Aloha Hawaii! Please Critique SF Chowhounds' Visit to Kauai and Maui for Next Week!
My family of passionate diners and I will be visiting Kauai next week for the entire week (been coming now each year for two decades), followed by three nights on the west side of Maui (haven't been there in over a decade).
Kauai is pretty set, where we usually have four dinners out and three dinners at home. Roy's and Josselin's are our favorites, while we still go to the Beach House for tradition's sake despite multiple years in a row now of below satisfactory experiences. Hopefully THIS is the year they get their act together. Lunch at Puka Dog, ice cream at Lappert's, many mornings at the new Living Foods Market are required...
Last year Bar Acuda underwhelmed. I've enjoyed Plantation Gardens in the past. Any favorite new spots? Maybe Kauai Grill in Princeville or Red Salt? Any favorite cocktail spots? We will certainly be visiting the new Port Allen Brewery.
I'm much less experienced with Maui-- staying near Kapalua. We have three dinners and 2 lunches. Right now I'm thinking about Pacific 'O, Lahaina Grill, and Sansei for dinners. Lunch at Star Noodle and Mala Ocean Tavern. But, I'm considering a trip up to Mama's Fish House, or switching a lunch to Honu or Aloha Mixed Place. Then, there's the question of I'o or Pacific 'O, if either of them? Any places I'm missing?
We'll stay right by the Maui Brewery, so that's a must. I'm hoping to visit Surfing Goat Dairy and Kula Farms, along with the winery on Maui and some coffee farms. I'd love to hear more about favorite coffee shops and bakeries, and all other fantastic, delicious finds!
Mahalo nui loa for your help! I'm beyond excited to return to the Islands in just a few days!
Thanks for the reports! I have another couple of places to try on the next trip to Maui (and to Kauai, since we just did not somehow make it to Josselins).
Sounds like you were able to coax some *decent* cocktails out of some of the Maui establishments. I am going to be pushier on my next visit! A negroni is a great idea.
All in all, another very special trip to the Islands! Mahalo nui loa for all of your recommendations! I can't wait to return.
Let's try and solve this cocktails issue though in the Islands...how can we keep Mai Tais and other drinks from the watered down, super sweet state they're in everywhere right now?
For those keeping score-- Red Salt and Honu Bar had the best Kauai cocktails. I'd say Honu in Lahaina the best for Maui.
By the way, I just made the "original" Trader Vic Bergeron Mai Tai recipe at home last night...was better and far less sweet than any on the trip.
1 oz. light rum, 1 oz. gold rum
1/2 oz. curaçao, 1/2 oz. orgeat syrup, 1/2 oz. lime juice
1 oz. dark rum float
Shake, strain into old-fashioned glass, garnish with maraschino cherry
I don't think the cocktail problem in the islands is solvable until you get the rest of the country into proper cocktails as well.
Not sure if anybody in the islands even knows the Trader Vic's recipe, maybe a few places in Honolulu. Most of them are making a bastardized version of the *Hawaiian* Mai Tai. As I posted up thread the Hawaiian version of the Mai Tai is very different. It has 4 juices in comparison to the Trader Vic version:
"From the Surf Bar of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Waikiki Beach, where Trader Vic introduced his original Mai Tai to the islands in 1953. Over the ensuing years, this recipe (which dates from 1971) evolved from Vic’s into its present form.
Mai Tai (Hawaiian)
* 1 oz. orange juice, fresh
* 1 oz. pineapple juice, unsweetened
* 1/2 oz. lime juice, fresh
* 1/4 oz. lemon juice, fresh
* 1/4 oz. orange curacao
* 1/4 oz. orgeat syrup
* 1/4 oz. simple syrup
* 1 oz. Demerara rum
* 1 oz. dark Jamaican rum
* 1 oz. light Puerto Rican rum"
BTW, Julie Reiner has tapped Matty Drugin (Madison St, Green Russell, Adrift in Denver) to work at Tiki Iniki, I think he's moved there permanently... Fingers crossed.
The long book continues now to Maui!
Opened with a tasting at Maui Brewing Co.'s pub in Kahana-- a whole different league than Kauai Island Brewing. I'm still partial to the CoCoNut Porter and Big Swell IPA. It's fun to see they're really branching out, trying some Belgian styles and deep, dark stouts.
