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Good eating on Kauai

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Hopefully by then, A Pacific Café will be open again. 

AND WHERE WOULD THAT BE?!?

:sad::sad::sad::sad:

(Thanks for the wonderful report!)

I don't know! :sad: Sorry if I made it seem that I did.


Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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I am back from Kauai and I have a few dining notes - this is no particular order

Hula Girl - probably the poorest food we ate but I tried poke for the first time and their version was pretty bland and alarmingly luke warm. My husband had the char sui ribs (looked steamed and then baked) and the coconut crab cakes were decent. There was a mother son duo for live entertainment. This is strip mall dining at its most dismal.

Princeville the classic drinks and sushi on the patio at sunset. The drinks were fine and not bank breaking and the sashimi was lovely but the whole experience was less memorable than expected.

Dukes We were staying at the Marriot in Lihue so Duke's was just a stroll from the room and when we were really tired this is where we headed. The first time it was drinks and apps in the beachside bar. Very disappointing - small portions, expensive and poorly executed. However a waiter at Coconuts said that Dukes was one of his favorite spots so we went to the upstairs restaurant midweek. Despite a rather tired salad bar the fish was first rate, generous portion and beautifully grilled. I had the grilled opah with lemon butter sauce and pineapple salsa. The menu lists the fish available and then the prep styles available. One diner had the firecracker ono and it was the spiciest thing that week. Great service by Mel, our waiter, who also gave us tips on making poke.

Kountry Kitchen This is a breakfast spot in Kapaa and really busy with locals and tourists. Lots of omelettes. I had the fresh vegetable benedict and my husband had the Idaho with bacon and sour cream. They also have a delicious cornbread that you dunk in coconut syrup - an unexpected treat.

Aromas This is a fine dining spot at night but serves breakfast Thurs - Sun in a upstairs venue in Lihue. The chef used to work at the Marriot across the street and the breakfast menu is way more inventive than standard fare. I had the scrambled eggs on fried rice and my friend had delicious coconut/macadamia nut and white choc pancakes. My husband had a breakfast wrap that came with a really piquant salsa. There is an open air porch for a relaxing meal. They were really short of staff the morning we were there so it was a little slow but we just poured our own coffee and had no schedule to keep to.

Gaylord's This is a restaurant outside of Lihue that was the site of a historica sugar plantation. The tables are on the covered porch that forms the innner courtyard of this large home. Service was very slow, and the hearts of palm salad had no hearts of palm!!. They have a terrific lilikoi tiramisu however.

Coconuts Like all other up thread, we had a wonderful meal here. It is a very busy place and reservations are highly recommended. We went at an off time of year, on a Tuesday night, and later in the evening and still had a half hour wait in the bar. The calamari with the panko coating was terrific. I had the tempura ono - delicious but my husband had the grilled ahi and it was beyond outstanding. Service is friendly and was the most professional of anywhere we ate.

JJ's this is a large bar/grill on Kalapaki beach with bland and pretty tasteless food according to the rest of the party but I had the Kaluha pig and cabbage. This is a local dish of a smoky pulled roast pig mixed with steamed cabbage and served with a couple of scoops of rice. I liked it. This is a great spot to watch the surfers.

Shave ice with macadamia ice cream - lots of spots and very yummy.

Tokyo Lobby - Now this was an experience. One of our group used to go to Japan on business several times a year and got to like sashimi/ sushi. This is across the street from the Marriot and appeared to have a lot of locals. We ended up with a couple of the "boat" dinners and this was way too much food. What was interesting was the contrast with the sushi at the hotel. The Marriot sushi bar was elegant, serene and everyone looked unhappy but the Tokyo Lobby was decidedly downscale, the waitress looked just like John Belushi's Samauri character and people were having a great time.

Casa di Amici in Poipu. This was our last meal on the island and definitely the most memorable. This restaurant is not easy to find ( we did a daylight scouting trip and it was a good thing). It is imbedded in a resort community, barely marked and you must have reservations. Although the restaurant seems Italian, the menu reflects the Island ethnic mix - some European dishes with a generous selection of Asian fusion dishes. I had the pork belly done like a Chinese duck with 5 spice risotto. It was truly memorable. My husband had a roast pork but with a trio of vegetable purees - the best being beet with raspberry and horseradish. Without a doubt this is the most creative food that we found and I highly recommend it.

