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Hawaii Chowhounding

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Wow! I would never have guessed Hawaii would be lumped in with "elsewhere in America!" Anyway, we are spending time in Kauai, Maui, and Oahu in October (OK, I am planning way ahead).

Can you guys that live there or that have visited recently recommend off-the-beaten-path places to eat on these three islands? They don't have to be upscale places - just restaurants where we can find good, authentic regional food.

Also, has anyone been to Postcards on Kauai? Is that worth a stop?

I also saw something on TVFN about a place that makes hot dogs with buns that resemble an elongated doughnut (the hot dog goes inside). What about this place? It seems quite unique.

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  1. There are quite a few threads discussing various types of restaurants both in Waikiki and Honolulu/Oahu that have been posted over the past few months.

    Check out some of these threads (in no particular order):

    (oahu report) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/442201
    (best hole in the wall) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/421684
    (sunday dinner waikiki) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/444640
    (cheap eats Honolulu) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/424931
    (Oahu Cheap & Tasty) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/259032
    (Downtown Honolulu) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/427704
    (Best Fish) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/468012

    1. I live on Kaua'i and ate at Postcards some time ago. It was pricey, but the worst part was that I was served a pasta dish that had been frozen and then nuked. It was still a bit frozen in the center. When I complained, they didn't offer to replace it, they just nuked it some more. Yucky.

      Also, add to Kaimukiman's thread list: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/492597

      4 Replies
      1. re: ponocat

        As a somewhat frequent visitor I would add: get hold of the Anthony Bourdain "No Reservations" episode on Hawaii if you can. That hotdog place was featured. It was a good ep overall, I thought. I also suggest sitting at the bar at a place like Roy's (Oahu preferably) or Alan Wong's Pineapple Room in Macy's (Oahu again) early in your visit, get a drink and an appetizer and ask the bartender where they currently like to eat within your parameters. I've found that everyone who has anything to do with food on Oahu absolutely loves to talk about it. (Not dissing the other places-- there's just a bigger restaurant scene on Oahu.)

        Just as much as places, I suggest getting together a list of types of food you would like. For instance, we always go to Safeway and get several flavors of poke because it's just not the same on the mainland. My husband has several kinds of fish he must eat on each visit. (Although several of them are reef fish which are seen less in restaurants in the moment, apparently because they are getting depleted-- very sad.) And so on.

        1. re: bibi rose

          Thanks for the good advice, and I will look for the "No Reservations" episode. Hopefully it will air again before October.

          1. re: JenBoes

            the hawaii episode of no reservations is up on itunes now.

        2. re: ponocat

          Thanks for the info . . . and we will skip Postcards, for sure.

        3. Glad that you found the "Hawai`i Board," nee "Elsewhere in America."

          It appears that KaimukiMan has done the "heavy lifting," and the links that he provided should get you started. I have not checked each one, but, unless I've missed some threads, feel that you'll get the lay of the land.

          Remember that each island is unique, and that each side of each island is unique - so are the food/dining experiences.

          There is another fairly recent thread on "which island has the best food?" I did a quick search and did not turn it up, but if one spends a bit more time, it also yields good recs. and most are grouped BY island.

          We're in Hawai`i about every 9 mos., and do O`ahu plus one other island (or side) per trip. Besides the golf, hangin' out, etc., food is our prime motivator. I do have to admit that most of my reviews have been the more up-scale spots, but that's just what we go for. There are tons of great reviews of less expensive, but no less enjoyable, spots on all islands.

          Do a bit of reading (KaimukiMan's links and a "search this board") and report back with some specifices: price ranges, likes/dislikes, exact location on each island, places that sound good to you, etc., and there will be a handful of locals, and "wannabe locals," who will help you make the decisions. Though there have been a few detractors, I feel that Hawai`i has excellent dining, and on almost each island and each side of each island - very few exceptions, IMO.

          Aloha,
          Hunt

          1. The hot dogs you mention are Puka dogs. Its located in the Roy's shopping center in Poipu, on Poipu Rd. I honestly don't know a single local who has eaten there, but I know that almost every tourist I meet goes there....

            There are a lot of small local places which offer a taste of island life. On Kaua'i try Barbecue Inn in Lihue or Mark's Place in Puhi...and one of the many fish places (Fish Express, Koloa Fish Market, etc...)...you might want to buy the Ultimate Kauai Guidebook for more in-depth dinner recommendations- I feel like they are right on.

