Headed straight to Hamura saimin (Lihue) from the airport. Very good. The stoic server-mutes add to this steamy shack's peculiar charm. Noodles perfectly cooked and very flavorful. Broth a bit salty, even for saimin. But overall very good. A unique experience that's worth trying even if you're not inclined to asian soups.
Saimin at Oki Diner (Lihue) was very good, too. Noodles were neither as soft nor as flavorful as Hamura's, but they do add cabbage (yum!) to the tasty broth. Roast pork was crispy and went well in the soup. Try a little spicy mustard on the noodles.
Saimin at Wongs Chinese restaurant (Hanapepe) was also quite good. Noodles were softer and more flavorful than at Oki Diner, but not as much so as Hamura's. Big chunks of roast pork were satisfying. Lots of saimin choices. The Chinese buffet is overrated.
Loco moco at Kalapaki Beach Hut (Lihue) is tasty, but the gravy has the consistency of chocolate pudding. My girlfriend couldn't watch.
Burgers at Kalapaki Beach Hut (Lihue) also very tasty. Mushroom and cheese burger was well cooked and fries were crispy and not too heavily fried. Upstairs seating overlooks the Bay and adds to the experience.
Fresh catch of the day at Duke's (in Marriott) was lovely. Macadamia-crusted ahi with a soothing butter-nut sauce on the side. Perfectly cooked. Crust was light and did not overwhelm the taste of the fish. High value plate.
Kalua Pork and Cabbage at Lihue Barbecue Inn was comforting. Donburi was tasty, too. Place is a bit of a dive, but in a good way. Has character. Recommend.
Breakfast at Kalaheo Coffee Company & Cafe *tasted* good. Latte was excellent. But protocol and service need work. It took 12 minutes to place my order at the counter--and there were only 2 people ahead of me when I got in line! Server had to be reminded of everything we ordered...twice. Food took way too long to arrive. If not operating at max capacity, I'd recommend. If parking lot is full, avoid unless you don't mind relaxing for 30 mins before your eggs arrive.
Incredibly disappointed with Plantation Gardens. Grounds and atmosphere are divine, but that's where it ends. The sauteed green bean appetizer was unremarkable and difficult to portion. Kalua roast pork with cabbage & hoisin sauce was way too salty. Sauce tasted like A1 and molasses and completely overwhelmed all other tastes on the plate. Cabbage was headlined but dish contained only small strips throughout the accompanying fried rice. Fried rice was of Panda Express quality, heavy and saturated with oil. The whole ordeal just seemed like amateur hour. Dish also gave my girlfriend very bad indigestion and the subsequent toxic farts have only soured my opinion that much more. Bottom line: the only value you're receiving for your money here is the atmosphere, and, while undoubtedly beautiful, Kauai provides plenty of scenery for free.