Tina’s Garden Cafe

Tina's Garden Café – Nosh on Thai Fusion Creations Made Using Big Island Ingredients
Local Expert's Rating:
4.5 / 5
The Bottom Line:

With a trip to Tina’s Garden Café, you can always count on enjoying delightful Thai fusion fare. At this lowkey Hilo eatery, they always use the freshest local ingredients to build each meal. Then, they serve up their plates family-style while sending plenty of aloha your way.

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

At Tina’s Garden Safe, they always go all out in building big flavor using fresh, local ingredients. They specialize in Thai fusion fare, although they have plenty of traditional dishes on tap, too. In fact, their huge menu spans 10 pages, making it pretty tough to choose just one dish. Thankfully, they serve everything family-style, so you can order several selections and share them with your tablemates.

Owner, operator, and chef Panida “Tina” Wu personally creates every dish ordered in the restaurant. Their impressive menu is all her doing as well, so you just know whatever you order will taste amazing. All her dishes started out with traditional fare, but over the years, she’s put her own unique twist on many of the fan favorites. Her efforts resulted in the creation of her now beloved Black Bean Fish, Pineapple Curry, and Garlic Salmon Wrap.

You can get a taste of Chef Wu’s culinary expertise by calling in your order for takeout. Or you can come by to grab a table and enjoy your selections in-house. Either way, you can expect a bit of a wait for all the magic to happen. Every last dish gets made to order, starting with the preparation of their fresh, local ingredients. Then, the chef cooks your selections using proven techniques that let the flavors build. Even the sauces get made from scratch, ensuring that you get to dine on home-cooked goodness every time.

While you wait, you can kick back and relax while enjoying the good vibes all around. Admiring their eclectic island-inspired décor will likely keep you plenty busy as well. Once a table opens up, the team will lead you to your seat, and then welcome you to take your time in browsing the menu. Just there for takeout instead? They’ll call your name at the front counter where you can pay and take your items to go.

Don’t miss out on the:

Turmeric Chicken Roll
The Turmeric Chicken Roll is a great way to start your meal, especially if you love warm curry flavors. This starter begins long before you arrive as the chef creates her signature special roasted chicken. Then, she adds the chicken to the center of a rice paper wrap along with garden-fresh veggies. Once it’s all sliced up, it goes on the plate alongside sweet chili sauce for dipping.

Tina’s Thai Pizza
A definite local favorite, Tina’s Thai Pizza puts all the best bright, bold flavors in the palm of your hand. This dish starts with the protein of your choice, like organic tofu, chicken, jumbo shrimp, wild salmon, wild opakapaka, or a seafood combo. Then, the chef simmers it with kabocha pumpkin and spinach before adding red curry and coconut milk. After that, the mixture gets folded in the center of a tortilla along with cheese before getting grilled to perfection.

Jammin’ Salmon
Whenever you’re craving fresh seafood with a citrusy kick, get the Jammin’ Salmon. The chef prepares this dish by grilling 16 ounces of wild salmon until flaky and tender. Then, the fish goes over chopped mint and kaffir lime leaves before getting topped with chili peppers and a squeeze of fresh lime. Rice goes alongside to bring it all together.

Although it’s tempting to fill all the way up on tasty Thai fare, it’s well worth the trouble in saving room for dessert. Their Mango Sweet Rice is a true classic, promising to satisfy your sweet tooth in an instant. For something a little different, however, try Tina’s Homemade Durian Ice Cream. The honey and coconut milk beautifully balance the fresh durian flavors, bringing you back time and time again for another taste.

Insider Tips:
-When planning to dine a group of 12 or more, call at least two days in advance to make reservations.
-Expect to see a gratuity of 15% automatically added when dining with five or more in your party.
-They do not honor any substitution requests.
-You’ll need to find parking along the street, which can prove difficult from time to time. Just loop around the block a few times and you’ll likely see a spot open up.