Description of Don’s Mai Tai Bar from the Royal Kona Resort Website:
“Don’s Mai Tai Bar, the largest open-air, oceanfront bar in Kailua-Kona, offers a dramatic venue set against the backdrop of Kailua Bay. Select from a variety of over 10 types of Mai Tais, Hawaiian specialty drinks and complete cocktail service in Kona’s most spectacular location. Lunch and appetizers are served daily. With 360° views of the Pacific Ocean and Kailua Bay, the bar features scheduled live entertainment while HD televisions broadcast current sporting events.”
Kona has enjoyed unusual weather of late. The typically hot and humid September days have given way to breezy, vogless mornings that provide a perfect excuse to roll the car windows down (oops – I’m dating myself) and cruise Alii Drive at a leisurely pace.
As you pass the seawall fronting Kailua Bay across from the sand volleyball court, the image of a cruise ship floating offshore in cerulean water steals your breath away and you very nearly slam on the brakes allowing the chimera to imprint on your mind forever. Just beware of the occasional Ironman cyclist barely clipping the mirror on your passenger side as he glides swiftly out of your field of vision. Passing Huggo’s, continue south and you should find ample parking at the Royal Kona Resort. Deposit your parking ticket in your purse or pocket, as Don’s will validate.
Recognizing my apparent tardiness, I called Mei with my order of Beachcomber Crab Cake Caesar ($13.95). Cindy and I must share a clairvoyant connection because we frequently and unknowingly order the same dishes – or else we simply have very discerning taste! As I arrived, I waved at the restaurant manager, who had just stopped by our table to chat with the girls. As you can probably surmise, we are recognized lunch regulars at Don’s Mai Tai Bar, and the Kona Babes have deemed it one of our favorites!
Crisp romaine lettuce clothed with a Caesar dressing contained enough garlic to keep any vampire away from my neck that afternoon. No complaints from this critic except one: I prefer the inclusion of anchovy, which was instead presented whole on top of the salad. I realize that restaurants have all but deleted the coddled egg emulsifier from the famous recipe due to salmonella concerns. Don’s perfect fusion of olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic, worchestershire sauce and freshly grated parmesan contrived a creamy yet piquant dressing that embedded an enigmatic smile on my face for the rest of the day. Gosh! I almost forgot to mention the garlicky croutons! A savory crab cake added the perfect ‘ying’ to the ‘yang’ of this dish.
Don’s Beach Burger, a juicy one-half pound Angus patty grilled to order and served on a sweet onion bun ($11.95), is normally accompanied by a choice of potato-mac salad, French fries, or pineapple coleslaw. Carolyn didn’t hesitate to upgrade to the ‘ono’ sweet potato fries served with ginger remoulade for an additional buck. Another burger offering that remains popular with the Babes is the Magnum P.I. Burger, pan-seared in a blackening spice and topped with blue cheese and caramelized onions. As the Kona Babe coterie returns to Kona for the winter months, we will undoubtedly return to Royal Kona for a more thorough menu review.
Usually, one of us will order the fresh fish taco, however Mei broke tradition and aimed for the Roast Turkey Sandwich ($12.95), comprised of thinly-sliced roast turkey piled high on grilled focaccia, served with a side of radish sprouts embellished with toasted pecans and cranberry-guava-orange relish. I apologize for the shoddy picture of this presentation, however I was not allowed ample time to zoom in for the perfunctory closeup before a deluge of French’s mustard shrouded the mound of succulent turkey.
As a foursome, we were able to focus on each other’s comments and our discussions took on a more personal tone. Conversations held at a table seating up to fourteen women probably resemble a loud cacophony of outbursts to an observer; and in fact, intimate details go unheard by the majority of listeners.
Today we learned that Carolyn and her husband recently traveled to the mainland as guests of honor at a party given by their children to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Friends and family traveled near and far to help commemorate the blessed occasion. Carolyn relived the festive outdoor gathering for us, recounting details of her children’s efforts to pull off such a grand endeavor.
Relating her current experience of building a home in Kona, Cindy expressed pleasure at finding acceptably priced materials such as floor tiles and plumbing fixtures locally. Although many of us could not attend her recent ground blessing, we were pleased to relive the event through our conversation that afternoon.
Family is a frequent topic at our lunch table, and Mei revealed her pleasure with a self-reliant step-daughter who is maturing into an engaging and accomplished young woman. The notion of blooming independence in “la jeunne fille” makes us smile collectively as we silently recall the trials and tribulations of our own youthful experiences.
After relating my prior week’s episode in hectic Honolulu dealing with an immediate family medical ordeal, I felt relaxed and settled sitting near the ocean, spending a couple of hours lingering over lunch and conversation with dear girlfriends.
And that, faithful readers, is what our Wednesday lunches are all about. It’s not the food or the restaurant - well, that is a very small part of it - and most of us are not able to attend every week. The draw is the allure of stepping away from the daily grind of life and the promise of affectionate communion with friends.
The hotel has many bathrooms, but this specific ‘lua’ is just off the check-in lobby, located to the side of the waterfall. The floors are painted in an attempt to mimic the blue Pacific, which unfolds itself panoramically just off the hotel’s boundaries. Cobalt blue stone countertops continue the oceanic theme. We appreciate that Royal Kona hotel probably has constant maintenance servicing the public restrooms resulting in a spotless facility. Kudos, Royal Kona! We’ll be back!
Royal Kona Resort
75-5852 Alii Drive
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740