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Restaurant notes from old and new favourites on Maui, Kauai and Oahu

melissy123

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Maybe off topic slightly, but I'd love to get recommendations on where to shop for local food products that is not Costco or Safeway...I'm thinking fresh fish and fresh fruit.
 

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Maybe off topic slightly, but I'd love to get recommendations on where to shop for local food products that is not Costco or Safeway...I'm thinking fresh fish and fresh fruit.
Tamashiro Market has always been the go-to place on Oahu for fresh seafood. Not sure about other islands. For fresh fruit, I think any of the grocery stores are fine, but Chinatown is also a fun and good alternative for buying fruit and produce. When in Hawaii, we focus on local papaya and if in season, mangoes.
 

linsj

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Maybe off topic slightly, but I'd love to get recommendations on where to shop for local food products that is not Costco or Safeway...I'm thinking fresh fish and fresh fruit.
Look for farmers markets for produce. I used to keep a list for each island, but they change too much so now I just Google for locations before I go.
 

Luanne

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Maybe off topic slightly, but I'd love to get recommendations on where to shop for local food products that is not Costco or Safeway...I'm thinking fresh fish and fresh fruit.
On Maui we do shop at Safeway (Kihei) for most things. We love the Farmer's Market Maui at the north end of Kihei for fresh produce, lilikoi cream cheese, guacamole, salsa and chips.
 

Henry M.

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I can only believe that people find this mad rush and wait is worth the effort. I have considered going but it just never seems worth it. Probably should just go and eat there once during regular hours and give it a try.I can only believe that people find this mad rush and wait is worth the effort. I have considered going but it just never seems worth it. Probably should just go and eat there once during regular hours and give it a try.
Savings can be pretty significant at 50% off. Many locals go to take advantage of this. It is a lot easier to just go on your own time, though.
 

zentraveler

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Maybe off topic slightly, but I'd love to get recommendations on where to shop for local food products that is not Costco or Safeway...I'm thinking fresh fish and fresh fruit.
In the Kaanapali area my go-to's are the Honokawai Farmers Market,which is really a health food store but a great one. They have a really good deli department, great made on the spot food, but also prepared to take out, local produce and some groceries and some things like vitamins. Some local farmers market are there some days.Shop there all the time. Just up from the The Fish Market Maui, which has a huge lunch business and lots of fresh food. We shop mostly in those two places, but if we need a supermarket I go the Times Supermarket which is a good supermarket and started in Hawaii in 1949. All of these are in the same streth of Lower Honoapiilani Rd
.
I like spending my money in Hawaii businesses and buying locally is completely possible and so much more interesting that seeing what I look at at home. On the other islands I look for the same kind of local businesses. Foodlands and local fish markets (which are everywhere) etc.
 

marmite

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On Maui we do shop at Safeway (Kihei) for most things. We love the Farmer's Market Maui at the north end of Kihei for fresh produce, lilikoi cream cheese, guacamole, salsa and chips.
Lilikoi cream cheese exists? Sounds amazing. Next time I'll seek that out.
 

GoPokes!

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Lilikoi cream cheese exists? Sounds amazing. Next time I'll seek that out.
We went to Honolowai Farmers Market a couple of weeks ago and had the Lilikoi cream cheesecake; it was just ok. The fresh fruit smoothies however were really good.
 

melissy123

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Going to Kauai in June and hoping it’s mango season. I do t recall seeing local mangos in the grocery stores
 

Luanne

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We went to Honolowai Farmers Market a couple of weeks ago and had the Lilikoi cream cheesecake; it was just ok. The fresh fruit smoothies however were really good.
I am not a huge likikoi fan (I mean I like it) but our older daughter is. When she is with us on Maui she always buys several containers of the lilikoi cream cheese, freezes them and take them home. That's in addition to the cream cheese she eats while she's there. She also likes to visit the Surfing Goat Dairy and bring back cheeses. One of the favorites there is the Lilikoi Quark.
 

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We tried Leoda's for the first time last month. All four of us were unimpressed by the pies (particularly the crust), and will not likely feel the need to revisit in the future. However, while staying in Kihei we discovered Maui Pie, which was phenomenal. The Lilikoi, banana cream, and coconut cream pies were excellent. We liked Maui Pie so much that we ended going there three times during the week we were staying in Kihei and once more during our Kaanapali stay.
 

marmite

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I am not a huge likikoi fan (I mean I like it) but our older daughter is. When she is with us on Maui she always buys several containers of the lilikoi cream cheese, freezes them and take them home. That's in addition to the cream cheese she eats while she's there. She also likes to visit the Surfing Goat Dairy and bring back cheeses. One of the favorites there is the Lilikoi Quark.
At Surfing Goat Dairy, I have had the sampler platters of cheese/crackers but what keeps me coming back are their truffles. We've tried all the flavours now, but Mission Fig, Tangerine and Lilikoi are our favourites.
 

