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Kauai, HI

Kauai, HI
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    Post #1 - November 6th, 2013, 1:31 pm
    Post #1 - November 6th, 2013, 1:31 pm Post #1 - November 6th, 2013, 1:31 pm
    I didn't see a dedicated thread to this Hawaiian island so I thought I'd start one.

    I'm in the midst of planning a trip around New Year's.

    There's been some interesting developments on the Garden Isle, such as the opening of Todd and Michele Rundgren's tiki bar, Tiki Iniki, as well as the farm-to-table pop-up restaurant, Kauai Ono. Kauai Ono does communal 5 course tasting menus two nights a week for $50pp and is BYOB. Anybody here been?

    Tiki Iniki
    5-4280 Kuhio Highway
    Princeville, HI 96722
    (323) 272-3128

    Kauai Ono
    5-5086 Kuhio Hwy
    Hanalei, HI 96714
  • Post #2 - November 11th, 2013, 11:04 am
    Post #2 - November 11th, 2013, 11:04 am Post #2 - November 11th, 2013, 11:04 am
    delicious poke (many styles), plate lunches at Koloa Fish Market:

    Koloa Fish Market
    5482 Koloa Rd
    Koloa, HI 96756
    10am-6pm M-F
    10am-5pm Sat
    closed Sun

    usually our first stop once landing on Kauai
    No. 1 Chinese BBQ
    3160 Kuhio Hwy
    Kapaa, HI 96746
    menu: ... ant-lihue/

    This site may help for ideas:
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #3 - November 11th, 2013, 1:40 pm
    Post #3 - November 11th, 2013, 1:40 pm Post #3 - November 11th, 2013, 1:40 pm
    Thanks! Koloa Fish Market is on my list. Hopefully they have some fresh poke (as opposed to previously frozen).
  • Post #4 - December 30th, 2013, 10:54 am
    Post #4 - December 30th, 2013, 10:54 am Post #4 - December 30th, 2013, 10:54 am
    I am in Kauai right now! We tried The Beach House last night, which was delicious overall. I had sea scallops, which were good but just a tiny bit overcooked for my own taste. The spinach that came with it was excellent; the lobster risotto was good too but felt very heavy. There was also a smoked tomato jam, which I liked but didn't love - added some sweetness, but I couldn't taste much smoked flavor. Bread was warm and lovely, and service was very fast and friendly. Kids' menu was good and included a sundae. Market prices for fish ran in the upper $40s range. At the time we went in, about 7:30 p.m. local time on a Sunday, a group of two could get a table with no problem but larger groups probably had to wait. There's a nice, open view of the ocean but it was too dark for us to see much.

    The Beach House
    5022 Lawai Rd
    Koloa, HI 96756
    (808) 742-1424
    “First we eat, then we do everything else.” ― M.F.K. Fisher
  • Post #5 - January 6th, 2014, 2:30 pm
    Post #5 - January 6th, 2014, 2:30 pm Post #5 - January 6th, 2014, 2:30 pm
    We stayed in Poipu in a condo for five days over the new year, and ate mostly on the south side but we did drive around the island a bit to see Waimea Canyon, Hanapepe, as well as the North Shore one afternoon.

    Savage Shrimp, Poipu - Very friendly service. We ordered at the counter and waited about twenty minutes for a table. I had the Aloha shrimp plate, my husband had Firecracker shrimp plate. Both good, a little spicy, and filling. Excellent tropical style coleslaw. I usually don't even like coleslaw but this was very good. The server / counter guy was great. Just make sure you don't sit down on the benches reserved for Uncle's Shave Ice customers, they get cranky!

    Koloa Fish Market, Koloa - Their Korean style poke bentos were awesome! Poke on a bed of sushi rice with some sweet wasabi cream. Also loved their lau lau and kalua pork combination Hawaiian plate lunch, served with a cup of poke, some lomi lomi salmon, chicken long rice, and two scoops of rice. Delicious and inexpensive. Takeout only.

