Kauai and Maui

I’m going to Hawaii for the first time, spending the first few days in Lahaina (Maui) and then a week in Kauai.

I’ll ask about Maui later, but let’s talk about Kauai for now. Our group of eight is staying in Koloa. How do these dinners and lunches look? Is there a stronger dinner restaurant in Koloa than Plantation Gardens that could accommodate a reservation for our group of eight and is of local interest? Any broad category of food not represented here?


  • Eating House 1849
  • Beach House (Koloa) (more for views than food)
  • Plantation Gardens Restaurant (Koloa)
  • Grill at the condo with fish from Costco and etc. from Koloa Fish Market


  • Island Taco in Waimea or Koloa
  • Hamura Saimin in Kapaa
  • Shrimp Station in Kapaa
  • Wailua Shave Ice in Kapaa


  • Uncle’s in Koloa for shave snow
  • Wong’s Bake Shop (Hanapepe) for lilikoi pie
  • Malasadas somewhere
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We spent a few days in Maui. Lots of good food, but some hitches, even with an exhaustive list of tips from a Chowhound and our local hosts.


Koa’s (Lahaina): awesome fried rice— heavy from fat, and bold from garlic and linguica sausage. Pancakes were good and huge, and came with a butterscotch flavored whipped cream. Omelette was plasticky, and home fries were crisp and seasoned like curly fries.

Baya bowls food truck and the adjacent TaquerEATa truck (Lahaina) : it was hot, so the sharing of a spicy, cheesy, breakfast taco and a cooling tropical fruit Acai bowl was perfect. Acai bowl had a good base and granola, not too sweet, and the fruit offered was ripe. We got starfruit because the papaya and lilikoi (yellow passion fruit) were waiting to ripen. Three alarm taco was delicious.

Aloha Mixed Plate (Lahaina) : Loco moco beef patty had a dark charring but kept moist. Gravy and fried rice weren’t very exciting. The Hawaiian bread French toast was pretty good. Coconut syrup tastes closer to real coconut than fake maple syrup tastes like real maple. Side of pineapple wasn’t ripe.

Choice health bar (Lahaina) : homemade granola was great in a smoothie we upped to a bowl. I liked the execution, but the fruit selection wasn’t too exotic and the strawberries were too white.

Star noodle (Lahaina) : we managed to get bar seating without a reservation and this our favorite meal of the trip, possibly best meal of 2016.

Fiddlehead fern salad, with a dash of added soy sauce, was a lovey interplay of crunchy ferns with briny dried shrimp and wisps of salted cuttlefish.

A ginger purée made the scallops shots, and accompanying broth, even more aromatic.

Lahaina fried soup was akin to a pork chow fun, only the rice noodles were formed into 1/2 cm tall batons. Despite their thickness, they were as tender as chow fun noodles, and they didn’t stick to my teeth like Shanghai rice cakes. The lack of wok char on the noodles was made up for by the pork, which had an intoxicating lardy flavor. Wow.

They kindly split our Hapa Ramen into two separate bowls. My ramen experience is limited to the Bay Area, and I’d put Star Noodles’s hapa ramen above anything I’ve had at previous favorites (Orenchi, Ramen Shop, Maru Ichi, and San Mateo spots). Haunting pork broth and the different spheres of flavor stayed distinct until I got to the bottom of the bowl. The black garlic oil tasted buttery, the roast pork had tasty solid and shredded sections, the choy sum stayed crisp, the bamboo was soaked in mirin and provided an occasional sweet component, and the noodles had a tug that never devolved into rubber bands or mush. Epic.

Malasadas, Portuguese doughnuts duster in cinnamon and coarse sugar, came with two dipping sauces: butterscotch and chocolate. Wonderful stuff.

Thai Food by Pranee (Hana stop) Papaya salad, ordered “spicy”, had minimal seasoning so we amplified it with the Chili Water condiment, which worked well. Pumpkin curry is a throwaway dish in the Bay Area, but Pranee did a great job— the pumpkin was tender and its flavor melded with the curry.


We didn’t make it to a farmers market, like the daily one next to Leoda’s, but had some fresh fruit while hiking. There are tons of farm stands at the end of people’s driveways on the roads to and from Hana. Foodland Farms, not the regular Foodland, had lots of cool looking local and prepped foods (poke!), and Island Grocery Depot had lots of local products, at decent prices, for snacks to take for the road or back to the mainland.

