Posts Tagged ‘Kuhio Highway’

Poke Paradise – Experiencing the Best Poke Around Hawaii – Part I

January 1, 2010
ย Part Iย | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V

I gotta admit… One of the perks of working on these “best of” pieces is the eating. I’m lucky enough to grind some of the most onolicious foods Hawaii’s got to offer and live to write about it. This month, I’m covering one of my all-time favorite snack/food/pupu/whatever-you-wanna-call-it: Poke! Aurite!

According to Wikipedia, poke (pronounced poh-kay) is “a raw fish salad served as an appetizer or main course in Hawaiian cuisine. Poke is Hawaiian for ‘section’ or ‘to slice or cut’.”

The expert in local kine poke is local kine chef Sam Choy. In his new book, simply named “Poke” he shares some history: “In the old days, the whole slice would be eaten, skin, bones, and all. Inedible portions were picked or spat out. When the raw fish was ‘prepared,’ it meant the fish was mashed (lomi), or other ingredients were added to it, mostly salt and savories like ‘opihi, lobster, sea urchin roe, kukui nut relish, and different kinds of limu (seaweed) – manauea, lipe`epe`e, kohu, lipoa, etc.”


Buy This Book from Amazon.com

Growing up as a second generation Japanese-American, raw fish and seafood has always been a part of my life, so poke was a natural and, frankly, easy transition for my taste buds. In high school, I worked in the seafood department at my neighborhood market and became somewhat known for my poke concoctions. I remember customers asking if I made the poke that day, and, if I said, “No, I just came in,” they would frown and walk away. I took that as a great compliment.

My goal with this article is simple: Give props to the local establishments, big and small, who are doing poke right, right here in Hawaii. I’m proud to be from Hawaii, and feel that it’s almost my duty as a local boy to spread the word about those who are doing their part to perpetuate the rich culture that is poke.

Yama’s Fish Market
Yama’s is a small fish market I used to frequent during my old school UH days, back when they were near Poha Lane. Now, they’re right down the road on Young Street and is almost always a pumpin’!

Yama's Fish Market Sign
Yama’s Fish Market Sign

Though their Hawaiian plate lunches are pretty mean, my main focus whenever I go to Yama’s is their Ahi Masago Poke. It’s to die for! Trust.

Ahi Masago Poke - just made for me! - $11.95/pound
Ahi Masago Poke – just made for me! – $11.95/pound

Masago is already an escape from the norm of “standard” poke ingredients, but furikake on top of that? Combine that with green onions, sesame seeds (which may be part of the furikake), shoyu maybe?, and choke sesame seed oil, and you getcho self one winnah!

Yama's Ahi Masago Poke up close
Yama’s Ahi Masago Poke up close

I’ve been trying to reach Yama’s Fish Market’s President Brian Yamamoto for a soundbite, but da buggah is hard to reach. If you’re out there Brian, holla, and I’ll add your quote here.

(UPDATE! Mr. Yamamoto emailed me, thanking me for the plug. Mahaloz!)

Until then, go give the Ahi Masago Poke from Yama’s a try, but be sure to save some for me kay? ๐Ÿ™‚

Yama’s Fish Market
2332 Young Street
Honolulu, HI 96826 (map)
(808) 941-9994
Mon-Sat: 9am-7pm
Sun: 9am-5pm
(Holiday Hours)


Golden Mart
Not too many people know about this hidden gem in Mililani, but it’s quickly become one of my all-time favorite places to get my poke fix on (like Donkey Kong).

Outside Golden Mart in Mililani
Outside Golden Mart in Mililani

Located in a small strip mall on the Mililani Golf Course side of Kamehameha Highway (across Mililani Shopping Center), Golden Mart sells what you’d traditionally find at a local mini mart like snacks, beer and cigarettes. How they separate themselves from the pack however, is their mouth-watering selection of hot foods, boiled peanuts, and poke.