    Josselin's Tapas, Poipu - Great restaurant and some of the best food we had on Kauai. Started off with the red sangria and the lychee sangria. Then a deconstructed ahi roll, which came as a tower of tuna, avocado, cucumber and seasoned rice, bubbling over with liquid nitrogen clouds of smoke. Impressive and I liked what they did with the seasoning of the sushi rice. The steamed duck bao buns were fluffy and delicious, with a sweet and savory filling, contrasted by a spicy dressing on top. The mushrooms, sautéed with apple smoked bacon, were bursting with umami flavor. My favorite was the seared opakapaka. Delicate, with a crispy panko crust, but with the center still barely cooked, and served with haricot vert, sliced eggplant, sliced squash, and a great sake jalapeño butter sauce. By the time the pork belly came out, we were too stuffed to go on, so we brought most of it back to the condo. Tasted pretty good later, too. Our server was awesome, very energetic, and spread out our dishes so that we only got one or two at a time, preventing the table from getting crowded. We went back a second night and unfortunately they were out of the shrimp duck tacos and the steamed duck buns already at 7:30 on a Friday. We had the roasted ahi belly with eel and creme fraiche, which was great. The marlin ceviche tostada was also fresh and quite good but very messy as it was three stacked chips with layers of cubed fish and tomatoes in between. Roasted cauliflower with kimchee ranch dipping sauce was interesting but one note and a huge portion that we didn't finish. We still enjoyed ourselves, though. And no issues with more than 1-2 courses showing up at once during the second meal either.

    Red Salt, Poipu - The lemon soufflé pancakes with pineapple & creme fraiche took thirty minutes to cook but were excellent. We snacked on the complimentary basket of mini muffins and butter while waiting. My husband's breakfast burrito was fine, though I did like the combination of the potatoes, pancetta, and eggs. Service was kind of odd (not a fan of servers touching my shoulders/back especially if I'm wearing a tank top) and seemed to disappear for long periods of time.

    Puka Dog, Poipu - Ate here three times. Surprisingly addictive. Our usual order was polish sausage, spicy sauce, pineapple relish, lilikoi mustard. Sometimes a fresh lemonade. I kind of want a beach delivery service for these sausages! The line looks long but moves quickly. Our food came out fast every time, too. Yum. My husband loved this place.

    Tortilla Republic, Poipu - Loved this spot. Sure, very shiny and hip but we adored the food. Great ono and shrimp ceviche with mango salsa. I was impressed by the crispy, tender, fatty and flavorful pork carnitas with tomatillo. My chicken mole with rice was good and we both liked the complimentary black beans and house rice. The carnitas were the clear standout even though the entire meal was very good. I was sopping up just the carnitas sauce by the end. My Hydration margarita was good as was my husband's classic margarita. Our server was excellent, very helpful in navigating the menu and recommending dishes.

    Living Foods, Poipu - Loved the pineapple bioche french toast, where chunks of pineapple had been baked into the brioche, but was not impressed by the blueberry pancakes. Pineapple agua fresca was good. Also tried a coconut water. Nice patio area to eat outside both in front and in back of the store. Good tropical fruit smoothies, too.

    Ishihara Market, Waimea - Tried a few poke types at the counter of this little grocery store/market on the way back from Waimea Canyon. Crab poke was interesting but not what we were craving, so we finally settled on inamona poke, spicy ahi poke, seaweed salad, and some rice. Ate outside on the picnic tables for lunch. Too stuffed for shave ice though.

    Wong's/Omoide Bakery & Deli, Hanapepe - Popped in for a takeout slice of lilikoi chiffon pie. Yum!

    Merriman's Pizza and Burgers, Poipu - Husband had the pork and grilled pineapple with jalapeño pizza, said it was OK, while I was lukewarm on my local cheeseburger. Didn't really enjoy the cucumber on the burger, nor the whole wheat bun. Bun disintegrated very quickly, was like tissue paper by the end. Patty was big and needed a bit more seasoning. Lame service at the bar, with a bartender who was great at looking down or only at the game on TV. A shame since we loved Merriman's Kapalua on Maui as well as Monkeypod Kitchen on Maui. They need to step up their game here, seriously.

