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Meals on Kauai -- Good to Awful

ddavis Oct 3, 2013 08:39 PM

Just spent a week on Kauai. Home base was the St. Regis Hotel in Princeville. Here are our restaurant experiences.

Tavern -- in the clubhouse of the Prince golf course. Nice room. Can get very loud. Service was excellent. Food was OK. Interesting burger with battered and deep-fried bacon slices. Expensive.

Nalu Kai Bar & Grill -- the pool bar at the St. Regis. Food was pretty good. Burgers and salads were the main deal here. Expensive for a poolside bar.

Makana Terrace at St. Regis -- This is the second restaurant at the hotel. Kauai Grill is their more expensive, fancier place. Prices at the Makana Terrace for fish dishes are $40-46. Beef dishes about the same. Wife's six-ounce filet mignon ($46) was good, not great. My lamb shank ($46) was also good. Service fell flat a couple of times when we counl not find our server.

Kalypso's -- just awful. Fish and chips, fish tacos and nachos were uniformly bad.

Mediterranean Gourmet -- Interesting place. Relatively reasonable prices. Lots of Greek dishes. Fair to good food. Service was friendly, but hard to get their attention.

Garden Cafe at Common Ground -- great lunch place. Way laid back. Food was good. I had the best piece of fish there that I had the whole week. It was Ono and was fresh, moist and good. Since you basically wait on yourself can't comment on service. Moderately priced.

Kauai Ono 560 -- Best meal we had. This place is much-discussed on this site, as well at TripAdvisor, Yelp, Urban Spoon, etc.so won't belabor it. 5 courses prepared in a food trailer and served at communal picnic tables under a big white tent. BYOB. $50 per head before gratuity.

Bar Acuda -- tapas place. Food was good, if a little expensive for what you get. Service was wonderful.

St. Regis wedding reception -- we attended a wedding reception held on the Bay Terrace at the St. Regis. Huge buffet with 8-10 entrees, uncountable salads and desserts. Food was OK. Beverage and bussing services were good. Not bad for a large buffet.

Pau Hana Bar & Grill -- went because of great reviews of the fish and chips. They were good. Certainly better than Kalypso's! It's sort of a hole in the wall in a shopping center in Kaapa. Worth getting a meal there. Moderately priced.

Kauai is a beautiful island, but the food was, overall, disappointing. Someone said Hawaii is not famous for its food. Good thing.

  1. kaleokahu Oct 3, 2013 08:54 PM

    Hi, ddavis:

    'Ole, Hawai'i *is* famous for its food--Hawai'ian food. What local fish and fruit did you have? Did you get any food at the several farmers' markets and cook for yourself?

    Hawai'i being the most remote archipelago on the planet, and beautiful Kaua'i being a small kine place, visitors should not expect a lot of things that are in cheap abundance stateside.

    I was once on one of the more remote islands in the Cooks, Aitutaki, when the monthly supply barge was delayed and a fishing tournament (and the Survivor cast and crew) had drained all of just about everything. The local version of ceviche, called Ika Mata, was about all we had. Some of the best grinds ever!


    3 Replies
    1. re: kaleokahu
      kathryn Oct 4, 2013 07:03 AM

      Agreed. When we visit Hawaii, we gorge ourselves on local food. Items like tuna poke, kalua pork, lau lau, chicken long rice, spam musubi, teri beef, chicken katsu, pipikaula, saimin, huli huli chicken, loco moco, lomi salmon, malasadas, shave ice, all manner of local fruit, local fruit jams and butters, various fruit breads (like mango bread), haupia (coconut pudding), Portuguese sweet bread, Maui onions/onion flavored chips, macadamia nuts, mochi, Roselani ice cream, Ono Pops, poi (though I personally dislike poi), mac salad, local coffee, local honey, local cheese, local chocolate, local fish & shellfish, and anything flavored with lilikoi.

      1. re: kathryn
        swannee Oct 4, 2013 07:07 PM

        What a fabulous list ofHawaiian food! You rock, Kathryn!

        1. re: kathryn
          Bill Hunt Oct 4, 2013 07:08 PM

          Having visited the Islands, since the 70's, I would never think of straying too far from Hawai`ian Cuisine. Now, in the 80's, there WAS a change, and one for the better, IMHO. Chefs, such as Roy Yamaguchi, Bev Gannon, George Mavrothalassitis (Chef Mavro), Peter Merriman, Sam Choy and Alan Wong, transformed things - basing their cooking on Hawai`ian products, adding locally-grown veggies, and changing some family recipes a bit, they created a new Hawai`ian Cuisine. Yes, there were some other elements, such as Classical French, blended in, but it was fantastic, at least for us.

          Perhaps our biggest departure might be with beef, but we stick (or try to) with Big Island Beef.

          Closest that we come to deviating, will be with the Cheese Course. That goes for every Island, and then every side of every Island.

          We never look for anything, that is remotely "from the Mainland," or elsewhere - other than the Cheese Course, and still try to keep that, as "local," as we can.


      2. k
        kathryn Oct 4, 2013 07:06 AM

        You can't necessarily judge all of Kauai based on just the north shore. Four of your meals were at the hotel. And I wouldn't judge all of Hawaii based upon just Kauai.

        4 Replies
        1. re: kathryn
          wabi Oct 4, 2013 09:12 AM

          I have to agree with Kathryn...I'm a Kauai resident, and while not a culinary capital, Kauai does offer some great food. As Kathryn pointed out, there is some great local food here. Hamura's Saimin is the iconic saimin stand of Hawaii, and there are some awesome plate lunches and poke to be had.

          To anyone who does visit Kauai, I recommend you get out of the North Shore, or Poipu and search out the local spots. There is where you will find what the food of Hawaii is really like.

          1. re: wabi
            ddavis Oct 4, 2013 06:17 PM

            Thanks to all for your replies. I appreciate your perspective.

            1. re: wabi
              Scotty Oct 10, 2013 09:08 PM

              Please tell me some of the local spots. I'm going to Kauai at the end of the year for almost 2 weeks and am looking forward to a lot of sea food (and some loco moco). My wife is VERY excited about going to a luha, me, not that much. Hamura's Saimin? tell me more. My big plan is to buy local seafood and grill it at the time share BBQ.

              1. re: Scotty
                kathryn Oct 11, 2013 05:27 AM

                There are many discussions already on Kauai & local eats. Here are a few I found using the search function:

          2. b
            Beach Chick Oct 9, 2013 04:52 AM

            Just got back from a week in Kauai and tho' we stayed in Poipu, we were going to stay at week at the St. Regis...so glad we didn't..was not impressed with resort..
            There is way more to Kauai than the North Shore for food, drink and Aloha..
            Love love love the Poipu area..
            Next time dine at Red Salt or Josselins.


            1. o
              Ogawak Oct 9, 2013 04:00 PM

              Wow, dude. Looks like you did NOT consult this board as to where to eat. Nevertheless, thanks for the report, because it only confirms where NOT to eat while in Kauai.

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