Three popular pokes from Golden Mart: Creamy Wasabi Ahi, Spicy Tuna and the Golden Mart Special
Three popular pokes from Golden Mart: Creamy Wasabi Ahi, Spicy Tuna and the Golden Mart Special

Employee Cori, and owner Julie Miyatake, who doubles as a USPS employee, both agree that Fridays are the best days to come if you’re looking for poke as the entire display case is filled with the different varieties they carry. My personal favorites are the Creamy Wasabi Ahi Poke…

Creamy Wasabi Ahi Poke in the display case
Creamy Wasabi Ahi Poke in the display case

Creamy Wasabi Ahi Poke up close - $10.99/pound
Creamy Wasabi Ahi Poke up close – $10.99/pound

… and the Golden Mart Special.

Golden Mart Special with the special sauce on the side -$9.99/pound
Golden Mart Special with the special sauce on the side -$9.99/pound

Golden Mart Special with the special sauce inside
Golden Mart Special with the special sauce inside

Although, I’m not a fan of wasabi (I don’t even use it on my sashimi/sushi), the Creamy Wasabi Ahi Poke brok’ da mout’! How they make it is still a mystery, but if I had to guess, I’d say the tobiko-like topping (they’re green!) is filled with (or marinated in?) wasabi flavoring, while the rest of the poke is mixed with mayo (and wasabi?) in a creamy ahi sorta way. ๐Ÿ˜›

The Golden Mart Special’s lure is the Golden Mart special sauce, hands down. Filled with a concoction of liquids including shoyu, sesame seed oil and other mysterious ingredients that I’d pay to know ๐Ÿ˜› , this sauce is what keeps ’em comin’ back. You can’t even get the special sauce (other than paying for it separately) if you don’t order the Golden Mart Special!

For good measure (and since I’ve got the photo ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), here’s also a shot of Golden Mart’s Spicy Tuna poke for kicks… another winnah!

Spicy Tuna Poke
Spicy Tuna Poke

Golden Mart
95-119 Kamehameha Highway
Mililani, HI, 96789 (map)
(808) 625-2442โ€Ž

While, we’re in the Mililani area, let’s visit the place that Diners, Drive-ins and Dives’ Guy Fieri recently visited: Poke Stop.

Poke Stop
Chef Elmer Guzman, a graduate of the Kapiolani Community College Culinary Arts program, has trained under Alan Wong, worked as a sous chef under Emeril Lagasse, and was the Executive Chef at Sam Choy’s Diamond Head Restaurant before opening his two Poke Stop locations (one in Waipahu and one in Mililani Mauka).

In addition to serving up “gourmet food at plate lunch prices” (their catch phrase), Guzman and company offer a bevy of poke to live up to their namesake. Some of their “must tries” are the Sweet Onion Ahi poke, the Blackened Ahi poke, the Furikake Salmon poke, the Ginger Scallion Shrimp poke, “Da Works” Oio poke, and my personal favorite, the Spicy Creamy Ahi poke.

Spicy Creamy Ahi Poke - $10.95/pound
Spicy Creamy Ahi Poke – $10.95/pound

Poke Stop – Waipahu
94-050 Farrington Highway, E-4
Waipahu, HI, 96797 (map)
(808) 676-8100

Poke Stop – Mililani Mauka
95-1840 Meheula Parkway
Mililani, HI, 96789 (link on Google maps is inaccurate. Should be here.)
(808) 626-3400

And, to my neighbor island bruthas and sistahs, no worries. I gotcho back! Here’s a little Honolulu love to The Fish Express in Lihue, Kauai.

The Fish Express
Very conveniently located on Kuhio Highway in Lihue, Kauai…

Outside The Fish Express in Lihue, Kauai
Outside The Fish Express in Lihue, Kauai

… I like to pick up a quarter pound or so on my way to Hamura’s Saimin. The cold saltiness of the fish matches perfectly with the hot saltiness of the saimin.

(Previously Frozen) Ahi Limu Poke from The Fish Express - $6.99/pound
(Previously Frozen) Ahi Limu Poke from The Fish Express – $6.99/pound

The Fish Express (Kauai)
3343 Kuhio Hwy. # 10
Lihue, HI 96766 (map)
(808) 245-9918
Mon-Sat: 10am-6pm
Sun: 10am-4pm

Alas, I’ve been tasked to make my poke for a New Year’s family gathering, so here’s a lil’ step by step action that will 1) help you if/when you make your own batch and 2) help to refresh my memory! LOL! Enjoy!

