New Year, New Restaurant for Molokai
By Jack Kiyonaga, Community Reporter
In the center of Kaunakakai, a new restaurant, filled with color and flavor, has caught Molokai residents’ attention.
Carol Rocha’s Pacific Eatery opened its doors on Jan. 7, located across from Friendly Market. Aiming for a fusion of different cultures and foods, Rocha’s restaurant offers new possibilities for dining on Molokai.
“What I wanted to create was something that embraced this multicultural influence we have here,” explained Rocha.
The Friday lunch menu with options like Shanghai pork with shrimp, udon noodles and local greens, Chinese chicken salad, and the carnitas super burrito exemplified this fusion of cultures and Molokai-sourced products.
Rocha explained that the menu changes based on what local farmers have produced.
“It’s about using local products,” Rocha said.
While Rocha is hoping to spice up food options on island, she approaches these adaptations from a Molokai-centric view.
For example, Rocha plans on unveiling a new form of the Loco Moco called the “Loco Amigo.”
This Loco Amigo will keep the basic tenants of the Loco Moco but substitute Spanish-style sausage and rice along with a chipotle sauce.
Rocha explained that of course she will “still keep the classics,” but is excited about “putting some twists on them.”
You wouldn’t guess that Pacific Eatery is Rocha’s first restaurant. Rocha, formerly from California, moved to Molokai with her husband and two daughters three years ago. After a career in radio broadcasting and marketing, Rocha turned towards the arts, specifically woodwork and sculpting.
Her passion for art is evident in the physical space of the restaurant. With its open kitchen design, ceramic dishware created by local Molokai artists, and textured murals adorning the walls, ceiling and floor, the space is an artistic creation itself.
Pacific Eatery also has a “keiki vibe,” as Rocha described it. At the restaurant, you’ll see youth taking orders, busing tables and playing the piano, she explained.
By involving keiki, Rocha hopes to impart life skills through the restaurant business, as well as eventually work with the Molokai High School Culinary Club.
The new business has been receiving rave reviews on social media. One resident said its “ambiance is wonderful the minute you walk in the door… good service and a very good salad.” Another described it as “real food that is prepared so deliciously. The vibe is delightful.” Others used words like “onolicious” and “the bomb.”
Currently open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with Sunday brunch and live music, Rocha is looking to add dinners starting Valentine’s Day. Additionally, Rocha is bringing in a coffee bar starting this week.
Ultimately, Rocha hopes the restaurant becomes a place where “you can just hang out,” or “meet a friend for lunch” and “grab a little something to eat.”
“I just want to let everyone know I’m here and just so happy to be doing this,” said Rocha.
You can find Pacific Eatery’s menu online at pacificeaterymolokai.com.