    Duane's Ono Char Burger, Anahola - Excellent burgers, with a loooooong wait. Should have called ahead! After ordering, it took an hour to actually receive our food. Many people who phoned ahead were able to pick theirs up more quickly. Loved the Local Boy with pineapple, teriyaki, and cheddar, as well as the fries with their special sea salt and spices seasoning. The woman taking orders drastically underestimated the wait time, saying it was 30 minutes. Great burgers though.

    Tiki Iniki, Princeville - Enjoyed our experience here. Stopped in during happy hour. Funny and talented bartender, Jason. Made some excellent cocktails and was very personable. We tried a Hanalei Sling and a Lovely Lini. Also shared an order of sticky ribs which were fine if a bit sweet. They had some very cool custom shot glasses for sale, and we purchased four of them. Wish we had been staying closer as we would have gone more than once!

    Went past Wishing Well in Hanalei beforehand: yep, closed. Oh well.

    We had a nice time and had mostly beautiful weather, Kauai is gorgeous!
  • Post #6 - January 23rd, 2014, 2:51 pm
    Post #6 - January 23rd, 2014, 2:51 pm Post #6 - January 23rd, 2014, 2:51 pm
    We also went to Koloa Fish Market and had our New Year's Eve dinner at Josselyn's Tapas, and both were delicious! Another place we ate that I enjoyed a lot was the Kilohana Sugar Plantation. I had my first Ahi poke there, and it was a pleasant outdoor (in the shade) dining experience.

    I must say, I am a poke convert. At Koloa Fish Market, instead of purchasing a meal, I just bought three kinds of poke to try. I am thinking of trying to make poke at home - it doesn't seem hard, but it does seem dependent on getting good fish. Anyone have a good recipe or ideas for this?
    “First we eat, then we do everything else.” ― M.F.K. Fisher
  • Post #7 - January 23rd, 2014, 4:40 pm
    Post #7 - January 23rd, 2014, 4:40 pm Post #7 - January 23rd, 2014, 4:40 pm
    nukegirl wrote:Anyone have a good recipe or ideas for this?

    As far as sourcing the tuna itself (and probably any additional ingredients you need), Mitsuwa is your friend.

    Mitsuwa Marketplace
    100 E Algonquin Rd
    Arlington Heights, IL 60005
    (847) 956-6699
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #8 - January 24th, 2014, 8:56 pm
    Post #8 - January 24th, 2014, 8:56 pm Post #8 - January 24th, 2014, 8:56 pm
    Sam Choy’s Award Winning Poke Recipe (with notes by me)

    2 lbs. Ahi Tuna, cubed into 1/2 to 3/4 inch squares
    3 oz. Chopped Green onion
    3 oz. Diced Onion (many HI places use Maui onions, you can use Vidalia, it should be on the sweeter side for an onion)
    2 oz. Chopped Ogo (fresh seaweed - hard to find outside Hawaii)
    1 tsp. Red Chili Flakes
    2 tbs. Soy Sauce
    2 tbs. Sesame oil
    Hawaiian salt to taste
    Secret Ingredient: Kukui nut (inamona) - also hard to find outside Hawaii

    Combine in mixing bowl; add dry ingredients and chill.

    Sprinkle more chopped green onion tops and some sesame seeds on at this point if you want it to look more festive. You can also play around by adding other stuff like wasabi for wasabi poke or adding in furikake or avocado, etc. Be careful with the soy, too, as a little goes a long way in thisdish.

    The hardest ingredients to source will be the inamona (crushed kukui nut), ogo limu (fresh Hawaiian seaweed), and Hawaiian salt. You can make poke without these three ingredients, or by subbing in crushed macadamia nut for the inamona. But something always seems missing to me when I cut them out of the recipe. There's something about the nuttiness of the inamona that makes the poke taste even richer. Using all these "secret" ingredients is what really takes this poke recipe to another level.

