Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Kauai Adventures (The FOOD!)

Food! Oh Food! I love to eat, so I am always excited to test out the local foods when I go on vacation. But admittedly, I was a little overwhelmed by all the amazing looking food options in the Kauai guide book ("The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook, Kauai Revealed, 10th Edition" by Andrew Doughty), and all the suggestions from friends. And most of our trip revolved around the activities we were doing. So, most of our food options came down to finding something great near wherever we were. (There were a few that were highly recommended that I made sure to try)  
Just as a little background, the guide book gives an ONO to the restaurants it thinks are the best ones. I may refer to the ONO or lack of ONO from the guidebook. Also, I will use a 5 star system to rate it in my opinion: 
  • 5 stars will be hard to come by-best of the best!
  • 4 stars means great food-I will go back. 
  • 3 stars is good food, I might go back again.
  • 2 stars is ok food. Nothing special, but not bad either and I likely would not go back there.
  • 1 star means it was not my cup of tea and it would take a lot for me to return. 
Some food thoughts from my Kauai Trip:

Kaua'i Pasta: Located in Lihu'e on Kuhio Hwy. 
Beckee's rating: **** (4/5 stars)

Wes and I happened upon this one after an activity on the first day. We did not realize until later that it was one with an ONO in the guidebook. We went during lunch, when they only had the back lounge open (pictured above) with a limited lunch selection. We were able to find some great food though. 
I ordered the Chicken Parmesan and Wes got the Greek Pasta. Both were really good. It was a little pricey for lunch  (We got an entree each, Wes got a soda, I got water, and we ordered an appetizer. With tax and tip it was about $72). I would eat there again though. Wes LOVED the Greek Pasta and I thought the Chicken Parm was really good. 

Olympic Cafe: We went to the one in the Po'ipu Shopping Village. 
Beckee's Rating: **** (4/5 stars)
Po'ipu Shopping Village was close to our hotel, so it was an easy place to catch a bite. The book gives the other location of Olympic Cafe an ONO, but NOT this location. I loved it though. It was one of my favorite meals of the trip! We went for breakfast only though, so I cannot speak for other meals. 

I went all our here by ordering an AM started of a Fresh Fruit plate for $14, because you cannot beat fresh fruit in Hawaii. This was an awesome fruit plate-excellent and hit the spot! I also ordered the Coconut-Pineapple pancakes with a side of home fried potatoes (I was hungry and wanted to try it all!). Wes ordered an omelette (I think maybe the Greek omelette).
The potatoes were ok, Wes liked his Omelette, we loved the fruit, but those pancakes!!! OH My they were PERFECT! Absolutely perfect! I loved, LOVED them. I have had similar pancakes elsewhere, but these were the perfect mix of fluffy flavorful pancakes, melting butter, nice fresh pineapple and coconut with amazing syrup. My stomach is growling as I write this and look at the picture...as far as cost, you can see the prices on the picture above. We spent about $55 but got drinks, appetizers, sides, etc. It was actually pretty reasonable prices and was an excellent breakfast.

JoJo's Shave Ice: in Waimea  
Beckee's rating: **** (4/5 stars)

Admission: I only kind of like sno cones, and don't like ice cream much at all, so in all the times I have been to Hawaii, I have not tried shave ice. Ok, so my dad says I did when I was young, but I do not remember that...so this was my first Shave Ice that I remember eating:

Guys, I am sold! I ordered the Tropical Breeze. There is something magically delicious about that mix of shaved ice, macadamia nut ice cream, and topped with Haupia Cream. I made an absolute mess eating it, but I loved every bite. I cannot wait to go back and try more flavors. It is a perfect treat on a hot Hawaiian day! :)

Restaurant Kiibo: in Lihue 
Beckee's Rating: ** (2/5 stars)

I was craving sushi. We were driving back from an activity and I put "sushi" into my google maps and let it lead up to this restaurant in Lihue. It is a bit of a dive, and it turned out that they were not serving sushi that night (maybe at all anymore...I am not sure). We stayed in spite of the lack of what we came for. Wes ate a bento box, I ate a salad and a tempura udon. 
My honest assessment of this restaurant is that it was ok. The food was fine, not great, not bad, just fine. The best part was that it was fast and there was no wait to be seated. And I was really hungry. I was disappointed that there was no sushi, and I think my opinion may have been colored by that disappointment. I was going to rate this a 1/5 stars, but gave it a 2/5 because I think my disappointment colored my reaction.