Leoda’s (Lahaina) : good purple sweet potato pie, but only after I tossed some salt on the sweet filling to bring out the flavor. Haupia chocolate pie was also quite good. Desserts were the highlights, but also good were the club sandwich and the Brussels sprouts, which with dipping sauce reminded me of duck sauce. Taro veggie burger was meh.

Local boy shave ice (Lahaina): Very refreshing. Ice had a fine grind, syrups didn’t taste artificial, and the vanilla ice cream underneath had vanilla bean flecks.

Coconut Glen’s ice cream (Hana) : Lilikoi flavor was great, but I preferred the salted caramel because the salt helped raise the melting point and provide a smoother texture

Aloha mixed plate (Lahaina) Fresh catch sandwich, mahi mahi, was simple and good. Kalua pork plate was disappointing— pork was dry, macaroni salad overused mustard, and the rice was dry. Massive amount of Sriracha to the rescue.

Paia fish market (Lahaina) I liked the fried mahi mahi and the grilled mahi mahi. Fast casual restaurant.


Just got back a couple of hours ago from a week in Maui…did you experience the torrential down pour on Tuesday? Epic!!

Star Noodle for lunch is one of my faves…Ahi Avo kills it…malasadas is da bomb…had lunch at bar on Wed.

Tamuras fine foods for poke and great wine, beer and spirits.

Leodas and Paia fish market are always a must…had the Ahi blackened rare lunch plate…delicious with my namesake, bikini blonde pale ale!

Surfing goat dairy in Kula has great gelato and goat cheese and feta.

Merrimans in Napili/Kapalua for happy hour is a must.
Love breakfast at Gazebo and plantation house.

Kauai…my faves

Hamura Saimin with lilikoi pie
Dukes for everyday happy hour
Jossslins Tapas
Keokis Paradise happy hour
Red Salt…breakfast/Lunch or dinner
Tiki Iniki for drinks and apps…Todd Rundgrens place
Tiki tacos

I’ll be there in a couple of months and hope you’ll have new places to report back on!!



Oh! We were walking during quite a downpour on Monday night. Glad we got out of town on Tuesday morning!

Mahalo! I was planning on Kilauea fish market or pono market for our last lunch, but I’ll mention Tiki Tacos to the group.

Judging from old posts of yours, you’re familiar with all the place we hit, but hopefully I’ll be able to give you some useful updates! My one regret has been not buying enough pie from the Right Slice. So good.

Thanks, I’ll be staying in Lahaina in a couple of months so this comes in handy.

And back from Kauai!


Supermarkets, restaurants, smoothie places, and natural food stores tended only to have common produce, so we relied on farmers markets for the interesting stuff. See Real Kauai’s website for a table of hours and locations. Things sell out quick, so it’s best to get there when they open, or before if you’re permitted.

Kapaa Farmer’s Market shopping here was a culinary highlight of the trip. The market is from 3-5, but we got there at 2:45 and got tons of peak ripeness fruit including ice cream bananas, Apple bananas, calamansi lines, and star fruit. My two favorite finds were sapodilla, which has a kiwi-like rind and a flesh that tastes like dates and caramel, and dragonfruit, which wasn’t the tasteless jicama-like version I’ve had elsewhere, but a fruit with a soft flesh and lychee-like flavor.

Lihue Farmers Market smaller than Kapaa, but still had tons of great stuff an hour after it opened. We picked up some wing beans and eggplant to grill, lilikoi, dragonfruit, basil, butter avocados, lemongrass, arugula, and various fruits.

Koloa Fish Market best to get there early— we snagged the last of their ahi to grill and dregs of poke at 4:30pm.

Living Foods market and Café (Koloa) expensive, but a good option for cold salads and sandwiches to bring on the plane for the ride home. I was fond of their farro and caper salad, eggplant salad, and molokai potato salad. Their specialty sandwiches aren’t available until 11:30 AM.

Costco (Lihue) had packaged poke, ahi filets, and a mix of local and non-local fish. A whole butterfish (black cod) grilled up nicely. Some kind of oyster-liked mushroom piqued my interest. The standard Costco rustic breads were better looking than those we saw at other markets, and they had good prices on greens.