Originally, I had a reservation at Sansei...but this board changed my mind!
Opening dinner at Honu-- great, great place. Pizza actually is only fair here and the least impressive part of a very impressive new establishment. Unbeatable views, great service. Start with the Guava Pisco Sour (sweet, not TOO sweet, they've almost got it right...the biggest problem was the lack of egg white froth which must be from not dry shaking the drink for close to a minute). Love that they give free spiced chickpeas to each table. The pastry chef here is stellar-- spend the money on the bread. This is a great example of where it's better to pay for superior, fresh bread, than get free useless bread (a very Frank Bruni argument). Great dark chocolate beet torte for dessert by her as well.
Impressive touch by the kitchen with grilled spanish octopus, flax seed toast, and edamame hummus, along with the gado gado salad and the ahi bruschetta on edamame puree and flax seed toast.
The one problem? Almost every dish repeated ingredients-- edamame, flax seed toast, and chickpeas galore. The best dish of the night was a special kale "sprouts", just like Brussels sprouts marinated in a shochu soy sauce.
Lunch the next day at Flatbread Co after the nerve-racking drive in NW Maui to Julia's banana bread (as good as the hype says, the coconut candy is even better). The hour long wait was tough, got a bland espresso across the street at Anthony's. The flatbreads themselves are terrific, especially the pale pesto and the pork-pineapple one. Get the salad with Surfing Goat Dairy goat cheese.
Then to Maui's Winery...it's refreshing to visit a winery with free tastings and the staff doesn't constantly mention wine clubs. I'm used to Napa and Sonoma...and pineapple wine is, well, pineapple wine. Best was the raspberry dessert wine.
Had decent cocktails at the Ritz Kapalua's lobby lounge. I actually insisted on my Canton ginger powered "French Mai Tai" to be served up, tired of the bland, watered down drinks I kept being served elsewhere.
Dinner at the Pineapple Grill. The new chef shows great potential with his kobe beef & brie raviolis, the excellent pistachio & wasabi pea crusted ahi, and a showstopping tender short ribs dish with a miso-mustard broth, and a green apple marmalade. The pineapple upside down cake is a knockout dessert. Great service, a little bit of a sterile, corporate ambiance (it is owned by a sterile, corporate group...).
Next day, was going to have lunch at Star Noodle. Unfortunately, unforeseen golf tee time issues and poor planning forced me to eat a to go $17 grilled vegetables sandwich from the Sheraton Ka'anapali's Black Rock Bar that was one of the most embarrassing moments of my dining career. Disappointed in myself how I missed out on Star Noodle and was stuck with this...maybe a sandwich worth $5? (It was to go because they forgot my order and I had to hurry away).
The last night-- I had heard the one possible "oasis" for craft cocktails could be at the Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Villas's Ocean Pool Bar, where a SF mixologist supposedly consulted on the menu and training the bartenders.
Well, that didn't work out. It's far from a special menu to begin with. I didn't get to try any of his creations since all of the ingredients were used for Easter brunches earlier in the day. So, tired of Mai Tais, I asked for a Negroni. They didn't have Campari at the bar. What bar doesn't have Campari??
They did hunt down Campari and made a very decent Negroni...the regular Mai Tai was better than the not impressive competition elsewhere. Still, very sweet and fruity.
Dinner at Lahaina Grill...the closest setting I've ever found to Galatoire's in New Orleans. Great experience, the most refined meal of the trip, very crisp. The waitress was particularly sharp...dead on with pacing and knowing the minute details of dishes.
Yes, everything is expensive...$10 more than anywhere else. A meal here easily is equal to Chez Panisse on a Saturday night. Just keep that in mind. But, it is a special dining experience. Not Alan Wong's or Chef Mavro's, but still very special. Started with prawns and scallops stuffed chile relleno. As good as it sounds, skip the ahi and foie gras starter...the latter overwhelms the poor fish and you end up eating both on their own. Great ingredients, not a great dish.
The chef knows his way with fish-- best was a special opakapaka with a rare to find excellent panko crust, on a terrific al dente smoked mozzarella risotto and lobster champagne sauce. Pacific rim cuisine? No, but still great.
Great ahi too with fragrant vanilla bean jasmine rice and an apple cider-soy butter vinaigrette.
