a subway stall vendor. Even so, levels of sushi quality exist within the various Japan eateries. For the freshest spots for sushi aim to eat near fish markets, such as those next to the Osaka Central Fish Market.

Ginger and soy sauce at Endo - Osaka, Japan

Ginger and soy sauce at Endo

Sake (salmon) and Toro (fatty tuna) sushi at Endo - Osaka, Japan

Sake (salmon) and Toro (fatty tuna)

Ikura (salmon roe), Ika (calamari), and Sayori (halfbeak) sushi at Endo - Osaka, Japan

Ikura (salmon roe), Ika (calamari), and Sayori (halfbeak)

Toro (fatty tuna) and Hamo (sharp toothed eel) sushi at Endo - Osaka, Japan

Toro (fatty tuna) and Hamo (sharp toothed eel)

One such restaurant is Endo Sushi. Here you order sushi made of fresh fish pulled out of the water by fisherman that morning and sold at the nearby fish market to the restaurant. You’ll sit either at a table or the counter and can ask for an English menu. The simple menu has just four different plate options. Each plate comes with five different pieces of sushi. Besides sushi you can order miso soup made with small clams. If you’re there when the friendly owner is working he may even come over and help you brush soy sauce on to your sushi.

Waiting in line for Octopus Balls - Osaka, Japan

Waiting in line for Octopus Balls

Batter being poured for the Octopus Balls - Osaka, Japan

Batter being poured for the Octopus Balls

Warming up the Octopus Balls before serving - Osaka, Japan

Warming up the Octopus Balls before serving

Final product, Octopus Balls with toppings - Osaka, Japan

Final product, Octopus Balls with toppings

Osaka’s Octopus Balls

You will find plenty of options to try the local delicacy of Takoyaki, or Octopus Balls, if you are by the canal walkway of Osaka. These bite size-fried goodness consist of batter mixed with bits of octopus and cost five US Dollars. You will order the Octopus Balls flavored in either soy sauce or soy sauce and mayonnaise. You can ask the vendors to add onions and other toppings on top of the Octopus Balls. Enjoy the show by watching the vendors prepare the Octopus Balls right in front of you. Eat the Octopus Balls on the spot before continuing on to your next destination.

 

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Osaka Eats

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Ichiran: 34.669210, 135.503039
Kiji: 34.704728, 135.490601
Endo Sushi: 34.684256, 135.479588
Takoyaki (Octopus Balls): 34.668515, 135.502552
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Ichiran
Osaka’s Foodie Destinations
Ichiran Dotonbori shop, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan
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Kiji
Osaka’s Foodie Destinations
Kiji Umeda Sky Bldg., Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan
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Endo Sushi
Osaka’s Foodie Destinations
Endo Sushi, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan
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Takoyaki (Octopus Balls)
Osaka’s Foodie Destinations
Dotonbori, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan

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Vancouver’s Granville Island

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Granville Island in Vancouver is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Set along the waters of False Creek, Granville Island offers visitors scenic views. Spend the day shopping or eating at the various stalls within the Public Market or in the surrounding buildings. Unwind while perusing galleries or drinking beer at the Granville Island Brewery. Enjoy the waterfront while strolling along nearby Island Park Walk. Granville Island has so much to offer that tourists will find it one of the top highlights of their trip.

Getting to Granville Island

Tourists planning to visit Granville Island will arrive either by car, bus, or boat. Granville Island is accessible by car but you will be fighting with other drivers for the few parking spots available. The better plan is to arrive at Granville Island by bus or by boat. To get from Downtown to Granville Island you will board the #50 bus. The route for bus #50 runs through various Vancouver districts. Visitors staying in and around Gastown, Chinatown, Downtown, or Yaletown will take bus #50 southbound. Hop on the #50 bus labeled False Creek via Granville Island and exit at the W 2 Ave at Anderson Street stop. From the bus stop it will be a four-minute stroll to Granville Island via Old Bridge Walk.