Koloa Culinary Market (Wednesday, Koloa) : I picked up some local jam and drooled at the Right Slice’s pies. The produce selection was minimal and geared toward tourists— unripe fruits, nothing too exotic.

Long’s drugs has plenty of Mauna Loa and other cheap items to bring back as gifts to the mainland.


The Right Slice (multiple locations) everyone loved their butter-crusted pies. I liked their blueberry pina colada the best, and also enjoyed the lilikoi cheesecake, which used passion fruit to cut the richness of the cheesecake; mango lilikoi, chocolate, coconut chocolate, and a lemon pie.

Mark’s place (Lihue) mmm… butter mochi.

Kauia Kookie has a store with a sample bin to try their products, many of which bordered on sawdust.


I intended to eat lots of acai bowls and smoothies, but we did well enough with shopping that breakfasts were at the condo. Exotic farmers market fruits were the nectar of the gods when I first tasted them, they lost their novelty after a few days. Pineapple had lasting power— an enormous $3 pineapple from Costco had some coconut-like flavors to it and was the best I’ve ever eaten.

My favorite breakfast concoction was Avocado toast made from mashed butter avocados (pine nutty flavor), calamansi juice, and sprinkled with coarse salt.


Henelei Taro Wagon and Juice Company Kalua pork was juicy and a bit smokey. Steamed rice was perfect, best consistency of any lunch place, and great macaroni salad. Lomi Lomi salmon was very salty, so good with rice, and was like lox mixed with pica de gallo. Lau lau and veggie burger were also good.

Ishihara fish market (Waimea) during the week, teriyaki butterfish collar was my favorite item. Spicy lobster (langostine, actually) poke and wasabi poke were good, but seasoning hid the flavor of the seafood. I enjoyed my bites of others’ mixed plates including chicken teriyaki and a chicken katsu loco moco. We returned on a Sunday, but the hot offerings were limited and we ate elsewhere.

Pono market (Kapaa) had excellent Kalua pork, the shreds more fine than at the Taro Wagon. Shoyu poke was my favorite in Hawaii, and let the ahi shine. Salmon presence was less in the Lomi Lomi salad than at the Taro Wagon, but that might be some people’s presence. Mixed plates that contained vegetables (e.g. broccoli) were overcooked. Spam musubi has spam sandwiched between rice instead of on top. I’ve had it with spam on top, like nigiri, before— is the sandwich style done to preserve freshness? Chicken musubi had passed its prime. Passion, orange, guava chi chi mooch was tasty.

Island taco (Waimea for tacos and Poipu for a burrito) Mahi mahi taco was the best dish— elastic and flavorful tortilla, nice slaw, not too much rice, and lots of fish. I liked that they out the sauce on the side. The wasabi ahi burrito was dominated by the wasabi sauce. The tortilla, though delicious and fresh, had too many bulky bits. The teriyaki chicken taco was also a sauce monster. Favorite bite here was the (flour) tortilla chips dipped in a mixture of teriyaki sauce that had dropped in some tartar sauce.

Dinner is really expensive on Kauai, especially if you want local fish as an entree. On two nights, we followed advice on threads encouraging people to cook/grill at their rentals and to visit Costco, fish markets, and farmers markets.

Keoki’s Paradise @Aloha recommended them for happy hour, and I would be comfortable recommending them for dinner too. Four types of local seafood to choose from. Scallop appetizer was paired well with a thick piece of Durok bacon, which allowed me to adjust the ratio of flavors to my desire. They had a delicious vegetable side-- a stubby type of carrots we had spotted at a farmers market, roasted, and a generous portion of roasted local mushrooms similar to oyster mushrooms. I found the ricotta gnocchi too dense, but palatable only becaise they were small. Good drinks.

Beach House had a great view of the sunset. A Thai corn chowder was a great use of lemongrass, and a Thai influenced lobster stew was also tasty. Their kale salad was the best of the four I had on Kauai. There’s a good snorkeling spot there too.

Merriman’s burger and pizza (different than Merriman’s Seafood) was a good pick for a casual dinner. I dug the burgers and loved the very crispy fries. Hawaiian pizza (Kalua pork, pineapple, and pesto) was a mistake— the Hawaiiian elements got lost in the pesto. Lilikoi lemonade was the bomb.

Eating House 1849 was mixed. I liked the potstickers and the black cod (though, the sauce itself was too gloopy). They list no vegetarian entrees or sides, and the server did a poor job handling a vegetarian request. It’s a modern space (big tables, open kitchen, loud).