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Marmite and subsequent posters: mahalo for your Hawaii recommendations. I’ll also add a few of my own since I’ve been on several trips to the three mentioned islands because my son moved to Honolulu (and my family has some expertise on Japanese food).

HONOLULU
KAUAI
  • Duke’s. I try to avoid chains but this one on Kalapaki Beach next to Kauai Beach Club is fabulous: great food and nice views. https://www.yelp.com/biz/dukes-kauai-lihue-3
  • Kenji Burger: Japanese place near Costco: good burgers but also variety of Japanese food such as misoyaki, katsu, etc. https://www.yelp.com/biz/kenji-burger-lihue
  • 1 Kitchen Hanalei Bay: If you want to take a drive up north on a sunny day, this place is in the old St Regis space with incredible Bali Hai like views. Restaurants are pricey but you can either get breakfast or lunch or just walk around. https://www.yelp.com/biz/1-kitchen-hanalei-bay-princeville
  • Jammin Banana Bakery: Excellent banana bread and pudding and good coffee with indoor seating in anchor cove mall facing Kalapaki bay. Easy walk or parking lot. https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-jammin-banana-bakery-and-cafe-lihue
  • Plantation House by Gaylords: Excellent food in a plantation setting. One of best meals of trip. Also tours and rum factory. https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-plantation-house-by-gaylords-lihue
  • Beach House: still incredible oceanfront dining and cuisine is still decent with Merriman takeover. But pricey. https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-beach-house-koloa
  • Aloha Liege Waffles: interesting food truck options in parking lot across from anchor cove. Walkable from KBC. A little sweet for my taste but worth a try. https://www.yelp.com/biz/aloha-liege-waffles-and-espresso-lihue-2
  • Hiking: there is some great hiking along the ocean towards the northeast behind the fitness center of Kauai Lagoons. The paths seem to be owned and maintained by the Timberwood resort. You can also walk through the Timberwood resort, along the cute houses overlooking Kalapaki Bay and take the elevator down to the beach in front of KBC/Sonesta Hotel. The people at the Timberwood reception desk were very friendly and even gave me a map of the resort and pointed out how to walk through
MAUI (our last trip was Thanksgiving after the Lahaina Fire, so service was understandably handicapped at almost all restaurants)
 

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This trip was quite a whirlwind, hopping between 3 Islands in 2 weeks. We stayed at Westin Nanea, Marriott Lagoons and HGVC Grand Islander and didn’t want to haul a bunch of food with us between the islands so ate out most nights.

We had our adult daughter with us for Maui & Kauai, so with the three of us ordering we got to try a lot of everything off each others plates. Groceries were really just the Three P’s… Poke, Pineapple and POG. For Oahu, it was just my husband and I and he wasn’t working that week, so we had some breakfasts out too including one with @frank808

MAUI

This was our 2nd trip since the Lahaina fire, and we are still missing some of our favourite restaurants.

Good news for us this trip, was that Kihei Caffe in Lahaina had reopened and is still is an excellent spot for breakfast. https://kiheicaffe.com/ They had a cinnamon bun French Toast on the specials menu that was outstanding.

Leoda’s Pies in Oluwalu has also reopened, and they are still cranking out sublime pies. We picked up our favourites (The lime pie and choco mac-nut pie). https://www.leodas.com/

Lunches out were on our travel days in and out of Maui, so ate at places near the airport. Highly recommend Tiffany’s in Wailuku (a Sheldon Simeon restaurant) for Island and Asian influenced food. https://tiffanysmaui.com/menu We most enjoyed the mandoo (Korean dumplings), kimchee fried-rice, pork belly and kalbi ribs. We actually came back because of those kalbi ribs, and I think my husband dreams about them. Huge parking lot across the street makes it an easy stop to/from the airport (even if you get a massive truck as your rental).

A newer casual restaurant is Tail’s Up Maui in Wailuku. https://www.tailsupmaui.com/menus/ Believe it or not they are only open Friday-Sunday for lunch and dinner. Inexpensive but delicious mochiko chicken and fish dishes. A small menu, but a great alternative to fast food.

