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Our week in Kauai

We are wrapping up a week in Kauai. It was our first trip to Hawaii, and I used this board to research restaurants prior to our trip. Thanks to everyone's suggestions, overall our dining was a success. Some of the highs (and one very low low):
In the South:
Josselin's: This one gets a lot of positive reviews on this site, and the food was outstanding. My complaint is that the food came out WAY too fast. When we ordered, we asked our server if we should order all at once or as we went along. She said we should order all at once, but to let them know how quickly we would like the food. We specified SLOWLY, but 3 of our 6 dishes came out together within about 5 minutes of our ordering. Unfortunately these were not brought out by the server, and it was difficult to find her to let them know to slow things down. We could have been out of there in half an hour if we hadn't ordered dessert. The table next to us seemed to have the same issue. Very rushed pace, and the restaurant wasn't full, so I don't think they needed the table. So, if I were to go again, I would insist on ordering as we went or at the very least ask to bring dishes out one at a time.
Red Salt: We had a fantastic meal here. Very delicious food and drinks and great service. It has a more traditional fine dining feel, but great for a special occasion.
Beach House: Maybe my expectations were low, as it seemed like a touristy spot, but the food was better than expected and it is a beautiful location. Service was good too. Incidentally, the weather didn't cooperate with a good sunset, and I was still happy with our meal.
Puka Dog: This hit the spot after a long morning hike.
Ishihara Market: We picked up poke and ate outside at the picnic tables. Yum.
In the North:
Mediterranean Gourmet: An interesting mix of Arabic and Hawaiian. Very good food and service. Pretty ocean views.
Dolphin fish market in Hanalei. We got sushi and poke carry out. Not a bargain, but very good, and less expensive than going out to eat.
We tried both Pat's taqueria at the pier and Red Hot Mama's for burritos. We preferred Red Hot Mama's. Took burritos to the beach.
Tahiti Nui was by far the WORST food we had anywhere on the island. The ono I ordered was way overcooked and dry. Sauce was terrible. It's a shame a fish died to prepare this meal. STAY AWAY!

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  1. I was always under the impression that Tahiti Nui was more about the Mai Tais and atmosphere.

    3 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Tahiti Nui is awesome! Good Pizza and decent food. It is what it is. Its fun Don't get too serious or don't go. Have a Mai Tai enjoy the music and relax. The food is better than Applebees or many places on Kauai. Its not haute cuisine if thats what your looking for go to Paris or many many other food centric cities.

        1. re: mick

          Applebees is a pretty low bar as a comparison. Furthermore, there's a lot of room between Applebee's and haute cuisine. If you notice our list, there were a lot of casual places. I don't demand fancy, but do expect the food to taste good. The ono was inedible. My son had pizza, which was mediocre. Yep, the Mai Tai was good (though not even the best drink I had on the island). Just eat elsewhere.

      1. We are going to be on Kauai next month for a week to attend a wedding. I spent this afternoon researching restaurants. Your post came at just the right time. Thank you. You ate at severaI places I was looking at.

        I read that one of the problems with Josselin's was it was very loud. What did you think?

        Red salt or Beach House, if I can only eat at one?

        Tahiti Nui's website made me strike it from my list. A restaurant that features their cocktails rather than its food should just go ahead and call itself a bar.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ddavis

          I did not find Josselin's to be too loud, though it wasn't full when we were there. I wouldn't let that keep me away. The food was excellent. My only complaint, as I said above, was the food coming out too fast (maybe because they weren't busy?). I would be very explicit about pacing of the food when you order.
          Between the Beach House and Red Salt: The food was definitely better at Red Salt. You can always go hang out on the Beach House lawn/beach if you want the views at sunset. If you are picking based on food, Red Salt.
          I included my experience with the food at Tahiti Nui because there have been positive reviews of the food here on Chow. By all means, go for the drinks and atmosphere. But I would not eat there, and I wish someone had told me before we wasted our money.

        2. Tahiti Nui serves the best Mai Tai I've ever had. I'd go there for the cocktails.

          1. Thanks Mountaincachers. We are headed to Kauai on Saturday, so I appreciate the report.

            Question for the board: would you try Tahiti Nui for a pre-dinner Mai Tai with two, well-behaved kids (ages 10 & 8)? We're staying in Hanalei and I do love Mai Tais - was thinking we could maybe stop in for a drink on our way to dinner at Bar Acuda one night. Thoughts?

            5 Replies
            1. re: melee

              Aloha melee. .
              Tahiti Nui is a classic place for drinks and was featured in the George Clooney film, The Descendants..
              Mai tai's are great.

              Make sure you hit up the St. Regis for drinks and apps.
              Hopefully, Tiki Iniki will be open.

              Make sure you dine at Hamura Saimin for ramen and the best lilikoi pie evah.

              Aloha

              1. re: Beach Chick

                Aloha Beach Chick!

                We definitely have St. Regis on the radar and I've been monitoring the status of Tiki Iniki. Fingers crossed it will be open. . .

                I think my 8 year old would cry if she didn't get some of that delicious lilikoi pie. Aw, who am I kidding? I'm the one who would pitch a fit if we didn't have some noodles and pie.

                Are you going to Grand Hyatt?

                1. re: melee

                  Aloha melee!
                  Bar Acuda and a place I haven't tried, Med Gourmet..oceanfront in North Shore.
                  Dolphins is a local fave.

                  Have fun and report back..4 weeks to get back to one my fave place on the planet!

                  www.kauaimedgourmet.com

                  1. re: Beach Chick

                    Just saw that Med Gourmet has Hawaiian music & hula on Sundays. Sounds like fun. Mahalo nui loa for the great ideas. I'll be sure to report back! Kauai is one of my favorite places too.

                2. re: Beach Chick

                  Tiki Iniki wasn't open when we were there. We drove by the site to make sure.

              2. Mahalo for the detailed reviews.

                We have not dined with Chef Josselin, since A Pacific Cafe, and then, service was perfect, as was the pacing. Pacing is important to us, so we greatly appreciate your observations.

                Beach House does not get much love here, BUT we have had several great meals there - regardless of the weather. For us, the food, the service, and then the wines (and their service), have been great. I have reviewed this location, regardless of the feelings of so many. I know what I like. I demand the best, and have gotten it, or very, very close.

                I greatly appreciate some of the reviews, for places that we have not had the opportunity to try yet. Thanks to you, we hope to do so, on the next trip.

                Mahalo, and aloha,

                Hunt