The Hawaiian Islands have been heavily influenced by Oceanic cultures, most notably the Polynesians, but there are also some significant Asian influences here. This includes a sizable Thai population on the Big Island and several outstanding Thai restaurants, including the excellent Ka Lae Garden Thai Food.
Ka Lae Garden Thai Food is a roadside establishment found within a very nondescript building on the Big Island. You’ll find this Thai restaurant on an easement road that runs parallel to Mamalahoa Highway on the east end of Ocean View. It is the only building currently standing along that stretch of country road, yet from the outside, it looks very much like what you’d call a hole in the wall if a hole-in-the-wall restaurant could be the only thing in an area. Of course, with immigration to the Big Island of Hawaii increasing, it might not be alone for much longer.
This small restaurant started as a small family-owned and operated vegetable and fruit stand but quickly grew to more — although you will still find fresh produce for sale here. Still owned and operated by the same family, Ka Lae Garden Thai Food now also features a fantastic restaurant that serves up fresh, authentic Thai food five days a week, Sunday through Thursday; from 11 am to 6 pm.
When you walk into the front door of Ka Lae Garden Thai Food, you’ll find the establishment’s produce for sale on your right (some days you will also find produce for sale in front of the building) and a small dining area to your right. There are also a half dozen picnic tables located outside patrons are welcome to use and enjoy.
All entrees ordered at Ka Lae Garden Thai Food are made to order, so diners should expect something of a wait. During busy lunch hours, you might consider calling your order in ahead, and then you are welcome to eat on-site or have it to go. Most will find the wait here well worth it as all the food is prepared from scratch, with the chef using local produce to create their fantastic dishes. Locally sourced, locally made, locally served.
Curry-based entrees at Ka Lae Garden Thai Food can be made from protein sources that include beef, pork, chicken, and tofu, or fully substituted for a base of seasonable vegetables. You can also opt to substitute shrimp for a $2 up-charge.
Popular menu items at Ka Lae Garden Thai Food include:
Coconut Soup (Tom Kha)
This signature soup features a sweet coconut milk base that is made savory with mushrooms, squash, carrots, and herbs and spices of cilantro, lemongrass, green onion, raw ginger, and more. Incredibly delicious and addicting!
Drunken Noodles – Spicy (Pad Kee Mao)
This is certainly spicy! Ka Lae Garden Thai Food’s Drunken Noodles features long rice noodles served with a host of vegetables and a spicy mixture of herbs and spices that will have you licking your lips. The soup base includes fish and oyster sauce.
Have people in your group that might not be sold on Thai food? Ka Lae Garden Thai Food also has a few nice Americana menu items they offer with their own flavor. For example, you might try the Thai Style BLT sandwich that features all the expected ingredients plus Thai basil and onions. French fries are also available as a side.
Note that theirs is a small kitchen and while each entree is made to order, often in order, there is a higher risk of cross-contamination than you might experience at a larger restaurant. So this might be one to avoid if you have serious food allergies, like a nut or milk allergy.
-The bathrooms at Ka Lae Garden Thai Food are around back and kept incredibly clean.
-If you’ve been at the beach all day and need to freshen up, consider a stop here and support them with a small produce purchase. Their bananas and avocados are particularly excellent.