One of our favourite restaurants is in Wailea, so we reserved on Open Table for dinner at Humble Market Kitchin (a Roy Yamaguchi restaurant). This is at the Marriott Wailea Beach Resort, it has really nice grounds and places to take photos. The restaurant itself has some great views, the food and service has never failed us here. This is the only place I will pay $30 for sushi and not cry. Although I have enjoyed everything I’ve had here, thier lamb chops were really outstanding. This trip we tried their Madame Pele roll, sticky-ribs appetizer, the beef short-rib, and crispy-skin Kampachi and had no room left for dessert. https://www.royyamaguchi.com/humble-market-kitchen-maui

These always get a lot of mentions, but we did return to Duke’s and also tried Hula Grill for dinner. I was kind of expecting Hula Grill to be a clone of Duke’s, but now that I’ve been to both Duke’s is my preference. It is such a nice stroll from any of the Westin properties on Ka’anapali to Duke’s I don’t see the need to make the trip to Whaler’s for HG.

I honestly think Hula Grill is just too crazy-busy for my taste and the tables were crowded a little too close. It was distracting having so many people get up to take photos (near our waterfront table) and having people stop to shop for t shirts at a rack. I literally watched a woman pull herself up from her scooter to browse through the clothing during dinner. Starters and drinks were okay at best, but two of us had the filet mignon agreed it was surprisingly good. Despite the good entree, I will probably won’t return.

Based on a review I read, I stopped in at the Napoleon Bakery counter in Zippy’s for Malasadas. They make them to order. This is another place that is convenient to/from the airport. It doesn’t have the charm that the Malasada food truck in Lahaina had, so I think I am still in search of a new favourite place for Malasada’s. If you know of any near Kaanapali, please let me know.

KAUAI

I’ll get the worst out of the way and then get to the good stuff.

Our (formerly) favourite restaurant utterly disappointed us this trip, so we will not be returning to Eating House 1849. This is another Roy Yamaguchi restaurant. I actually had made reservations for every single night here, and ended up cancelling the rest and finding other places to eat. We had our appetizers, then we waited 50 minutes and had to flag down our waitress to ask her to check on the status of our entrees. She asked me if we got our starters already. Yes I did, but I think she should have known that, no? She came back and said things were just being plated (which they weren’t), because we waited another 10 or so to get our meals. The manager came and spoke to us and said he didn’t know why our orders didn’t come out. We were very polite, and he apologized, but honestly my set menu was $115 alone and I don’t think a 50 minute gap between starter and entrees for our whole table is okay. It ruined the flow of our evening, we were all exhausted by the time the entrees came out, so I asked for my dessert to go (which was rather terrible the next day after being in the fridge). Nothing was comped and I have no idea what was happening in the kitchen or why our waitress was not on top of what was coming out of the kitchen. It was not busy, not a weekend and they are not a new restaurant. Nuff said.

Out by the Marriott Lagoons and Kauai Beach Club is the Timbers resort, home to the Hualani Restaurant. This is officially the new favourite of our family. https://www.timberskauai.com/eat-drink/hualanis/ You can make a reservation on Open Table, they have lunch, happy-hour and Dinner with a beautiful water view. Some things are outrageously luxurious, like their Wagyu appetizer for $180, but most things are priced like any other nice restaurant on the island ($42-$68 for entrees). Thier poke was one of the best I’ve had, we also tried beets & blue salad, morel mushroom risotto, spring chicken pot-pie, dry aged ribeye, liliko’i cheesecake, Tutu’s bread pudding and a free birthday dessert for my husband (a delicious lava cake). We all loved our meals and were not disappointed in any of our choices. Cocktails were great too as was the wine menu. Service was excellent, and we even had the same server as the previous year.

Our last wonderful dinner on Kauai was at a newer restaurant, Naisla Kitchen & Cocktails in Kapa’a. You can also book this one on Open Table, there is parking around the back. This is nothing to look at from the curb, and I felt like most of the people coming are locals as it is a little off the beaten-tourist-track. The menu was really nice, and different from what I had the previous week. https://naisla.com/menu/. I can’t remember what type of steak my husband ordered (other than it had a peppercorn sauce), but I know we all tried an appetizer special with crispy rice topped with chopped tuna and a delicous sauce. I also had a wonderful soy braised short-ribs with a perfectly done risotto. My daughter had the miso carbonara, which she raved about and didn’t let me try (must have been that good)! Prices are a little cheaper (marginally) than the other restaurants we went to, and we would return another time.