Desserts are no let-down-- I still remember vividly the "Road to Hana," the sunken chocolate cake (even better than at Roy's in that category), and the triple berry pie (I wish they didn't put in a 2 foot high bed of whipped cream).
Lastly, with a 4 hour layover at HNL Airport, there is officially nothing to eat at the airport. Shame on me for being lazy and not taking the taxi to Alan Wong's Pineapple Room, Town, or elsewhere. I probably would've been convinced to go to Helena's Hawaiian Food since it's closer, but it was a Monday...so they were closed.
Haha, the suspense is over! I'll split the post into 2 parts-- the 7 days on Kauai, then the 3 days on Maui.
Beginning with the beautiful Garden Isle of Kauai, we decided to give Merriman's another chance after 2 years of poor dinner performances upstairs. This time, we had lunch downstairs. I wouldn't call the pizza, burgers, or salads "special," but they are a much, much better deal than the small, overpriced dinner portions with underwhelming preparations. Service was smoother too. I'd recommend the Kalua pork pizza. The crust is a bit strange-- almost like a cracker crust.
Dinner at the Beach House-- better than last year, but we also made sure to arrive earlier. Last year with our 8pm reservation, their only focus was to expedite the dinner timing. Everything was fine-- none of the fish really stood out or the ahi sashimi. The chocolate cake is actually better than most. Still, the place seems like it's run by the mob. It could be so much better, Jean Marie come back! And, the Mai Tai at the Beach House was an embarrassment of way too much dark rum, way too much ice, and I can't even tell you what else they put in it because they probably don't even know. Avoid at all costs.
Next day, can only report back on the fact that Lapperts' gelato flavors (salted caramel, banana) need work compared to the classics I adore (Kauai Pie, passion fruit sorbet). Also, I've got a weak spot for the "sneaky tikis" on Captain Andy's. They won't win any cocktail competitions, but with the atmosphere of the ocean and Poipu coastline, any cocktail would taste great.
For our dinners in, had some terrific opah, ono, ahi, and monchong from the Koloa Fish Market and Living Foods...hard to say which has the superior fish. Koloa Fish Market has some terrific marinades and pokes for sides.
Next dinner out was at Josselin's. Jean Marie continues to make the most exciting food on the menu. It's about a 75% success rate, not everything wows. Sangrias are great, as are the shrimp and duck tacos, the 62 degree farm egg with kiawe roasted asparagus, and the real highlights are his work with fish-- spectacular butterfish in a soy mirin reduction and mahi mahi with a nori vinaigrette.
The problem at Jean Marie is the service details. Since it's a tapas restaurant, they've got to get the pacing down. There were always too many plates on the table. They should limit at 2 plates at a time, no matter the size of a party (I think we ended up having 10 or so dishes).
Puka Dog for a lunch-- still fine, but overhyped. It's too bad the fruit relishes get drowned in mustard. You can't hardly tell the mango relish from the papaya relish, let alone even notice they're on the hot dogs. Fortunately, the sausages are superb, beautifully plump and robust. Wait time? 40 minutes.
Should note-- the Honu Bar at the Waiohai continues to make a decent Ultimate Mai Tai, using both Amaretto and Grand Marnier. As always, I picked up some taro chips and li hing mui covered potato chips from Taro Ko in Hanapepe. And returning from a sand blasted day at Polihale, tasted all the beers at Kauai Island Brewing. None really left a mark on me. The taro beer was disappointing. IPA and porter were the best of the bunch. We need to give them some more time I think.
Last 2 dinners-- Red Salt and Roy's. Red Salt makes a respectable Mai Tai, the best I had on Kauai. I enjoyed Red Salt's cuisine-- especially the Kalua pork luau with excellent taro gnocchi and the amuse bouche of a chilled cucumber-coconut-pepper soup. Yes, an amuse bouche!
The signature 7 spiced ahi was polarizing. The ahi itself was magnificent-- rare and radiant. The edamame cilantro risotto was undercooked and the serrano ham brown better was a salt bomb. For dessert, ask for the warm chocolate macadamia nut cookie!
Roy's continues to be the most reliable restaurant in Poipu, though it is showing signs of fatigue and resting on its laurels. Service is still hands down the best. The misoyaki butterfish, the classic ahi with spicy soy mustard, the chocolate souffle, and the jade pesto monchong were as good as ever. The age old macadamia nut crusted mahi in lobster butter sauce though fell into every anti-Roy's cliché: a tired 90's type dish, banal garnishes of red potatoes and sad asparagus, and the almost always useless mac nut crust.