Puka Dog: in the Po'ipu Shopping Village  
Beckee's Rating: ***** (5/5 Stars)

Remember how I said I went to a few places that were recommended in the book as well as by friends? This is actually THE place that was recommended by, well, pretty much everyone I talked to about what to eat in Kauai. AND now I can add my own recommendations to all of you. You may have noticed that I gave this the difficult to come by 5/5 stars. Really, it is a must have. I will go back again to try a new combination.
Let me explain how this works (If you open the picture above so it's big, you can see this on there).
Step 1: Choose your Dog (Polish for about $8 or Veggie for about $8.50)
Step 2: Choose a garlic/lemon secret sauce (Mild/Original, Spicy/Jalapeno, Hot/Chili Pepper, or Lava/Habanero)
Step 3: Choose your Tropical relish (Kauai Special/Mango, Pineapple Field/Pineapple, Polihale Sunset/Papaya, Coconut Beach/Coconut, Waimea Canyon/Banana, or Na Pali Cruise/Star Fruit)
Step 4: Do you want Auntie Lilikoi's Hawaiian Mustard OR would you rather go with traditional Ketchup, yellow or dijon mustard, and/or sweet pickle relish?
Also, you can order Maui Chips ($2) and Fresh Squeezed Lemonade ($3.50)
OK, all I can say about this is you MUST try it yourself. I loved mine:
Just so you know what I picked, I got the Polish Dog, Mild garlic lemon secret sauce, a mix of Mango and Pineapple relish, and the Auntie Lilikoi's Hawaiian Mustard. AND I got the fresh squeezed Lemonade. I literally cannot wait to go back and try more combinations! 

Kintaro Restaurant: in Wailua
Beckee's Rating: **** (4/5 stars)

Remember how I was craving Sushi so bad earlier in this trip (and in this post)? Well, We finally turned to the guide book to find some for me. This place had Sushi and Teppan-yaki. But I will tell you this, if you want to do teppan-yaki-reserve ahead, like days ahead...luckily I was there for the Sushi so when we walked in with no reservation, even though it was VERY crowded, they seated us at the Sushi bar pretty quick. 
We checked out the sushi menu (pictured above) and picked out a few rolls...guys, I really cannot remember what I ordered in the end. I know that of the 5 or 6 rolls Wes and I ordered, the only one we did not like was the soft shell crab one (mostly because we discovered that we are NOT fans of soft shell crab).  Just look at this amazing sushi:

I will certainly go back here next time I am in Kauai. I may even be prepared enough to check out the teppan-yaki next time... :) 
Mama Lucy's in Lihue
Beckee's Rating: * (1/5 stars...but I really wanted to like it...)

So, this one is all on me guys. 
Just some background. My husband lived in the Philippines for 2 years before I knew him, and I noticed there were lots of Filipino restaurants in Kauai. I thought Wes might like to go to a Filipino restaurant. I asked for a recommendation from a Filipino friend we met that was working at the grocery store, and this is one of the places she recommended. 
Here's the problem...I learned that my husband has been "Americanizing" the Filipino foods he has fed me over the past 16 years, and apparently I am not much a fan of authentic Filipino food. Especially when it is served cafeteria style. So, I did not like this restaurant (Wes didn't like it much either, but he liked it better than I did). BUT, I will say that if you want authentic Filipino food, I am told this is pretty authentic. I think it was just not for me...so I reluctantly, but honestly give it my lowest rating of 1/5 stars. 
Merriman's Gourmet Pizza and Burgers: Downstairs from their upscale Merriman's Fish House in The Shops at Kukui'ula. During lunch the Fish house is not open, but the Pizza and Burgers downstairs is. 
Beckee's Rating: *** (3/5 stars)

I actually liked this food-I ate fish tacos. It was good food, and I would likely return here, but it wasn't my favorite, so it falls in the 3 star range. 

