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Going to Kauai for 11 days in November

j
jenking36 Oct 18, 2011 06:33 PM

Hi Chowhounds,

You all have always helped me in the past and I'm hoping for some of your always reliable picks. I've never been anywhere in Hawaii and usually have alot more time to do tons of research. We are staying at the Marriott's Kauai Lagoons 3325 Holokawelu Way, Lihue - I'm completely unfamilar with Hawaii (this vacation was a surprise from my sweetie) and local specialties I need to try. That said, I love both high end restaurants and hole in the wall and lunch truck fare - we also are staying at a place with a kitchentte and I'm hoping to make some meals myself (I love the references so far in my reading to stopping at Costco - I'm a huge fan - anyrecommendedations for local specific items available welcomed).
We have a car for the entire stay and are willing to drive anywhere for great food - I'd like to limit our really high end meals to about 4 or so and really want to experience great Hawaiin ciusine! Thanks in advance. Also, love seafood, good steak (but can get at home), sushi, anything ethnic (Chinese is not my favorite, but love Thai, Korean, Vietnamese and especially Peruvian cuisine and Mexican - anything with cilantro). Hopefully I've given good details for recommendations. Thanks again!!!!

  1. mattstolz Oct 18, 2011 06:45 PM

    for nicer places to eat, my family thoroughly enjoyed Roy's (we all went with the tasting menu which was great!), Josselins Tapas, Keoki's Paradise, and the Beach House resto.

    for slightly faster options, we liked merrimans downstairs cafe and living foods market

    for cheaper eats, shrimp station was a win for us. Wish we would have gotten to explore the cheaper eats more, but there was so much food and so little time!!

    oh, also, anytime you can eat pineapple, do it. but beware: it may ruin all other pineapple for you forever.

    -----
    Beach House Restaurant
    5022 Lawai Rd, Koloa, HI 96756

    Keoki's Paradise
    Poipu Shopping Vlg, Koloa, HI 96756

    1. KaimukiMan Oct 18, 2011 07:56 PM

      Kauai is a beautiful place. It is also a place to go to get away from the world, to relax, and to slow down your body clock. Others can tell you far more about the best places to shop and eat, I know for sure Hamamura's saimin will be on everyone's list. In so many ways it typifies what Kauai is all about.

      1. e
        easily amused Oct 18, 2011 09:34 PM

        Hamura's Saimin on Kress St is a definite must stop for a taste of local flavor. Order a large "special" and 2 BBq chicken stick, piece of lilikoi pie and their homemade"pretzel" cookies to go.
        For fresh fish ...check-out Fish Express in Lihue across from Wilcox Memorial hospital and the Walmart.
        Try and catch the fresh Malasadas offered by the lady just outside of KMart . She is there fleetingly and you will be lucky to catch her.
        Sueoka's snack shop in Koloa town on the side of their grocery store has insanely cheap tasty food. Good hamburgers.
        Pass on the BeachHouse...total Zoo. Hostesses with Mega attitude...a real turn-off. Mediocre food. Everyone pops up at Sunset and races outside..like they have never before seen a sun set. Totally disruptive and a definitive mood breaker.If the food was passable ..some might be able to look past the disruption...but sadly not the case.
        For a lovely romantic setting...splurge meal Tidepools at the Grand Hyatt in Poipu is the place. Lovely setting....Terrific food.

        -----
        Fish Express
        3-3343 Kuhio Hwy, Lihue, HI 96766

        4 Replies
        1. re: easily amused
          Bill Hunt Oct 29, 2011 05:47 PM

          I cannot agree on The Beach House, though several on this board are less impressed, than we were. Last visit found them at the top of their form, from a culinary, vinous and service standpoint. Possibly, the only negative was the number of folk, who gathered outside of the restaurant at sunset, but then we were there for the food, the wine and the service.

          Hunt

          -----
          Beach House Restaurant
          5022 Lawai Rd, Koloa, HI 96756

          1. re: easily amused
            indelibledotink Nov 1, 2011 01:49 AM

            agreed, hamura's saimin is pretty darn good. their lilikoi pie is ok, but a lot of people rave about it.

            1. re: indelibledotink
              d
              DDD Aug 28, 2013 11:24 AM

              Is it me or is Hamuras lilikoi pie not as lilikoish as it used to be? Everything else seems quite stable and tasty...

              1. re: DDD
                killersmile Aug 29, 2013 11:18 AM

                It really is a subtle lilikoi taste. I agree with you that it seems to be lighter than it was before. I was just on Maui and tried the lilikoi chiffon pie at Stillwell's Bakery. That was a very strong lilikoi taste unlike Hamura's. My mom said she preferred Hamura's version to the one I brought back from Stillwell's though. She said it was too much lilikoi taste. To each their own.

