Umekes restaurant has become a Kona favorite with locals and tourists. Their menu is a mix of traditional Hawaiian cuisine made with the best in local ingredients – with their own special twist.
We arrived at Umekes for lunch at 1pm on an overcast Wednesday and the restaurant was already a hive of activity. They don’t accept reservations online, instead when you arrive you check in via tablet setup outside and they send you a message when your table is ready (there is a seating area out front).
Umekes is situated in Pawai Place in Kona in what is quickly becoming a vibrant restaurant precinct. Beside Umekes is Willie’s Hot Chicken and HiCo Hawaiian Coffee, while across the road is the popular Kona Brewing Co.
Located in the courtyard of Umekes is a small stage where bands play live music in the evenings, Thursday through Saturday. Check the calendar on their website for more details on what’s on.
There is plenty of seating inside and as well as outside – which is covered. The outside seating is a big plus when it comes to remaining socially distant from other patrons when eating out.
Umekes has an extensive menu and prides itself on serving dishes using as many locally-sourced ingredients as possible. Meat and produce are sourced from local fisherman, farmers and ranchers.
The restaurant is famous for its poke bowls (umeke is Hawaiian for bowl), like its spicy aioli with Hawaiian salt & onions or creamy avocado, with Hawaiian salt & onions and avocado aioli.
What we ordered
Umekes Fish Tacos ($24) – three cajun grilled (or tempura fried – we chose grilled) ahi tacos with avocado, pineapple lomi salsa, cabbage slaw, crispy fried onions and garlic aioli in a flour tortilla.
The fish was delicious, and grilled to perfection. This might be a dish to share as they were three good-sized tacos, and one of us couldn’t quite get through them all!
Korean Chicken ($20) – Boneless deep fried chicken tossed in a sweet and savory Korean sauce.
Generous servings and the verdict on this dish? Delicious!
Seared Ahi Caesar ($20) – Crisp baby romaine tossed in house caesar dressing with fresh blackened ahi and crispy wonton strips.
Perfectly seared ahi and a generous amount of salad.
Service was quick, friendly and efficient. Umekes also offers a unique fishing experience. Choose from a number of different packages that include a boat trip and then a dinner afterward in which your catch is cooked the way you want it! For more information on how it all works click here.
Tofu and seasonal veggies stir fried in our house teriyaki sauce in a crispy lumpia basket.
Update: August 2022
We went back for lunch and tried out some of the other items on the menu. We chose the ono for the fish and chips and it was perfectly done.
Beer Battered and Deep Fried Fresh Catch with our Homemade Furikake Rémoulade & Fries.
Update: November 2022
We went back for lunch. This time we chose the Big Boy Plate and Boneless Kalbi Short Ribs.
Tender beef braised in a Korean sauce, garnished with green onion and sesame seeds. The beef was a bit on the dry side but the sauce helped.
The Big Boy plate is your choice of two poke sides and two salad sides with your choice of white or brown rice. I chose the Ho’io salad and the Lomi Lomi salmon side, to go with the ‘Da Ava’ poke and the ‘Sweetie’ poke selections. Good flavors – though there is quite a lot of sauce used for the poke which does tend to overshadow the flavor of the fish itself.