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Good eating on Kauai


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#1 Luggage386

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Posted 13 February 2003 - 09:06 AM

My fiancée and I are planning to honeymoon on Kauai in September, and would welcome anyone's recommendations on good places to chow down there -- both for a 'special dinner' and cheap eats, anywhere on the island. (We don't mind straying off the tourist reservation!) Many thanks in advance.

#2 tighe

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Posted 13 February 2003 - 09:27 AM

Hands down, my favorite meals on Kauai (and some of my favorite ever, for that matter) were at Jean-Marie Josselin' restaurant A Pacific Cafe in Wailua. Absolutely spectacular. You can read some details and some raves by others here: 'Innovative Kauai Food' thread.

I didn't make it there, but have heard great things about The Beach House restaurant in Poipu as well.

For more casual food, I really enjoyed Sushi Blues and Zelo's in Hanalei.
Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.
- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

#3 CathyL

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Posted 13 February 2003 - 10:26 AM

A good downscale place is Hamura's Saimin in Lihue.

#4 Beachfan

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Posted 13 February 2003 - 07:25 PM

We're are you staying? Pacific Cafe is by far the best. It's in Waipouli, which is as far south as I go if I can help it.

Cafe Hanalei at the Princeville resort is very romantic and a fabulous view. They usually have either Opakapaka or onaga, both are super delicate delicious very deep water snapper. Reasonable quality and tremendous quantity can be had at the Seafood Buffet Friday nights . Or go there for drinks in the "Living Room" the best sunset on Kauii (which is saying a lot).

Service at the Hanalei Dolphin is up and down but pretty reliable for simply prepared interesting island fish. They started having the island equivalent of black cod, moonfish (the same fish that's one of the specials at Nobu). They'll also have shutome frequently (broadbilled swordfish)

Postcards (Hanalei) is another good place for fish, I recommend their Mong Chong. Also Opah is a fabulous fish.

The Thai restaurant in Kapaa (The King and I) is reputed to be good.

Ahi is very common. I usually have it as part of a picnic lunch - the Dolphin has a fish store associated with it and they often have seared ahi sashimi. Better than 99% of what you get here. If they say they don't have enough to make it, cajole them a little (how great you heard it was, this is the most important week in your life,etc). That works for me.

PS Buy the Ultimate Guide to Kauii. It's the best guide and a truly excellent one (although they don't like Postcards, but I think it's personal, you probably will).

Edited by Beachfan, 13 February 2003 - 07:27 PM.

beachfan

#5 Luggage386

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Posted 14 February 2003 - 02:11 PM

We're are you staying?  Pacific Cafe is by far the best. It's in Waipouli, which is as far south as I go if I can help it.
.

Many thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread. You've provided us with lots of good leads.

We'll be staying on the north shore, probably at Hanalei Bay Resort (if anyone can suggest anything better without breaking the bank, I'm all ears).

Oh, and my copy of the Ultimate Kauai Guide is in the mail... :rolleyes:

#6 Beachfan

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Posted 14 February 2003 - 02:49 PM

Based on location, HBR is a fine option, especially if you get a nice view. The Princeville Resort has some specials on, but still likely to be $$$$$$. Check out the starwood website.
beachfan

#7 tighe

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Posted 14 February 2003 - 02:53 PM

Postcards (Hanalei) is another good place for fish, I recommend their Mong Chong.  Also Opah is a fabulous fish....PS Buy the Ultimate Guide to Kauii.  It's the best guide and a truly excellent one (although they don't like Postcards, but I think it's personal, you probably will).

Despite hearing/reading numerous positive comments about Postcards, I had an atrocious experience there. The food was passable, but there was such palpable tension among the staff and rudeness on the part of our server, it completely ruined the evening....
Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.
- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

#8 Beachfan

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Posted 14 February 2003 - 04:11 PM

Postcards (Hanalei) is another good place for fish, I recommend their Mong Chong.  Also Opah is a fabulous fish....PS Buy the Ultimate Guide to Kauii.  It's the best guide and a truly excellent one (although they don't like Postcards, but I think it's personal, you probably will).

Despite hearing/reading numerous positive comments about Postcards, I had an atrocious experience there. The food was passable, but there was such palpable tension among the staff and rudeness on the part of our server, it completely ruined the evening....

Wow! All the Postcard service problems have been the hippy quality of the serving staff (slow, not efficient, etc.). But usually quite mellow.
beachfan

#9 Damian

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Posted 14 February 2003 - 05:45 PM

Take that helicopter tour out of Princeville - incredible.