A unique way to reach Granville Island is via boat on the waters of False Creek. Two boat companies sail along False Creek, Aquabus and False Creek Ferry. Both boat companies have eight docking locations along the waters of False Creek. You can catch one of the boats in popular tourist locations such as Yaletown or near BC Place at the Plaza of Nations. Boats land at each of the docks every 15 minutes so you won’t have to wait very long to catch the next boat. The simplest thing to do is arrive at the dock and hop on to whichever boat company arrives first.

Once on board you’ll pay the driver the fare to ride the boat. The boats hold between twelve and twenty passengers at a time. Passengers sit on benches next to windows so everyone has a view during the ride. The boats sail quietly along the waters of False Creek and offer a relaxing journey while sailing past the buildings of Vancouver. Exit the boat at the Granville Island dock. From the dock you are steps away from the main building for the Granville Island Public Market.

Granville Island Public Market

The most popular place to visit on Granville Island is the Public Market. Inside this building you will find a vast array of vendors. You can buy baskets of various fruits or bouquets of flowers. Other vendors sell pastries and bread still warm from the oven. Locals decide between fresh pasta and ravioli to bring home to cook later. It’s easy to check off your grocery list at the Public Market.

A few vendors at the Public Market sell food products you can eat on site. Lee’s Donuts is a must for those with an inclination towards fried dough. The Honey Dip Donut is a popular choice and tastes delicious. Enjoy your food with a cup of coffee from either JJ Bean or Petit Ami. If you are in the mood for more pastries and heartier fare stop at Laurelle’s Fine Foods. Laurelle’s is a bakery deli that sells meat pies and muffins. The dough on the meat pies flake right off and melt in your mouth.

Next to the Public Market are more buildings full of shops, galleries, and other food options. Those who wish to sample a local beer will want to swing by Granville Island Brewing. To maximize your tasting opportunity order a flight which allows you to sample up to four different beers. The Island Lager is their original beer and a fan favorite. For a true Canadian experience be sure to sample the Maple Shack Cream Ale. In addition to beer Granville Island Brewing offers a food menu with dishes such as poutine.

Island Park Walk

After you’re finished with Granville Island head to nearby Island Park Walk. This path just on the other side of Granville Island offers views of Granville Island plus residential homes and boats docked at the harbor. The path is especially stunning in the fall time when the leaves have changed colors. Here along the path visitors can dream of living next to Granville Island. Imagine waking up on a weekend morning and heading over to pick up items for brunch at the Public Market.

If daydreaming leaves you famished, at the end of Island Park Walk you will find Go Fish. This popular eatery sells quality seafood dishes from a simple shack. For fried golden perfection order the classic fish and chips. Or try the fish sandwich with either seared ahi tuna or salmon. Afterwards take Island Park Walk back the way you came towards either the #50 bus or to the Ferry Creek docks to catch the next boat home.

 

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Granville Island

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Granville Island 49.270622, -123.134741 Overview of Vancouver, Canada and Vancouver’s Granville Island

 

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Jam Cafe in Canada: A Foodie Destination

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Food and Traveling

A tourist’s travel time is finite in that when we travel our trip has a defined beginning and end. We book our flights and know ahead of time how many days we will spend in a city. To maximize our time we plan our days and list out attractions to visit. We make concessions and leave places off our list but what can’t be missed out on is eating. Whether we admit it or not, eating is one of the main reasons we travel.

As food becomes a bigger part of our travels, the struggle becomes trying to cram in as many eateries as possible within the confines of our trip. Sometimes we eat at a restaurant at the start of our trip that changes our food outlook for the rest of our visit. This restaurant serves food so good it makes every meal afterwards pale in comparison. A restaurant that blows your taste buds away and makes you reconsider your list of other eateries. You planned on eating at different places every meal but you want to return to this one restaurant. In Canada’s British Columbia, Jam Cafe is that restaurant.

To categorize Jam Cafe as just a breakfast joint is an understatement. To classify Jam Cafe as reason enough to travel to Victoria or Vancouver isn’t hyperbole. Jam Cafe alone lifts these Canadian cities into full-blown foodie destinations. To qualify as a foodie destination the city needs restaurants where people will stand in line for hours to get seated. People will wait in line for the chance to sit and enjoy a meal at Jam Cafe. This restaurant holds its own against any of the top foodie restaurants in any major metropolitan city in the world.