    I make my own inamona by roasting and crushing raw kukui nuts. They may be labeled "candle nuts" or "kemiri nuts" at the store and are a staple of Indonesian & Malaysian food. Kalustyan's in NYC carries them. I don't know about Chicago.

    You can get the ogo online, freeze dried from NOH Foods, and it reconstitutes fairly well. You can get this on Amazon or on the NOH Foods web site. NOH also sells poke "mix" packets with the freeze dried ogo, salt, chili pepper flakes, and sesame seeds, but it's $3.75 for a small 0.4 oz packet! Not cost effective. Fresh ogo seaweed is flown in to Japanese stores on the West coast (like Marukai) but I don't know if they do that anywhere else.

    Any specialty spice store will probably have the Hawaiian salt.

    Inamona recipe: ... diment.htm

    1 pound kukui nuts (aka candle nuts), roasted and shelled
    1 tablespoon Hawaiian sea salt (pa`akai)
    1 piece Hawaiian chili pepper (an optional, contemporary addition)

    Combine everything well with a mortar and pestle. Should resemble coarse, crumbly pebbles.

    Hope this helps!
  • Post #9 - February 12th, 2014, 6:05 pm
    Post #9 - February 12th, 2014, 6:05 pm Post #9 - February 12th, 2014, 6:05 pm
    Certainly go to Mermaids in Kapaa. Best Fish Taco's, Fresh Lemonade. A must stop.
  • Post #10 - February 12th, 2014, 9:49 pm
    Post #10 - February 12th, 2014, 9:49 pm Post #10 - February 12th, 2014, 9:49 pm
    Oh, of course, Mitsuwa. Not sure why I didn't think of that. I actually brought home some of the Hawaiian salt, so I'm looking forward to using it. Thanks for the recipe!

    One of the other things we did in Kauai was a luau. The one we attended was the Smith's Garden Luau, and we got to watch them take the pig out of the ground and everything. They cooked a dessert (of rice pudding, I think) with the pig. Food wasn't bad, mai tais were quite good, entertainment was a bit...touristy, I guess. Anyone else here been to one of the luaus available on Kauai?
    “First we eat, then we do everything else.” ― M.F.K. Fisher
  • Post #11 - February 13th, 2014, 2:05 pm
    Post #11 - February 13th, 2014, 2:05 pm Post #11 - February 13th, 2014, 2:05 pm
    Mitsuwa actually has half an aisle of Hawaiian products in addition to everything else you'd expect there. I always end up picking up a few cans of Hawaiian Sun Green Tea with Lychee whenever I stop in for other supplies.
  • Post #12 - February 26th, 2014, 6:47 am
    Post #12 - February 26th, 2014, 6:47 am Post #12 - February 26th, 2014, 6:47 am
    We were on Kauai in January. We had poke from Koloa Market side by side with poke from the grocery store down the street. The difference was stark. Koloa Market had a much better flavor and mouthfeel, since their fish had not been frozen. Also, there was a wine store in the same complex that had a nice selection of reasonably priced wine and beer.
  • Post #13 - January 15th, 2018, 10:14 pm
    Post #13 - January 15th, 2018, 10:14 pm Post #13 - January 15th, 2018, 10:14 pm
    Couple of updates from Kauai:

    From our visit to the Friday art night in Hanapepe we came across Japanese Grandma Cafe, a small spot focused on Japanese food and sushi. We loved everything we tried; all fish and produce was fantastically fresh and well prepared. It's pretty small and is very busy during the art night so you may want to consider coming back on another evening.

    Across the (only) street is Midnight Bear Breads, an organic bakery with wonderful pizza, bread and pastries. Line was out the door most of Friday night.

    Josselin's in Poipu is long gone. Jean-Marie Josselin has opened JO2 in Kapa'a. A much smaller space and menu than Josselin's, JO2 offers a $35 3-course dinner before 6 PM which we found to be a nice bargain for the quality of fish offered. $10 wine pairing didn't work for us; we would have been better served with a full bottle.

    Koloa fish market was a great as ever.