Posts Tagged ‘kau kau’

Kau Kau Kauai – Part 2

November 1, 2006

Part I | Part II | Part III

OK gangy… We’re back as promised. Albeit a month overdue, we’re back nonetheless. Another exciting round of good eats from our friends on the Garden Isle. *ding ding*

Part 1 brought a lot of feedback and suggestions and I thank you all for that. Hopefully, I’ll make my way back and hit up those hotspots you mentioned to put together Kau Kau Kauai – Part 14. 😛 One place cited repeatedly was Dani’s Restaurant. I won’t be covering them here today (haven’t been there just yet), but I thought I’d give ’em some pub since they seem to have a strong following.

Ready to go for part 2 folks? Let’s do this thang!

Since our last stop was at the Lizard Lounge in Kapa`a, why don’t we start our day there – bright and early for breakfast – at another Kapa`a favorite?

Ono Family Restaurant was suggested to us by the good people at Thrifty Car Rentals. They are well-known for their breakfast. Ono’s, not Thrifty’s! 😉

(! – Always ask the “locals” when looking for restaurant suggestions! They know best.)

Ono Family Restaurant menu
Ono Family Restaurant menu

Located just north of central Kapa`a Town, this quiet, little family style restaurant gives you an old town feel with all the comforts of home.

Inside Ono Family Restaurant
Inside Ono Family Restaurant

Don’t drive too fast when going up Kuhio Highway as it will suddenly and inconspicuously sneak up on you on the right.

On this occasion, we decided to go traditional and order your typical breakfast items: omelette, fried rice, hash browns and corn beef hash.

Yes, not very exciting, I know… Waddayah want from me? I was hungry! *grin*

Mushroom / broccoli omelette with a side scoop of fried rice
Mushroom / broccoli omelette with a side scoop of fried rice

Side order of hash browns and corned beef hash
Side order of hash browns and corned beef hash

With both dishes, they included a mini cup of their (I’m assuming) popular Hollandaise-type sauce. It’s hard to really ruin breakfast, but with Ono’s fresh ingredients, everything was, well, ono!

Ono Family Restaurant
4-1292 Kuhio Highway
Kapaa, HI 96746 (map)
(808) 822-1710

For reasons of proximity, better judgment would tell us that we should go to Bubba’s Burgers located right around the corner (still in Kapa`a), but for reasons of insanity and a strong desire to drive for no reason, let’s take an unnecessarily out of the way drive to Hanalei to visit Bubba’s up north. (Editor’s note: The real reason is because I’ve never visited the Bubba’s in Kapa`a and I didn’t know how else to admit it to you… 😛 ). So let’s take a superfluous drive won’t we!?

Located in the middle of historic Hanalei town, you can’t miss the bright yellow building that houses this popular burger joint.

Patrons ordering at the Bubba's Burger window
Patrons ordering at the Bubba’s Burger window

The entire staff on this day were comprised of scantily clad women, an obvious play towards the Hooters crowd. And, from the look of their web site, I’m sure this day was no exception (you didn’t see me complaining).

Employees at Bubba's Burger in Hanalei
Employees at Bubba’s Burger in Hanalei

Skimpy unis notwithstanding, the burgers (and fries) were actually pretty tasty and delish.

Bubba's Burgers and fries
Bubba’s Burgers and fries

Bubba’s Burger – Hanalei
5-5161 Kuhio Hwy
Hanalei, HI 96714 (map)
(808) 826-7839

Bubba’s Burger – Kapa`a
4-1421 Kuhio Highway
Kapaa, HI 96746 (map)
(808) 823-0069

Both locations open 7 days a week from
10:30am to 8:00 pm
obubba@aloha.net

Before you hear about the location of our next stop, let’s just close our eyes for a second and imagine ourselves back in town. Dream a little dream that tells us that we didn’t just drive a billion miles north only to turn around and drive back for our next meal. Don’t be mad, get glad. 🙂

[insert Wayne’s World teleporting here]

YUM, wasn’t that some burger from the Kapa`a location of Bubba’s Burger!? Just play along! *nudge*

You Kauai natives will love the next stop… The ever so popular Hamura’s Saimin. Like Tasaka Guri Guri in Maui, Big Island Candies or Kona Coffee from the Big Island, or Leonard’s Malasadas or Waiola Shave Ice on Oahu, Hamura’s is synonymous to Kauai. Whenever you return from a trip to Kauai, the first thing someone inevitably asks you is “You wen go Hamura’s or wot?”

