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Sep 14, 2010 11:49 PM

My Kauai Food Report

Recently returned from a weeklong trip, so thought I'd share my food recs.

West Kauai:
-Kalaheo Coffee (Kalaheo): Was an adequate, not great breakfast stop on way to Waimea Canyon. Knuckles, cinnamon rolls & pancakes were just ok to me. Latte was kinda weak.
-Island Taco (Waimea): Very good ahi taco, with requisite wasabi mayo (I think every fish restaurant uses the same wasabi mayo). Seems kinda pricey (~$6-7/taco), but they're huge. Came with side of wonton chips. Across the street from Shrimp Station.
-Shrimp Station (Waimea): Popular option if in the mood for a garlicky shrimp plate lunch. Avoid the fried shrimp, which didn't wow.

South Kauai:
-Joe's On the Green (Poipu/Koloa): As mentioned above, decent cheap eats. Saved a ton by eating here instead of the pricey resort buffets. Banana mac nut pancakes w/ coconut syrup were actually pretty good. Overlooks Kiahuna golf course.
-Koloa Fish Market (Koloa): Various kinds of poke (we liked the spicier Korean one). Seared ahi by the pound. Sauteed fish (we tried wasabi mayo sauce) with fried chicken plate was just ok. Poke, seared ahi, rice and a salad make for a perfect picnic.
-Savage Shrimp (Poipu): Truck near Poipu beach park. Perfectly cooked shrimp. Very friendly service. We tried 3 different iterations, and liked the spiciest one the least, but they were all very good. I'd go again.
-Roy's Poipu: I've been to Roy's in HI and CA many times. I still don't care what people say about chains, the food was damn good. Of course, the misoyaki butterfish was memorable. One of the better ribeyes I've had in a while too. The salad & crab cakes were keepers. Choc souffle was just ok to me, but did like the mixed sorbet. Don't overlook Roy's.
-Hamura Saimin (Lihue): Regular saimin was just ok (I think it had slices of Spam). Shoulda ordered the special or wonton saimin instead. Lilikoi chiffon pie is worth a try.
-Mark's Place (Lihue): Plate lunch place in an industrial-ish area of Lihue. No scenery/ambience, just food. Great loco moco. Wish I had time to try the other plates, which looked great coming out. Spam musubi was just aight.
-Deli & Bread Connection (Lihue): Highly rated on Yelp and very busy, but couldn't understand why. The popular lobster roll sandwich was pretty lame. Tasted like Costco seafood spread in a wimpy roll to me. Clam chowder was meh. Maybe the other items are good? I just didn't get it. Shoulda just gone to Hamura again.

North Kauai:
-Kilauea Fish Market (Kilauea): Probably one of our favorite finds during this trip. The Ahi wrap was as good as advertised. Were huge, stuffed with quality fish, cooked to your liking (had mine seared), with veggies and wasabi-ish sauce (yes, THAT sauce again!). Ahi salad and other plates (we tried teri & Korean chicken) were good too. Definitely worth a stop on the way to/from Hanalei/Princeville.
-St Regis (Princeville): Not that we didn't expect it, but poolside food was the biggest ripoff ever. Spent $65 for 2 crap lunches. $24 Kobe sliders were a joke. $20 pizza was worse than Stouffers. Avoid the poolside food at all costs, unless cost & quality are absolutely not an issue for you.
-Hanalei Fish Market (Hanalei): Connected to Hanalei Dolphin Restaurant, but has mostly fish by the pound and a limited takeout menu. Poke was very expensive, so we avoided it. The sushi rolls (crab, spicy tuna, soft shell crab, etc) were very good & priced ok ($8-10/roll). Perfect lunch to pack when hitting Tunnels or Kee beaches.
-Java Kai (Hanalei): Specialty coffee drink (some coconut-flavored espresso latte or something) was actually very good. Waffle was meh. Rolls and such were passable. Still, considering the limited options, is worth a stop.
-Foodland Market (Princeville): Poke was spotty, hit some "bad" chunks of fish. The Huli huli chicken was disgustingly dry/flavorless, not even worth the $4 spent. Bottom line, don't expect much.

Shave Ice:
-Koloa Shave Ice: Really not as bad as reviewed in Yelp. Not the softest shaved ice ever, but decent in a pinch, as the pickens are slim in the area.
-JoJo's Anuenue: Not to be confused with the more famous JoJo's Clubhouse. Long story short, JoJo's Clubhouse's owner apparently sold the business then later opened up shop around the corner. Supposedly secretly more popular with the locals, so we were pumped to try it. Unfortunately we hit it on a bad day. Service was unfriendly and the shave ice was not finely shaved. Bummer.
-Hawaiian Blizzard Shave Ice Co (Kapaa): What we thought was a shop, turned out to be a cart in a strip mall, so we almost bailed. Glad we didn't, as it turned out to be one of the best shave ice's I've ever had. Was so finely shaven, could barely hear the machine working. The experienced owner (Aaron?) was a master, recommending flavor combos & when to or not to add cream mixture, etc. He seemed to truly love what he was doing. Only problem, very limited hours (IIRC, M-F 1-5 or so).
-Wishing Well (Hanalei): Close second to Blizzard. Very fine shaved ice, and they used fresh coconut shavings when requested. Limited hours.
-Paradise Shave Ice (Hanalei): Pricey at $6-7 and only marginally worth it. Go to Wishing Well instead, just up the street, if they're open.

That's all. Hope this helps someone. Thanks for all the previous posts in helping me find more dining options. I'm hoping to return soon to hit all the places I missed.

Shrimp Station
9652 Kaumualii Hwy, Waimea, HI 96796

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  1. This definitely helps someone (namely me). Thanks for these reviews!

    For the record, Bar Acuda in Hanalei really is a good restaurant, even by NYC and SF standards. It's not heavily advertised, unlike some places, and I worry their business might be slow. (We were able to walk in without reservations around 7:30 on a Sunday night.) Java Kai in Hanalei makes excellent smoothies, as well as coffee. Bubba's Burgers (burger, chili rice) was completely forgettable IMHO, but it's popular and the food is filling.

    I'm going to try to find the Hanalei Dolphin fish market for the sushi. You're right about the poke and huli huli chicken at Foodland: former is just ok, latter when we tried it was dry and very overcooked (OTOH, perhaps not unexpected for a Sat. night rotisserie chicken purchase). Prices are not horrible for Hawaii. (Big Save in Hanalei has less selection, but slightly better prices for many items.) The people who work at Foodland deserve a shout out: They are SO nice. It makes me happy just to walk in that store.

    Hanalei Dolphin Restaurant
    5 5016 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, HI

    1 Reply
    1. re: michelleats

      Tavern Restaurant is our favorite in the area.

    2. Thanks for the report. We're always interested in the state of food on Kauai. I especially appreciate the reports on shave ice on the North Shore as well as Kilauea Fish Market since, as you said, options up there are limited.

      I often find Yelp ratings puzzling. But they're just a digital Zagat guide.

      We went to JoJo's Clubhouse the last time we were there and found it was very good, but looking forward to trying the places you discovered on our next trip there.

      We enjoyed Mark's Place, but did we have a hard time finding it? Good thing Kauai is small enough that we weren't going to be lost long, but it sure is an out-of-the-way place. Next time we'll have GPS.

      Thanks again for the report.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ogawak

        Glad to be of some help. BTW, Kilauea fish market was on Best Thing I Ever Ate on Food Network recently. Am hoping things don't change there for the worse. Did you come across any new food finds on Kauai?