Just got back from a terrific week at the Hyatt in Poipu. My family and I listened to Ruth Reichl’s enjoyable “Garlic and Sapphires” on our day trips around the island. In the spirit of her book here’s a food report.
“Home turf report” (Hyatt Hotel Restaurants were we stayed)
Tidepools: only place my teenage sons would let my wife take a family photo. The photo was beautiful but the food was only average. My wife’s swordfish was overly seasoned. The Hawaiian salt was too strong for her mainland taste buds. The other fish dishes were okay. The lobster cole slaw salad and the brulee trilogy were our two favorite dishes. It’s a beautiful location and the service was excellent so the dining experience still felt special. Make a sunset reservation if you are staying at the hotel and with lowered expectations you will have a lovely time. For a family of four 300.00 without alcohol. Appetizers in the 12 to 15 dollar range. Main courses in the 30 to 45 range.
Ilima Terrence: strictly a breakfast buffet that comes with the hotel package. It has some Asian elements ie. rice and miso soup for breakfast. If by day four or five you are getting tired of the buffet you can transfer the buffet allowance to the hotel’s golf course restaurant. The house special fried rice topped with sunny side eggs was a family favorite.
Stevenson Library Martini and Sushi nights Friday – Sunday. Two sushi chefs churn out overpriced but serviceable sushi in comfy back area that is designed like a library that Sherlock Holmes would hang out in. No opium is served but the martinis were dry and live jazz was played by musicians who don’t act like they are slumming. They seemed to be enjoying the gig and so was everyone in the room. The kids can eat in the bar until 9:00.
“A Special Meal that was Supposed to be Special but Wasn’t”
Roy’s at Poipu: Last time we were in Kauai we ate here two times and wished we had eaten here more. It felt like an oasis in a desert of mediocre food. This time we found the food only average and the experience underwhelming. The tab for my family of four was 275.00 without alcohol. No one in my family wanted to go back.
“Places we appreciated”
E.B Eats at the Poipu Village Shopping Center: Found this place from a prior Chowhound recommendation. I like to give a loud shout of thanks. A little restaurant with courtyard dining perfect for casual lunch or breakfast. The waldrof salad was my favorite. Also loved the meatloaf sandwich. They use local, organic greens. A place to be supported.
Various locations. In and Out style burgers... toasted buns... thin patties. Fun casual lunch stop for the family on the way back from Princeville.
Hanalei Mixed Plate
Across from Bubba’s burgers in the Ching Young Village, Hanalei. Pork and cabbage mixed plate was my favorite. 7 to 9 dollars for the various plate lunches. Casual.
Joe’s Golf course
Dine right off one of the tees. The food is solid and a good value. Enjoyed the Mahi Mahi fish and chips. 170.00 for a family of four. Unfortunately I think they are not serving dinner for the rest of the summer. The place serves a really good breakfast. Casual.
Located in Koala. The best mixed plate on the island. They are rude in a soup nazi way, but the food is cheap, plentiful, and wonderful. Takeout only. Get the pork mixed plate. It comes with two types of pork dishes (one wrapped in a banana leaf /the other shredded). Also included in the lunch plate was an amazing Hawaiian style salmon crevice. Tiny bits of salmon were tossed with a soyu/mirin sauce. We brought the plate lunches back to the hotel and wolfed down the terrific, home-style food as we looked out at the waves at Shipwrecked Beach. It was pure bliss for 32.00 for the four of us.
Jo Jo’s in Waimea
I had the watermelon shaved ice over a bed of macadamia ice cream. Our favorite shaved ice place. On the same side of the street was a shrimp place that made various types of shrimp dishes. No atmosphere, but the garlic shrimp was very good. Nice place for casual lunch.
Caesar salad was surprisingly good at this reasonable pizza place. A welcome respite from the 300 dinners. My family ate for 60.00.
On the way to Princeville. The Pineapple Frosty was the best single dish we had on the island. For 3.50 you can taste something that needs a passionate writer like Ruth Reichl to describe.
Went to the Beachhouse on Poipu. Not good.... The view is fantastic from the right tables, but it felt like a Denny's where we were. Prices were high and the service was very lame. They are always busy, so service doesn't seem to matter. Don't go unless you got alot of time and money.
It is interesting how polarized the reviews of The Beachouse are. Reminds me of Mama's Fish House on Maui. It is either a great meal/service, or the worst that the poster has ever had.
For us, going back a bit now, TBH was very good on all aspects. Predicated on OUR experience, I'd quickly recommend it. Now, Plantation Gardens (a fav. on this board) was less exciting, and my review stated so.
OTOH, I have to admit that that trip had some real ups and downs at the same location. Poor wife got the "short end of the stick," with regards to almost all of her meals, while I had nothing but great chow and service.
Back to TBH, everything was great for both of us, including our wine service, and I am a real stickler there. Our sommelier was also the husband of our server the next night at Dondero's, and I gave him big marks - to his wife!
Great trip report! We have to agree about Jo-Jo's shaved ice and the delicious Pineapple Frosty from Banana Joe. The pineapple frosty concept (run frozen pineapple wedges though a champion juicer to produce a heavenly frozen drink) is genius as is the execution. This could be the next big drink craze. There is a more detailed description and some pictures on my blog:
ps Hamura’s Saimin stand is also recommended!
We're on our last day here at the Hilton Kauai Beach Resort. We didn't really shoot for fine-dining as we spent much of our time snorkeling/hiking so we were always in shorts and tanks, hardly fancy attire. Here are some spots we ate at:
*Kintaro in Wailua. We were dubious at first but the tuna is so incredibly fresh, melts in your mouth. Definitely more rolls-oriented and dinner combo-entrees, but all very tasty and reasonably priced. Dinners ran from $25-$50 for two.
*House of Noodles in Kapa'a. We tried to go to Hamura's Saimin but as luck would have it, they were closed for renovation for a week. The saimin at House of Noodles was pretty good, we definitely would return. $6 or $7 a bowl.
*Obsessions Cafe in Waimea. Good wraps, nice light lunch spot just before hiking in Waimea Canyon. $16 lunch for two.
*Hanamaulu Tea House and Restaurant in Lihue: So-so Japanese food. Ghetto tables and chairs. I was disappointed because I had read decent reviews. $50 for two. Not worth it.
*Shaved ice stand at Beach House/Lawai Beach. (Also home to some of best snorkeling we did, aside from Napali!) Tiny stand with a mom and little son who served us deliciously giant-sized shaved ice for $3.50 each.
I loved the stand at Lawai beach. The proprietess was sooo nice! The SPAM musubi was terrific, too, but you have to get there early in the AM to beat the surfers to her small batch.
Did anyone else stop at the shrimp truck between Lawai & Poipu?
It was a bit pricey ($9 per plate?), but the sweet/tangy/garlicky/spicy marinated shrimp over white rice was one of the culinary highlights of our trip. Well worth the drive, the tough parking and the chickens! (If you've been on Kauai, you'll know what I mean).
Much appreciated. We've booked Tidepools for one night, so I will take your advice and lower my expectations a bit.
E.B.Eats has gotten good recs. on several boards, and we plan on doing breakfast, and maybe a lunch there.
I was thinking of doing some Ports at Stevenson Library, but will shy away from the sushi-nights. I couldn't tell from the Web site, if this was all nightclub, with a Port selection, or was much more. It appears that it is at least "some" more.
We're down the way at the Sheraton, but are dining twice at the Hyatt, so I appreciate your comments.