Before we head over to this legendary eatery however, let’s first stop by The Fish Express to pick up some poke. It’ll be a yummy supplement to the hot saltiness of the saimin.

Sign outside The Fish Express (and some goon's reflection)
Sign outside The Fish Express (and some goon’s reflection)

Located on Kuhio Highway in Lihue, right across from the Wal-Mart parking lot, this popular fish market sells an assortment of fish treats you’d typically see at other fish markets.

Fish selection at The Fish Express
Fish selection at The Fish Express

I went for a quarter pound of my favorite Ahi Limu today.

My Ahi limu poke sitting atop the table at Hamura's, waiting to be demolished
My Ahi limu poke sitting atop the table at Hamura’s, waiting to be demolished

(! – For those of you like me who care, the fish was of the previously frozen variety. I’m hoping it was only this batch and not always this way.)

The Fish Express
3343 Kuhio Hwy. # 10
Lihue, HI 96766 (map)
(808) 245-9918
Monday-Saturday from 10am-6pm
Sunday from 10am-4pm

With poke in hand, we made our way to Kress Street in Lihue.

(! – If you’re a first-timer to this area, drive slow, as it’s easy to miss.)

Once your circle the block a couple of times looking for that dang street sign, you’ll make your way onto Kress Street and eventually the gem they call Hamura’s Saimin.

They really have to get someone to pencil in that
They really have to get someone to pencil in that “S” (on both sides no less!) on the Hamura’s Saimin sign.

Hamura’s has all the familiar makings of an old world, old town, old Hawaii place making you feel like you’re in an old plantation town taking a break from picking pineapples.

Inside Hamura's
Inside Hamura’s

The reminiscent feel however is also part of its lure.

A look into the kitchen
A look into the kitchen

Grab a seat, check out the menu and order away. They are most known, obviously, for their saimin, but their BBQ beef and chicken sticks also have a strong following. Whatever your tum-tum desires, the simple menu is sure to suffice.

Hamura's simple menu
Hamura’s simple menu

Now, it’s time for the good stuff… Da Food! We ordered a Wuntun Min ($5.50), which comes in only one size, and a Medium (regular) saimin ($4.25).

Wuntun Min ($5.50), which comes in only one size
Wuntun Min ($5.50), which comes in only one size

Medium (regular) saimin ($4.25)
Medium (regular) saimin ($4.25)

Don’t forget the condiments!

Mandatory saimin condiments: pepper, chili sauce, mustard and shoyu
Mandatory saimin condiments: pepper, chili sauce, mustard and shoyu

OK, I know I’m going to be vilified for saying this, but Hamura’s isn’t the best “local style” saimin I’ve ever had. That award goes to Shige’s in Wahiawa (Oahu), my favorite by far. I dunno, maybe I just have strange taste buds compared to all y’all, but I don’t think it’s crazy delish like its popularity merits. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a fun meal and experience… I just don’t want to convey the same “to-die-for” message that everyone else preaches about Hamura’s. It’s just ok for me.

Kenji
Side note: Whenever I give my boy (and Kauai native) Kenji my not-so positive review of Hamura’s, he gives me this angry stare like he’s about to pull out my spleen and rip it in two. The look is so priceless that nowadays, I just cut down Hamura’s in front of him so I can see that look. But he’s not alone with his Soup-Nazi-type love affair for Hamura’s. So don’t take my word for it… Here’s Kenji’s quote about Hamura’s:

“Hole in the wall atmosphere with wooden stools, good prices and the best damn saimin on the planet. What more could anyone ask for?”

Hamura’s Saimin
2956 Kress Street
Lihue, HI 96766 (map)
(808) 245-3271
Open daily at 10am

Since we’ve done nothing but eat our brains out thus far, I think it’s time we head back to the hotel, rest our fat bellies and take a quick power nap. We’ll meet back in 2 and 2 and head over to Pizetta in Kapa`a for din-din.

Now that we’ve had enough time to rest our heavy selves, let’s head on over to Pizzetta’s Italian Family Restaurant on Kuhio Highway in Kapa`a.

Outside Pizzetta's Italian Family Restaurant

As you enter, you are met with a strong Italian energy that starts from the bar that sits up front.

Pizzetta's Italian Family Restaurant Entrance

The energy continues to the kitchen and comes through in the flavors of their foods. On this evening, we ordered their Stuffed Mushrooms appetizer (stuffed with petro & quattro formaggio, baked until golden) for $6.95 and their Penne Siciliano (Penne tossed with homemade marinara, Italian sausage, sauteed green peppers, onions & mushrooms) for $10.95.