Jam Cafe: The First Visit

Our first experience with Jam Cafe was on a five-day trip to Vancouver. On our second day, a Sunday, we were looking for somewhere to grab a hearty breakfast. We wanted a meal that could sustain us for the busy day we’d planned for ourselves. Our hotel was near the stadium, BC Place, which meant scant opportunities for a true breakfast experience. Yet according to Yelp within walking distance on Beatty Street was Jam Cafe.

When we reached Jam Cafe, we saw a line of ten people waiting to enter the restaurant. A true foodie will tell you, a line in front of a restaurant is good news. It’s not that anyone wants to wait to eat but the fact that people will wait means you can expect that whatever you order will be delicious. The goal of leaving a restaurant with a full, happy, and content belly is a worthwhile goal. We soon realized the folks in line were groups of three or more people. Going to Jam Cafe with a group is a great way to try multiple dishes but you must wait longer for a table. As a party of two it enabled us to jump to the front of the line when a smaller table became available. We were lucky, having only had to wait in line for ten minutes.

Our host guided us to our seats and once seated we took time to soak in our surroundings. Jam Cafe is one of those places that invoke a sense of eating at someone’s home. The warm atmosphere of the decor has a quaint rustic tone. Although the restaurant was busy, every single employee we interacted with was friendly to us the entire time we were at Jam Cafe. The friendliness of the staff, the atmosphere, and the high quality dishes combine for an excellent dining experience. With Jam Cafe you’ve got a restaurant you could eat at every day of your trip and be happy.

Here we are six paragraphs in on an article on a restaurant and we haven’t even started in on the actual food. That alone is proof of how Jam Cafe isn’t just a restaurant. It is a travel foodie destination you have to experience for yourself. The words and photos used in this article to describe the food don’t do it justice. Many of the dishes given to patrons are so full of food you could share with someone else and still be well fed. Open daily from 8am until 3pm the menu at Jam Cafe includes breakfast and lunch. Regardless of what time you visit Jam Cafe you can order from either the lunch or breakfast menu.

We were at Jam Cafe because we wanted breakfast so after careful deliberation we decided upon the chicken French toast and the fried chicken Benedict. The chicken French toast is a quintessential foodie dish. It’s a dish where the listed ingredients shouldn’t work together but they do, blending into a mouthful of deliciousness. The chicken French toast includes a buttermilk battered piece of fried chicken on brioche bread. On top of the bread and chicken are tomatoes, pickled cabbage, and green onion. The dish includes a dollop of jalapeno sour cream and over everything is a tobasco honey sauce. These ingredients culminate into a savory food melody for your mouth.

The cousin of the chicken French toast is the fried chicken Benedict. In the center of the Benedict is a whole chicken breast, fried to crispy perfection. Along with the fried chicken the Benedict comes with two poached eggs. The chicken and eggs sit upon an English muffin and comes with a traditional hollandaise sauce. Along with our main courses we ordered a side of biscuit and two coffees. In addition on the table was a bottle of maple syrup, a Canadian staple. The maple syrup added a sweet balance to each dish. It was a struggle not to pour the fresh delicious maple syrup over every bite.

Second Times a Charm at Jam Cafe

We left Jam Cafe so satisfied that even though we only had three more mornings in Vancouver we knew we had to return. On our last day we had an afternoon flight and planned on walking parts of Stanley Park before we had to head to the airport. We figured what better way to fuel up for a walk than to go back to Jam Cafe before taking the bus to Stanley Park. This second visit was midweek, on a Wednesday, and no one was waiting in line. Although seated right away, inside each table had patrons eating with huge smiles on their faces.

We wanted that same expression of joy on our faces and jumped right into the Jam Cafe menu. This time the dilemma was whether we try something new or dive back into what was now the comfort food we’d eaten on our first visit. We decided to try new dishes and ordered the Charlie Bowl and a cinnamon cream cheese swirl pancake. The Charlie Bowl has crumbles of biscuit, hash browns, ham, and cheese. On top of this food goodness were two eggs and a pouring of sausage gravy. The Charlie Bowl comes in two varieties the regular version and the Little Charlie. Both are good size plates and even the Little Charlie serving might leave you with leftovers. The cinnamon cream cheese swirl pancake was a dish that satisfied our sweet tooth. To cap it off, we added a side of sugar-cured bacon to each dish.