#10 troyblakely

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Posted 28 February 2003 - 03:26 PM

The best food on the north shore area has got to be the Dolphin. Great fish, grilled meats and an excellent salad. Go early, hang out on the lanai, watch the rain and the geckos drink mai-tais and make friends with the waitstaff. The ahi sashimi is very good too.

For cheaper food, also in Hanalei, try Tropical Taco and Hanalei Pizza (i think).

Gaylords at Kilohana Plantation is beautiful for lunch and has pretty good food. Dukes and Roy's on the South shore are both quite good.

I was not that impressed with Bamboo Bamboo or Postcards.

#11 tighe

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Posted 28 February 2003 - 05:10 PM

....watch the rain and the geckos drink mai-tais and make friends with the waitstaff. The ahi sashimi is very good too.

For cheaper food, also in Hanalei, try Tropical Taco and Hanalei Pizza (i think).

Gaylords at Kilohana Plantation is beautiful for lunch and has pretty good food. Dukes and Roy's on the South shore are both quite good.

I was not that impressed with Bamboo Bamboo or Postcards.

I must have missed the mai tai drinking geckos when I was there! Would have paid to see that. :biggrin:

Is Gaylord's the place way around the south end, just before you start up the mountain towards the canyon? If it is, I really thought it was a cool place and would like to try staying there in one of the refurbished plantation houses sometime.

Oh, and....welcome to eGullet troy!

Edited by tighe, 28 February 2003 - 05:11 PM.

Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.
- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

#12 Luggage386

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Posted 11 October 2003 - 05:04 PM

Thanks again to everyone who answered my original query about where to eat on Kauai. We visited in September and had a great time. A Pacific Cafe was, hands down, our favorite spot. Their scallop-and-tobiko (fish roe) ravioli with lime ginger sauce may have been the best appetizer I've ever had, and the rest of the menu was equally perfectly presented, appealing, fresh, interesting and flavorful. (We've since acquired Josselin's cookbook A Taste of Hawaii.)

The Hanalei Dolphin restaurant on the north shore was a reliable second choice for both food and ambiance. For a quick bite on the way from one place to another, Duane's Ono-Char Burger in Anahola lived up to its reputation (especially for the fantastic onion rings)! We'll be back...

#13 gmi3804

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Posted 12 January 2005 - 02:41 PM

I thought I'd resuscitate this thread since we'll FINALLY be going back to our beloved Kauai next month, after a three year (too long) hiatus.

The last time we went, the big news on Kauai was Coconuts. We liked it so much we went twice! Is it still as good? We also liked the then-new Lemongrass.

I love A Pacific Cafe too. And the banana pancakes with coconut syrup at Country Kitchen in Kapaa. And the pies at Camp House Grill in Kalaheo. And Hammura's Saimin.

Is The Beach House still owned by Josselin like it was when it first opened? We went last time and it was a bit disappointing - something was "missing".

Is there anything new I should try? I know the island like the back of my hand and will travel anywhere for a good meal - french fries to foie gras!

:biggrin:

#14 hshiau

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Posted 12 January 2005 - 02:57 PM

Wow. Perfect timing. We're planning to go to Kauai end of March. My wife has a conference over at the Hyatt. Never been and would love to know places to go near the Hyatt.

#15 gmi3804

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Posted 12 January 2005 - 03:13 PM

Wow.  Perfect timing.  We're planning to go to Kauai end of March.  My wife has a conference over at the Hyatt.  Never been and would love to know places to go near the Hyatt.


There are plenty of places near the Hyatt, but part of the fun of being on Kauai is had in venturing to other parts of the island; it's small enough where the farthest drive really isn't that far, especially if combined with other activities in that particular area.

You will LOVE the Hyatt, by the way. Be sure, however, to request a redecorated room. Room furnishings were looking a bit worn when we were there three years ago, and I understand they've redone many, but not all of, the rooms. The public areas at the Hyatt are among the most beautiful on the entire island, and their pool is, hands down, the best.

#16 hshiau

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Posted 12 January 2005 - 04:03 PM

There are plenty of places near the Hyatt, but part of the fun of being on Kauai is had in venturing to other parts of the island; it's small enough where the farthest drive really isn't that far, especially if combined with other activities in that particular area.

You will LOVE the Hyatt, by the way.  Be sure, however, to request a redecorated room.  Room furnishings were looking a bit worn when we were there three years ago, and I understand they've redone many, but not all of, the rooms.  The public areas at the Hyatt are among the most beautiful on the entire island, and their pool is, hands down, the best.

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Good to know. Thanks! We're also considering, since we're venturing all the way out from NY, if we should spent a few extra days either at another resort on Kauai or fly to another island. I'm limiting my hotel choices to Starwood since my sister works for them.

