{what we ate} LudoBites Hawaii Nine-O

My parents were taking our kids to Hawaii for Spring Break.  The arrangements were made.  The only thing left open was whether or not my husband and I would join them.  With that part still up in the air, I inquired as to the details of their trip.  This is when we found out.  This is when we found out that the wrong week had been reserved.  It had been carved into stone months before and somehow we did not communicate thoroughly enough.

My husband, whom I thought would have been irritated said, “It doesn’t matter, the kids don’t learn anything at school”.  Regardless of whether I think he is correct or not, which I do, I was a little surprised by his response.  Long story short, we all went, two weeks before the real spring break, and we a most fabulous time!

I heard through Twitter that Ludo Lefebvre was having another installment of LudoBites, a LA pop-up restaurant phenomenon, this time in Hawaii.  I almost did not even check on it.  I assumed it was in Honolulu.  That’s where everyone goes, right? We were going to the Island of Hawaii, otherwise known as the Big Island.  This isle is not the most popular of the touristy destinations.

Then, there is was, on UrbanSpoon, LudoBites 9-0 at the Four Seasons Hualalai Resort near Kona, AND, they had reservations available.  I jumped on them.  I made two, one with just my mom the day I arrived, and one for later in the week for the whole family.  This post is a mishmash of the two evenings.

Smoked Mahi-Mahi Rillette on toasted bread

Oh my goodness, what a perfect first bite.  I would have been happy with a few plates of these for my whole meal. I could eat these everyday! Totally stretched what I though rillettes is or could be.  We ordered this both nights!

pele's mojito at Ludobites 9.0

Pele’s Mojito. Tequila, pineapple, cilantro, jalapeños.

Down-right freaking delicious! Not overly sweet, but fruity and spicy. Perfect with the mahi-mahi rillettes above. We are in Hawaii, where cocktails are king. There will be no wine tonight, unless it is in a cocktail.

local Waimea tomato salad with oregano and feta mousse. via Ludobites 9.0

Heirloom tomato salad with oregano, pickled maui onions, olives and a feta cheese mousse.  

If you have ever had the pleasure of eating Waimea tomatoes in March, you are one lucky person.  It had been months since I have sunk my teeth into a perfectly ripe tomato. Oh, for the simple pleasures.

If you are visiting the Big Island do go to the Farmer’s Markets in Waimea on Saturdays.  They have two.  We found so many lovely things there, but my mother failed to tell me that I should have brought a jacket.  Please pack a little something to wear, the climate is decidedly different than the Kohala coast just 10 miles away.  It rained on us, we were wet.  It wasn’t really that cold, but it wasn’t really warm either.


Local shrimp with Hawaiian cinnamon butter with fideo and clams.  

Krissy, Ludo’s lovely wife, explained to us that fideo was the noodle in Rice-a-Roni, you know “… the San Francisco treat”.  Does that stuff still exist?  I always thought they were vermicelli, so I looked it up.  Nearest I can tell vermicelli and fideo are the same thing or similar type of noodle that is browned first.  Fideo happens to be the Spanish name for vermicelli?!? I’m not completely convinced that I understand the difference.

I ordered this dish because I was with my mother and it sounded good to her.  I am not a big fan of cinnamon whether savory or sweet so it would not have been a top pick for me.  That is why I went later in the week with my husband so that we could try more “risky” dishes than I could with my mother.  She is a little apprehensive about trying new things. I think she did well and had an open mind that evening. :)

vietnamese kampachi

Kampachi* Vietnamese style. Palm sugar vinaigrette and Tahitian lime.

All I can say is there was WAY more than that going on here than that simple description. What a punch of flavor. Such a flavor punch, in a good way.  This was my favorite plate.

*Kampachi¹, also called Kona Kampachi², is Hawaii’s sustainable answer to wild yellowtail tuna.  Farmed in pens way out in the ocean

Ono Crudo

Ono Crudo with heart of palm, tabasco aioli and Hawaiian salt.

I think I would have enjoyed the carefully flavored dish more if we had been served this before the Kampachi.  The bold, strong flavors of the Vietnamese style Kampachi were still present when this dish arrived it was hard to detect the mellow, nuanced flavors of the ono dish. A shame really.


Lobster Salad.  local lobster draped in a think slice of daikon, rosemary, white Hawaiian honey and sherry.

Guava Aloe Rita

Guava Aloe Rita. Tequila, guava liqueur, mixed with fresh juices of lime, aloe and guava.

This picture does not do justice to the subtle pink color of the drink.  It was very beautiful.  I think it is time to get home and break out the bottles of tequila that have migrated to the back of the liquor cabinet. I think I am in love with tequila again.

confit pork belly 3

confit pork belly. squash, furikake spelt risotto, kona coffee ash

Just give me the pork.

crispy chicken

crispy chicken. chorizo. eggs. local Hawaiian Hamakua mushrooms (also available at the Farmer’s Market).  

I loved the contrast in textures here, crisp chicken skin, silky egg, chorizo foam, the chewy local hamakua mushrooms.  It was the ‘shrooms that stole the show on this plate!

Paauilo Vanilla Panna Cotta

Paauilo Vanilla Panna Cotta, caramel, caviar and a dusting of Hawaiian sea salt.

salty and sweet albeit a teensy bit fishy, it was divine. We should have had a little champagne!


me and my mom, after a few, maybe more cocktails :-)

Beach Tree Pool

Four Seasons Beach Tree Pool. Yep, I could swim there!


me and Krissy Lefebvre @FrenchChefWife


Chef Ludo Lefebvre: rumor has it that there is another, one night only LudoBites shindig in the works. All foie gras, one night. keep your eyes peeled.

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka`upulehu
72-100 Ka`upulehu Drive, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii 96740 U.S.A.
Tel. 1 (808) 325-8000
Fax. 1 (808) 325-8200

Vista Waikoloa ~ heading to the Big Island? Here is a link to some great condos for rent!


*more information about Kona Kampachi:

¹The Wonder FIsh: Yes, there is an toxin-free, sustainable, farmed fish. And damn if it ain’t tasty.

² Kona Kampachi: The Wonder Fish

Kona Blue Water Farms


I found another blog post about LudoBites Nine-O:  Ladles and Jelly Spoons




{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Sylvia April 4, 2012 at 9:00 am

Thanks for the wonderful evening at Ludobites. Your photos are great memories. My personal favorites were the Pele’s Mojito and the smoked Mahi -Mahi rillette! YUM


Kristen April 4, 2012 at 4:54 pm

We had fun! I’m glad you came with me for a girls night out. I’m proud of you for trying new things.


MyLastBite April 4, 2012 at 10:17 am

So happy you got to go to LudoBites Hawaii!


Kristen April 4, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Me too. I’ve been so jealous drooling over all the photos from the LA versions. It was so much fun. Thanks!


Charles G Thompson April 4, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Sounds like a great trip and great meals. So very cool that you were able to experience Ludo Bites!


Kristen April 4, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Hawaii, what a magical place. How crazy is it that we got to do Ludo Bites while on vacation. It was a blast!


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