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Any recent reports on Hukilau Lanai or Scotty's Beachside BBQ?

We visited both during our vacation this past September.

<a href="http://www.hukilaukauai.com/">Hukilau</a> was a great surprise. Our kayak tour guide was a local and suggested it to us. It's sort of hidden from the highway and we never would've found it otherwise.

My husband had the Opah with orzo. He loved it. I snuck a bite and it was awesome. Very delicate and not overdone. We tried the Chevre salad and "Wally's salad" - both were excellent. Had the oozing warm chocolate cake for dinner. It was so-so - a bit overdone. Not as good as Roy's. I remember the ambience being pleasant. It's a little upscale but relaxed. The service was friendly and attentive. Water glasses were always full.

Two thumbs up from both of us. We're going to remember this place for next year.

We had high expectations for <A href="http://scottysbbq.com/introduction.htm">Scotty's</a> and we weren't dissapointed. First of all, the view from each table is amazing - you have an unobstructed view of a pretty beach front, lined with palm trees, with the ocean in behind. They have a retractable face to the building that they pull back when the weather is good (99% of the time) and you get the feel of being seated in open air. It's such a great spot, especially at dusk - the ocean looks electric in that light.

We went for dinner here twice that week. The first night, we had the pulled pork sandwich and a full rack of St. Louis ribs. Both were nicely done, not dry at all.

As sides, the corn bread and garlic bread leave a little to be desired. The corn bread was a little dry, the garlic bread was thick cut toast with little butter. They were gobbled up, regardless. The fries were nice and crisp, as well. No complaints there.

For our second (and enthusiastic) visit a few nights later, we each had a full rack of ribs. This time they were a touch on the dry side and a little dissapointing. They were still very good, just not up to the standard that was set during the first visit.

We had the Chocolate Coma cake for dessert. Boy, I could go for a slice of that right now. It's in my crosshairs for our next visit. Good stuff. Apparently, they fly it in from Pennsylvania. It was a two or three layer cake (memory is a bit foggy), nice rich chocolate flavor, chocolate buttercream with whipped cream accents. Not a hint of American Airlines or FedEx. They must ship those suckers over in a hurry.

Anyway, hope that wasn't too long winded. These two places are at the top of my recommendations list for friends on vacation.

Aloha :)


Edited by Beak (log)

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Thanks for the report! We're on island now, getting ready for our 11pm flight home this evening. Fortunately, we tried both Hukilau Lanai and Scotty's - and thought both were terrific! Had a wonderful time here. I must say The Beach House is running like a well-oiled machine; we had two dinners there and each was fantastic. This place has had its ups and downs in the last ten years or so, but it's as good as it's ever been, maybe better.

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We had the Chocolate Coma cake for dessert. Boy, I could go for a slice of that right now. It's in my crosshairs for our next visit. Good stuff. Apparently, they fly it in from Pennsylvania. It was a two or three layer cake (memory is a bit foggy), nice rich chocolate flavor, chocolate buttercream with whipped cream accents. Not a hint of American Airlines or FedEx. They must ship those suckers over in a hurry.

Where in Pennsylvania?


Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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We had the Chocolate Coma cake for dessert. Boy, I could go for a slice of that right now. It's in my crosshairs for our next visit. Good stuff. Apparently, they fly it in from Pennsylvania. It was a two or three layer cake (memory is a bit foggy), nice rich chocolate flavor, chocolate buttercream with whipped cream accents. Not a hint of American Airlines or FedEx. They must ship those suckers over in a hurry.

Where in Pennsylvania?

I'm not sure. Their menu only states that it's flown in from Pennsylvania.

I've done some poking around online, but can't find any obvious suppliers.

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Well, it's my last day in Kauai. Unfortunately, we were hit with terrible weather (25 inches of rain in 5 days; over 6 inches of rain yesterday in Lihue), I've never seen it rain like this in my entire life and I live in the Seattle area! Anyway, we didn't do much fine dining as our budget wouldn't allow for it and, well, honestly it gets a bit tiring for us and sometimes we just want burgers and pizzas and a cold beer! So here are my impressions, from the likes of Roy's to the greasy spoons.

Camp House Grill - Greasy spoon. My husband and I had reasonable burgers and cheese steak sandwiches. Decent spicy fries. Not much to write about.