Diced/Cubed Ahi blocks with Hawaiian salt and green onions added (props to Ryan Moriguchi for reeling in the fish!)
Diced/Cubed Ahi blocks with Hawaiian salt and green onions added (props to Ryan Moriguchi for reeling in the fish!)

Inamona (kukui nut) added
Inamona (kukui nut) added

Limu Kohu/Ogo (seaweed) added
Limu Kohu/Ogo (seaweed) added

Close up of each portion greeting each other
Close up of each portion greeting each other

Everything mixed together with sesame seed oil and shoyu
Everything mixed together with sesame seed oil and shoyu

Though, I’d love to continue, I don’t think my stomach can take any more of this torture (it’s lunch time as I write this ๐Ÿ˜› )! Besides, I need to save some poke shots for parts 2 and 3 (and 4?)! ๐Ÿ˜›

Here’s a sneak peek at what I’ve got in store: Tokkuri-tei, Tamashiro Market Inc., JJ’s Seafood, Pa`ina Cafรฉ, Off the Wall, Safeway, Costco, and Sam’s Club. My “To Do” list includes: Ruger Market, Ono’s (Kapahulu), Fresh Catch, Masa & Joyce, Alicia’s Market,ย Tamura’s, and Tanioka’s.

If you have any hook-ups/connections to any of the places above, holla! I’d love to interview them! If you have any poke (dish) suggestions for the above as well, or new locations altogether, feel free to let me know in the comment area below!

Happy New Year y’all! Shoots!

ย Part Iย | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V

Kau Kau Kauai – Part 3

March 1, 2007

Part I | Part II | Part III

Well, we’ve finally made it gang. The 3rd and final part in our Kau Kau Kauai series. Please! Hold back your tears!

In part 1, we spanned the Garden Isle for favorites such as Tip Top Motel & Cafe, Waimea Brewing Company, and Jo Jo’s Shave Ice. The 2nd part of our series took us to Ono’s Family Restaurant, Hamura’s Saimin and Duke’s, among others! Now, we’ll round it all out with stops at such hotspots like the Cafe Hanalei Sunday Brunch, Brick Oven Pizza and Polynesia Cafe.

Those previous Kau Kau Kauai adventures were written under the pretense that you were visiting these places all in a day’s work, when in actuality, each and every one of the Kauai restaurants were visited over the course of many, many visits there. The mishmash was then somehow puzzled together to create a single piece supposedly taking place over the course of one day. If you were fooled, please accept my humble apology. If you were not, but played along anyway, please accept my humble gratitude.

In this final piece, there ain’t no hidin’ it. It’s going to be a feeble attempt at throwing in the best of the rest, if you will, so prepare yourself for multiple breakfasts, numerous lunches, many dinners and miscellaneous treats in between for good measure. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Conveniently located in the Coconut Marketplace in Kapa`a, Eggbert’s is not hard to find.

Eggbert's Sign
Eggbert’s Sign

Out front, they have a sign that boasts about their Loco Moco so guess what dis buggah just haaad to get.

Loco Moco from Eggbert's
Loco Moco from Eggbert’s

Out Honestly, the details are a bit fuzzy (I last visited there in October of 2005), but I do know that it wasn’t bad. As I’m sure with most of you, I only remember bad food experiences very vividly.

Eggbert’s Kauai Family Specialty Restaurant
Coconut Marketplace
4-484 Kuhio Highway
Kapa`a, Kauai, HI 96746 (map)
(808) 822-3787

There were no plans on eating at this next stop really, but after many visitor requests about this place in my previous column, I just had to check things out at Dani’s for myself.

Dani's Sign
Dani’s Sign

I had the $6 Corn Beef Hash with 2 eggs and rice special. The other options for this special were Rego’s Portuguese Sausage (instead of the corned beef hash) and toast or hash brown (instead of rice).

Now because momma always taught me that if I have nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all, I’ll just say that I enjoyed my other Kauai breakfast stops a lot more. I know this is a local favorite, but to me, the portions were quite small and tasted “canned”.