Stuffed Mushrooms - stuffed with petro & quattro formaggio, baked until golden for $6.95
Stuffed Mushrooms – stuffed with petro & quattro formaggio, baked until golden for $6.95

Penne Siciliano - Penne tossed with homemade marinara, Italian sausage, sauteed green peppers, onions & mushrooms for $10.95
Penne Siciliano – Penne tossed with homemade marinara, Italian sausage, sauteed green peppers, onions & mushrooms for $10.95

Pizzetta’s Italian Family Restaurant – Kapa`a
4-1387 Kuhio Highway
Kapaa, HI 96746 (map)
(808) 823-8882

Pizzetta’s Italian Family Restaurant – Koloa
5408 Koloa Road
Koloa, HI 96756 (map)
(808) 742 8881
pizzettahawaii@pizzettarestaurant.com

Since we all feel like Jabba the Hutt after stuffing our faces all day long, I promise… no more eats. Let’s end our day, by going to another local favorite bar/hangout in Duke’s.

Located on the sands of Kalapaki Beach in front of the Kauai Marriott Resort, Duke’s Canoe Club Barefoot Bar & Restaurant is a frequent stop for locals and tourists alike.

Duke's Canoe Club - Kauai

Duke’s Canoe Club – Kauai
3610 Rice Street
Lihue, HI 96766 (map)
(808) 246-9599

Shooting the breeze here while dreading that plane ride home tomorrow morning is bittersweet, but we’ll no doubt be back. I think I have enough in my photo arsenal for a 3rd and final part in this Kau Kau Kauai series, so keep an eye out for that. Yeah yeah, I have Brick Oven Pizza, Polynesia Cafe and Sunday Brunch at Cafe Hanalei (among others) lined up so relax tampax… I’ll get to it, guaranz.

Until then, much love for listening. I’ll be coming to a town near ya soon…

P.S. I’m going to Denver–>Las Vegas–>L.A.–>Diego next month, so if you have any hot tips on places to go (I’ve already got Versailles and Pink’s lined up), be sure to let me know. I’ll also make it out to the Big Island one of these weekends so same smell… let me know a-ight?

Part I | Part II | Part III

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Kau Kau Kauai

September 1, 2006

Part I | Part II | Part III

OK, so you guys aren’t big on exercise… I get it.

My attempt to foray from my usual food-related columns to an “outdoorsy”-type last month garnered five measly comments all month (four in the last half of the month). It got just as much action as one of my nerdy, computer related pieces before I transitioned to the grindz.

Well, it’s either that, or you are madly in love with me and all of my columns and are just more vocal about the ones with the eats. Yeah, I like that excuse… I think we’ll use it!

OK, you little democratic peeps, you have spoken. Starting this month (and continuing for at least another month or two), I will be covering some of your favorite eateries from our Garden Isle… Kauai.

For one reason or another, I’ve been making many, many trips to the island of Kauai in recent history. Whether it be for business, a wedding at the spectacular Princeville or just for the sheer heck of it, your boy has been racking up the mean mileage. But whatever the occasion, I made sure to equip myself with the trusty camera to capture the moments in time and food for y’all.

To make the most of your day, I would suggest booking an early AM flight to Lihue (if you’re a resident of Kauai, just meet us at the airport and we’ll go get breakfast together). Since we’ll be arriving early, it’ll be perfect timing to pick up our car and head north towards the nearby, and local favorite Tip Top Motel & Cafe.

Tip Top Motel & Cafe Sign
Tip Top Motel & Cafe Sign

Paraphrasing a bit from their pamphlet, here’s a little history on the gem that has been serving the people of Kauai for more than 85 years:

Tip Top originally started as a Cafe & Bakery in November of 1916 by Denjiro Ota, and soon starting baking and delivering fresh bread island wide. In 1925, Denjiro’s creative son Mitchell the took over the business where he introduced pastries, pies and other baked goods that were to become the mainstay of the business. One is the famous pancake recipe which is still used today and another is the Macadamia Nut cookie which was the first Macnut cookie made in Hawaii.

In 1965, Mitchell moved the business a half mile to its present location and built a restaurant, bakery, 34 room motel and a bar. In 1989, Mitchell passed away at the age of 85, leaving the business in the hands of his 30 year old grandson Jonathan, the 4th generation of Otas to run the business.

Tip Top is known for their famous banana/macadamia pancakes, Macadamia nut cookies, and their best seller, the Oxtail soup, but since we’re here for breakfast, let’s get eatin’!

