Kauai has a lot for visitors to look forward to: idyllic beaches, plenty of outdoor adventures, but I always look forward to where to eat in Kauai, whether it is a small take-out counter with delicious plate lunches or fresh poke from a nearby market.
So what is exactly Hawaiian food? Glad you asked. Let me introduce you to some of my favorites that I consumed on this trip.
These marinated cubes of raw fish in soy sauce and sesame oil are what I daydream about weeks before arriving in Kauai. After picking up our baggage, we made a beeline for the nearby Costco, where we stocked up on shoyu (soy sauce) poke, garlic shrimp and other Hawaiian delicacies. The poke from Costco was delicious and reasonably priced and you were not forced to buy it in bulk (unlike the kalua pork that made an appearance at our breakfast table every morning). But I digress. Highly recommended if you have a membership and a kitchen to stash it in.
I only had it once on this trip, but it was definitely one of my more memorable meals. The combination of tempura shrimp, white rice and macaroni salad from the Sueoka Store’s small take-out counter in town was delicious in its simplicity. Plus my baby sister surprised me with this gift, making it one of the most delicious gifts I have ever consumed.
Ahi Tuna Wrap
There was a place on the East Shore called Mermaid’s that was highly recommended for ahi tuna wraps in my guidebook and online, but turned out they had run out of the ahi earlier that morning.
Later on in the day, we were wandering around Hanalei in the North Shore and we came upon Harvest Market, an unassuming health food market that had the same wrap for half the price. It was fresh and delicious and I could eat a hundred more.
If I were forced to eat one food for the rest of my life, I would happily eat shrimp, all day, every day. This take-out counter at Shrimp Station was heaven for me. All they serve is shrimp in its many glorious forms. We had the coconut shrimp, which was greasy and divine.
We bought the following Hawaiian dishes in bulk at Costco. Why we needed a huge tub of kalua pig is beyond me. My parents are big fans of these dishes, but I can only stand them in small doses. Still I highly recommend that you try them at least once, because these dishes are uniquely Hawaiian.
Made out of mashed taro root and served in the consistency of a thick pudding, but without any distinct flavor this dish is definitely an acquired taste. Taro chips on the other hand are my kryptonite.
I prefer chicken over pork for my white meat of choice, but this pork has a smoky flavor that is delicious and goes well with the poi to balance out the saltiness. Word of caution: do not buy it in bulk from Costco, you will get sick of eating it every day, but will still feel obliged to eat it, even at breakfast. We made this mistake and our whole kitchen smelled like kalua pig and it’s not something you want to wake up to every morning, trust me.