Kalaheo Coffee Company and Cafe - Great coffee. We had a pretty good breakfast the first time we were here: a breakfast burrito that was tasty but unfortunately had obviously jarred salsa and frozen hash browns. Still, wasn't too bad - filled with veggies, eggs, ham, black beans, etc. Wasn't so great the second time that we came here, but it's definitely a good spot to get good drip coffee and buy some beans or grounds to take back to your hotel or rental.

Waimea Brewing Company - We had one of these back home, but they closed down recently. I never cared much for their beers, but they introduced a new Northwest Style, highly hopped IPA that my husband really liked (he says it's very fruity and floral, and like a cross of Deschutes Mirror Pond and Redhook IPA, his two favorite beers). I had the Kalua pork wrap, which I had initially loved back home, but here it seemed a little lackluster: the cabbage was warm, instead of crisp like before, and either there wasn't enough of the kimchee style sauce or it wasn't sour enough. I was a bit disappointed, but the food here isn't bad, it's just not great.

Roy's - We went here instead of the Beach House because the menu at the Beach House was a bit out of my husband's comfort zone. The drinks at the bar were terribly bad, my husband had a margarita made with really terrible mixer, and later, a flat and overly sweet mojito (they shook the cocktail shaker after they added club soda - why?). We were then seated inside, and didn't have the world's best service - they forgot bread, didn't split plates like they promised, etc. I have a feeling it wasn't the waittress' fault as she seemed to have ordered other folks who didn't follow through, and they later made up for it by comping a dessert. Anyway, we had two appetizers of potstickers and seared Cajun ahi which were pretty good - the ahi was fresh and buttery, and the potstickers had good texture and flavor, and the sriracha aioli were a good compliment. We ordered a Mahi Mahi entree to split and it came out a bit dry and bland. We had a trio of sorbets (lychee, mango and coconut) which were tasty but not spectacular. A bit underwhelming, especially considering the price tag.

Tokyo Lobby - The tempura was the best thing we ordered and it was nothing special. Shrimp shu mai were rubbery, deep fried, and had an odd taste; spicy tuna and salmon rolls did not taste fresh, and were very sloppily prepared, both in rolling and in slicing. The spicy tuna was chopped and mixed with mayonnaise - we were a bit put off by this bit. Neither of us wanted to finish the sushi. And, the bathrooms were disgusting. The sink area had dirt caked around the faucet and looked like it had not been cleaned for at least a month. I would say to avoid this place...

Hanamaulu Restaurant, Teahouse and Sushi Bar - This was recommended by a friend, and we wanted to cleanse our palatte from Tokyo Lobby with some good sushi. We were pleasantly suprised. Inside this restaurant is a manicured Japanese garden and fish pond, with tea rooms surrounding the inner garden for beautiful views. This is a completely beautiful, unassuming spot if you were to reserve a tea room (we did not); otherwise the main restaurant is nothing special. And the sushi was right on - very fresh and well prepared. We had spicy tuna, salmon, and spider rolls and left very happy, and had to keep ourselves from ordering more. We wanted to go back for another meal, but unfortunately due to flash flood warnings, breaking dams and several mudslidess we are not traveling far until we are ready to leave for the airport. Shame, we really wanted to come back.

Brick Oven Pizza - I don't consider myself an authority on pizza; I'm strictly west coast and you NY and Chicago folks can duke it out, and I don't have any Italian blood. However, the crust was crispy, the toppings were pretty good, and this was pretty good American-style pizza to go with a pitcher of beer.

The Shack - The best place I found to get a beer. They had a pretty good selection - Guinness on draft, as well as Redhook IPA, Widmer Hefeweizen, Bass, Kona Firerock Pale Ale, and your typical American macrobrews. $2.50 pints at happy hour which is very cheap. Atmosphere is loud and there were a few obnoxious patrons. We didn't eat food unless you count chili cheese fries. This place has free wi-fi - a feature we found odd for a bar and burger place.