(! – As always, get here early or come during semi-off-peak hours as it’s always crowded, though I’ve been here twice and there was no wait on both occasions…)

Tip Top Cafe morning crowd
Tip Top Cafe morning crowd

Rather than the traditional hand over the shoulder technique, the wait help at Tip Top cutely rolls your order to you on a tray on wheels type contraption.

Meal on wheels
Meal on wheels

On this occasion, we skipped the popular banana/macadamia pancakes and went straight for the hefty items, scrambled eggs, corn beef hash & hash brown, and Loco Moco.

Corn beef hash and eggs with hash brown
Corn beef hash and eggs with hash brown

Loco Moco
Loco Moco

Yum! Another successful morning at Tip Top. Next stop… Waimea Brewing Company.

Tip Top Motel & Cafe
3173 Akahi Street
Lihue, HI 96766 (map)
(808) 245-2333
Open 6:30am-10pm Daily
tiptop@aloha.net

Now that we’ve got the most important meal of the day in our tummies, we should be energized to do something that involves exercise. What do you say? Yeah, I know, not your cup of tea, but c’mon, we’re on vacation! We’re supposed to be doing activities galore. OK, ok, what if I promise more good eats afterwards? I knew I’d getcha with that! 🙂

So let’s head west and do the touristy thing by checking out the Waimea Canyon Lookout.

Waimea Canyon Lookout sign
Waimea Canyon Lookout sign

Since this is a column on food, I’m not going to get too deep into describing the canyon (you can Google it and find all the info you need), but we do have time to kill until lunch, so let’s just pretend you’re with me on this virtual tour of sorts a-ight? 😉

Waimea Canyon lookout
Waimea Canyon lookout

Whew! What a drive huh? And how about that view? I bet you’re hungry for lunch now huh? Well, I’ve got just the place for you! Let’s hit the “World’s Westernmost Brewpub”, the Waimea Brewing Company Restaurant.

Waimea Brewing Company sign
Waimea Brewing Company sign

The Waimea Brewing Company is the self-proclaimed, westernmost pub in the world. To get here, you would drive down that exhausting, winding Waimea Canyon Road, and, instead of turning left to head back towards town, you’d actually take a right (at the West Kauai Technology & Visitor Center). Waimea Brewing Co. will be on your left.

Now I’m not condoning mid-day alcohol consumption by any means, but if you’re a beer connoisseur, you’d enjoy the home-brewed beers at this place, especially after being out in the sun for the past few hours.

Beer at Waimea Brewing Co.

The menu is quite extensive, ranging from pupus like Mango-stout BBQ Ribs and flash fried calamari rings, to entrees like “Jawaiian” Chicken and Coconut Prawns, to burgers to desserts. And this does not include their large drink menu too. On this occasion, I figured the best thing to go with my booze was their “Hawaiian Burger”, a 1/2 pound Angus burger with a thick slice of fresh pineapple & teriyaki sauce served on an onion bun.

The Hawaiian Burger, a 1/2 pound Angus burger with a thick slice of fresh pineapple & teriyaki sauce served on an onion bun
The Hawaiian Burger, a 1/2 pound Angus burger with a thick slice of fresh pineapple & teriyaki sauce served on an onion bun.

Waimea Brewing Company
9400 Kaumuali`i Highway
Waimea, Kauai HI, 96796 (map)
(808) 338-9733
Sunday- Thursday – 11am to 9pm
Friday – Saturday – 11am to 11pm
info@waimeabrewing.com

With our big ol’ bellies, let’s head back to town and see what else we can stuff our faces with. In my July column on Shave Ice, I mentioned Jo Jo’s Clubhouse, a popular Shave Ice hut along Kaumuali`i Highway. Since it’s on our way back, why not eh?

Jo Jo's Clubhouse
Jo Jo’s Clubhouse

Jo Jo’s Clubhouse
Mile Marker 23, Kaumualii Highway (Hwy. 50)
Waimea, Hawaii 96796 (map)
(808) 635-7615

Other notable, but highly touristy stops on the way back are the Kauai Kookie Kompany (1-3529 Kaumuali`i Highway, Hanapepe, Kauai, HI. 96716. Open M-F from 8am-4pm, and Sat and Sun from 9am-4pm. Call 1-800-361-1126 for more info), Kauai Coffee Company (Just past Eleele, on Kaumuali`i Highway, as you head toward Poipu. Open seven days a week from 9am-5pm. Call (808) 335-0813 for more info) and the Kauai Chocolate Company (Port Allen Marina Center – 4341 Waialo Road, Eleele, HI 96705. Call (808) 335-0448 for more info).