Corned Beef Hash with Two Eggs & Rice
Corned Beef Hash with Two Eggs & Rice

On the other hand, my eating partner Art enjoyed his $6.20 hamburger steak with scrambled eggs & rice combo.

Hamburger Steak with Scrambled Eggs & Rice
Hamburger Steak with Scrambled Eggs & Rice

Dani’s Restaurant
4201 Rice Street
Lihue, Kauai, HI 96766 (map)
(808) 245-4991

Full yet? I’m just getting started my dears. Let’s drive on up to the the Princeville Resort where, every Sunday, they have the popular Cafe Hanalei Sunday Brunch.

Cafe Hanalei Sunday Brunch

The menu and prices are noted as subject to change without notice, but on this occasion, it boasted the following:

Salads:

  • Kilauea Baby Greens with Assorted Dressings
  • Crisp Romaine Caesar Style
  • Chicken Pad Thai Noodle Salad
  • Hawaiian Sweet Potato Salad
  • Kailani Spinach and Chinese Duck Salad
  • Spicy Crab and Kimchee with Cucumber
  • Marinated Heart of Palm and Artichoke
  • Spicy Thai Beef Salad
  • Local Potato Macaroni Salad
  • Thai Style Ahi Tuna Poke

Miscellaneous Salad Items
Miscellaneous Salad Items

Chilled Seafood and Specialty Items:

  • Iced Seafood Display
  • Peel & Eat Shrimp, New Zealand Mussels and Dungeness Crab Legs
  • Horseradish Spiked Cocktail Sauce
  • Fresh Lemons
  • California Rolls with Wasabi and Pickled Ginger
  • Imported and Domestic Cheese Display
  • Assorted Water Crackers and Breads
  • Crisp Vegetable Crudite with Selection of Dips
  • Atlantic Smoked Salmon Display
  • Bagels and Cream Cheese with Red Onion and Capers
  • Grilled Marinated Vegetable Display

Dungeness Crab Legs
Dungeness Crab Legs

Entrรฉe:

  • Fresh Island Catch of the Day
  • Tossed Pasta of the Day
  • Eggs Benedict
  • Chef’s Brunch Potato
  • Carved Slow Roasted Beef
  • Wok Seared Kauai Prawns
  • Moloaa Tomato Bisque
  • Chinese Style Fried Rice
  • Crisp Bacon, Link and Portuguese Sausage
  • Stuffed Roasted Loin of Pork
  • Pancit Noodles with Crispy Asian Duck
  • Seasonal Local Vegetables
  • Chef’s Omelette Station

Chef's Omelette Station
Chef’s Omelette Station

Desserts:

  • Pastry Chef’s Dessert Display
  • Fresh Crepes with a Variety of Fillings
  • Sliced Island Fruits

Fresh Crepes with Cherries and Vanilla Ice Cream
Fresh Crepes with Cherries and Vanilla Ice Cream

As made obvious by my packed plate, I was a fan…

Just part of the damage I was doing to the buffet....
Just part of the damage I was doing to the buffet….

Though the food is good, the highlight of the Sunday Brunch is actually the view. (! – If you come at the right time and request to sit outside, you may be able to get a table with an amazing view…)

Your view from Cafe Hanalei
Your view from Cafe Hanalei

Cafe Hanalei
Sunday Brunch: 10AM-2PM
Princeville Resort
5520 Ka Haku Road
Princeville, Kauai, HI 96722 (map)
(808) 826-9644 – TEL
(808) 826-1166 – FAX

For the next two stops in our never ending day of gluttony, I have to apologize… Thumbing through my photo archives didn’t turn up many results in terms of usable pics. The Deli & Bread Connection, Inc. and Brick Oven Pizza are however, two stops that cannot go unmentioned.

Located in the Kukui Grove Shopping Center, this sandwich joint is always crowded during the lunch hour. They also sell fresh baked bread and, according to their business card, gourmet kitchenware as well.

Two different sandwiches from the Deli & Bread Connection, Inc.
Two different sandwiches from the Deli & Bread Connection, Inc.

