He‘eia Kea Pier General Store and Deli / by Megan Tomino

perfect day on k-bay

perfect day on k-bay

When you’re a full-time Westsider and a part-time Townie (it’s possible, holler if you feel me) you have the occasional urge to explore the Windward side of the island. One yearns to cross the misty H-3 into the lush and foreign towns on the other side. But real talk, I never venture out there, so that motive combined with a craving for some good local eats set us on course to He’eia Pier in Kane’ohe. Let me just say that local-style comfort food is taken to another level when you can scarf it down next to K-Bay.

It’s 1 P.M. and by this time most of the specials are sold out. Diners seated on the outdoor picnic tables are from all walks of life, from the neighborhood regulars to tourists looking to take their dining experience off the beaten path. Here’s what we ate:

The Guava Chicken Burger is a juicy piece of thigh meat with a perfect smoky char from the grill. It’s covered in a tangy and sweet guava mayo and topped with a rather regrettable iceberg lettuce mix. The bun, from Kane’ohe bakery, acts as the perfect sponge to soak up all that delicious sauce. 

The Classic Burger Combo does not disappoint. The local-style patty made with Kuahiwi Ranch beef is grilled then served with house dressing and the same iceberg mix and bun (boo and yay respectively). After the first bite, delicious beefy juices were running down my hands and I wasn’t even mad.

The Crab Roll Special had me thinking I was ordering some crabmeat on a hoagie-like bun. Wrong. These bad boys are cooked ahi and imitation crab rolled in nori, panko crusted and deep-fried and then finished with a squiggle of mayo and a healthy shake of furikake. The rolls were crunchy and fun to eat, like a local-style taquito.

My favorite thing about this place is that there are no gimmicks. You are sandwiched between the towering Ko’olaus and the calm bright blue bay eating food that feeds your soul, surrounded by friendly faces, that’s it… and that is really all I need.

This review was originally published on contrastmagazine.com.