OK, so we’ve got some time to kill before dinner. What do you feel like doing? Hit Poipu Beach for some fun in the sun? Do a little shopping in Old Koloa Town? How about we split up and meet back in Kapa`a at around 6PM? Cool? Cool!

*some time later…*

OK gang. Welcome back! Did you have a good time? What’s say we hit up this joint called Lemongrass Grill Seafood & Sushi Bar?

Lemongrass Grill Seafood & Sushi Bar

Lemongrass Grill Seafood & Sushi Bar is a fairly newer establishment in the quaint little town of Kapa`a. The usual hotspot for sushi here is local favorite Kintaro’s, but to be quite honest, I liked the sushi from Lemongrass a lot better (sorry Kintaro fans!).

Editor’s Note: It was recently reported that Lemongrass Grill no longer serves sushi. I called them and they confirmed this. If anyone knows why, please use the Comment Field below to discuss.

With a menu that hinted towards influences from Japan (sushi) and Italy (pasta), the main theme (including restaurant design) was definitely Thai.

On this occasion, we started with the Asian Marinated Chicken Satay for our appetizer, and threw in a couple of sushi handrolls – the Volcano Roll (masago & katsuo bushi on a California roll with a special spicy sauce) and the Spider Roll (deep fried soft shell crab with cucumber) – for good measure.

Note: apologies for the color clarity on these photos, but the lighting at Lemongrass was not all that bright.

Asian Marinated Chicken Satay - served with green papaya salad, crispy fried noodle and spicy peanut sauce for $7.50
Asian Marinated Chicken Satay – served with green papaya salad, crispy fried noodle and spicy peanut sauce for $7.50

Volcano Roll - masago & katsuo bushi on a California roll with a special spicy sauce for $6.75
Volcano Roll – masago & katsuo bushi on a California roll with a special spicy sauce for $6.75

Spider Roll - deep fried soft shell crab with cucumber for $11.50
Spider Roll – deep fried soft shell crab with cucumber for $11.50

We then moved on to our main dishes of Guava Glazed BBQ Ribs and Sauteed Shrimp with Penne Pasta.

Guava Glazed BBQ Ribs - Baby back ribs cooked just right, basted with our guava BBQ sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, and corn on the cob for $17.50
Guava Glazed BBQ Ribs – Baby back ribs cooked just right, basted with our guava BBQ sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, and corn on the cob for $17.50

Sauteed Shrimp with Penne Pasta - A garlic white wine broth garnished with capers and tomatoes for $21
Sauteed Shrimp with Penne Pasta – A garlic white wine broth garnished with capers and tomatoes for $21

Lemongrass Grill Seafood & Sushi Bar
4-885 Kuhio Highway
Kapa`a, Kauai, HI 96746 (map)
Tel: (808) 821-2888 or (808) 822-2288
Fax: (808) 822-1221

As mentioned before, an alternative in close proximity to Lemongrass is the local favorite Kintaro Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar (4-370 Kuhio Highway). Another somewhat new establishment is Wahooo (not misspelled) Seafood Grill & Bar, but I did not have a good experience there (rude host, costly and questionable food).

So we’ve gone an entire day with breakfast in Lihue, lunch and a sweet snack out in Waimea, and dinner in Kapa`a, and are almost ready to head back to our crib (hotel or otherwise) for some shut eye. Before we hit the hay though, let’s go for a little nightcap at a local hangout called the Lizard Lounge Bar & Grill in the Waipouli Town Center in Kapa`a.

Lizard Lounge Bar & Grill

With dart boards, video games, pool tables and a full bar, hanging out for hours at the Lizard Lounge is not hard to do. They’re open nightly until 2am. Go check um out!

Lizard Lounge Bar & Grill
Waipouli Town Center
4-771 Kuhio Highway
Kapa`a, Kauai, HI 96746 (map)
Tel: (808) 821-2205
Email: lizardlounge@kauai.com

OK, now we’re really ready for some shut eye. Let’s get our rest so we can start early tomorrow morning (a.k.a. next month’s column) for more eating adventures in Kauai.

No worries gang… I haven’t forgotten about the local favorites like Hamura’s Saimin, Brick Oven Pizza, Ono’s Family Restaurant, and much more! We’ll see each other “bright and early” to cover those and many more in Kau Kau Kauai Part 2.

Part I | Part II | Part III