A few notes from our trip to Kauai: We didn’t get a chance to spend much time on the north shore or else we would have also gone to Bar Acuda and the new Roy’s Tavern. Here’s what we did do:
Dani’s: definitely local atmosphere. They were out of the papaya pancakes when we got there, but the banana pancakes and the sweet bread French toast were both good. We still have not found pancakes better than Tasty Crust in Wailuku on Maui.
Kountry Kitchen: kitschy atmosphere in a good way, very friendly service, big portions. A bit high on the grease, got the omelette with kimchee, Portuguese sausage, and cheese (even being from KogiBBQ land, kimchee and cheese still seem unusual) and the loco moco. They do a very good version of loco moco although the hamburger steak was a bit too well done.
Kalaheo Café & Coffee Company: had a lovely breakfast here. I got the Lawai Farmer’s Omelette which included feta, spinach, tomatoes, onions, and bacon. My wife got the South shore breakfast special with eggs over easy (more like medium) with the hash browns. The corn muffin had a lot of nice kernel bits.
Mark’s Place: first stop here we got the special, grilled ahi steak with wasabi sauce, and the Korean chicken. The ahi steak was huge and tasty, with drizzled wasabi sauce on top. The Korean chicken was a bit unusual, as these were fried chicken nuggets, not Korean fried chicken, nor kimchee in sight (although the other special did list kimchee so there must be some around). Bit of a let down for my wife who is Korean, although these were also good. A second return resulted in the mixed plate with beef stew, chicken katsu, and beef teriyaki. All were good renditions, with my favorite being the chicken katsu. Seems like the specials may be the way to go, although it depends on what you are in the mood for.
Koloa Fish Market: we got the sautéed ahi/pot roast mixed plate, and the kalua plate lunch to go. The sautéed ahi with wasabi was good, but not the same as the large ahi steak from Mark’s Place. The pot roast was also good. The kalua pork was moist with good flavor, and had a bit of lomi lomi and poke along with it. We’d go again.
22 North: We really enjoyed the pleasant plantation atmosphere. We had dinner on the lawn with an early start around 6 – it was almost like having the place to ourselves. Service was especially attentive. We started with three complementary ham gougeres in a bag – they didn’t need the herbed butter, and a couple of glasses of the house sangria. Graduated to the soup of the day – a Manhattan fish chowder (that also had some shrimp in it – well flavored and light) and the tuna crudo – which my wife really liked. My wife really enjoyed her home-made pasta dish, arugula pasta with braised lamb shoulder. I had the grilled lamb chops on a bed of couscous. Both were very well executed dishes. We finished off with the pineapple pie with Lepperts’ vanilla ice cream on top and a swirl of caramel. More like a tart than a slice of pie, but a nice way to finish off the evening.
Josselin’s Tapas Bar & Grill: Wow – best meals we had on Kauai. The décor is modern, and we were seated in a comfy booth with soft pillows. We had a taste of the white sangria – a bit too sweet (probably the lychee) for our taste, so we went with the pomegranate sangria – a bit light, but we weren’t sure what we were going to eat so we didn’t want something that would overpower our food. The jalapeno bread was really good. We had a really difficult time choosing between all of the wonderful menu items. We started with the scallop pillows (essentially ravioli) in coconut broth and “drunken” grapes – a light start to the meal. Our next course was the roasted feta. I’m not a salad person, but I really liked this a lot – the nuttiness of feta combined with a ripe avocado plus tomatoes, cucumbers, roasted peppers, and greens was perfect. We also got the blue cheese soufflé with a cherry reduction plus apple salad (with bits of blue cheese and nuts mixed in). The blue cheese was not overpowering at all, and the soufflé was substantial yet moist on the inside. The slow-cooked butterfish melted in our mouths, and had a lot of nice vegetables on the side (purple long beans, bok choy, julienned carrots and zucchini). The 36 hour pork belly was superb. Not too fatty with lots of nice crust all around on a bed of polenta accompanied by apple kimchee. The vanilla basil sauce was more basil than vanilla - we liked the other accompanying Siracha (sambal?) sauce better with the pork belly. Finished off with the panna cotta, which came out just set and well complemented by the strawberry consommé (the thai pepper cookie was not spicy).
