Posts Tagged ‘Lihue’

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

January 1, 2010
Β Part IΒ | 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? πŸ™‚

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. πŸ˜›

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 πŸ˜› , 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 πŸ˜‰ ), 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) 625-2442β€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 πŸ˜› )! Besides, I need to save some poke shots for parts 2 and 3 (and 4?)! πŸ˜›

Here’s a sneak peek at what I’ve got in store: Tokkuri-tei, Tamashiro Market Inc., JJ’s Seafood, Pa`ina CafΓ©, 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,Β 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!

Β Part IΒ | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V

EATS! – Kauaian Style – Part I

August 18, 2008
 Part I  | Part II | Part III

OK, I’ve got issues. 427 pictures and videos in just 4 short days on Kauai… I need help.

But my issues = your gain cause we’ll get to embark on the second adventure of EATS (Ed Ate Tasty Stuffs)! Ya ready?

So right off the bat, we head southwest towards Kalaheo. We first stop by a vendor’s office to drop off some famous Apple Napples from Zippy’s, then kill time in the area by going on a mini hike at _____________ park and the nearby town of ________________. Crud! Sorry folks… I forgot that if I name these places, a future edition of “Where in Hawaii” would be ruined. LOL! Just use your imagination with me won’tcha? πŸ˜‰

In any case, we head back to Kalaheo and arrive at a favorite of many: Brick Oven Pizza, some of the best damn pizza you’ll ever eat.

Super Pizza from Brick Oven Pizza
Super Pizza from Brick Oven Pizza

We ordered the popular “Super Pizza” with garlic butter crust and all the fixin’s. What an awesome start to our vacay.

*skipping boring details of our trip*

For our next meal, we decided to go to BarbieQ!‘s suggested Blossoming Lotus in Kapaa. I’ve heard a lot about this place (heck, they’ve even won numerous awards), but have never gone because, well, frankly, I’m a meatatarian (yes dudes, it’s a vegan joint). The lady was interested in checking it out, so we did.

Kaya's Cosmic Cornbread - Southwest spelt cornbread served with homemade squash sage butter. - $7
Kaya’s Cosmic Cornbread – Southwest spelt cornbread served with homemade squash sage butter. – $7

Teriyaki Bowl - Brown rice, kale, peanut sauce and choice of tofu or tempeh. - $13
Teriyaki Bowl – Brown rice, kale, peanut sauce and choice of tofu or tempeh. – $13

Seniorita Bombia's Enchilada Casserole - Spanish marinated & baked tempeh, beans, rice, chili sauce & cashew 'cheeze' layered between corn tortillas and topped with carob mole, salsa and sour cream. - $20
Seniorita Bombia’s Enchilada Casserole – Spanish marinated & baked tempeh, beans, rice, chili sauce & cashew “cheeze” layered between corn tortillas and topped with carob mole, salsa and sour cream. – $20

*skipping more details…*

For lunch the next day, we stopped over at Garden Island Barbecue & Chinese Restaurant in Lihue. This was suggested many times by the readers of my Kau Kau Kauai series, as well as BarbieQ! again right here, so there is where we had to be.

Mini Mahi Mahi - $5.75
Mini Mahi Mahi – $5.75

Mixed Plate (Hamburger Steak, Teriyaki Steak and Beef Curry) - $7.25
Mixed Plate (Hamburger Steak, Teriyaki Steak Lemon Chicken and Beef Curry) – $7.25
(Requested – and got! – a change for the Lemon Chicken! Yay!)

Since this Wednesday will be “Where in Hawaii” Wednesday (based out of Kauai), I’ll make the posts for this whole week Kauai related. Smaht chyeah?

EATS! for Tuesday will include Kauai Chocolate, pupus aboard Holoholo Charters and Hamura’s Saimin, and Thursday we’ll cover Kountry Style Kitchen, Postcards Cafe, and Kalypso. Then, we’ll round it all off on Friday with a Kauai-related Fave Five Friday post. Sound like fun? πŸ™‚ Sound off below won’tcha?

 Part I  | Part II | Part III

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. πŸ˜‰

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

EntrΓ©e:

  • 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!” πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ˜› 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! πŸ˜‰

(! – 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… πŸ˜› ). 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. πŸ™‚

[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

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! πŸ™‚

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? πŸ˜‰

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