We finally went on our honeymoon! The Mrs. and I got married late last year and due to that pesky Hurricane Lane, had to cancel our honeymoon to Kauai. Luckily we were able to get most of our points back and found a super cheap flight on a later date. It only cost us $275pp round trip! Not quite as good as those insane Southwest flights that lasted less than an hour, but we’ll take it. This post will be mostly picture driven. I’ll break this down into separate Kauai Food Finds categories: “Gotta go!”, “If you have time”, and “Pass”.
Before I get into the food, let me tell you a little bit about the island itself. It is waaaayy less busy than any of the other islands I’ve been to. That can be a good or bad thing depending on what you’re looking for. Hiking is abundant in amount of trails and offers options for all skill levels. There is enough tourist attractions to keep you busy for a week and plentiful beautiful beaches to just relax and do nothing. There isn’t a huge night life though. But waterfalls…they got a lot of waterfalls!
The food as you may have expected is one of the things I was most excited to experience. You may notice there were many more bites that were enjoyable than not. What can I say, I am easy to please! Without further ado…
There are many shave ice options but Wailua remains one of my favorites. They shave their ice super fine and their flavors are always nice and fresh.
This may have been my favorite dish in Kauai. There isn’t much that can beat a homey bowl of clean, flavorful, and hearty oxtail soup. It was one of the best bowls I have ever had.
The one consistent thing we enjoyed everywhere was the fish. These ono tacos were legit! I always like my cheese melted but because of the flaky flavorful fish distraction, I barely even noticed.
And don’t sleep on this cucumber salad. It brought the heat and tang. I almost ordered more after we devoured this cup.
The Mrs. doesn’t come with the coffee ice cream, sorry folks. But the cone does! Besides the obvious free coffee samples at the Kauai Coffee Company, you have to get the coffee turtle ice cream. There’s chocolate chips, nuts, and you guessed it, coffee flavored ice cream. It was fantastic.
We only managed to go to one “Farmer’s Market” on our trip. Though, I’m not sure this quite qualifies as that. It’s sort of a mashup of a food market and farmer’s market. Which actually is totally fine by me. We had a few good things there but this slider stood out. Super juicy and flavorful doesn’t do it justice. Since I’m married now I’m supposed to share everything right, 50/50? 50/50 is an average right? The ratio for this burger may have been 60/40…
Okay so you’re probably thinking passion fruit pie at a saimin joint? What is he smoking!? I kid you not, this is a must. We saw people come in and just order pie. Think super moist and soft sponge cake or Paris Baguette but with a thin crust on the bottom. This one is dangerous because it seems so light and airy but before you know it you’ve downed an entire pie.
I mentioned the fish and I still can’t get it out of my head. The sandwich comes with 5 oz. of fish, crispy Kauai shrimp, arugula, lemon pickled red onions, house made tartar sauce, with fries, on a Midnight Bear Breads organic ciabatta. That was a mouthful to say and eat. Because it came with shrimp and fries it was a must order but the fish stood out in its own spotlight and stole the show. I can’t tell if we got lucky with the fish or the local fish is just so good that you can’t mess it up. The Monchong fish is a local white fish with a firm texture, and mild flavor. I could eat this often and not get tired of it.
Plate lunches are a favorite of mine. You get a great variety and huge amount of food which always are welcomed by me.
We only had lau lau once but glad we got it from here! It’s basically pork wrapped in taro leaves that gets steamed until the meat is super moist. If you’ve never had it I highly recommend it.
Another one of my favorites, chicken long rice, aka, Hawaiian chicken noodle soup. Simple, tasty, bomb. I prefer these glass noodles over the noodles found in the mainland.
I keep on saying this but kalua pork is also one of my favorites. I think I must like Hawaiian food or something. Perhaps not the wow factor of the lau lau, but still I did not have a hard time devouring every last bit. Years back I missed kalua pork so much that I ordered a plate lunch of it to go before I hopped on a plane back home. That’s how much I love this dish.
Last but certainly not least on the “Gotta Go!” list is the spicy ahi poke from Pono Market. Hands down the best poke we had on the island. Not stringy, nor fishy, with the right amount of kick, it just went down so easily. I know I like the variety with a plate lunch but I could just as easily eaten a bowl of this with rice and been happy. Go here please.
If you have time
On the topic of poke I read really good things about Koloa Fish Market poke. They had a good selection too. But it just didn’t live up to the hype. The poke was stringy and their chunks of tuna were fairly large, which accentuated the tough texture. I would skip and go to Pono Market instead if I had to choose one. But if you were in the area, I guess you could give it a shot.
Hamura’s Saimin I may have hyped up a little. Now it wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t amazing. I actually thought it lacked a little flavor and could have used some seasoning. The meat inside the won ton’s were ground pork, which threw me off too. I expected to bite into something solid. It was the first thing we ate when we got off the plane so the hype train got derailed quick.
Stick with the poke at Pono Market. The fried chicken was not good. It was cold, flavorless, and not crispy. The kalua was average as well. I think we may have come too late in the day and their hot items were not…hot anymore.
With so many options, you may opt for another shave ice place in Kauai. We may have ordered wrong. We expected a thinner consistency with this shaved ice. It looks like something out of Alien the movie. It wasn’t terrible, but the looks may have caused us to rethink how enjoyable eating something that looked like this could be. The “flavor spread” was way too thick and we wished we ordered a different flavor with a more liquid consistency.
Talking about consistency, these dogs did not have a good ratio of condiment to bun and dog. I think it is their method of applying the condiments. They give you choices of a garlic lemon secret sauce, tropical relish, lilikoi mustard, or traditional condiments like ketchup and relish. Our first bite was fine, but then the next had almost none of the added condiments. And at the very end the last few bites had a huge amount. Maybe gravity pulled all the sauces down and pooled at the bottom? It just wasn’t fun going from flavor bomb to meat and bun. I would save space for something else personally.
Kauai has a lot to offer in the food department. Food is a give in when planning a vacation. If you’ve ever been to any of the Hawaiian islands you know that the islands have a lot more than food to offer. Kauai is gorgeous and small enough to travel around easily. For the most part you can avoid large crowds, which I really enjoy. There’s something about the relatively untouched and serene environment that almost seems unreal. With technology and people these days, it is rare to find. I hope Kauai stays that way for a long time.