Firstly, L'Shanah Tovah Tikatevu! Happy New Year to you and yours. May 5770 be full of wonder, joy, and sweetness for you and your loved ones.
AND now back to Hawai'i!
Brunch - what better than a big steaming heaping bowl of noodles? I headed down to Nori's, which is supposed to do a good version of the Hawaiian noodle dish called saimin. It's kind of like ramen, but influenced by all of the cultures that have come through the islands.
Nori's version includes perfectly al dente noodles, egg strips, fish cake, char siu pork, and lots of greens. I also ordered mine with their delicious won ton, and got it as part of a combo with a nice little teriyaki chicken stick. Their broth was really good, and all the ingredients and textures came together into something that was just fun to eat.
And I ordered a side mac(aroni) salad, because I'm crazy. Whoosh, was their mac salad creamy! And sweet! I think it might have been half mayonnaise! It was good, but way too rich for me to stomach more than a few bites.
Nori's is a cute, casual place, and one of its big pluses is that it's open late. That's how I ended up back there for dinner that night. I'll give you their info at the end of the post.
Hunger completely satiated, I drove over to the Lyman Museum to check out their exhibits. I really enjoyed it, and would definitely recommend a visit if you're in HIlo - especially on a rainy day, which this was.
I learned a lot about the geology, topography, flora, and fauna of the islands. The giant dioramas were particularly cool, with nenes (Hawaiian geese) peeking out from between shrubs.
I also got to see a lot of the aquatic life around here. There are a number of species that are endemic to Hawaii, and many of them are endangered by introduced species. For instance, the Hawaiian owl nests on the ground, so cats and mongeese are always attacking it.
There's a room full of shells, which I was unable to adequately photograph (technically, no photography is allowed in the museum... ahem). They ranged from delicate, spiky whorls up through long, unadorned cones.
I spent a lot of time looking at the enormous display of minerals. Orlando Lyman was a huge collector of specimens, and actually has a mineral named after him. I saw the only existing specimen of orlymanite while I was there.
The minerals were grouped by type, like how many axes of symmetry they had.
There was even a small display of glow-in-the-dark ones!
Upstairs, there was a bunch of Hawaiiana, like these stone poi pounders, used for preparing the mashed taro that was a staple of the Hawaiian diet.
There was also a case full of beautiful shell leis and ceremonial necklaces made from whales' teeth and braided human hair.
I really enjoyed the exhibit of Bertram Gabriel Bellinghausen's photography of the Big Island between 1883 and 1905. It's only up through November, but it offers a really interesting look back to a completely different time.
It's worth it if you're there to go on a tour of the Lyman House - these are offered every day at 10 and 2, and it's a glimpse back to the time in the mid-1800s when missionaries were arriving in Hawaii in droves. The Lymans operated a school out of their staunchly New England style home - in fact, these guys were so Yankee that Mrs. Lyman continued to wear full woolens while living in this tropical climate!
As you can tell, it was starting to rain again, plus I'd spent several hours out. I headed back to the hotel to do some photo editing.
Meanwhile, Logan had been out scouting, and happened to pass by a poke place he'd heard great things about. Snacktime!
He picked up an order of marlin poke with kukui nut relish, which we'd been wanting to try, and this awesome sesame-seed covered teriyaki-flavored ahi jerky. I really enjoyed the dried fish and fish jerky we kept finding - such a good snack!
Uncle Sol's poke was awesome. The kukui nut relish was slightly oily and a bit crunchy, addig a great texture, and that little pepper was HOT!
Logan ended up having to work pretty late that night, so after he got off, we drove down to where roads 130 and 137 meet. They were covered by lava in a huge flow in 1990, and now you can drive down there for a view of the lava flows from Kilauea.
When we were there, two flows were ongoing. There's a 1/2 mile hike over lava flows to get to the viewing point, and flashlights are a good idea if your night vision isn't very strong. We were over 6 miles away from one of them, but it still lit up a good bit of the night sky. Smoke reflected the angry red of the roiling, burning rock as it flowed down to the sea.
There was also a ridge high above us that was on fire. This apparently had been a subdivision, and until recently it had one remaining stubborn resident who would ride his bike over the black lava several miles to the nearest source of fresh water.
The lava viewing area is open from 5 to 10 nightly, though the last car is allowed in at 8. There's a hotline you can call for information: 808.961.8093.
We didn't get back to Hilo until 9:30, which meant that most all of the town's restaurants were closed. That's how we ended up back at Nori's - after all, Logan hadn't gone with me for lunch.
First up, a couple of tasty local beers.
And then some happy, comfortable food. I ordered their Korean fried rice, which I think might have hot dogs or spam in it - the pieces of meat were pretty small, but definitely had that salty processed flavor. Mixing it with the egg made for some serious comfort food - heavy, but tasty. The char siu chicken on the side was surprisingly good, moist and flavorful. And HUGE. I didn't come close to finishing it.
Logan got a lighter dinner, the ahi sandwich, which came with a thin piece of barely-cooked ahi. I've never liked cooked fish sandwiches, but this one was pretty good. And he got to try that insanely creamy mac salad!
Nori's is definitely a good standby in a town that shuts down early. Bonus - we sat next to a table of the geekiest dudes in Hawaii and heard a really detailed rundown of every singly MMORPG out there.
Nori's Saimin and Snacks (no website): 688 Kinoole Street #124. Hilo, HI. 808.935.9133.
A late night! Next - the only rainforest zoo in the US, and really terrible Thai food.