Plantation gardens left people dissatisfied with their meals. The menu wasn’t too interesting, so I got a burger, which was good.

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Mahalo for the excellent report!!!
Will be in Princeville for a week in May and usually stay in sunny Poipu but excited to stay near St. Regis.

Your list WILL be printed out as my food map…

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I might as well add my Maui report here

I think my favorite meal of the trip was my first one, at Tin Roof in Kahului. A very convenient stop after getting in at the airport, I arrived around 11 am, beating any lunch rush, and enjoying my special of the day, a Mahi Mahi with yuzu gelee, and a side of mo’ banchan (some great pickled veggies). Perfectly executed and very reasonably priced. I also enjoyed a flat white at Maui Coffee, in the same parking lot, were a lot of locals were gathered.

A group of us also stopped by Star Noodle in Lahaina and found it to be well executed and tasty. We liked the “to share” portion of the menu a bit better than the noodle section, though. Their kimchi was some of my favorite–perfectly effervescent.

We had a celebratory dinner at Merrimans, where all the dishes were very well executed, though quite expensive. I’m not generally a huge fan of high-priced places, but food-wise, this did not disappoint. Contrary to my usually restaurant tastes, the entrees were all big winners here. We really enjoyed the seared scallops, ahi sashimi, kampachi with truffled potato ravioli, thyme, lemon, and sichuan peppercorn, and the macadamia nut crusted mahi mahi. The mashed potatoes from one of the kid’s meals were also impressive.

One of my other favorite finds were the Kauai Shrimp, (ordered at Merrimans), but also available frozen at Kahului Costco for $17.99, I think 2 lbs. Head on, 13-15 per pound, and cooked up quite well.

Another nice surprise was the BBQ meat truck located just before the Garden of Eden on the road to Hana (sorry, no idea of the name).

The BBQ meats were tasty, and I appreciated the presentation in large pant stems, with smaller, spiky stems for utensils, so there isn’t any plastic waste. The rice and picked onions were also nice, but my favorite were the fresh picked raw Hana ferns, which added a wonderful fresh flavor, and didn’t have any of the bitterness associated with fiddlehead fern shoots. They made me appreciate the fern salad at Star Noodle slightly less, as the ferns were, IMO, best in the raw state.

The owners of the house we were renting recommended Okazuya & Deli, Honokowai and it was good for a lunch plate place. My brother fell in love with their (slightly sweet) kung pao dishes, but fish of the day, and fried fish dishes were also well executed. Mac salad was peppery. We enjoyed it more than the more popular Fish Market in the same mini-mall. Even more, we enjoyed the nearby Ono Kau Kau, which offered lunch plates and American Chinese plates by a Chinese staff. Spam musubi was huge, and freshy made with warm rice and warmed Spam. My combo plate (including mac salad) of General Tso’s and short rib was really tasty.

Miso Phat sushi nearby was also appreciated. I’ve never been a sushi purist, and liked their rolls, though like much of Maui they seemed a bit overpriced, but we really appreciated the Hawaiian catch sashimi, which was a bit snapper heavy, which is both tastier and more fun if you call it opakapaka. I had a better meal later at Sushi Murayama in Honolulu.

Poi By the Pound in Kahului was fine and reasonably priced. Poi and lau lau were a bit harder to find than I expected, but they delivered. And I have to put in a positive opinion, because I have seen many dismissive ones, of Dukes, Ka’anpali. The “Korean Fish Bowl” was really good–mahi mahi, rice, and vegetables cooked perfectly. It was the perfect getaway from the mid-day sun on the beach.


Excellent report!!
Love your pics and places you visited.

Headed to both this year…
Craving me Hamura saimin and lilikoi pie in Lihue and Star Noodle and Merrimans for happy hour in Maui…

Paia Fish market too…


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Hello HO community! We are heading back to Maui in February for the umpteenth time… Would love to see some updated info for 2019 especially for West Maui. We have been to all the places mentioned & enjoy most of them, hoping there’s something new & interesting… TIA!

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I have never been to Maui - doubling down on an updated list for 2019 :).

We’re only there for a few days for a wedding - are there any places you say we must go that is not in Lahaina (my friend wants to avoid the area since he considers it the tourist zone of Maui)?