          2. o
            Ogawak Oct 19, 2011 12:31 PM

            I highly recommend the Beach House, and since it's your first time in Hawaii, the Macadamia nut mahi. And the view is fantastic. Make reservations, or get there early.

            Mark's Place is in a business park area south of the Costco. Very good plate lunches, but take out only. Lihue BBQ Inn is also an option with places to sit.

            Shave Ice is a must. JoJo's in Waimea is great. I hear there are good Shave Ice trucks in Hanalei as well, such as Wishing Well and Shave Ice Paradise.

            Try a Kauai Krunch at Lapperts Ice Cream (various locations around Kauai.

            -----
            Mark's Place
            1610 Haleukana St Ste A, Lihue, HI 96766

            Beach House Restaurant
            5022 Lawai Rd, Koloa, HI 96756

            Shave Ice Paradise
            Hanalei Ctr, Princeville, HI 96722

            1. g
              gator28 Oct 20, 2011 10:05 PM

              For higher end meals, we love Josselin's in Poipu and Kauai Grill at the resort in Princeville.

              Keoki's Paradise in Poipu is a fun place with a great atmosphere and moderately priced food.

              Shrimp Station in Waimea is delicious and cheap. Loved the spicy selections, forget which ones we ordered exactly. Jo Jo's Shave Ice in that neck of the woods is delicious as well.

              Koloa Fish Market had the best ahi poke we sampled on the island. Kiluahea Fish Market had a great ahi wrap and fresh seafood to take home and grill. Loved Kiluahea Ice Cream and Candy/Video Store for ice cream...soft serve and regular!

              Even the Costco in Lihue has pretty stellar poke.

              Have a wonderful time! Kauai is my favorite place I've ever visited...

              1. scottca075 Oct 21, 2011 08:07 AM

                In Lihue, in addition to Hamura Saimin, I'd throw in Dani's Cafe, Market St Diner and Tip Top Cafe for breakfast and lunch places. There is also Kalapaki Joe's for your sports bar fix and Garden Island Barbecue for Chinese.

                At the Marriott where you are staying is Duke's Canoe Club and Barefoot Bar. They are from the same company that has Keoki's Paradise Restaurant in Poipu so these is no need to head down there. We love the Barefoot Bar for lunch and casual dinners or happy Hour. The main dining room upstairs is a nice setting and at any TS Restaurant, look for the Hula Pie.

                In Poipu (20-30 min south) there are several nice restaurants, Merriman's Kauai, Roy's Restaurant, Red Salt, Plantation Gardens, Tidepools, Dondero's and a new place, Tortilla Republic, a nice upscale Mexican restaurant.

                We are not big fans of the Beach House because we think it lives off its location more than the food. That being said, we do go there because the setting is spectacular.

                Costco does have good poke, so does the Koloa Fish Market, but we like Ishihara Market in the town of Waimea best. It is pretty far south, but if you are visiting Waimea Canyon, and you should, stop in Waimea and Hanapepe.

                -----
                Plantation Gardens Restaurant
                2253 Poipu Road, Koloa, HI 96756

                Beach House Restaurant
                5022 Lawai Rd, Koloa, HI 96756

                Keoki's Paradise
                Poipu Shopping Vlg, Koloa, HI 96756

                Kalapaki Joe's
                3501 Rice St Ste 208, Lihue, HI 96766

                Koloa Fish Market
                5482 Koloa Rd, Koloa, HI 96756

                Red Salt
                Koloa, Koloa, HI

                1. s
                  STL James Oct 21, 2011 08:27 PM

                  It's a bit of a drive from Lihue, but since you have 11 days, I'd recommend that you devote an evening to dinner at Infigo's, a restaurant in Princeville (in the Pali Ke Kua condo site). We were in Kauai for 7 days earlier this month, and our dinner at Infigo's was by far the best meal of our trip.

                  This place has one guy - the chef - in the kitchen, so things do move slowly. Thanks to reading previous reviews, we knew to bring our own bottle of wine (no liquor license yet). There was a $7 corkage fee. While some may consider the lack of a liquor license a downside, we appreciated being able to bring our own bottle and saving a bit on the tab.

                  Several dishes we can highly recommend: For appetizers - the wasabi prosciutto scallops – oh my goodness. The scallops had a perfect sear, with strips of prosciutto and a burst of wasabi flavor (not overwhelming). Wonderful. Another appetizer - lobster risotto. This was a creamy preparation of perfectly cooked Arborio rice with nice portions of lobster throughout, flavored with sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, and ribbons of parmesan as a garnish. Rich, but not too rich. Another outstanding preparation.