Most disappointing at Roy's was how they usually have several new fish preparations to show the creativity of the chef...it seems like they're dialing back since there was just 1 fish preparation you wouldn't be able to get at a Roy's in SF or Baltimore.
A Kukuiula Wednesday Farmers Market note-- don't know who makes the pesto and hummus, but wow do they make the sauces/ dips well! I sampled some obscure fruits like ice cream bananas...didn't make me swoon. Such a great community event.
They probably would and that definitely would help the pacing issues. We just selected everything at the start...never the best idea for this style of dining. The order of dishes brought out was strange too, with a pork belly large plate coming before fish.
Not sure if I'm a fan of the whole sangria cart concept...it seems a little pushy and you have to decide on sangria or not before even consulting a wine list or cocktail list.
We asked if we could order as we went along, and our server said that they preferred everything to be ordered at once, so that they would know what order to bring things. We specified that we wanted a SLOW pace, and got 3 dishes within minutes of ordering. The pace was way, way too fast, particularly for a tapas restaurant and particularly since we specified that we didn't want things coming out quickly. If I ever were to go again, I would insist on ordering as I went along.
Wish I hadn't been busy, I'd have sent you to Tortilla Republic.
I think Red Salt is okay, but just not what I want on Kauai, I can get those type places cheaper by the dozen in LA or NYC.
I like Merriman's Poipu far better than I like the Beach House these days. I don't think it has been the same since Josselin left. But I like the Merriman's on Maui even better.
Love the Right Slice at the Wednesday Culinary Market and love the little Korean lady if she still shows up with her homemade goodies.
On Maui, Plantation House, Merriman's, DUO, Ferraro’s, Joe's Bar & Grill, Nick's Fishmarket, Lahaina Grill, Capische, Spago, Roy's, Hali'imaile General Store, Kojima Sushi, Gerrard's, Pacific 'O and Mala Ocean Tavern are my favorites. I think Nick's has fallen a bit, maybe more than a bit, but I still love the setting and the food is good, just not "oh wow".
Honorable mentions go to Honu for solid food, Sea House for solid food and a great setting and 808 Bistro for good food and good imagination.
Was just at Josselin's and Roy's past 2 nights. I agree that the service is fast and furious at Josselin's - your post made me aware of this before we ordered (which we didn't mind that much as we were with our kids). We decided to order 4 dishes at a time and it worked out perfectly. For us the highlights were the pumpkin ravioli and the butterfish - awesome at both restaurants but a bit better at Josselin's. All in all, the service was superb at both places. Thanks for the heads up.
Thanks for the report! Big round of applause for ordering 4 dishes at a time! It's unfortunate that sometimes you just know you have to take pacing matters into your own hands, but that is far better than having 6 plates stacked on the table at one time.
At Roy's, did you stick with the classics (the ahi, the molten chocolate cake)? I'm always curious to see how their creations specific to Poipu fare.
Now, any quick last minute advice on Maui? I hear a resounding "no" on Sansei, though the menu looks intriguing and reviews years ago rave about it.
2 lunch-- Honu and Star Noodle (any favorite dishes at either?)
3 dinners-- only for sure is Lahaina Grill for last night. Currently reservations at Sansei and Pacific 'O the other nights. I'm always willing to change-- we want places between Lahaina and Kapalua. Any thoughts on the new chefs at Pineapple Grill and Hula Grill, or trying Plantation House for dinner, or the new Chef's Terrace at the Ritz Carlton? Should I get past my bad Merriman's Kauai experiences and try that instead in Kapalua?
Definitely also banana bread at Julia's, coffee at Anthony's and Maui Coffee Co in Lahaiana, shaved ice at Ululani , drinks at the Ritz, Grand Wailea, and tiki bar at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, pineapple wine tasting, and Maui Brewing Co.
Mahalo nui loa!!!
I agree with many of your points about the Kauai cocktails. In the end, if people don't complain or stop ordering drinks, there is no incentive to improve quality (whether it be the ice, technique, whatever). The funny thing is, with my Manhattan at Merriman's Poipu, a MEASURED quantity as I had specified (2 oz bourbon, 1 oz sweet vermouth, bitters) with minimal stirring, they could have charged me the same for LESS booze (ie made more money on the drink) AND I would have been happier with the drink. It's just not hard.
