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Aug 7, 2006 09:08 PM

Kauai Report (Long)

I've just returned from a lovely ten days on Kauai, and I offer this report. Back in February, when deciding whether to go to Maui or Kauai, I posted here, and someone responded, "Don't go to Kauai for the food." I'm forced to agree.

NANIWA -- This is the Japanese restaurant at the Sheraton in Poipu. We ate there the first night, and we had several rolls. It was okay. Definitely nothing special, but great view. Exhorbitantly expensive for sushi (i.e., $9 for two pieces).

THE BEACH HOUSE -- Everyone said this was the best restaurant on Kauai, so when we ate here the second night, I was fairly down on the island. It was alright. We had the Ahi three ways and the calimari to start. Both were decent; actually the calamari was first rate for such an ordinary dish. Main courses and dessert were not memorable. For my main course, I had a "tower of risotto," which was not risotto at all but rather a duo of risotto cakes, one of which was to have morels and had one -- that's right, one -- mushroom. The view is fantastic; it's a beautiful sunset, and you can watch surfers throughout the mail. Our server belonged in a Friday's rather than here.

DUKE'S CANOE CLUB -- This is at the Marriot in Lihue. They've got a great salad bar. The prime rib, while huge, was very medicre, and the hula pie was not special. There are good views to be had here, but not everyone gets one.

CAMP HOUSE GRILL -- We had breakfast here on our way to spectacular Waimea Canyon. We ordered banana pancakes, but they were out. We got blueberry pancakes instead, and should have known better; they were frozen, and the pancakes were bad. We did get a side of biscuit with sausage gravy which was very good. The place has an authentic feel to it.

AMORE -- This is the Italian restaurant at the Sheraton. I went with low expectations, but was pleasantly surprised by a perfectly cooked Opakpaka with mushroom risotto. Avoid the lasagna. The chocolate sofflet was servicable -- at least it was a soufflet, rather than a mascarading molten chololate cake -- and the view, again, was wonderful.

ROY'S POIPU GRILLE -- I went to Roy's feeling pretty down about the state of food in Kauai, and I wasn't excited to go there. Last summer, I ate at the Roy's in Kihei on Maui and was unimpressed. This restaurant was very, very good. So good, in fact, that we abandoned our search for a better restaurant and had dinner here four times. Good tropical drinks, friendly servers. The place runs like a machine. Highlights were shrimp and asparagus crepes, beef and pork pot-stickers, short ribs, ahi with pork belly fried noodles, every fish we ordered, and, among desserts, the pineapple cake, the apple volcano cake, and the macadamia nut tort. No view, but it is open air and doesn't feel like a suburban stip mall restaurant (as the Kihei one does).

GRINDS -- This is a small place on the way to Waimae. Very good breakfast skillets, filled with meats and vegatables and potato. Good carrot cake too.

EGGBERTS -- In a shopping center in Lihue. Hands down the best banana pancakes I've had (except for the Gazebo in Maui). Omlette was just okay; stick with the pancakes.

BUBBA'S BURGERS -- Tasty burgers in Hanalei. The line is long and the service slow, but the burgers (thin, fast food style) hit the spot after a morning spent with tons of turtles.

Finally, I had burgers and onion rings for lunch pool side at each of the three big Poipu resorts -- the Sheraton, the Hyatt, and the Marriot. The Hyatt's was inferior, and they have a stupid set up where you have to order inside from as astonishingly slow cashier, and then they bring you your food. It was more than $50 for two cheesburgers, an onion rings, and two pina coladas. The Sheraton's and Marriot's burgers are both equally good, but the Marriot's is half the price, and their drinks are have the price.

Have a great time in Kauai!

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  1. Thank you for your post. We're off to Kaua`i (and other locations within the Hawaiian Islands) next month. I have booked the Beach House, after tons of great reviews. Hm-m-m, guess I'd better be careful.

    We've done various Roy's in Hawai`i and on the mainland. All have been OK to really good. Each exec. chef has some major latitude with Roy's menus, so each can make, or break the dishes. My old favorite was Waikoloa on the Big Island, but she is not with the group any longer. It was still quite good, last year, but NOT the unique SW meets Pacific Rim Fusion, as before. Oh well. I moved Gaylords at Kilohana Plantation to lunch, with the recs. for Beach House. I may well be sorry.

    We're doing Roy's in Poipu, as it was closed (Iniki), the last time we were there, and I have never done it.

    Most of our other reservations are within the various "resorts" in the Poipu Area, so I will report, when we return.

    My all time favorite on Kaua`i, A Pacific Cafe, in Kapaa, is no longer. I would have driven any place for Jean Marie Josselin's food, but, alas, I am too late.

