Island Address Book 3-26-2005

Island Chef Peter Merriman on Late-Night Eats

By: Michele Kayal

Chef Peter Merriman has been called the “Pied Piper of regional Hawaiian cuisine.” His restaurant in the Big Island town of Waimea features dishes like scallops with ume vinaigrette and Hamakua mushroom flan. But when the toque comes off, Merriman heads for down-home places like Cafe 100, which is credited with naming the “loco moco,” Hawaii’s surfer dish of hamburger on rice with a fried egg and gravy. 

“That’s the kind of place I’d be eating at the end of my shift, Cafe 100,” he said. “It’s ‘loco moco’ and Portuguese sausage and eggs, it’s all the local stuff. I definitely prefer the places with linoleum in them. In fact most professional chefs don’t want fancy food, they want a greasy burger or a piece of pizza at the end of a night creating gourmet food.” 

It should be noted that in the Big Island’s plantation culture “late” has a different meaning. Café 100 closes at 8 p.m., but Merriman’s other favorite, Kuhio Grill, home of the one-pound laulau and locally famous fried rice, closes at 10 p.m. during the week and midnight on Friday and Saturday. 

Maui picks up the speed a little at Sansei, where chef D.K. Kodama’s specialty sushi is served until 1 a.m. on karaoke nights. 

Not surprisingly, Oahu is the place to be hungry after hours. With 900,000 people and 4.5 million tourists a year, all of them on different schedules, Oahu can feed you a dozen different ways after midnight. 

Side Street Inn is “the ultimate place in the state,” as Merriman put it, for local celebrity chefs to hang out after they close up their own places. With pupus like pesto ahi, crispy fried pork chops and what may be the best fried rice in the city served until around 12:30 a.m. it’s a natural.

James Beard-award-winning Chef Mavro has been seen after hours at Izakaya Nonbei, a Japanese tapas bar decorated like a country inn where you can get tantalizing little plates of crackly baby shrimp and grilled squid until midnight (last order 11 p.m.). If you’re after the hot stuff, Sorabol serves hearty Korean fare like bi bim bap, scallion pancakes and fiery seafood stews 24 hours a day, seven days a week. (Sweet dreams with this one!) 

For breakfast before you’ve even gone to bed (think back to college) the list goes on and on; however, favorites include the Waikiki landmark Eggs n’ Things, where the line is long for a reason. This place doesn’t even open until 11 p.m. Once inside, sidle up to delicious spinach omelettes, heaping plates of poached eggs and Portuguese sausage, and the restaurant’s tour de force: fluffy pancakes accompanied by coconut syrup. Around the corner is Wailana Coffee House, a blue-plate-special kind of place where the waitresses in beehives will bring you all the greasy eggs and ham you want 24 hours a day.


Waimea, Big Island
Café 100

Kuhio Grill


Side Street Inn

Izakaya Nonbei


Eggs n’ Things

Wailana Coffee House