Lastly, for a lunch I took my daughter to Keoki’s Paradise, as I really wanted her to see this beautiful setting. We had a Kalua pork sandwich, the Kama‘āina Bowl (poke and Kalua Pork) and a complimentary hula pie (courtesy of the Marriott dining card from the Lagoons). I felt the poke and salad I had could have been a bit fresher, but the atmosphere and service was very good so it’s a minor quibble. https://www.keokisparadise.com/menus/

One other food note, or should I say drink… if you haven’t been to Koloa Rum Factory, you should go and sign up for their free tasting held on the hour. If you go to their website, there is a charge for a reservation, however if you go in-person there is no charge to put your name on the list for the next tasting. Each day of the week they try a selection of different rums and they have a host that makes it fun. I was there on Thursday, so we got Rum Punch Cocktail, White Rum, Dark Rum, Coconut Rum and Coffee Rum. Even if you don’t fill your suitcase with bottles of rum, something might tempt you in their gift shop. Attractive merchandise and good gift ideas in their shop, I always bring home rum-cake for my in-laws from there. https://koloarum.com/tasting-room/

OAHU

Honestly, I haven’t been to Oahu in quite awhile and did not prepare myself with advance reservations for anywhere particular. There is just so much choice here and the places I had researched did not have reservations available.

That said, first night (and subsequent happy-hour) was our dependable choice, Tommy Bahama restaurant. Not too far a walk from the Hilton Grand Islander. The main dining room is on the 2nd level above the store, and the 3rd level is a great rooftop area that we chose this time. All the food was solid, but the thing that really keeps me coming back is their Piña Colada Cake. If you haven’t had it before, order it and thank me later. :) https://www.tommybahama.com/restaurants-and-marlin-bars/locations/waikiki

Highlight for us this trip was dinner at StripSteak (a Michael Mina restaurant). I had been to their location in Las Vegas, but this was even more memorable. The menu in the restaurant is a bit more extensive than what was online. https://www.michaelmina.net/restaurants/stripsteak/waikiki/ We had a trio of sashimi served on a huge bowl of ice with beautiful edible flowers. It was really gorgeous, so they put some effort in despite not having to cook this dish. Both my husband and I ordered Filet Mignon and the sides are all a la carte. The choices were interesting though, and we chose a broccolini with gomae dressing and also the whipped potatoes with butter and chives (okay that was our more boring choice but it was delicious). Dessert was a Basque cheesecake and their coffee is served in a French press. Great sommelier and wine list. This place was a treat. They are currently participating in InKind, so there is an opportunity to save a little on your bill. We will return here. Walkable from the HGVC’s.

Our last night we went to Sushi Izakaya Gaku, on a recommendation from a family member who lives in Oahu. This is not a common tourist-haunt, it is very traditional Japanese so the tourists here are likely from Japan. If you’re a fan of teriyaki and California rolls this might not be your spot. This is the description (so you be the judge if this is your type of food): Izakaya-style eatery serving über-traditional Japanese eats including raw fish & omakase. We did not have a reservation here, so showed up right at opening and were able to sit at the sushi bar. We had a good assortment of sushi and small plates here. We also had a tuna belly special not on the menu. The chefs are from Japan, and some speak a little English. One of the sushi chefs was making a batter I asked about, and he said he was making yuzu cheesecake, and I could have some if I come back tomorrow. I think that everything here is from scratch and uses the best ingredients, though the restaurant is very humble looking. Much of the fish is market price so it was a bit hard to gauge what our bill was going to look like. The menu I found online wasn’t what I had seen in the restaurant, but this may prepare you for what type of things may be offered and the pricing: http://places.singleplatform.com/sushi-izakaya-gaku/menu?ref=google

Breakfast people (you know who you are), we got really lucky with all our choices.

Castro’s was where we met up with @frank808 and his wife. Frank loves this for the walking distance from the Grand Islander and the fantastic food. Each plate is beautiful and carefully put together. I had the Croque Senorita which was a spin on a Croque Madam with the addition of Guava Jam and fresh fruit. Would get again. Everyone enjoyed their meals and they were all Insta-worthy. Looks like Castro’s didn’t pay their website bill so no point in listing the URL.