#17 gmi3804

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Posted 12 January 2005 - 08:02 PM

There are plenty of places near the Hyatt, but part of the fun of being on Kauai is had in venturing to other parts of the island; it's small enough where the farthest drive really isn't that far, especially if combined with other activities in that particular area.

You will LOVE the Hyatt, by the way.  Be sure, however, to request a redecorated room.  Room furnishings were looking a bit worn when we were there three years ago, and I understand they've redone many, but not all of, the rooms.  The public areas at the Hyatt are among the most beautiful on the entire island, and their pool is, hands down, the best.

View Post

Good to know. Thanks! We're also considering, since we're venturing all the way out from NY, if we should spent a few extra days either at another resort on Kauai or fly to another island. I'm limiting my hotel choices to Starwood since my sister works for them.

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Starwood = Princeville Hotel. Splurge and get a Prince Junior Suite, which has a tub/shower with a floor to ceiling window so you can bathe or shower with the best view in the world!

And then you won't have to worry about seeing sights from Kapaa and north because you could do those areas when you stay north. And if you're going to do a Na Pali sightseeing tour, it's far preferable to leave from the north (Hanalei) than the south, as Hanalei's closer to the Na Pali coast.

#18 JumblyJu

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 05:16 AM

For some local eats pick up a bento from Oki's Diner in Lihue, it's next to the McDonalds. It's a sit down local style restaurant so you'll have to call (one day)ahead for the bento.

#19 wabi

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Posted 20 January 2005 - 01:37 AM

I live here.
High end....I still think that A Pacific Cafe is the one to beat.
Cafe Portofino has moved across the street to the Marriott. It shares space with Dukes. I have had some very nice meals there. The Hukilau Lanai near the Coconut Marketplace is pretty good also
My wife and I tend to go to local places during the week if we are too tired to cook.
Let me suggest some of the local's favorites as it were.....
In the evening the Tip Top Cafe (great breakfasts!!) turns into a Japanese restaurant. the food is very good and inexpensive. Very good Katsu, japanese favorites and sushi. The portions are amply sized.
Hamura's Saimin.......dont visit Kauai without a visit there.
Kiibo japanese restaurant in Lihue is good for both lunch and dinner.
I am a big fan of Ara's Japanese restaurant in Hanamaulu.....very local, but very good. Ara and Debbie work their butts off, and it's a locals favorite. If you want some quiet, get a tatami room. They also have a take out place next door called Ara's Sakana-ya. It's a place that sells Poke, pupus and beer, but they do a take out Bento lunch that is my favorite. I like the Teri fish platter.
In Kapaa at the Kinipopo shopping center is Korean BBQ.....good and you get your moneys worth.
In Kapaa, at the Safeway shopping center is a small vietnamese place called Ba-Le, their Pho is very good. Next to Safeway is a small mexican place called La Playita Azul that is also very good with reasonable prices.
Except for my first couple of selections, the places I mentioned are inexpensive, nothing fancy, but have solid food and are very popular with the local folks. I live on the east side of the island, so tend to frequent these spots as they are close by.
These are the places that my wife and I tend to go to on a regular basis.
I hope this helps.

wabi

#20 gmi3804

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Posted 20 January 2005 - 06:39 AM

I live here.


Thanks for the update! I'm really looking forward to trying some of these places.

One of my favorite places closed several years ago - Sinaloa, on the West side (Hanapepe?) Some of the best Mexican food I've had anywhere. Have the owners opened up another place somewhere else?

#21 oneidaone

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Posted 20 January 2005 - 01:52 PM

We loved Sinaloa's!!!!!!! We would eat there prior to the long haul up to Kokee where my boss
had a beautiful cabin that he let us stay in. I didn't realize they were closed since I haven't
been to Kaua'i in ages spending much free time on Lana'i and lately Maui and next weekend
on the Big Island. At the Safeway you can still find their tortillas in many flavors and they
are the best!!!!!! a hui ho :smile:
"You can't miss with a ham 'n' egger......"
Ervin D. Williams 9/1/1921 - 6/8/2004

#22 hitmanoo

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Posted 18 February 2005 - 09:45 PM

Really enjoyed my time on Kauai, and 2 restaurants in particular stand out in my memory.

1. The seafood buffet at the Princeville. We made a reservation and had a gorgeous table overlooking the sunset and Hanalei Bay. Such a good variety of food, so fresh and tasty. If I'm not mistaken, they only do the seafood buffet once a week.

2. The Beach House. Some of the friendliest service of my life. I couldn't decide what I really wanted, so our waiter guided me through step by step. Narrowing down my general preferences and then breaking things down to specific flavors, textures, etc. By the time I decided, I was so pumped for my meal that I swore I could taste it before it arrived. Absolutely delicious! Our waiter took us outside afterwards for pictures by the water with a breathtaking view. Definitely my best meal in Hawaii.