Regarding Maui, I am in the camp of give Merriman's Kapalua a try. As I think I said before, if you are afraid to devote an entire evening to it, try pupus and drinks (the SHORT Mai Tai) on the back patio area. The pork quesadillas and beef sliders are generally very good there (my last visit was March, 2012). Avoid the combo pupu platter, as some of the dishes on there aren't great.
We have also been to Sansei. I agree it is fine, but I am imagining you have better options in SF.
For lunch, the Fish Market on Lower Honoapiilani Road has good fish sandwiches and tacos and also good quality fish for purchase if you want to cook at the condo.
Cobpdx-- I'm guessing you're from PDX? Why can't Jeffrey Morgenthaler open a place on Kauai...
At Red Salt a few nights ago, I asked for a "Penicillin," and got a blank stare from the bartender. Then again, I was getting ambitious thinking they might already have honey syrup on hand and ginger for muddling.
I would love to try Amasia or Mama's Fish House...but we're trying to stick with Kapalua-Lahaina area for dinners to limit post dinner driving. After visiting the winery, we'll be driving to the south shore to see some of the beaches and resorts. It sounds like Monkeypod Kitchen would be the spot for cocktails.
I'm going to try to swap Sansei for Merriman's...now running into the reservations issue since they're showing few openings on Opentable.
Does anyone have thoughts on Pacific 'O? I went to I'O over 10 years ago...Would you pick one or the other, or prefer Honu or Mala Tavern?
It looks like our only Lahaina lunch will be at Star Noodle. The other lunch will be up country. Bev's General Store is unfortunately closed Saturday lunch, so I'm considering Paia's Flatbread, or Colleen's at the Cannery? Or is there a place in Kula? We'll be heading to the winery.
Star Noodle is one of the most tourist & over-rated restaurant's I've been to. It was just featured in Sunset Magazine & all the tourist guide say to eat there, but I say Pass!
You can make reservations for parties over 5, it was just 2 of us around 6pm on Tues evening & the wait was killer over 1hr, we finally decided to do take-out. We got Garlic Noodles large $10 & steamed pork buns which is 2 buns for $10, it's actually pork belly so if you don't like a lot of fat pass this up. Noodles not much garlic, I like lots maybe 5 cloves & this barely had 1 I think, very oily too.
We ate one meal at Panda Express in Lahaina & really liked it much better & I'm not even a fan of Panda Express since it's mall food in the SF Bay Area.
I liked getting take-out Poke Bowl (with or without rice) at Foodland Farm Grocery Store in Lahaina. You can sample all the poke before making a choice. Poke bowl 2 kinds of poke & rice for $10.99 or just 1 poke w/ rice $6.99. There's outdoor seating or take it back to the condo/hotel.
286 Kupuohi St (above Walgreens)
Call for reservations over 5ppl:
Open daily 10:30a-10p
After a week on Kauai, heading to Maui for 3 nights in the morning. I'll report back on everything when I get home next week-- so far, very good for the most part. Really enjoyed Red Salt. Beach House was not perfect, but improved. Josselin's is most consistent. Roy's was less exciting than usual with very few inventive plates compared to the past, but when they were on for their signature dishes, it beat any of the others.
Cobpdx, your question about cocktails on the island really got me thinking all week. I 100% agree with you, what is the deal with cocktails on Kauai? Why are they usually not close to worth getting? To me, it comes down to three things:
1. In general, many tourist diners here on Kauai (and all of Hawaii probably) just let down their standards for eating and drinking...so a mai tai or ahi sashimi will taste good to them...because they're in Hawaii. They don't care as much perhaps, so if they're given something 50% of what they ordered, they're fine with that. This is really the case with cocktails...the special restaurants don't think about this food-wise.
Even where I live in SF, you won't get good cocktails on Pier 39 or the Cliff House...because the tourists don't care. So why bother? It's a different story at the "mixologist" joints.
2. It's the ice. I always forbid bartenders from giving me drinks with crushed ice because it will dilute the drink within seconds, if not five minutes. Great bartenders today are figuring out ways to make ice to get around this fact that ice melts. The various places I've been on Kauai the past week, all of the ice melts in single digit minutes.
