We had a great week vacation on Kauai.. did food research on chowhound and surprisingly not a ton so thought I'd return the favor. Very casual throughout the island, def more so than Maui in general. Prices were probably higher likely because it's a smaller, more remote island.
We stayed on the south side in Poipu.
- Hamura Saimen (lihue): Really disappointed. Broth had no flavor, noodles over cooked and wontons flavorless. Most things about this shop are raving, so I didn't really get it. Would never go back. It has some charm because it's been around awhile and seems to be a local fav.
- Mark's Place (lihue): Super tasty hawaiian mixed plate!! We came here twice. My favs were the stew, the korean chicken and the loco moco! My fav loco moco i've ever tasted because the hamburger meat actually had flavor and the gravy wasn't too salty!
- Puka Dog (Poipu): honestly, i didn't have high expectations for a hot dog but these were AWESOME! first of all the dog's are all charred to order, love the charred outer casing. Next, all of the sauces elevated this otherwise regular hot dog. came here twice, WINNER.
- Uncle's shaved ice (poipu): just okay, a sole option on the south side. known also for shaved snow which was just okay. saving grace was delicious mac-nut ice cream.
- Savage shrimp (poipu): right next door to uncles. used to be a shrimp truck now turned shop. doesn't fit the nearby shops b/c it's appears family owned, making great shrimp at affordable prices. tried a thai style shrimp dish -- known for the garlic shrimp i believe.
- koloa fish market: we tried 3 fish markets on this trip and this lands right in the middle behind Hanalei dolphin on the north side. prices are high, but a good Poke selection and overall a good picnic on the beach food. the flavors and quality of fish wasn't up to par with hanalei but does a good enough job. really enjoyed the sesame crusted ahi.
- Yanagi sushi (koloa): this is a relatively new food truck, parked outside the botanical gardens in koloa. Two guys who used to work for "the man" decided to open their own truck with a better view. the fish was fresh but most of the rolls tasted pretty much the same. loved the sashimi plate the most. pricey rolls overall. just a so-so from me.
- Kauai Pupu factory: opted to try this instead of the Ishihara market.. maybe have regretted this decision! In comparison to the other two markets I visited, it's more of the low-key operation esp because the location is more remote. quality of fish is consistent with Koloa fish market. Their tako salad was by far the best of the three we tried. the rest of the poke preparations were good, not outstanding.
- Kauai Ono: A special kauai dining experience.. 5 courses under the stars, cooked off of a food truck for $50. Located on the north side.. overall the experience was fun and different than anything else on the island. The food is locally sourced and emphasized local ingredient. All the food was well cooked and seasoned but I think we all expected more. I would still recommend it as a fun Kauai food experience if you're in to things like that. They offer dinner twice weekly, check website for reservations.
- Hanalei Dolphin fish market (hanalei): best of the 3 fish markets we tried.. best in flavor and quality of the fish. The most expensive if I remember correctly. Fav was the nori/poke salad and the ono fish salad. Came here twice in 1 day!
- Masa's sushi restaurant (lihue): we wanted to have a sit down sushi dinner one evening and found this sleepy sushi spot. behind the bar is one guy -- the owner Masa. He prepares all of the sushi therefore there can be a wait if there's more than 1 customer in the restaurant. Overall quality was just medium and quality of the preparation leaves a lot to be desired. Not sure if we'd come back, but I was happy to support these small business owners on our way through.
- Island taco (waimea): such an awesome spot right before or after hiking Waimea. the fish tacos were just awesome. ahi better than mahi-mahi. tortilla's are made in house. A MUST TRY
Overall a great food experience in Kauai. Everything's much more casual than I remember Maui, but lots of fresh Poke to be had.