With the restaurant not being as busy as on the weekday we chatted with one of the owners of Jam Cafe, Jim Walmsley. It turns out that the Vancouver location is the second Jam Cafe. The first opened in Victoria, British Columbia. The Jam Cafe in Vancouver opened early 2016 and in just a few months had amassed a popular following of devoted foodies. Even without having to advertise the restaurant finds itself busy with a constant flow of diners.

Our second visit to Jam Cafe was coming to an end and this time around we weren’t able to finish our meals. The Little Charlie we’d ordered had leftovers we got boxed up to go. That precious food box made its way with us on the plane ride home. We couldn’t miss out on every last bite of the meals we’d ordered. Lucky for us when we got home the food was still edible. In the comforts of our own home we enjoyed our last bites of Jam Cafe. If we ever go back to Vancouver, we know we will have multiple meals at Jam Cafe.

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Jam Cafe

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Jam Cafe - Vancouver: 49.280234, -123.109717
Jam Cafe - Victoria: 48.430392, -123.367745
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Jam Cafe - Vancouver
Jam Cafe in Canada: A Foodie Destination
Jam Cafe, Beatty Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Jam Cafe - Victoria
Jam Cafe in Canada: A Foodie Destination
Jam Cafe, Herald Street, Victoria, BC, Canada
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Vancouver Dining

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Vancouver dining reflects the diversity that embodies the city. Within the various neighborhoods that make up Vancouver visitors will find every cuisine imaginable. This article aims to help travelers in choosing which restaurants to visit. Listed below are six of the best eateries in Vancouver. Each of these Vancouver dining options in this article embodies a different eating experience. From fine dining to food trucks, no one will ever leave Vancouver hungry.

Blue Water Cafe – Fine Dining in Vancouver

Being next to the Pacific Ocean means any Vancouver dining list must include at least one restaurant that serves high quality seafood. For the freshest seafood and a fine dining experience look no further than Blue Water Cafe. Here you will experience top-notch service from a knowledgeable wait staff. The menu includes a plethora of seafood caught in local waters. The chefs create each dish with extreme care. These chefs understand that eating is more than sustenance. For those that enjoy oysters Blue Water Cafe’s extensive menu won’t disappoint. The seafood tasting for two is a perfect way to sample four different seafood dishes. Although not a traditional Japanese restaurant, the sushi rolls and sashimi are delicious. The main course seafood selections range from scallops to lobster to local fish such as the sablefish. Other than seafood Blue Water Cafe’s menu includes steak and chicken options.

Chatime – For When You Need a Drink Break

Walk the many streets of Vancouver and you’re bound to get thirsty. When it’s time for a drink break stop by one of Chatime’s two Vancouver locations. Chatime proclaims itself as being the world’s number one place to get bubble tea. Although the title for world’s number one is always up for debate, Chatime is in the discussion for a good reason. Bubble tea originated in Taiwan and is a tea based drink served with milk and either tapioca balls or fruit jellies. Chatime brews their tea fresh in store and that freshness is found in every sip you take. Natural ingredients and natural flavors combine to make sure that your drink will be delicious. Besides Vancouver Chatime has a store in the nearby cities of Richmond, Burnaby, and Surrey. Other than Canada, Chatime is available in ten other countries such as Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, and the United States.

Dinesty Dumpling House – A Chinese Restaurant Beyond Chinatown

To search for a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown is akin to searching for hay in a haystack. The trick is finding a good Chinese restaurant in parts of the city not designated a part of Chinatown. When the craving for Chinese food hits you and you’re on Vancouver’s busy Robson street head to Dinesty Dumpling House. Dinesty specializes in Shanghai style Chinese dishes. One of the more popular dishes is their Xiao Long Bao, dumplings filled with soup and meat. Diners can watch employees of Dinesty through large glass windows as they wrap the dumplings for each Xiao Long Bao order. Dinesty’s menu features traditional Chinese dishes and snacks. Other dishes worth ordering include spicy wontons, string beans with pork, and deep-fried prawns. Keep in mind that besides the Robson location Dinesty has three restaurants in Richmond and one in Burnaby.