                  For entrees: House Gnocchi – we stuck with the appetizer portion (after than risotto, we were concerned about overdoing it with rich dishes). It was the perfect size, and the dish was fabulous. We also went with a "Chef's Challenge" (you pick the protein - beef, chicken, seafood, etc. and the Chef chooses the preparation). We ordered the Seafood Challenge, which came as a lobster tail dusted with pine nuts, served over seasoned rice laced with chunks of sweet roasted garlic (SO good), accompanied with a small portion of greens and a vinaigrette that offered just the right flavor contrast.

                  For dessert: Bananas Foster - the bananas were prepared with Malibu rum sauce (perfect tropical touch!), served over a French-toast –like slice of bread (not soggy – the texture held up to the sauce), with a chocolate drizzle. It was heavenly.

                  Overall, a place I'd absolutely recommend for one of your "nice" dinners on Kauai.

                  1. h
                    honu2 Oct 25, 2011 11:39 PM

                    If you enjoy local foods, be sure to go to the Saturday morning farmers' market at the Kauai Community College, just a little way from Costco, in Lihue. It starts at 9:30 a.m. and you have to bring your own shopping bag BUT the fresh produce will blow you away. (I wouldn't buy papayas, bananas and other fruits anywhere else!) There are also vendors with prepared foods-- pies, jams/jellies, cookies, candies, breads,soups, pasteles, fruit drinks. It's a fun way of eating your way through local specialties.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: honu2
                      scottca075 Oct 26, 2011 08:32 AM

                      If you pick up the various tourist publications at the airport, one of them has a schedule of all the Farmer's Markets on the island. There is one every day someplace. I've only been to the KCC one and the Hanapepe one, but both were great.

                    2. b
                      Beach Chick Oct 26, 2011 08:54 AM

                      I really enjoy going to Keoki's Paradise in Poipu for their chicken veggie stir fry ...it has so much fresh veggies for around $12..drinks and music for dinner was a deal for under $40 for 2.

                      Kauai is can be very expensive to eat out..

                      We loved Hamura Saimin in Lihue and Duke's for happy hour..next door to the Marriott.
                      Love drinks and app's at Red Salt.

                      We usually stay at the Grand Hyatt and you must have drinks and check out the resort..
                      Stevenson's Library is a great place to do that and they have a patio to look out at the ocean/resort.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Beach Chick
                        m
                        mwest9 Oct 31, 2011 03:23 PM

                        I'd second the recommendation for Plantation Gardens. Its nice and quiet and comfortable in a lush tropical garden setting (the restaurant is in an old house with wrap-around veranda, just lovely). The food was quite good, too.

                        My favorite lunch in Kauai was takeout from Koloa Fish Market: ahi sashimi with pickled ginger and wasabi and soy sauce, a bag of taro chips and a can (or two) of Maui Brewing Company Blonde Ale eaten on the beach at the Kiahuna Plantation Resort. Simple, delicious and inexpensive. I'm ready to go back now!

                        -----
                        Plantation Gardens Restaurant
                        2253 Poipu Road, Koloa, HI 96756

                        Koloa Fish Market
                        5482 Koloa Rd, Koloa, HI 96756

                        1. re: mwest9
                          Bill Hunt Oct 31, 2011 05:43 PM

                          Of our dining in the Poipu Area, Plantation Garden was one of the weaker for us. Not sure if we hit them on a bad night, or what the issues were, but our service was horrible (except for our busser, who got a major tip from my hand, to his), the wine service was even worse, and the food was so-so. Even though some of the spots were rather hit-or-miss, we both felt that Plantation Garden was miss-miss-miss. Still, many love it, so our experience must have been the oddity.

                          To point out the opposite, we loved The Beach House, and at all levels, while many hated it. Maybe it is different tastes, or different expectations? I see much the same with Mama's Fish House on Maui - it's either a love-it, or hate-it thing, and there is little middle ground.

                          Hunt

                          -----
                          Plantation Gardens Restaurant
                          2253 Poipu Road, Koloa, HI 96756

                          Beach House Restaurant
                          5022 Lawai Rd, Koloa, HI 96756

                          Mama's Fish House
                          799 Poho Pl, Paia, HI 96779

                          1. re: Bill Hunt
                            m
                            mwest9 Nov 1, 2011 07:07 AM

                            I agree Plantation Gardens is not high end fine dining, but I thought their food was several notches above any of the TS restaurants (Duke's, Keoki's, etc). We both had seared ahi over baby spinach salad with tropical fruit and possibly a carmelized onion vinaigrette or something similar. It wasn't any where near the level of cuisine we had at Merriman's on Maui, but I was also in a very receptive mood by the beautiful setting. I don't recall any issues with the service, but that can vary a lot from night to night in many places. I guess I wouldn't give it my highest recommendation, but I do remember it favorably.