Deli & Bread Connection, Inc.
Kukui Grove Shopping Center
3-2600 Kaumualii Highway #1005
Lihue, Kauai, HI. 96766 (map)
(808) 245-7115
(808) 245-3492 – FAX

Long revered as the best pizza on Kauai, Brick Oven Pizza sits conveniently off Kaumualii Highway in Kalaheo. These pizzas are hella fresh and homemade in their brick hearth.

Pepperoni and mushroom pizza from Brick Oven Pizza
Pepperoni and mushroom pizza from Brick Oven Pizza

Brick Oven Pizza
2-2555 Kaumualii Hwy
Kalaheo, Kauai, HI 96741 (map)
(808) 332-8561
Tues-Sunday 11AM-10PM
Closed on Mondays

While we’re here, we might as well cross the street and continue our foodfest at the Kalaheo Cafe & Coffee Co.

Kalaheo Cafe & Coffee Co. Sign
Kalaheo Cafe & Coffee Co. Sign

Not only do they serve delicious coffee from the wee hours of the morning, they also offer fresh baked breads and serve up a healthy menu for lunch and dinner. On this occasion, I ordered up their special of the day: Eggs scrambled with roasted veggies & a tiger shrimp seafood mix, topped with hollandaise sauce & served with hash browns & toast for $10.25.

Eggs scrambled with roasted veggies & a tiger shrimp seafood mix, topped with hollandaise sauce & served with hash browns & toast for $10.25.
Eggs scrambled with roasted veggies & a tiger shrimp seafood mix, topped with hollandaise sauce & served with hash browns & toast for $10.25.

Kalaheo Cafe & Coffee Co.
2-2560 Kaumualii Hwy
Kalaheo, HI. 96741 (map)
(808) 332-5858
(808) 332-5868 FAX
(800) 255-0137 Toll Free
Email: javatalk@kalaheo.com
Open daily from 6:30AM-2:30PM
Dinners are Wed-Sat from 5:30 PM

We’ve finally reached the end of the road gang. Our last stop in this journey of Kauai Kau Kau takes us back north to the city of Hanalei. Located just inside the main entrance of the Ching Young Village Shopping Center, Polynesia Cafe is one of those pleasant surprises you won’t find very often. Billing themselves as gourmet food on paper plates, this little surfer’s-style cafe delivers on that mantra.

Entrance to Polynesia Cafe
Entrance to Polynesia Cafe

Their menu is chock-full of gourmet entrees like Mac-Nut Herb Crusted Ahi or Thai Tofu & Veggie, salads, sandwiches and a variety of Mexican dishes. They even had a dessert case filled with tasty looking delights.

Dessert case at Polynesia Cafe
Dessert case at Polynesia Cafe

On this occasion, we ordered up Sesame Chicken and Chicken Quesadilla and a Lemon Bar for good measure for dessert.

On the menu, the Sesame Chicken was defined as “orange ginger glaze with curry batter” and went for $9.95. It came with mixed veggies and was served over a bed of rice.

Sesame Chicken - orange ginger glaze with curry batter for $9.95
Sesame Chicken – orange ginger glaze with curry batter for $9.95

The Chicken Quesadilla went for $8.95 and came with rice, beans and condiments for the quesadilla.

Chicken Quesadilla from Polynesia Cafe for $8.95
Chicken Quesadilla from Polynesia Cafe for $8.95

I don’t quite recall how much the lemon bar was, but lemme tell ya, it was worth every fattening bite!

Lemon Bar from Polynesia Cafe
Lemon Bar from Polynesia Cafe

Polynesia Cafe
Ching Young Village Shopping Center
5300 Ka Haku Road
Hanalei, HI 96714 (map)
(808) 826-1999

…Annnnd I’m spent!

So there you have it! The season finale, the fairytale ending, the photo finish… You won’t ever have to hear the words “Kau Kau Kauai” and “World Wide Ed” in the same sentence anymore… Well, at least until I work on the prequels. *grin*

Much love for hanging in there with me gang. It was fun! Now… to work on “Munchy Maui” and “Broke Da Mout’ Big Island!” ๐Ÿ˜‰

Part I | Part II | Part III

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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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! ๐Ÿ˜‰

(! – 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… ๐Ÿ˜› ). 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

[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