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Kailua-Kona Makes ‘Destinations on the Rise’ List

by Big Island Now Staff

TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice awards for “Destinations on the Rise” are out, and one Big Island locale made the cut.

According to TripAdvisor, the list was compiled using an algorithm that measures year-over-year increases in positive traveler feedback and interest in accommodations, restaurants, and attractions from various destinations.

Rounding out the top ten list was Kailua-Kona with a 13 percent year-over-year increase in booking interest.

TripAdvisor notes that “this historic fishing village is located on the sun-soaked Kona Coast.”

Reviewers suggest visiting Mauna Kea’s summit while on the Big Island and enjoying a meal at Fish Hopper Seafood and Steaks, according to TripAdvisor’s compiled data.

“Our well-traveled community has helped us identify the destinations around the world that are gaining in interest and popularity,” said Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor. “We hope these destinations inspire those planning their travel for 2016 to book trips to these locales that feature excellent hotels, restaurants and attractions, and also provide a great vacation value.”

The full list includes:

  1. Gatlinburg, Tenn.: 67 percent year-over-year booking interest.
  2. Orange Beach, Ala.: 91 percent year-over-year booking interest.
  3. Destin, Fla.: 32 percent year-over-year booking interest.
  4. South Lake Tahoe, Calif.: 34 percent year-over-year booking interest.
  5. Jackson, Wyo.: 40 percent year-over-year booking interest.
  6. Estes Park, Colo.: 56 percent year-over-year booking interest.
  7. Anchorage, Alaska: 34 percent year-over-year booking interest.
  8. Pittsburgh, Pa.: 31 percent year-over-year booking interest.
  9. Portland, Maine: 36 percent year-over-year booking interest.
  10. Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i: 13 percent year-over-year booking interest.



Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau Recognition

Smiling for the Salvation Army


Great Customer Feedback

"Wow! What an epic dinner we just had! I wanted to thank both of you and your excellent staff for such wonderful treatment at your Kona establishment. Dale couldn't have been nicer, our server, Heather, was exceptional, and the food was to die for. I had the mahi/shrimp special and it was perfect. My wife's ahi was divine, and everyone else loved their orders as well. My daughter ordered the clam chowder and my wife and I agreed it was the best we've ever tasted. My 78-year-old father (who also had and loved the mahi/shrimp special) marveled at how un-noisy the restaurant was despite being totally full. Overall, just a perfect night out with my family."



Fish Hopper is Tops!

Steak, seafood and an akamai waitstaff! by Carrie Kuwada Phipps, Hawai'i Island Journal Review

When it comes to a great first impression while dining out in Kailua-Kona, the Fish Hopper is at the upper crust of my list. This eatery opened four months ago at the old Ocean View Inn location on the Ali'i Drive strip in Kailua-Kona; it offers excellent service, fabulous sunset and bay views, is a great venue for people-watching and has a lot more than just great local seafood.

On a recent visit, three different staff members enthusiastically greeted Mark and me before we were ushered to our table for dinner. Immediately impressed, we recalled the innumerable times that we had entered a dining establishment or place of business in town and been completely ignored.

The restaurant has been renovated into a relaxed and casual Polynesian Style décor with earth tones, large comfy booths at the rear, and a bamboo-roofed bar. Gone are the old screens and louvered windows that once blocked the stunning views of the bay. In its place were open-aired walls inviting the outside in and the inside out.

This is the newest one of seven restaurants owned by Sabu Shake and family. The other six, including the original Fish Hopper, are all in Monterey, California. The family's 30 years in the restaurant business were clearly evident, especially in the well-trained staff. Our waiter, Jonathan, was totally on top of it; he knew exactly what it took to provide A+ service.

Besides the steaks and the fresh, local fish, menu items include fish flown in from the mainland: seasonal Dungeness crab, Sand dabs from Monterey, Petrali Sole, fresh Alaskan halibut, Corvena sea bass and wild salmon.

We started with the Chef's Sampler Plate ($16.95) - enough for at least two - featuring their Fire Roasted Artichoke with Roasted Garlic Aioli, a Dungeness crab cake and calamari. The generous platter, beautifully presented, was absolutely delicious. The marinated artichoke was excellent, the calamari rings plump and light, and the crab cake was crispy on the outside and moist and succulent on the inside.

A Poached Pear Gorgonzola Salad arrived next, with candied walnuts and raspberry vinaigrette dressing ($9.95). We told Jonathan we planned to share this large salad, so he served it already divvied up. Topped with three thick slices of poached pear, generous amounts of walnuts and Gorgonzola, the sweet and savory salad was a delight, both beautiful to look at and a knockout for the palate.

I debated between the Sand Dabs (which I've never tried) and the Stuffed Jumbo Prawn Pasta, but the pasta finally won out. My $23.95 platter included three jumbo prawns stuffed with crab meat and served over angel hair pasta and tossed with portabella mushroom, fresh spinach and tomatoes. The shrimp were cooked perfectly, and the sauce was light yet rich with white wine, butter, and garlic. The finishing touch was a dusting of Parmesan cheese which Jonathan hand-grated. This was paired with a glass of full-bodied red wine (Ferrari Carano), and the combination was really out of this world.

Mark ordered up the Seafood Cioppino ($29.95) which contained one-half of a Dungeness crab, jumbo shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels and fish in a tomato broth with fennel. The broth was extraordinarily good: buttery, rich, and savory. This dish was most stunningly presented in a large white bowl that looked like a giant saimin spoon. Mark kept commenting throughout dinner - and throughout the next week and until today - how great his Cioppino was.

All servings were generous, and we both had another meal or two with the leftovers.

To finish the meal, we ordered a Triple Berry Mango Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream ($7.95) and the Macadamia Torte for dessert. The cobbler was excellent, with the perfect amount of sweetness. The Torte came with a macadamia nut crust and a layer of caramel and was topped with chocolate and caramel, but it was my only disappointment of the evening as the caramel layer was crystallized, and this particular dessert was a little overly sweet in my opinion.

If you're looking for quiet romantic ambiance, the Fish Hopper won't cut it, but if you're looking for some great and creative food, great service and killer views of the bay right in town, hop on over. Beyond the great seafood and steaks, they also offer prime rib nightly, as well as Alaskan king crab, their award-winning clam chowder (which is their specialty and an original family recipe), and some very creative Polynesian drinks. Their signature Bucket of Fire serves two or more and contains four different types of alcohol (vodka, two rums, brandy) and is served as a flaming volcano! Great wine pairings are also suggested and available.

The Hopper serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. Reservations highly recommended for dinner. Great place - I've already been back once for lunch.


Thank You from the Shake Family Restaurants

The late Sabu Shake, Sr. was a hands-on restaurateur who founded the Old Fisherman's Grotto. Today, Sabu's sons continue in their father's footsteps, serving innovative, internationally-inspired cuisine in an atmosphere of superb, genuine hospitality. Download a PDF to view family history and photos. We are proud to be part of this community for over 50 years. With your help, we have been able to lend support to organizations helping people in need. Download a PDF of the organizations.

The Shake Family


Thank You to our community!

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The Shake Family