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Jul 26, 2008 12:11 PM

Kauai quick report

Headed straight to Hamura saimin (Lihue) from the airport. Very good. The stoic server-mutes add to this steamy shack's peculiar charm. Noodles perfectly cooked and very flavorful. Broth a bit salty, even for saimin. But overall very good. A unique experience that's worth trying even if you're not inclined to asian soups.

Saimin at Oki Diner (Lihue) was very good, too. Noodles were neither as soft nor as flavorful as Hamura's, but they do add cabbage (yum!) to the tasty broth. Roast pork was crispy and went well in the soup. Try a little spicy mustard on the noodles.

Saimin at Wongs Chinese restaurant (Hanapepe) was also quite good. Noodles were softer and more flavorful than at Oki Diner, but not as much so as Hamura's. Big chunks of roast pork were satisfying. Lots of saimin choices. The Chinese buffet is overrated.

Loco moco at Kalapaki Beach Hut (Lihue) is tasty, but the gravy has the consistency of chocolate pudding. My girlfriend couldn't watch.

Burgers at Kalapaki Beach Hut (Lihue) also very tasty. Mushroom and cheese burger was well cooked and fries were crispy and not too heavily fried. Upstairs seating overlooks the Bay and adds to the experience.

Fresh catch of the day at Duke's (in Marriott) was lovely. Macadamia-crusted ahi with a soothing butter-nut sauce on the side. Perfectly cooked. Crust was light and did not overwhelm the taste of the fish. High value plate.

Kalua Pork and Cabbage at Lihue Barbecue Inn was comforting. Donburi was tasty, too. Place is a bit of a dive, but in a good way. Has character. Recommend.

Breakfast at Kalaheo Coffee Company & Cafe *tasted* good. Latte was excellent. But protocol and service need work. It took 12 minutes to place my order at the counter--and there were only 2 people ahead of me when I got in line! Server had to be reminded of everything we ordered...twice. Food took way too long to arrive. If not operating at max capacity, I'd recommend. If parking lot is full, avoid unless you don't mind relaxing for 30 mins before your eggs arrive.

Incredibly disappointed with Plantation Gardens. Grounds and atmosphere are divine, but that's where it ends. The sauteed green bean appetizer was unremarkable and difficult to portion. Kalua roast pork with cabbage & hoisin sauce was way too salty. Sauce tasted like A1 and molasses and completely overwhelmed all other tastes on the plate. Cabbage was headlined but dish contained only small strips throughout the accompanying fried rice. Fried rice was of Panda Express quality, heavy and saturated with oil. The whole ordeal just seemed like amateur hour. Dish also gave my girlfriend very bad indigestion and the subsequent toxic farts have only soured my opinion that much more. Bottom line: the only value you're receiving for your money here is the atmosphere, and, while undoubtedly beautiful, Kauai provides plenty of scenery for free.

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  1. Great Report,

    "Straight from the airport to Hamura's" That is a well worn path !!
    Really an institution... Keeps packing them in. Agree about the salt, but what are you going to do?
    Nice comparison reporting on the other Saimin spots.

    It really is the way to go when in Kauai...eating where the Locals go.

    Plantation gardens is set up for tourist dollar...hence the disappointment. The Beach House is like that way for us. Too much hype. Sure there is a view, however our condo is right on the water facing the sunset and whales.. so everyday affords that view. Very lucky
    Thanks again for the great report!

    1 Reply
    1. re: easily amused

      On last Kaua`i trip, Beach House got really high marks on food, service and wine/wine service. Much, much higher on all counts, than Plantation Gardens.

      It was interesting that the folk, who panned my PG review, too umbridge at how much we enjoyed BH. Seems that we were definitely in the minority. Next trip, we'd both do BH, in a heartbeat, but would do PG, with reservations, and I'm not talking about the ones you make over the phone.

      Maybe this points up the need to dine at a spot 3x, to really get a feel for it. Unfortunately, we non-professionals, do not have this luxury, when dining out of our home towns.

      Thanks for adding the perspective, on the BH. While we had a totally different experience, to aid other CH'ers, it's great to have many reviews.


    2. Mahalo for the repot. Have not sampled most of these, but felt about the same with the Plantation Gardens. It was not "bad," to any degree, but did not live up to our expectations. I was a bit underwhelmed by the food, and the wines. However, I knew about the wine from their on-line PDF. Should have checked on BYOW for this one. The service, however, was the deal-breaker. Our "guy," could have cared less. Our bus-boy was by far the better of the two. I wish that he'd been the server, as he'd probably have elevated a mediocre experience into the good range.

      Still, the venue is great, and the place has great potential, but I found it wasted on so-so food, and lackadasical service.

      Were we back in Poipu, we'd probably give them another go, but I'd not grade lightly. With only one experience, I would hate to write them off totally, especially as many CH'ers have praised it highly. Several lambasted me for my review of the place. Others referenced my review in later threads, so someone must love it.

      Again, thanks for taking the time.