Friday, June 20, 2014

Kauai Local Food

I wasn't planning on blogging anything about a recent trip to Kauai.
It was just for rest and relaxation.
However, I keep thinking of some of the dishes we had and the experiences so I wanted to share a bit more about it.  Just in case you've got an upcoming trip.

First place, in Lihue, was Tip Top Cafe.  A real local place, we were some of the few tourists in this busy cafe.  Very no frills, a standard issue place with steotypical booths and no nonsense waitresses. Our friends had been before and swore by it, so off we went one morning.  Loco Moco is a Hawaiian favortie that can look a little disgusting to some of us.

Fried eggs topped with gravy.
Brown gravy. Kind of thick salty au jus, if you will.
Over rice, and a hamburger patty.
I wasn't convinced, until I had a bite of that big mess.
You'd think a couple of sliced green onions would improve the look of that dish, huh?

(In full disclosure, this Moco Loco photo was taken at Kountry Kitchen, not Tip Top Cafe)

 Well, I will try that at home when I make it.  Yes, I will try this at home. I will be sure to categorize it as "Ugly Food" on my blog, n'est-ce pas? 

Oh yes, yes please, keep that fork on autopilot, you simply cannot stop eating.
My friend and I share the loco moco and a macadamia pancake.
Seemed like the thing to do.

Tip Top's version has an option to have their famous fried rice instead of steamed rice on the Loco Moco, which we recommend.  However, their fried rice is SO good, and a tremendous bargain at $4.00 a plate, I may have to consider that next time I go back.

Our buddy had the oxtail soup with some clear noodles.. kind of a pho kind of dish, but served with chopped parsley and grated ginger.  Exceedingly delish.  I may have to think of that one too. Service was efficient and quick, everything we needed was on the waitresses cart that she wheeled around with her.  More napkins, chopsticks, extra plate, ice water, another glasses, carafe of coffee and condiments... right there, no waiting.  I liked it... not pretty, but no waiting was nice.

A couple of days later we were still dreaming of Loco Moco, so we Yelp'd breakfast places between Princeville, where we were staying, and Lihue (the airport).  It came up with Kountry Kafe.  Now normally, I avoid anything that substitute's "K" for a "C" in spelling.  Country with a "K" is not my style.  But we couldn't get past the great reviews and it was SO convienent on the main road back to Lihue.  We stopped, it was easy to spot the place as the people were spilling out onto the sidewalk waiting for a table. 

It looked kitschy inside, lots of rattans, bamboo wall coverings and rooster pictures.  The gals working were so nice and accommodating, and assured up the wait wouldn't be too long.  There were SO MANY choices on the menu it was a little hard to decide.  
I know... Loco Moco!

Hahaha, I really shouldn't have...
But their versions at Kountry Kafe included Kahlua Pig instead of a hamburger patty. 
Sold.  Yum.

Kahlua Pig is just a whole cooked pig in a underground BBQ pit that is frankly luscious with tender, flavorful, shredded bits of pork.  

We only ate half, but got "to go" boxes for the flight home. 
I know... that's goofy, but my hubby and I grinned to have our second half of this dish mid way across the Pacific Ocean when every one else was eating Alaska Airlines fruit & cheese platters, which are good, but not Loco Moco good!


Also, we did a fair amount of Mai Tai tasting while on Kauai.  
I mean, why not?  Everyone likes a tropical drink in paradise, right?
We also yelp'd that and found Tahiti Nui in Hanalei is considered the best on the island.  We all agreed it was wonderful... we all had two to make sure our research was thorough.  The place is rustic inside, and the service... well, a bit standoffish/hostile was the personality of the day for our bartender. Seems like a challenging way to make a living if you don't like tourists. I could rock being a bartender in Kauai, just saying.
If you like Mai Tai's, you should stop and have one.  The Descendents movie had a scene filmed here, which is kind of fun too. I did LOVE the bar pattern of orange Hawaiian print silk screened on the wood though...

Just across the street from the Tahiti Nui is a "mall" in Hanalei that includes a restaurant called "Hanalei Gourmet"  and a bunch of nice shops. A couple of days later, all relaxed and sandy from the beach, we popped in for a little lunch and of course, another Mai Tai or two.  The burgers were terrific, but we all loved the Mahi Mahi fish n' chips, best of all.  It's nice to travel with friends that share whatever is on their plate. 

Here's a couple of happy Mai Tai drinkers.
We are officially on day five of not wearing any makeup...
Now that is a sure sign of relaxation.


Here's some more recipes that might inspire a Hawaiian frame of mind at home:
Mai Tai's for a crowd
Maui Cookies 
Maui Tomato Ginger Soup- Mama's Fish House recipe
Kauai Pie
Kauai Banana Bread

Coming soon to my blog near you...
Loco Moco
Mango Bread
Mai Tai Deluxe (inspired from my taste tasting in Kauai)

Don't drink too many Mai Tai's or it might inspire you to do something crazy, like think the Princeville Fountain should be a photo opportunity.

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