            1. Warning - this is a lenghtly post.
              My husband and I just returned from a week in Kauai a few days ago. We stayed at the Marriott Beach Resort at Kalapaki beach in Lihue. We didn't eat every meal out since we had a psuedo kitchen at our condo. The island is beautiful, the people are friendly and the weather is perfect. But as a chowhound, I was somewhat underwhelmed. The best meal we had all week was at Hamura's Saimin in Lihue. And it was probably the cheapest and most basic of all the restaurants we visited. We had the special noodles, fried wontons and some really good shrimp tempura on a stick. Also try the lilikoi chiffon pie. It was very light and unique. I think it could have used a bit more passion fruit flavor but was still quite good.
              We ate at Dukes at the Marriott for lunch and dinner. Dinner was decent - fresh fish of the day. Lunch options were limited and pretty mediocre but the setting is really nice - as close to the beach as you can get without sitting on sand.
              Sunday brunch at the Marriott was quite good but expensive.
              We had sunset dinner at the Beach House in Poipu. The setting was fabulous. The food was OK, not great, and the service was...well let's just say...not friendly. Our server had zero sense of humor and the warmth of a Montreal Winter.
              Plantation Garden in Poipu was really nice. The service was excellent and the setting was lovely. The food again was good but not something that I will remember for years.
              We ate lunch at the Hanapepe Cafe and Bakery on the way to the canyon. The food was quite good and the service was very friendly but extremely slow. We bought some baked goods to take home with us. The cookies and turnovers were yummy. The sourdough bread had a nice taste but not the texture of real San Francisco sourdough.
              We also did the obligatory luau at the Smith Family farm. Actually, it was probably my second favorite meal of the trip. The pork was so unbelivably good that everything else I ate paled in comparison. I can still taste it. The teriyaki beef was also excellent and I enjoyed the hawaiian sweet potates and the papaya salad dressing too. The show was OK but too long. After awhile it started feeling a little Don Ho'ish but the grounds were so beautiful and the whole evening so well organized, that we could deal with a little extra Don.
              The Kalapaki Beach Hut is a good spot for a reasonably priced breakfast and its right next to the Marriott.
              On our last day we ate lunch at the Hanalei Dolphin. The fish sandwiches were pretty decent and the setting was nice - right next to the river. Service was friendly and efficient.
              And don't even get me started about the food options at the Honolulu airport. Ghastly!!!

              We were in Maui about 10 years ago and at least one of our favorite restaurants is still there. We liked Sansai seafood and sushi in Kapaluaa but I think they moved from their original location. There was a restaurant in Lahaina called Avalon. It is apparently closed but the chef owner apparently has other restaurants on the island. I had one of my most memorable meals at Avalon so if you can find another Mark Ellman restaurant, go for it. We ate at another very memorable restaurant in Lahaina but unfortunately it wasn't memorable enough because I cannot for the life of me remember what it was called. What I do recall is that It was on a top floor, in the center of town, had a black and white checkerboard floor, big windows and ceiling fans. Anyone remember it? Is it still there?

              3 Replies
              1. re: mary0201

                Mark Ellman has the two Mala Oceanfront Tavern restaurants, one is in Lahaina and the other is in Wailea. Sounds like your trip was nice despite some food disappointments.

                Sansei did move to the area right behind where the little deli/store is in Kapalua easy to find.

                1. re: mary0201

                  I think the restaurant in Lahaina you are thinking of with the black and white checkerboard floor is Longhi's. I believe it is still there. the waiter sits down at your table and proceeds to recite the menu... I had a garlic shrimp dish there once that you could spoon the garlic out of it. About a 1/2 cup of minced garlic. Unreal.
                  Agree with most of your Kauai reviews. Hamura's is usually our No# 1 place. Haven't had the shrimp tempura sticks though. Will have to try them.
                  Beach House is over rated in my opinion. Service with an attitude is right on. For the price and atmosphere, the guest is not felt to be welcome and treated special.Food is average at best and front desk hostess service is haughty.

                  1. re: mary0201

                    Just to add a small note to the above regarding Kaua'i dining. The best fish sandwiches or plate lunches on the island are at Windward Market in north Kapa'a. The dining area (tables in a roped off section of the parking lot) isn't great, but the fish is cut to your specs and prepared right before you eat it. It is nothing short of super. And, it is the only place I know of on the island where you can get Mongchong (my favorite fish). Across the street is Scotty's BBQ. The BBQ is pretty good, not great, but the view is fabulous--as good or better than Beach House.

                  2. I think my favorite restaurant is Plantation Gardens. I usually go there once a month or so. It has very flavorful dishes and I especially love their pupus and sitting at the bar. I love Barbecue Inn on Kress St, right before Hamura's. It is run by a family and you can get good local food, with salad, fresh baked bread and dessert included in the price. It reminds me of why I live here, if that makes sense. Also Tip Top or Kountry Kitchen are good breakfast places.

                    1. We have been visiting Maui and Kauai for a number of years and will return this year for the month of May. On Maui, go to Lahaina and have lunch at The Aloha Mixed Plate. Million dollar view and just a really traditional Hawaiian lunch. Can't be the price and the atmosphere. So many great places...you can bring up on the net. For Kauai. Hamura is great...won the James Beard award back a few years. Don't leave Kauai without going to north end. Princeville is not to be missed nor the town of Hanalei. The Hanalei Bay Resort in Princeville win be reopening the Bali Hai Restuarant this mont with a new less exspensive menu. Lot's of excitement about the place. Eat lunch there or at the Happy Talk Lounge for simple fare. The view is amazing. You will talk about it forever. Bring up the resort and take a look for yourselves. Include breakfast at the very popular Gazebo at Kapalua. Take a look online for all the info. Love to go there! Have a great time!

                      1. How do people feel about Roy's?

                        1. In Maui, one off-the-beaten path places I really enjoyed for regional cuisine is the restaurant at the Pukalani golf course. It burned down a couple of years ago, but they have reopened temporarily on their lanai. Not only is the food great, but the views from upcountry are amazing.

                          http://www.pukalanigolf.com/content.p...

                          While you are in the area, you may want to visit Makawao for local galleries, gift shops and food.