                            -----
                            Plantation Gardens Restaurant
                            2253 Poipu Road, Koloa, HI 96756

                            1. re: mwest9
                              Bill Hunt Nov 1, 2011 06:50 PM

                              I will not pan the setting. I is great. Your meal sounds better than ours, but then some years have passed. My review is still probably around, but if I count correctly, our last Kaua`i trip was ~ 5 years back. Think that the title was "A Tale of Two Entrees." I tried not to focus on a poor server (especially as our busboy was excellent), but maybe I graded them down, because of the service. I just felt that they could have so very much more, and we were both disappointed, especially considering the lovely venue. Potential wasted, in my book. We both felt about the same with Tidepools, at the Grand Hyatt, but there, the service was much better - still potential not realized.

                              Hunt

                      2. m
                        Mag454 Nov 4, 2011 03:59 PM

                        I LOVE 22 North, which is at Gaylord's Plantation. It is farm to table and has a constantly changing menu based on what they brought in that day. Service was excellent.

                        Everyone else pretty much listed the popular restaurants.

                        For sushi I would try Sushi bushido. I love Kiibo and Sushi Katsu for nigiri but the setting isn't all that great at either place.

                        Try one of the fish markets- one of my favorite places for poke is Ara's, which is right next to Hanamaulu cafe, near the laundry mat. It is MUCH better than Fish express, which is more popular. I love Ishihara's for plate lunches. Pono Market is a popular choice as well.

                        -----
                        Kiibo Restaurant
                        2991 Umi St, Lihue, HI 96766

                        14 Replies
                        1. re: Mag454
                          Bill Hunt Nov 4, 2011 08:06 PM

                          That is new to me. Now, Gaylord Plantation was undergoing a refurb., when we were there, so maybe this is a result. Thanks for the tip. Going way back, the restaurant at Gaylord was very good, though maybe not up in the "upper-tier," but still good.

                          Mahalo,

                          Hunt

                          1. re: Bill Hunt
                            kaleokahu Nov 9, 2011 08:10 PM

                            Hi, Hunt:

                            It was Gaylord's at Kilohana, and at its best was very, very good. Despite it's proximity to Lihu'e and KCC, it was a respite, a throwback to Old Hawai'i, with an overlay of the last vestiges of plantation nobility. The 'umeke (calabashes) in the foyer were Hawai'ian national treasures. The property was never used to its potential, although its owners were good citizens to the local kama'aina and kula'iwi populations, hosting a lot of craft fairs and cultural events.

                            I hope the "refurb" is in native or historically-aware hands. There is much to lose if it is not.

                            Aloha Pumehana,
                            Kaleo

                            1. re: kaleokahu
                              Bill Hunt Nov 9, 2011 09:00 PM

                              Mahalo for the correction. I knew that it did not sound quite right, when I typed, but we had just returned from a very active travel leg, so I get to claim "jet lag..." [Grin]

                              Yes, going back a bit, it was a "respite," and a very nice one, at that. We had many very good meals there.

                              Greatly appreciated,

                              Hunt

                              PS - there WAS a little gallery there, that featured many Rosilie Prussing prints. Over the decades, we bought several. Last trip, we met her son in a gallery at the Halekulani. Some great, illustration-driven, somewhat primitive art pieces.

                              -----
                              Halekulani
                              2199 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815

                              1. re: Bill Hunt
                                kaleokahu Nov 9, 2011 09:49 PM

                                Hi, Hunt:

                                Not a correction, just a remembrance...

                                Yes, there were (maybe still are) three galleries/objet shops there. In later years they were locked in a serious rivalry to out-schlock one another, but island-wide, were class acts. My favorite was the little one in the footman's lodge.

                                Have you been to the *real* Polynesian antiquities shop in Hanalei center? Run by a -ophile from NZ. Very nice and knowledgeable Kiwi man (Ian?).

                                Aloha,
                                Kaleo

                                1. re: kaleokahu
                                  Bill Hunt Nov 10, 2011 05:30 PM

                                  I do not believe that I have.