We made a trip in the massive truck we rented, out to Sweet E’s Cafe (voted one of the best breakfasts in Oahu), I had a very good traditional eggs benedict with fried rice. Not a strange combo on this island. Delicious fried rice. Prices here are noticeably cheaper than near the tourist-zone. Friendly service, good food and small prices. https://sweetescafe.com

On our last morning, we took the truck out to the Nimitz location of Liliha’s Bakery. DH had a traditional breakfast, I tried the waffle with chicken karaage. Nice clean and modern restaurant interior, good service, ridiculously huge bakery counter. We couldn’t resist and took a box of baked goods on the plane. There are other locations but I’m not sure if they have such a large full-service restaurant. https://www.lilihabakery.com

Our only disappointment in Oahu was having Dim Sum at Legend in Chinatown. Maybe they’re better earlier in the day, but at lunch time it felt like the food wasn’t very fresh or hot enough. Will not go back.

So there you have it. We ate our way through 3 islands and don’t feel like eating anymore. I hope there was something mentioned here that might help you with your trip planning.
Great info here thanks for sharing. Out of curiosity, which timeshare resorts you stayed have the best breakfast options? We usually like to start a day with a fabulous breakfast buffet and find timeshare a bit lacking compared to full service hotels.
 

marmite

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Great info here thanks for sharing. Out of curiosity, which timeshare resorts you stayed have the best breakfast options? We usually like to start a day with a fabulous breakfast buffet and find timeshare a bit lacking compared to full service hotels.
Personally, I have never had breakfast at a restaurant at a timeshare location. For a buffet in Hawaii, I have only gone to the Grand Hyatt Kauai. I really love interesting varieties of Eggs Benedict, so usually seek out independent restaurants that are known to do that well. Usually buffets only have a basic Benny that is overdone by the time I get to it. If I recall, the Hyatt had the buffet but you could also opt to order a la carte, which is what I did.
 

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I must be the only person who thinks Sansei is overrated. We thought our meal was overpriced and mediocre when we went to the Kapalua location last year... maybe I should give it another chance.
I haven't been to Sansei yet, but your experience may be tainted because of where you're from. When my husband and I do go for sushi anywhere in Hawaii, we are usually left disappointed and promise not to go for sushi in Hawaii again. Yes, I did love the roll I had at Humble Market Kitchin, but we have great sushi at home (Vancouver, Victoria and Richmond especially) for half the price. I like specialty rolls, and even a casual place in Maui like Miso Phat it is about $25 USD, which I'd never pay in BC (unless you head to Tojo's which is on a whole different level).
 

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I must be the only person who thinks Sansei is overrated. We thought our meal was overpriced and mediocre when we went to the Kapalua location last year... maybe I should give it another chance.
Definitely not the only one. Sansei is a legend in their own minds. Another chance? No thanks. Why? What did they do to deserve it? I won't go into details, but their incompetence is surpassed by only their attitudes. Kapalua here also.
 

Tucsonadventurer

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Definitely not the only one. Sansei is a legend in their own minds. Another chance? No thanks. Why? What did they do to deserve it? I won't go into details, but their incompetence is surpassed by only their attitudes. Kapalua here also.
It truly depends on what you order. We went with our server's recommendations and the food was incredible. I ordered an order of California rolls on my own and they were mediocre at best. We went once and loved it and will try it again this summer. Since Kimo's and Fleetwoods, our favorites are gone we are searching for new go to's This is a great thread
 

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It truly depends on
what you expect. We went in a group of 6. 2 of the 6 were Japanese, not Amer-Japanese, Japanese. It was a disaster. Sansei screwed up almost everything we ordered & they brought dishes out in the wrong order. Guess what happened? in order to argue that she had not brought out the dishes in the wrong order, the PB&J waitress lectured the Japanese couple on the "right" way to eat Japanese food. Oh yes. By their appearance and their accents it ws not possible for anyone with any world-view to not know those 2 people were Japanese. Yet, the waitress lectured them on the "right" way to eat Japanese food.

PB&Js all around. The service was awful. The sushi was not bad. The rest was not good.
I would never order a California roll at a restaurant that is supposedly at least average.
 
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Yes, I did love the roll I had at Humble Market Kitchin, but we have great sushi at home (Vancouver, Victoria and Richmond especially) for half the price.
Are you referring to the Madame Pele Roll? That is actually the best roll I have ever had. Humble Market has so much potential, but when our entire table was served food that was barely warm they lost us. Perhaps next time we will go back just for the Madame Pele Rolls and the Upsidedown Pineapple Cake. Oh...the Lava Flows are top notch as well.
 
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