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February 12, 2018

Visit Hilo: Hilo Bay Cafe

A friend of mine told me Hilo Bay Cafe offered great cocktails and a great view, so what better way to spend our last night in Hilo?

My co-workers and I ordered a round of cocktails and some pupus, and what I hoped to be a really nice dinner turned out to be a rather disappointing experience (which later got turned around - off-site - thanks to one of the managers).
Spicy Scallop Roll

Crispy Pork Belly Roll

Parmesan Custard

Kalbi Steak Fries
The Parmesan Custard was one of our faves.  An ultra-creamy, melt-in-your-mouth custard sat atop roasted eggplant, and was served with toasted rosemary-olive oil bread.  By itself the custard was really good. With the crusty bread - it was divine!

The Kalbi Steak Fries was another fave of the table.  I really wanted to eat fries, and even though the fries were topped with pieces of kalbi (along with kimchi cabbage, sriracha crema, cilantro, and pickled sweet peppers), I had planned to just pick them off (since I don't eat a lot of beef). Turns out the kalbi was my favorite topping!  The fries were so delish!

The two sushi rolls we ordered were just okay.

As for the service...

To make a long story short and without getting into too many details, from the get-go, the service was poor.  I wasn't the only one who thought so, and for me, personally, I felt unwelcomed and disregarded.

By the end of the evening, one co-worker said she wouldn't recommend the place, and another said she wouldn't return.

Well, word of our disappointment with the service got to one of the managers at Hilo Bay Cafe (how he found out is another long story).  He wasn't even working at the time, but he came down to the restaurant looking for us just as we were about to leave, and he took us out elsewhere so he could get our feedback on our dining experience.  He really took the time to listen to our concerns, and the fact that he went to the restaurant looking for us when it's not even his restaurant AND he was off the clock made a huge impression on us.

One of my co-workers said she has so much respect for him because of that, and another mentioned how she will always remember him for what he did.   

Service matters more to me than food does, but I am all for giving places second chances.  And I hope the next time I visit Hilo Bay Cafe, the service will match that of the manager who went above and beyond to successfully turn around an unpleasant evening.


Hilo Bay Cafe
123 Lihiwai St.
Hilo, HI 96720
(808) 935-4939

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