Guu – Japanese Izakaya

With six locations in Vancouver, Guu has cornered the market on Japanese izakaya dining. Izakaya’s are Japanese pub style restaurants where diners order a variety of small plates. This tapas style dining experience makes Guu a great place for dining with a group. The more people in your party the more dishes you can order and try out. With Guu’s extensive menu making selections will be a difficult task. A refreshing seafood choice is the Tuna Tataki. The chefs sear the fish in this dish and serve it with a ponzu sauce and garlic chips. Another popular dish is the melt in your mouth Kakuni, known as pork belly. For noodles order the Yaki Udon. Those that enjoy beer will find Guuud Ale intriguing. This beer is a joint venture between Guu and the Russell Brewing Company. This beer is a perfect pairing fit with any dish you order.

Japadog – Street Food

Vancouver dining isn’t regulated to just restaurants. Along the streets of Vancouver you will find various food trucks. Before today’s food obsessed culture only the bravest of travelers dared to order food from a food truck. Times have changed and now food trucks lead the way in innovative cooking. Culinary fusion is at the forefront of many street food chefs. Japadog is no exception, serving Japanese style hot dogs. Each menu item is a twist on a traditional Japanese dish joined with a hot dog. A first reaction upon seeing the creations at Japadog might be curiosity. The moment you take your first bite any worry you might have had vanishes. The various flavors blend to form one perfect bite after another. Within Vancouver Japadog operates four stands, a truck, a trailer, and one store. Visit any location for a great food truck culinary experience.

Tim Hortons – Canadian’s Popular Restaurant Chain

For a Vancouver dining experience that screams Canada visit Tim Hortons. Tim Hortons is one restaurant chain you won’t be able to avoid while visiting British Columbia.   In Vancouver alone you will find twenty Tim Hortons stores. Even those that have never been to Canada might have seen a Tim Hortons add while watching a hockey game. Tim Hortons may well be as synonymous with Canada these days as the maple leaf. You’ll even find two Tim Hortons at the Vancouver International Airport. Tim Hortons sells coffee, pastries, sandwiches, salads, and wraps. Lovers of donuts will enjoy Tim Hortons bakery selections. Their donuts are soft and fluffy, regardless of which chain you visit. Since you’re in Canada, be sure to try one of the maple-flavored donuts.

 

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Vancouver Dining

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Blue Water Cafe: 49.276155, -123.121129
Chatime: 49.286649, -123.128278
Dinesty Dumpling House: 49.290780, -123.134073
Guu: 49.284008, -123.125433
Japadog: 49.280244, -123.118355
Tim Hortons: 49.193316, -123.181198
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Blue Water Cafe
Vancouver Dining
Blue Water Cafe, Hamilton Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Chatime
Vancouver Dining
Chatime Robson, Robson Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Dinesty Dumpling House
Vancouver Dining
Dinesty Dumpling House, Robson Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Guu
Vancouver Dining
Kitanoya Guu Original Thurlow, Thurlow Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Japadog
Vancouver Dining
JAPADOG, Robson Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Tim Hortons
Vancouver Dining
Tim Hortons, Vancouver International Airport (YVR) Domestic and International Terminals, Grant McConachie Way, Richmond, BC, Canada

 

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Overview of Vancouver, Canada

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Ask ten different people what their favorite thing to do in the Canadian city of Vancouver is and you are likely to get ten different answers. The reason you get varied responses stems from the fact that few places in the world compare to Vancouver. To the casual observer Vancouver is just another metropolitan city. Yet Vancouver differs from other major cities because it embodies diversity. In one day visitors can hike Stanley Park in the morning and then shop Downtown among the masses in the afternoon. Foodies buy produce at Granville Island one moment and enjoy fine dining in Yaletown the next. Convention goers attend meetings at Canada Place and then lounge waterside at English Bay Beach. Tourists walk historic Gastown before slurping noodles in Chinatown. These dichotomies exist in harmony with the diverse people of Vancouver.