Coconuts - I had really high hopes for this place and was not let down. We had the seafood cigars as an appetizer which are seafood-filled fried spring rolls served with a spicy pineapple chutney-type condiment. Really delicious. My husband had the wasabi crusted ahi, served with garlic-spinach and (we think) coconut-cilantro rice; it might have had nori in it too, but were were unsure. Absolutely delicious, my husband ordered his just seared and this was hands down the best ahi tuna I've had. Everything went very well together and we were very impressed. I had the tempura ono served over a puck of fried rice, the ono was unfortunately a bit over-fried and the tempura shell was very hard, but was still good. The rice underneath could have used a bit more of something as it was a bit bland. I would have ordered my husband's ahi if I knew how astoundingly good it would have been. Unfortunately we did not have room for dessert.

Poipu Tropical Burgers - I suppose if you're in a burger mood this would suffice but it was just ok. The burgers were 1/2 lb and really too thick for my husband's tastes, I can't say I wouldn't agree. The place really suffered from being understaffed and although it was obvious the servers were working hard, there weren't enough people to go around - people waited in line to be seated but were ignored, and tables sat with food and dishes on them for as long as 30 minutes before being cleared.


Edited by kiteless (log)

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Returned from a week on Kaua'i this past Monday. Food wasn't really one of the highlights of my trip, although we ate well (we rented a house and cooked our own dinners, mostly).

The first night we were on the island, we ate at Brennecke's Sea Broil or something like that, just off of Brennecke's Beach in Poipu. WAAAYYY overpriced. Dinner for six came to ~$250 for a meal that could have been done as well or better at any TGI Friday's. My ahi fillet tasted like Chicken of the Sea.

Our second dinner out was at a Japanese/Chinese restaurant in Lihue, I think. I forget the name. It was pretty forgettable overall. It had the standard sit-on-the-floor-in-a-room-with-paper-walls Japanese ambiance, but the fare was mediocre. That the sashimi was fresh is the most complimentary thing I can think of to say. I'm not sure what this cost (my parents took me and my wife as well as my brother and his fiancee, and paid for most of our dinners), but it wasn't cheap.

The next night we went to the Smith Family Luau. It was buffet-style on a large scale (there were easily 300 people there), but excellent given that limitation. It featured mahi mahi fillets in a tropical fruit sauce, teriyaki beef, a couple kinds of salad including one that looked at first like pico de gallo but actually was chopped tomatoes with bits of smoked salmon. All the food was yummy. The mai tais were a disappointment, though. Heavily watered-down. The rest of the luau wasn't great; the dance show following dinner was entertaining, but perhaps not always for the intended reasons. At $65 per person, given island inflation, I guess it was more or less worth it.

Our final dinner out was at Casa Di Amici, a few blocks from Brennecke Beach, again in Poipu. It was fantastic. The wine list was extensive (and expensive!). We had an organic Italian Sangiovese from a vineyard called La Carraia. I'm not really a wine expert, but it was quite good for my tastes. Appetizers included fried calamari such as I've never had before. Who knew calamari isn't supposed to be rubbery? This was accompanied by some sort of mustard/peppercorn sauce that was excellent. The other appetizer was crab cakes with a light saffron cream sauce -- again excellent. My entree was prawns in a saffron garlic tomato cream sauce, over farfalle. I think I'm not a big fan of saffron, at least not that much, but the shrimp were very good. My wife had veal with gorgonzola cream sauce. Awesome. My dad had this crazy Japanese/Mexican fusion dish consisting of salmon with a teriyaki-like glaze served over black beans boiled in something that included tequila. The salmon (Atlantic, farm-raised in British Columbia, for those who are interested) was excellent. Prices were similar I think to Brennecke's, but worth it in this case.


Edited by phatj (log)

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Alas, he has not reopened much to the chagrin of a lot of his local fans.

It's just not the same here without him.

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I'm going to Kauai in a few weeks, and was wondering if anyone knew if A Pacific Cafe had reopened.

Here's a link to news about Josselin's opening in the rebuilt Coco Palms Resort. So keep your fingers crossed that both projects succeed.

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Here's a link to news about Josselin's opening in the rebuilt Coco Palms Resort. So keep your fingers crossed that both projects succeed.

Cool. I hope that this project will soon become a reality. I drove by the Coco Palms Resort many times during my stay in Kauai last week, and it did not look like construction had started. But I did see their sales office at the Coconut Marketplace.

We decided to have dinner at Roy's in Poipu and had a fantastic meal, except for the boring desserts.

