My wife and I recently took a week in Kauai hiking and camping on the Kalalau trail. It was a four days adventure. To compensate for the calorie deficit (though there probably wasn’t much), we felt the need to eat lots and lots of food. Here’s my personal rank of food we enjoyed in Kauai.
10. Paniolo Santa Maria Style BBQ in Kapaa
We got back to the trailhead around 4pm after 4 days of hiking and camping. I was ready for some real world food. We drove to Kapaa with intention to get some tacos from Al Pastor Tacos. After parking our rental on the street, we got distracted by this intense smokey bbq smell wafting out Paniolo Santa Maria BBQ. Tricia was all of a sudden intensely interested in BBQ. I ended up getting the ono & boneless rib plate. Ono, which is a white fish related to king mackerel, was delicious. The boneless ribs, well it’s not really rib cut, is probably shoulder/shoulder blade cut which has inconsistent fattiness therefore inconsistent juiciness as a bbq meat. Don’t get me wrong, I devoured my plate, but it has room to improve. The BBQ contraption in the back of the restaurant is really cool. I can see so many potential ways to use it for a great party.
9. Island Taco in Koloa
We were driving around south side of the island when Tricia was hit by a pan of hunger. From my experience, it’s not good to go anywhere or do anything when my wife is hungry. We got find her food. That’s how we stumbled upon this place where she got this giant taco. It was truly a fusion of island flavor in the form of Mexican food. The grilled pork taco was greasy and flavorful. The dip was a mayo based white sauce that seemed omnipresent on this island. It’s heavy food but it hits the spot at the right time.
8. Thai Street Food
Every first saturday of the month, Kapaa, a town on the east coast of the island, has an art walk where lots of local artists set up kiosks to sell their work. To make this event even more interesting, lots of local food vendors sell food at this event. I got be honest, this was my third dinner that night. I was kind of full when I got this box. With that said, this Pad Thai was so flavorful that I devoured it within minutes. Please don’t judge me on how much I eat, I felt full all the way back to Seattle the next morning.
7. Saimin Dojo: Schmoked Pork Belly Saimin + a mushroom stick
There are several ramen places in Kauai. We were specifically recommended to check out Hamura’s Saimin which is located in Lihue. But after examine yelp pictures, we decided that Saimin Dojo looked more legit. Mostly I was craving a soft boiled egg. I thought the soup was a tad too salty, but the pork belly was really good and the soft boiled egg was wonderful as I had expected. I also liked the good amount of bok choy they put in my bowl.
6. Kauai Family Cafe
I’ve always consider Filipino food a comfort food. It has plenty of rice of the right consistency (I like it stickier than individual grained jasmine rice). The entries are usually soupy with plenty of pork and vegetables. My only complaint of filipino food is a little too much fat in the cut of the pork they use in cooking. With that said, this place served Filipino food exactly how I like it: lots of rice and lots of vegetables. Why do I have two photos of their kiosk at different times of the day? That’s because I had their food twice. Once at a farmers market in Puhi and once at the art walk on Saturday night. :shrug: they offered a lot options.
5. Pineapple Phrosty
This is obviously not a meal but a snack. Words cannot describe how delicious this little treat was: it totally blew us away. It was made from only locally grown frozen sugarleaf pineapples. It is not ice cream but it has consistency just like it. It’s sweet and creamy, and it melts in your mouth sending happiness through your body. hmmmmm…. We found it at a kiosk at Kauai Farmers Market on a Saturday morning in Puhi next to Kauai Community College. If you are in Kauai on a Saturday, make sure you check it out.
4. Oriental Plate at Waipouli Deli & Restaurant
Despite a dish name with somewhat of derogatory connotations, this plate is probably the epitome of Hawaii food in my mind. It has katsu pork, fried prawns, skirt steak, and chow mein served with mayo based white sauce. This plate probably has about 5000 calories and it’s freaking delicious. Did I finish my plate? hmm… Is that a real question? BTW, this place is cash only.
3. Foodland Poke
Hawaii has fantastic grocery store poke. There is just no where else like it. From the top left to right: salmon, avocado tuna, seaweed salad, maitai for Tricia, seasoned cucumber, tako (thinly sliced octopus), artichoke and beets, scallops, tuna and onion, muscles, maitai for Sean. Bam, $27.
2. Rafael’s Aloha Tacos
This place serves some kickass tacos. We had an al pastor & carne asada at the farmer’s market for lunch. Then we went back to it again at the art walk in Kapaa where I tried their fish and shrimp tacos. Adding guacamole and some salsa, which is distinctively asian inspired, makes these tacos a perfect meal for a normal person or a perfect one of the three meals for me that night.
1. Huli huli chicken
Are you seriously ranking a rotisserie chicken as your number one meal on the island, MAL? Are you out of your mind? Yes, I am! And huli chicken is so much more than your usual rotisserie chicken. We were lucky enough to be informed of the existence of this place before our trip so we sought it out on the day after our hike. It lived up to its hype for sure. The chicken was so juicy and tender that we each devour a half chicken plate. I am usually not a fan of chicken breasts. They are usually not flavorful enough to my palate, but somehow this guy in his straw hat, tan shirt and a big smile made it delicious. Bravo, huli huli!