I will say though that the Garlic Truffle fries are AWESOME-5 stars for those and worth the stop just to try them. 
Grand Hyatt Kaua'i Lu'au: at the Grand Hyatt in Poipu
Beckee's Rating: **** (4/5 Stars)

This is both a meal and a night of entertainment and as such is a little pricey-$108 for adults, $97 for juniors (ages 13-20) and $69 for Children (ages 5-12). We have been to a few different Luau's and my main complaint is usually that they are so focused on the entertainment that they skim on the food-it is usually just ok. That was not the case for this Luau, which is why I include it on my food post. I actually LOVED the food. There was such a great variety and it was ALL great! I tried a little of everything and really liked everything I tried. And the entertainment was excellent as well. So good in fact, that I didn't get any pictures of the awesome food. :) 
I did get a terrible picture of some of my desserts though (after I has already started eating it):
When we go back to Kauai someday with our kids, I want to take the kids to this Luau. It was entertaining and tasty! :)
JJ's Broiler in Lihu'e
Beckee's Rating: ** (2/5 Stars)

 Location, Location, Location! Honestly, we went to try a different place but they were getting ready for some event (and were pretty rude also), so we went to a nearby place which ended up being this one. And man, the location is beautiful (would be better if there wasn't an ugly parking lot between you and the amazing beach view!!!)

The food was legitimately just ok, but I have to give them props for their service. It was excellent! And the food really was good, but it was nothing fancy-it felt very much like Kauai's version of a Denny's. So, since I was in Hawaii, I went with the very Hawaiian order of Loco Moco. It wasn't anything special, but hit the spot. Wes got a burger and fries. His also hit the spot but wasn't super special. 

I gave this a 2/5 stars because the food was fine, I am not upset that I ate there, but I would not seek it out again on my next trip. 
Tidepools: In Grand Hyatt in Poipu
Beckee's Rating: ** (2/5 stars)
I am sad to have to give this one only 2 stars, but my goodness, for the price I paid I should have been delighted, not disappointed. Based on my entree, I would have given it a solid 1 star, but it gets 2 stars because the appetizers and desserts were great. Still not sure they were worth the price, but they were extra tasty!
Look at the ambiance/location though:

WOW right? And the food presentation was phenomenal:

But my Lobster was very mushy and poorly cooked. I was SO disappointed.
The crab cakes appetizer was good, and the Local Style Brussel Sprouts appetizer was SO good:

AND my favorite part of the meal was for sure the Malasadas for dessert, served with 3 different sauces (one was a caramel sauce-I generally only kind of like caramel, but this was like HEAVEN in a sauce!)

Wahooo Seafood Grill and Bar: Kapa'a on Kuhio Hwy
Beckee's Rating: * (1/5 stars)

I really want to like restaurants I go to, but some are just not good. My main complaint here were that it was billed as a seafood restaurant, but they did not have much seafood and what they had was mostly fried (which disagrees with my belly). The selection was limited:
And I really could not find something that looked great. But I ordered something, and got the garlic fries to go with it. The fries alone would have ruined the meal even if the rest had been excellent. It seemed like they literally too one of those cans of minced garlic straight out of the fridge and threw some cold liquidy garlic cubes on some slightly underdone fries. Really, it was not good. I was super disappointed that this ended up being my last meal on Kauai... :( 
That covers my food experiences from this trip to Kauai (well, I did have an excellent room service salad too...). 

What other food have you tried in Kauai? Where should I go next time I am in Kauai?! I am always looking for suggestions!