                                  We try to frequent "real Hawai`iana" shops, on several Islands, and support them. Whether it is clothing, books, music, or otherwise, we want them to succeed, and be there next time. Thanks for the H/U, and when back on Kaua`i, I will seek 'em out.

                                  Mahalo,

                                  Hunt

                                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                                    j
                                    jenking36 Nov 11, 2011 07:31 AM

                                    Thank you all for the helpful tips and wonderful suggestions - leaving tomorrow and CAN"T WAIT - I will write a full trip report when I get back.

                                    Thanks again!
                                    Jen

                                    p.s. any last minute "cheap eats" place( looking forward to trying Hamamura's saimin) welcomed!

                                    1. re: jenking36
                                      kaleokahu Nov 11, 2011 11:45 AM

                                      Aloha, jenking36:

                                      The peppersteak truck makai from Safeway in Waipouli (by The Bullshed). Garden Island for dakine Chinese in Lihu'e.

                                      Aloha,
                                      Kaleo

                                      1. re: jenking36
                                        Bill Hunt Nov 11, 2011 05:04 PM

                                        Most of all, travel safely, and enjoy greatly!

                                        Aloha,

                                        Hunt

                                        PS - now, you do know that you are obliged to post a review of your trip, don't you?

                                        1. re: jenking36
                                          b
                                          Beach Chick Nov 11, 2011 05:25 PM

                                          Aloha Jen and have a wonderful time...Kauai has the most aloha of all the other islands..imho.

                                          Red Salt is fab..Duke's for happy hour..Keoki's in Poipu became our 'go to' place for their chicken veggie stir fry that was huge and easy to split.
                                          Costco food court is a great place for cheap eats and has cheap gas...close to airport.

                                          1. re: Beach Chick
                                            m
                                            Mag454 Nov 11, 2011 05:54 PM

                                            I forgot to add Red Salt. I had a truly amazing meal at Red Salt a few months back. It is fairly expensive and our bill definitely added up. I liked Kauai Grill, but not as much as Red Salt, although the view was perfect.

                                            -----
                                            Red Salt
                                            Koloa, Koloa, HI

                              2. re: Mag454
                                m
                                mwest9 Feb 14, 2012 01:58 PM

                                22 North's website says they have closed and they have reopened Jan 9 2012 as Gaylord's again.

                                Does anyone have any more details? New menu, chef? How is it?

                                1. re: mwest9
                                  beantowntitletown Feb 18, 2012 02:21 PM

                                  From what I 've read, it looks like Fred Atkins, who with partners has run Kilohana for 25 years, bought the restaurant with other investors from the Wallace family effective 1/1/12 and reopened it as Gaylord's on 1/9/12. Couple of links:

                                  http://www.bizjournals.com/pacific/print-edition/2012/01/06/new-owners-give-kauai-restaurant-its.html

                                  http://www.midweekkauai.com/2012/01/g...

                                  We ate at 22 North a couple of times in 2010 and loved it. When we last ate at Gaylord's in 2009, the menu was uninteresting, the dishes we had were poorly executed, and our server was smarmy. We're gonna be on island in about a month, so we'll probably give the new incarnation a try.

                                  1. re: beantowntitletown
                                    m
                                    mwest9 Feb 19, 2012 08:16 AM

                                    Mahalo for the local info on the new Gaylord's! Hopefully by the time I'm there in August, it'll be firing on all cylinders with all the kinks worked out. That teakwood bar sounds like it'll be nice and the photos of the food look good, too.

                                    I'd love to read your comments after you've eaten there, please let us know what you thought. Thanks again for the links!

                                  2. re: mwest9
                                    m
                                    Michael Rodriguez Feb 26, 2012 05:10 PM

                                    My wife and I had lunch at 22 North three times in December. We enjoyed the food a lot. This week we returned to Gaylord's, and didn't think the food was nearly as good. The menu was different, the service unchanged. My wife reported that the lettuce in her salad was tired (some leaves turning black at the edges). Since the lettuce is grown on the site, or so they say, this was disconcerting. We'll think twice or thrice before returning.

                                2. f
                                  fudzie Feb 1, 2013 04:46 PM

                                  Right in town (Lihue) is the BEST hole in the wall lunch on the island: Hamura's Saimin. We've been going there every year for the last 30 years whenever we're on the island (once a year). Locals love it so that says it all.

                                  Oh, don't be too hopeful about your Marriott kitchenette. We're talking small...basic. Coffee and porridge are about all it's good for.

                                  Don't miss lunch or dinner at Kilohana. Wonderful building...you'll feel like you're back in old Hawaii. Good restaurant too.

                                  I could go on and on. Kauai is like a second home to me.

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