With something for everyone Vancouver as a tourist destination appeals to even the most discerning of travelers. First time travelers looking at a map of Vancouver might notice that the city looks like an oyster shell. As anyone who loves oysters knows, you’ll want to crack that shell open and dig into what Vancouver offers. Vancouver isn’t a difficult city to navigate but the easiest way to get oriented is to begin somewhat in the middle of the city in the Downtown district. Downtown is home to the financial and business districts of the city. Among the skyscrapers you will find the Vancouver Central Library. This stunning building is an architectural contrast to the stark skyscrapers. In Downtown you’ll want to make your way to Robson Street. This is one of the main thoroughfares in Vancouver and stretches the length of the city.

On one end of Robson Street is BC Place, a stadium where one can catch either a sporting or musical event. Continuing on and around Robson Street you’ll find a variety of shops. A number of the stores are global brands but a few, such as Roots, are Canadian brands. Few tourists will walk the entirety of Robson Street, but those that do wind up at Stanley Park. If you don’t wish to walk, or don’t have a car, you will reach Stanley Park by bus. Stanley Park is a massive public space with paved paths for bicyclists, roller bladders, and walkers. Here visitors enjoy trees, totem poles, and the waters of the Vancouver Harbour.

To the east of Downtown you will find Canada Place. If you arrived by cruise ship, you will have most likely disembarked at this spot. Besides being a cruise ship terminal, Canada Place is home to a convention center and hotel. Near Canada Place is the oldest neighborhood in the city, the historic Gastown. First time tourists visit Gastown at least once, to see the Steam Clock and a chance to shop for souvenirs. Next to Gastown is Canada’s largest Chinatown. Vancouver’s Chinatown traces its history back to 1885 and to this day is full of shops and restaurants. While in Chinatown you will want to visit the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. This tranquil spot is a wonderful place to recharge and center oneself.

West of Downtown, in simplest terms, is synonymous with food. The regions of the West End and Yaletown are quintessential foodie neighborhoods. Here you will find well-established diners among up and coming restaurants. Further west, across the waters of False Creek, is Granville Island. Here at the Granville Island Public Market are vendors galore. Visitors can buy fresh produce, straight out of the oven breads and pastries, and a plethora of other food products.

Regardless of how you spend your time in Vancouver you will find navigating the city easy. Those who enjoy walking will find wide avenues and flat surfaces. Bus routes traverse throughout the entire city. Ferries sail to Granville Island or further afield to places such as the city of Victoria. Vancouver’s rapid transit system, SkyTrain, runs through parts of Downtown. The SkyTrain connects Vancouver to the cities of Burnaby, New Westminister, Surrey, and Richmond. For those arriving in Vancouver by airplane, the SkyTrain’s Canada Line will get you from Vancouver International Airport to your destination in no time.

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Vancouver

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Vancouver Central Library: 49.279754, -123.115679
Robson Street: 49.284605, -123.124824
BC Place: 49.276750, -123.111999
Stanley Park: 49.298319, -123.137684
Canada Place: 49.289124, -123.116498
Gastown: 49.282808, -123.106688
Chinatown: 49.280600, -123.100553
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden: 49.279649, -123.103913
West End: 49.285646, -123.130621
Yaletown: 49.275702, -123.119907
Granville Island: 49.270622, -123.134741
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Vancouver Central Library
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver Public Library- Central Branch, West Georgia Street, Central, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Robson Street
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
Robson Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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BC Place
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
BC Place, Pacific Boulevard, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Stanley Park
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
and
Stanley Park: Vancouver’s Urban Park

Stanley Park Drive, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Canada Place
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver Convention Centre West Building, Canada Place, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Gastown
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
Gastown, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Chinatown
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
Chinatown, East Pender Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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West End
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
West End, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Yaletown
Overview of Vancouver, Canada
Yaletown, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Granville Island

Overview of Vancouver, Canada
and
Vancouver’s Granville Island


Granville Island, Vancouver, BC, Canada

 

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Hawaiian Food Companies on the Big Island

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Traditional restaurants and eateries aren’t the only food experiences available on the Big Island of Hawaii. Three Hawaiian food companies have sites on the island open to visitors. Each of the Hawaiian food companies mass produce their products for sale on the islands and export them to other parts of the world. By visiting these Hawaiian food companies in person one can learn the secrets behind producing these foods. This article explores the Hawaiian food companies of Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company, Kona Brewing Company, and Punalu’u Bake Shop.

Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company - Kawaihae, HI, USA

Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company

Flavoring Panner at Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company - Kawaihae, HI

Flavoring Panner at Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company

Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company

Macadamia nuts are as synonymous with the Hawaiian Islands as pineapples. Established in 1994, Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company brings macadamia nuts to the masses. Visitors to this Hawaiian food company’s cannery will see machinery and assembly lines used to bundle the macadamia related products Hamakua sells. Behind glass pane windows visitors witness first hand as Hamakua employees work on macadamia nuts in various stages. Visitors see macadamia nuts being weighed, in flavoring pans, and vacuum sealed in cans. Besides viewing these assembly lines visitors can sample a variety of macadamia nuts. Samples include both regular and flavored macadamia nuts. Be sure to visit the Hamakua gift shop to buy your favorite macadamia nuts, macadamia nut cookies, and macadamia nut brittle.

Kona Brewing Company - Kailua-Kona, HI

Kona Brewing Company

Beer at Kona Brewing Company - Kailua-Kona, HI

Beer at Kona Brewing Company

Kona Brewing Company

As the lone liquid food on this list, the Kona Brewing Company is a Hawaiian food company specializing in handcrafted beers. Their brewery is in the city of Kailua-Kona and offers daily tours. The tours include a history of the Kona Brewing Company. During the tour visitors learn the techniques behind brewing beer. At the end of the tour visitors have the chance to sample the beers. After the brewery consider retiring next door to the Kona Brewing Company restaurant. At the restaurant patrons can drink glasses of beer while eating traditional pub fare. The Growler Shack is between the brewery and the restaurant. Here you can buy growlers or kegs for home consumption. The growlers are half-gallon glass jugs that make for a great souvenir. Kona Brewing Company sells a standard rotation of beers including their popular Longboard Lager and Big Wave Golden Ale. Kona Brewing Company sells their standard beers in grocery stores throughout the United States and around the world. In addition to the standard beers Kona Brewing Company brews seasonal beers. Visiting the Kona Brewing Company in person allows you to sample these unique beers.

Punalu`u Bake Shop - Naalehu, HI

Punalu`u Bake Shop

Taro Sweetbread Rolls from Punalu`u Bake Shop - Naalehu, HI

Taro Sweetbread Rolls from Punalu`u Bake Shop

Punalu’u Bake Shop

It turns out that the southernmost bakery in the United States is on the Big Island of Hawaii. The bakery is Punalu’u and the Punalu’u Bake Shop is in the city of Naalehu. To reach Naalehu visitors to the Big Island will need a rental car. The drive to Naalehu takes 90-minutes from either the city centers of Kona or Hilo. Visitors to the Punalu’u Bake Shop get to try samples of the bakery’s famous Hawaiian Sweetbread. The traditional Hawaiian Sweetbread made by Punalu’u Bake Shop is soft and fluffy. The specialty rolls Punalu’u Bake Shop bakes are delicious. For a real island treat sample the Taro Sweetbread. The premises of the Punalu’u Bake Shop include the visitor’s center, retail bakery, gift shop, and a restaurant. The facilities at Punalu’u Bake Shop will entice those traveling from Kona to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Punalu’u Bake Shop is midway along that journey on Highway 11 and a great place to refuel.