Wish I could remember more of the particulars, including what I actually ate, but I was there in September of 2003! That being said, these two meals must have really been special if I'm remembering them a year and a half later and posting about them here on egullet.
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#23 wabi

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Posted 19 February 2005 - 09:44 AM

Sad news for eaters here on Kauai.
A Pacific Cafe has closed.
This is only temporary as the place is relocated....but it will be several months down the line.
Valentines Day this year just wasnt the same for my wife and I.........
I will keep everyone posted.

wabi

#24 glossyp

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Posted 19 February 2005 - 09:58 AM

Sad news for eaters here on Kauai.
A Pacific Cafe has closed.
This is only temporary as the place is relocated....but it will be several months down the line.
Valentines Day this year just wasnt the same for my  wife and I.........
I will keep everyone posted.

wabi

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Thanks for the report. Please let us know when and where they reopen!
"Eat it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." TMJ Jr. R.I.P.

#25 hshiau

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Posted 16 March 2005 - 11:53 PM

This has been a great thread. We're on our way to Kauai this coming Sunday. Going to stay a few days each at the Sheraton, the Princeville, and the Hyatt. That should get us some good eats all over the island.

We're going to try to do some upscale dining but, with an 8 yr old, would like to stick to more casual, local fare. I know seafood is excellent in Kauai but since neither my wife nor my daughter are into seafood, we're going to need to find other choices.

#26 gmi3804

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Posted 18 March 2005 - 01:10 PM

This has been a great thread.  We're on our way to Kauai this coming Sunday.  Going to stay a few days each at the Sheraton, the Princeville, and the Hyatt.  That should get us some good eats all over the island.

We're going to try to do some upscale dining but, with an 8 yr old, would like to stick to more casual, local fare.  I know seafood is excellent in Kauai but since neither my wife nor my daughter are into seafood, we're going to need to find other choices.

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Do yourself a favor and don't miss Coconuts. It has some of the most progressive cooking on the island, and the setting is casual. You'll enjoy this better than any of the "fine dining" options.

Have fun!

#27 hshiau

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Posted 18 March 2005 - 06:12 PM

Where's Coconuts?

#28 wabi

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Posted 19 March 2005 - 01:09 PM

Where's Coconuts?

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Coconuts is on Kuhio Highway (4-919 Kuhio Highway) in Kapaa. As you pass the Kauai Village (Safeway) shopping center as you are heading north...on your right will be the Kapaa Shores condominiums, on your left will be Coconuts. It's right on the road with a sign, you cant miss it.
The phone number is 808-823-8777.

wabi

#29 BryanZ

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Posted 22 March 2005 - 05:38 PM

First off let me say that Beach House was terrible for me. The food was passable but we had a very bad experience with the wait staff and management that had my party leaving very upset and unsatisfied. I also didn't like how people outside congregate right in front of our windows as we were eating and trying to watch the sunset. Pacific Cafe was quite good, but the location leaves something to be desired. Conversely, Cafe Hanalei has one of the world's most beautiful views but food cannot match the beautiful surroundings. All in all though, that was my most memorable meal because of the views. In general, dining in Hawai'i and on nearly any island anywhere is going to be more low key than dining in a major city like New York. Still, I would've liked to see more "polish" in the restaurants in general.

#30 gmi3804

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Posted 22 March 2005 - 07:40 PM

First off let me say that Beach House was terrible for me.  The food was passable but we had a very bad experience with the wait staff and management that had my party leaving very upset and unsatisfied.  I also didn't like how people outside congregate right in front of our windows as we were eating and trying to watch the sunset.  Pacific Cafe was quite good, but the location leaves something to be desired.  Conversely, Cafe Hanalei has one of the world's most beautiful views but food cannot match the beautiful surroundings.  All in all though, that was my most memorable meal because of the views.  In general, dining in Hawai'i and on nearly any island anywhere is going to be more low key than dining in a major city like New York.  Still, I would've liked to see more "polish" in the restaurants in general.

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I hate to sound like a broken record, but Coconuts offers the best dining experience on the whole island. Lots of restaurants have the "views," but who wants to spend $40 and eat lobster in Hawaii, even with a million dollar view? Coconuts is in a former Jack in the Box, but it's been redecorated into a classy, understated room with good lighting. What's more important, the food is top-notch, utilizing local ingredients, island flavor, and world-class cooking techniques. I cannot say enough good things about this place; it has culinary significance, polished service, and laid-back, island atmosphere. Have cocktails and pupus with your view, then head to Coconuts for real dining.

Edited by gmi3804, 22 March 2005 - 07:42 PM.