3. The juices are meh. Specifically with Mai Tais. The Beach House's version of a Mai Tai was a crime. Ridiculous. I should've been paid to drink it. At least Red Salt and Honu at the Waiohai make drinkable Mai Tais. But they're still only decent. The problem is everyone just uses weak passion fruit and guava juices, probably from the Aloha Maid cans. Mediocre juice....mediocre cocktails. I'm sure Tiki Iniki will change the cocktail culture on Kauai...
Glad you enjoyed Red Salt.
On Maui, I would only do Plantation House for breakfast.
Sansei is ok but your from SF..its decent sushi and the hh is fun but crazy.
Hula Grill and Dukes for HH or lunch imho, are the Best calls to enjoy with feet in the sand.
Mamas Fish House for dinner.
I don't know if it's a matter of "lowering" your standards. I would wager that a LOT of people who visit Hawaii come from the suburban/rural (maybe?) areas of the USA. Where they don't have access good cocktails to begin with, so it doesn't really matter to them, they just want to get drunk on vacation.
A proper Mai Tai is supposed to have crushed ice but it's also super strong and balanced; and you're supposed to shake with the crushed ice and pour unstrained into the serving vessel per Trader Vic's 1944 recipe.
I'm also not surprised that the Mai Tais in Hawaii are too sugary/fruity... it is also a different drink in Hawaii (multiple juices vs lime juice).
From Beachbum Berry's books, about the Hawaiian Mai Tai variation:
"From the Surf Bar of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Waikiki Beach, where Trader Vic introduced his original Mai Tai to the islands in 1953. Over the ensuing years, this recipe (which dates from 1971) evolved from Vic’s into its present form."
I think it's less about the ice and more about low/no demand, and bartenders not following or caring about recipes. Precision counts, like in baking, and the original tiki guys did stuff in secrecy (like Don's Spices #1 as an ingredient), which in the end hurts people like us.
Nobody else but them knew the real recipes for a long time (not even their own bartenders). Those who followed made stuff up, to varying degrees of success. There is also lots of free pouring in Hawaii and very few bartenders taste their creations before sending them out. Even then, many people think it's "supposed" to taste like fruity sugar. Hopefully Tiki Iniki will change things, but I'm doubtful. It's all about how the day to day bartenders execute the recipes, not the big names doing a consulting gig. Usually after the famous bartender leaves, quality takes a nose dive unless someone is there trying to maintain standards on a full ime basis.
If you're in a condo, bring some shakers, a barspoon, and jiggers, check some bitters in your luggage, and make your own.
In addition to the tourists having low/no demand/just being happy to be in Hawaii, it's also all about the atmosphere/ view of the bar.
It's a great question, say if a local bartender started making his or her own syrups, juices, and bitters, and opened a stellar bar (maybe a speakeasy like so many of the bars today on the mainland) that didn't have an ocean view, would it be able to be a major hit?
I've tried making the classic Mai Tai recipes from Trader Vic's and Don's before at home. They are indeed completely different, relying heavily on the lime juice, the rum used, and the orgeat syrup. My guests always complain they aren't sweet enough...well yes, because there is no sugar component supposed to be involved!
I just posted a Kauai review:
No luck at all with cocktails as you will see from my report. We actually liked Merriman's well enough, but in general not as well as Merriman's Kapalua. (And, in general, as you know it is harder to find good food in Kauai, so our enjoyment of Merriman's Poipu was more a factor of what we had already eaten on the island.) I assume you left the Kapalua location off your Maui list because of your experience in Poipu. Consider re-considering. The view is awesome. Drinks are much better than Poipu, and we found the food in general to be better as well (menu is slightly different). It is at least worth a drink and maybe some pupus on the back patio at sunset if you don't feel safe devoting an entire evening to it.
Mahala nui loa everyone for your very quick and thoughtful responses!!! I really appreciate it! You're faster and more comprehensive than any post I've started before, even major food cities like New Orleans and Seattle!
Sounds like the 4 dinners are pretty set now on Kauai-- Red Salt added in. I really wish Tiki Iniki would open now so I could visit! Has anybody visited the new Port Allen Brewery yet?
I never asked-- are there any great barista driven cafes on Kauai? Living Foods has decent coffee...but a great place for espresso or macchiatos?