 

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Hawaiian Food Companies - Big Island

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Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company: 20.049097, -155.835638
Kona Brewing Company: 19.643110, -155.997546
Punalu’u Bake Shop: 19.061248, -155.585891
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Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company
Hawaiian Food Companies on the Big Island
Hamakua Macadamia Nut Co Inc, Maluokalani Street, Waimea, HI, United States
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Kona Brewing Company
Hawaiian Food Companies on the Big Island
Kona Brewing Co, Pawai Place, Kailua-Kona, HI, United States
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Punalu’u Bake Shop
Hawaiian Food Companies on the Big Island
Punalu`u Bake Shop, Mamalahoa Highway, Naalehu, HI, United States

 

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Other Eats on Big Island’s Western Coast

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With so many dining options in Kailua-Kona and Kawaihae one may never eat a meal beyond those regions. Yet the Big Island of Hawaii has much to offer food lovers. Chances are during your time on the Big Island’s western coast you may venture into areas beyond Kailua-Kona and Kawaihae. Below we offer four restaurants sprinkled throughout the Big Island’s western coast to try out if you’re in the neighborhood.

The Coffee Shack

Tourist that are spending the day visiting coffee farms will find the Coffee Shack a great place for breakfast or lunch. In addition, the Coffee Shack is a great pit stop for those heading from the Big Island’s western coast out to the Volcanoes National Park. Even if you aren’t touring coffee farms or volcanoes Coffee Shack’s view alone makes it a worthwhile eatery. Enjoy the views of the ocean while sipping coffee and eating your meal. One of the best dishes off the breakfast menu is the French toast, made with their homemade Luau Bread. The Coffee Shack serves its own coffee, made from coffee beans from their own coffee farm. You can order a cup with your meal and buy a bag to take with you if you wish. For lunch choose from a variety of sandwich or pizza options. Homemade dessert is available for those with room to spare in their stomachs after their meal.

Manago Hotel Restaurant

Three miles away from the historic Kainaliu district in Captain Cook you will find the Manago Hotel. The Manago Hotel has on site a Hawaiian-American restaurant. This Big Island’s western coast restaurant is known for their famous pork chops. Grilled to perfection, the pork chops are tender in the inside and seared on the outside to ideal specifications. This attention to detail carries over to grilling other items on the menu such as the New York Steak and Mahi Mahi. Each entrée comes with a bowl of rice and three sides. Sides rotate daily and might include string beans, tofu, or macaroni salad.

Merriman’s

For a fine dining experience on the Big Island’s western coast dine at Merriman’s in Waimea. This region of the Big Island is cooler than the rest of the west coast. Contrary to other parts of the island if you are dining at Merriman’s for dinner bring a jacket or sweater to combat the cool breeze. Open for brunch Saturday and Sunday, and lunch and dinner daily once inside Merriman’s you will receive top-notch service. The staff is attentive and dedicated to providing you a wonderful dining experience. Menus change but always include cuts of meat from local ranches. The fish Merriman’s serves is straight from the nearby ocean. Those that enjoy a glass of wine with dinner will find Merriman’s wine list exhaustive with great selections from California and Europe.

Monstera

Four miles from the Waikoloa Beach Resorts and within the Shops at Mauna Lani is Monstera. This Big Island’s western coast restaurant specializes in Japanese-Hawaiian cuisine. Anyone who craves fresh served sushi will enjoy dining at Monstera. Select from a variety of sushi rolls or sashimi options. For those wishing to augment their sushi selections the menu includes small plates and noodle dishes. The head chef of Monstera trained in Tokyo and has worked at hotels such as the Ritz-Carlton. Having such a skilled chef at the helm means that the meal you consume is a feast for your mouth.

 

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Big Island West Coast Eats

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The Coffee Shack: 19.475276, -155.892291
Manago Hotel Restaurant: 19.489198, -155.910803
Merriman’s: 20.023014, -155.676598
Monstera: 19.941275, -155.857801
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The Coffee Shack
Other Eats on Big Island’s Western Coast
The Coffee Shack, Honaunau-Napoopoo, HI, United States
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Manago Hotel Restaurant
Other Eats on Big Island’s Western Coast
Manago Hotel, Mamalahoa Highway, Captain Cook, HI, United States
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Merriman’s
Other Eats on Big Island’s Western Coast
Merriman's Big Island, Opelo Road, Waimea, HI, United States
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Monstera
Other Eats on Big Island’s Western Coast
Monstera, Mauna Lani Drive, Puako, HI, United States

 

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