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Lunch at a Beard winner's on Kauai!

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Lunch at a Beard winner's on Kauai!

Will Owen | May 13, 2006 11:08 PM

We just spent a 4 1/2 days with my wife's parents on the island of Kauai, where there is of course much of Chowish interest. One place we kept hearing about was a saimin restaurant called Hamura, just a few steps away from our old favorite BBQ place on Kress St. in Lihue. We decided we'd have lunch there on Monday...and then in Sunday's Lihue paper there was a story about Hamura's being chosen for one of eight local-eatery awards by the James Beard Foundation! The article went on to say that Hamura's owner, Lori Tanigawa (granddaughter of the founder), had shrugged off both the award and the offered tickets to NY for the presentation: she had no idea who the heck James Beard was, and she was too busy anyway!

So Monday* noonish found us looking for empty stools at the winding counter. A young woman beckoned us to the seat she was vacating, and three elderly Asian ladies all slid over one to make room for the two of us. As we were trying to figure out the menu, another couple seated next to us advised us to go for the Special, as it contains everything but shrimp and costs just $5.75 for a healthy-sized bowl. They were tourists, too, frequent visitors to the island, and Hamura was their first stop off the plane and now their last stop before leaving.

As the waitress took our order, we noticed that there were exactly three people in charge of preparing and serving the food - the server, a prep cook, and the owner, who was calmly assembling bowl after bowl after bowl, distributing the pork, the wontons, the fish cake, the boiled egg and all the rest by hand, then deftly sliding in the correct amount of noodles (which she herself was cooking) and pouring in the broth...and yes, it was definitely worth any award anyone would care to give it. The noodles tasted exactly like my grandma's homemade egg noodles, with the identical tantalizing bite that was both tender and a little tough, and the broth and the other goodies were equally flawless. I think perhaps we, too, will make Hamura our first and last Lihue stop from now on, too. As soon as we get pictures up I'll post a link...

* Glad she didn't go pick up her award, since the ceremony was the same day as our lunch!

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