Maui-- sounds like Sansei is not a favorite here. Thoughts on Pacific 'O or I'O? Looks like the only things settled for now are a lunch at Star Noodle and a dinner at Lahaina Grill.
Any thoughts on Mala Tavern vs Honu?
Liked our meal at Lahaina Grill two years ago.
Mama's is excellent but pricey; if you really want to go, try to time your reservation to just before sunset.
I think you meant Aloha Mixed PLATE and not Place? There is also an excellent hole in the wall in Lahaina called Local Food if you want some kalua pork or shoyu chicken or spam musubi.
Don't miss Ululani's Shave Ice.
I found Amasia to be hit or miss. My review:
Yes, yes--- meant the Maui Brewing Company. Are they the only brewer on the island? I never planned on eating at the brewpub-- too little time and too many more worthwhile restaurants to try when on Maui. :)
I learned my lesson "wasting" a lunch recently at Full Sail's Brewpub in Oregon...don't need to go that route again! I have enjoyed the Coconut Porter and Big Swell IPA in cans before on Kauai...tasted better there than on draft once here in SF. I see that their pub draft list has some intriguing options, including coffee stout on nitro and a collaboration with Dogfish Head. They're in the big leagues now!
What fun, to be honest, I haven't been a fan of Roys for years. I think they overextended the brand. Back in the olden days it was the perfect trifecta to go to Josselins Pacific Cafe in Kapaa, Roys and Josselin managed Beach House. It was only with his food that I could get past the sunset paparrazi flashbulbs going off with diner's who didn't have a window seat practically sitting on your lap for a photo shoot at your table.
That same experience was only heightened at The Princeville/St Regis. You are having a lovely cocktail and pupus, and dropping a couple of hundred and are suddenly swarmed by non paying tourists pushing and shoving their fanny packs into your pupu's while directing their cinimatographer to get the shot, while yelling into our faces, "we're losing the light, we're losing the light!" A picnic of poke and some Kauai Kunana
lillikoi goat cheese from the farmers market and a couple of red cup beverages on the adjacent grassy knoll is what we prefer now.
Good call on checking out Tiki Iniki, and we always enjoy a stop at Keoki's bar for entertainment and some pupus.
When on Maui, and visiting upcountry, perhaps a stop at Haili'imaile General Store for Sashimi Neopolean.
If you love Lappert's keep your eye out for Tropical Dreams. It's mo bettah!
Aloha, and safe journey!
Actually speaking of Kauai Kunana goat cheese-- has anybody visited their dairy? Is it a tour worth doing? Loved their cheeses at a farmers market last year.
Bellachef, I am completely with you about the "old trifecta" days. They were the golden years with Josselin's at Pacific Cafe and Beach House, and Roy's. Roy's is more or less the same to me still. Josselin's food and service are fine, but not as polished as A Pacific Cafe. Beach House...not even close now. Nothing beat the duo of the Beach House atmosphere with Josselin's cooking, the rare masterful view restaurant with food to match.
Yet we still go to the Beach House each year out of tradition (been going since 1981)...not sure what it will take to get them to get my family to surrender, but they sure seem to try. Last year was a mess. Almost as poor as Merriman's...
In Kauai, I would add.
Tiki Iniki that just opened in Princeville..Todd & Michele Rungrens new bar.
Dolphins for drinks and apps.
St. Regis for drinks and apps.
Hamura Saimin in Lihue..divey best James Beard nom. For their Saimin and Lilikoi pie.
Red Salt is awesome..pricey
Keoki's Paradise happy hour..same center as Roys.
Plantation House for breakfast at Kapalua..best deal..view, food and no wait.
Gazebo in Napili for b/l.
Bev's General Store
Hula Grill/ Duke's happy hour..
Have a blast and report back!
re: Beach Chick
That's a bummer Tiki Iniki isn't open yet! I was so excited to try it...I read Julie Reiner is involved...I really enjoyed her now closed tiki bar in Manhattan, Lani Kai.
Sounds like Red Salt will take the last open dinner spot for Kauai...seems like a consensus over Kauai Grill or Plantation Gardens. Maybe the St. Regis for some cocktails...but I do love the mai tais nearby at Tahiti Nui!
I really want to try the Haliimali General Store, but don't want to drive the hour there to Kapalua after dinner...and they're not oopen for lunch weekends...and we're only on Maui a Saturday and Sunday for lunches. Scheduling issues!