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We're leaving for Kauai in a couple of weeks. Are there any new exciting places (opened in the last year) that are worth checking out? Our favorites last time were Scotty's, Hukilau Lanai, and Beach House. Didn't care much for Pomodoro, not particularly noteworthy.

Any opinions on Bar Acuda? I've heard good things, and the menu and small-plates style sounds promising.

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I just returned from Kauai, and have a few opinions to share! I'll start with the bad to mediocre:

Hanalei Dolphin. The food was okay but EXTREMELY overpriced for the quality. The kid's meals were $12 for mediocre fish and chips, etc. I ordered the seafood chowder, which was seriously lacking in seafood but tasted ok ($20). The fish of the day was $31, no one at our table ordered it, but my parents had Ahi that was presented well-done (they weren't asked how they liked it cooked).

Bubba's. Maybe it's just a personal preference, but their burgers were very dry and I thought their "special sauce" (ketchup and relish) was terrible.

Grind's Cafe (Waimea or near there): Mixed. Some of the kids had pizza which was quite good, my older daughter had chicken ceasar salad, small portion, which was HUGE and tasty. I had chili and rice (trying to go with the local stuff), and the chili was extremely bland, very disappointing.

Restaurant directly behind CJ's in Princeville: Sorry, can't remember the name. My sister's crab legs were terrible. Everything else was bland and overpriced.

Now for the good:

JoJo's Shave Ice (Waimea): Yum! The macadamia nut ice cream made the shave ice fabulous, and I'm not really a huge fan of sweets.

Bar Acuda (Hanalei): Everything we ate was delicious. It was VERY expensive - $15 for one sea scallop presented on mashed potatoes - but some of the tastiest food I had on the island. Also, the menu was quite limited. NOT a kid place (we left ours with their grandparents.)

Tiny bakery/cafe in the Ching Young Village center, Hanelei: I can't remember the exact name, but the food was great local stuff. Huge and wonderful brownies, tasty breakfasts. I had the Loco Moco, it was fantastic.

Hamura's Saimin (Lihue): Very good and cheap - even if the place looks like it might fall down at any moment. The Special Saimin was even better with a healthy splash of the pepper vinegar provided on the tables.

Cafe Hanelei (Princeville Resort): My favorite meal, even though, once again, the kids' meals were overpriced and mediocre. My mom got the fish of the day ($25), grilled Ono with a parsley beurre blanc, which was absolutely beyond delicious - best single item I tasted on the island. My sister and I ordered the Ahi sandwich (rare, of course), crab cakes, and soup of the day. All were fantastic. The crab cakes were my favorite, though. Huge lumps of crab, nice avocado-based salsa on top. Can't beat the view there, either, and the service was better than most.

There were others, but I can't think of them off the top of my head...

Wish I had pictures, but I only thought to take a pic of the Saimin, and don't have it handy right now.

Editing to add Scotty's: I tend to forget because BBQ is just BBQ to me. It was good, though, and a lovely view!

Editing again to add that we looked everywherre for Hanalei Mixed Plate, it appears to have closed.

I also forgot to mention Smith's luau. I was very impressed with the quality of the food considering they were trying to feed about 300 people at once. VERY tasty! I loved the entire experience actually, it was one of my favorite activities.


Edited by Aileen (log)

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It looks like the Coco Palms Resort project fell through. But I just read that Jean-Marie Josselin is opening a Tapas Bar in Poipu in May! I am really excited since this was by far my favorite restaurant in Kauai. Time to plan my next trip.

Jean-Marie Josselin to open Kauai tapas bar

Jean-Marie Josselin, one of the 12 original Hawaii Regional Cuisine chefs, will open his latest restaurant at Kukuiula Village on Kauai in early May. Construction on the 3,453-square-foot Josselin’s Tapas Bar & Grill, which Josselin is opening with business partner Andrew Ha, is already under way at Kukuiula in Poipu. A series of job fairs will take place March 10 to 12 to hire restaurant staff. Josselin’s last Honolulu restaurant was A Pacific Cafe in Ward Centre, which closed in November 2000, right before Josselin opened the restaurant 808 at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

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I did some more reading and it appears that Jean-Marie Josselin's restaurant 808 at Caesar Palace has closed! I did not find a formal announcement, but his restaurant is no longer listed on the Caesar Palace website and is listed as closed on the Gayot website. So it looks like he is permanently relocating to Hawaii.

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