We went back for our final meal on Kauai – we were interested in their ravioli since we missed this the first time, and got the poached pork dumpling and the poached oxtail ravioli. These ravioli had much lighter wrappers than the scallop pillows. The poached pork dumplings sat on a bed of black “forbidden rice” with the poaching sauce, and a stripe of Hawaiian pepper crème fraiche on top. These were nice bite-sized morsels with a light wrapper and light flavor with the touch of spice from the crème fraiche. The poached oxtail ravioli sat in Vietnamese pho broth, had the same light wrapper as the dumplings, but had that flavorful oxtail with the gelatin softness inside. We also got two entrees – the mahi mahi and the ribeye. The mahi mahi was really tender when it came out, with a sprinkle of toasted sesame. It sat on a bed of soba noodles, with a light accompaniment of purple long beans and bok choy. The piece de resistance was the local angus ribeye, prepared exactly medium rare with two pats of herbed butter on top, sitting on a bed of baby potatoes and Chinese sausage (I’ve never seen it spelled as lumpcheong – basically this is the sweet Chinese sausage). It was really well executed, better than some major steakhouses.
LILIKOI CHIFFON PIE
We picked up a slice of lilikoi chiffon pie and a macadamia nut cream pie (good, but if we had to pick one, we’d go with the lilikoi chiffon pie) from Omoide’s Deli, and another slice of lilikoi chiffon pie from Hamura Saimin. We liked the Omoide’s Deli pie better – more intense lilikoi flavor, more airy chiffon. Crusts are pretty similar in style.
We went to two places – Koloa Shave Ice and Jo Jo’s Anuenue. Koloa Shave Ice was not the right consistency – shards of ice - and Jo Jo’s was better. At Jo Jo’s, my wife got their Li Hing Mui (salted plum flavor) combined with lilikoi and guava, although the Li Hing Mui was much stronger than the other two. I got the #3 with vanilla, strawberry, and I forget the third, on a bed of vanilla ice cream. The ice cream at the bottom helps prevent you from ending up with a melted solid ball of ice at the end. Not sure we got the definitive shave ice at either location.
OTHER LOCAL LOW KEY RESTAURANTS
Dukes: The atmosphere at Dukes is really quite nice with the view of the ocean (we went downstairs to the barefoot bar). Had the mango BBQ bacon burger, which was good, while my wife got the homegrown green island salad. The calamari sticks were good sized hunks of calamari.
Blossoming Lotus: Closed! They’ve moved to Portland.
Mermaids Café: Plan B after no Blossoming Lotus. Asian fusion low key joint - got the stir-fry noodle with chicken which was interesting - spinach fettucine and chow mein noodles combined – and good, while my wife got the garden salad (really good toast with it). Good for a quick, relatively inexpensive meal.
Shrimp Station: Got the coconut shrimp and the garlic shrimp plates. The creamy garlic sauce is really good – we ate the fries from the coconut shrimp plate with the sauce – makeshift garlic fries. The coconut shrimp are also really good – nice and crispy without being too oily.
Hamura Saimin: definitely low-key and local flavor. It was a bit warm inside even with the fans going on. We tried the specialty (everything – wontons, bok choy, egg, meat) and the regular saimin. The broth is good – not too salty, the noodles are on the softer side – pretty good saimin overall.
Ishihara Market: we got a couple of things to go while chasing the sunsets for the green flash – ahi poke, tako (octopus) poke, and scallop salad – our favorite was the scallop salad.
4504 Kukui St, Kapaa, HI
Tasty Crust Restaurant
1770 Mill St, Wailuku, HI 96793
Kountry Kitchen Restaurant
1485 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa, HI 96746
9652 Kaumualii Hwy, Waimea, HI 96796
Koloa Fish Market
5482 Koloa Rd, Koloa, HI 96756
Just returned from seven days in Kauai and here is my two-cents:
Favorite burrito: Mermaids in Kapa'a..I loved their Wrap with nori, wasabi mayo, cucumbers and tofu (instead of ahi) a great...healthy...filling delight. Loved the brown rice.
Favorite grocery store: Kilauea Town Market & Deli We stayed in Haena and had a small kitchen. We picked up some brown rice (love that brown rice) at Harvest Market in Hanalei (it used to be Papayas) and then discovered a little market in Kilauea where we stocked up on coffee, eggs and the most delicous Okinawan purple sweet potatoes, the sweetest local tangerines, papayas and a great wine selection.
Favorite upscale meal: Eastside Grill in Kapa'a ... I had the mahimahi with crab and Hamakua mushrooms over polenta with ginger...poke served in a half coconut....papaya stuffed with bread pudding. There seemed to be a lot of passion and creativity in the menu. Being a bit of a "health-nut" would've been happier if more vegetables were to be offered on the menu. The casual atmosphere belies the menu. Music was great too!
4-1380 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa, HI 96746