    Thanks for the heads-up,

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bill Hunt

      I think 808 is still open at Ceasar's Palace in Vegas. I met Jean Marie there a couple of years ago...

      1. re: gyppielou

        808 huh? Had not heard of it, but will run it down. I'm in LV about 3x/yr. for business and always get to choose the restaurants. I'll add 808 to the mix.


    2. Please let me know what you find since we will be in Kauai in two weeks. I have reservations at both Roy's and the Beach House. But based on this review the Beach House may be out and I will need to find some place to replace it.

      Have fun.


      4 Replies
      1. re: jkao1817

        I will not be able to help you, as you will be there before me. Would, if I could. Right now our dining looks like:
        1.)Shells @ Sheraton Kaua`i Resort (hotel food, but we will have been traveling all day and I've actually gotten some good recs. on it.
        2.)The Beach House, based on many earlier recs. I'll probably leave this one, and give it a try.
        3.)Donderos @ Grand Hyatt, based on many recs. on other boards. Supposed to be as good as "hotel" food gets. Also, has several awards, that were given by specific groups. These groups' awards have translated into great restaurants in other places. Let's hope that my luck holds up!
        4.)Roy's or Pomodoro in Kalaheo. Have not been to this Roy's. Pomodoro has also gotten some very favorible press from some critics, that I respect. We'll see.
        5.)Tidepools @ Grand Hyatt. More "hotel food," but again with good recs. and some of the same awards.
        6.) Gaylord's at Kilohana Plantation. Will do lunch.

        Last trip to Kaua`i was just after Iniki, and A Pacific Cafe in Kapaa was #1, by a wide margin. It's not closed. Almost everything that we had in Hanalei was very good. No "fine dining," just good food, friendly service and a cute little town. However, as we will be staying South, I doubt we'll get up that way, except for a late lunch.

        Now, my request. As you are going sooner than I, please let ME know what you find. I can always cancel these reservations and try something entirely different.


        1. re: Bill Hunt

          While on the north shore, you may consider lunch at Med Gourmet, which is at Charo's old place...killer view and good people.

          1. re: Bill Hunt

            The only think we have planned is Roy's and The Beach House for dinner. I will let you know how they are.

            I may now also try Donderos since we will be staying at the Hyatt.

            Let you know in a few weeks.

            1. re: Bill Hunt

              Bill - I think Gaylord's is beautiful at night - the ambience is much better!

          2. We just returned from Kauai too. Had a great time, Roy's was by far our best dinner. For a great lunch spot in Poipu, try e.b.'s Eats. They are in the same center where Roy's is. Great sandwiches and salads. They do a lot of takeout which is great for grabbing food and heading to Poipu beach. They evidentally have just moved into this location, they used to be in Lihue. Really fresh food and great baked goods.

            1. We just returned from Kauai. We stayed in Waipouli, in between Lihue and Kapaa. Since there are not many great restaurants on the island other than the more famous ones, (else you end up eating at the same ones to aviod the bad food) I will give a review of the little spots so you can avoid them or try them. We ate at Scotty's a barbeque jointin Kapaa, not great, my husband's ahi was wonderful but everything elso, not. Coconuts, in Kapaa was a surprise. We had the opah and the ahi and they both were cooked to perfection. My only suggestion is that they lighten up on the very delicious sauce, they put way too much. A Pacific Cafe is gone, replaced by a Chinese inspired place, menu looked good, but didn't get a chance to go. Don't go to the vietnamese place near the Safeway/Longs. Pizzeta in Kapaa had a decent pizza, not so great service. We definitely hit Hamura's Saimin, in Lihue, go before 6pm for dinner or you will have a long wait, in addition to the wait after you order. The terriyaki sticks are not good, but the saimin is. The second time we tried to go to Hamura's at 6:15 it was packed, so we went to Oki Diner on Rice Street. It's a total locals joint, they have malasadas but I didn't get to try it. They also have haupia and other baked goods, but also didn't try. Harley's in the Coconut Grove shopping mall has a decent short rib plate lunch. The shave ice here is comparable to Shave Ice Paradise in Hanalei, but a tad more expensive. TC's, not so good, but they do have a decent salad. When visiting the Kilauea lighthouse, stop by the Kilauea Fish Market, the seared ahi poke salad is very good. Get it with the organic mixed greens, if they have it, and the oriental dressing. In Hanalei, the fish Tropical Taco is a must. Skip Bubba's and the Hanalei Mix plate. Kintaro, near the Wailua river mouth, is very good for sushi. Be prepared to wait for your food anywhere in Kauai.

              1. Does anyone know if the Jean Marie Josselyn (Pacific cafe) restaurant has reopened and how it is?