Friday, August 8, 2014

Good Eats: food tours, Kauai, Hawaii

local grinz self-guided foodie tour  One of the best ways to experience the Hawaiian culture is through food.  You can eat your way through through the island, sampling mom-and-pop restaurants, taking part in agricultural tours, and visiting farmers’ markets. Try local favorites such as poi, ahi poke, lau lau, and shave ice.  I took this self-guided tour that hits highlights of the south shore with a native Hawaiian. 

prepared Japanese food at Kuluiula Market in Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii
Kukuiula Market  2827 Poipu Rd., Koloa, (808) 742-1601.  This simple grocery store looks like it has been here forever.  Stock up here on condo cooking supplies, including plenty of Hawaiian favorites--fresh fish, organic produce, Hawaiian Sun canned fruit drinks, and bento boxes and prepared Japanese food such as Spam musubi (a rice roll stuffed with Hawaii’s favorite meat).

Aloha 'Aina Juice Bar at Kuluiula Market in Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii
 In the back of the store, the tiny Aloha ‘Aina Juice Bar dishes up popular breakfast acai bowls.  The “B.I.A.” includes acai, strawberry, kale, apple juice, coconut flakes, and bee pollen, and is topped with bananas, homemade granola, and honey.  Delish.  All this and Regae music, too, but only a few seats.  Smoothies, fresh juices, and gluten-free items are also available.

Taro Ko Chips Factory  3940 Hanapepe Rd., Hanapepe,  (808) 335-5588.  The proprietor says it is an all-day job to make a bag of taro or potato chips at his tiny operation inside a coverted home.  The price seems a bit steep at $4.99 per bag, but the chips are so delicious you’ll want to buy several.  My favorite is the potato chips flavored with li hing mui--a delicious plum licorice taste--but I also like the pretty deep-purple sweet potato chips with the same flavoring.  I wish I had bought a whole case and had them shipped home.

lilikoi chiffon pie at Wong's Omoide Bakery in Hanapepe, Kauai, Hawaii
Wong’s Chinese Restaurant & Omoide Bakery  13543 Kaumualii Hwy., Hanapepe, (808) 335-5066;  Tu-Sun 8am-9pm.  Come here for what many consider to be Kauai’s best lilikoi (passion fruit) chiffon pie.  I also loved a square cream-puffy item.  A cafeteria-style plate lunch is available in a small and informal bakery cafe, while dinner is served in a large open dining room.  Wong's is also known for its Hot Bitch Sauce--a housemade vinegary hot sauce with a kick—which is on each table and also bottled to go.
Wong's on Urbanspoon

Jo Jo's Anuenue Shave Ice & Treats  9899 Waimea Rd., Waimea.  Daily 11am-5:30pm.  A favorite here is the #4 featuring macadamia nut ice cream topped with guava and passion fruit shave ice.  And it would be hard to go wrong with a pinky-orange lilikoi shave ice, but I could have done without the additional pink strawberry mochi on the bottom because it tasted like bubble gum and was too brittle--I like my mochi soft and chewey.  A long line of colored bottles holding a vast variety of flavors will require you to make some important decisions.  Boba tea is also available. 

Polish dog and lemonade at Puka Dog in Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii
Puka Dog  2360 Kiahuna Plantation Dr., in Poipu Shopping Village, Koloa, (808) 742-6044.  Daily 10am-8pm.  The small menu here is spelled out atmospherically on a surf board.  I like the Polish but a veggie and several other dogs are options.  Slather the housebaked sweet-bread bun with sweet ilikoi mustard and fresh mango relish and you are in for a big tropical treat.  Wash it down with a big, icy-cold fresh-squeezed lemonade.
Puka Dog Hawaiian Style Hot Dogs on Urbanspoon

Tasting Kauai tours  (808) 635-0257.  Reservations required. These food tours are organized and led by Marta Lane, author of “Tasting Kauai.”  
Farmers Market Tours  Wednesdays at 3-4pm; at Kapaa Farmers Market;
A Taste of Kilohana  Saturdays, 2 times/month; $140. 
A Culinary Romp Through Paradise  Fridays, 1 time/month; $140.

More things to do in Kauai.

More information about Kauai.

More food tours. 

More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images and videos ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


  1. What perfect timing! We fly to Kauai on Saturday and will be there for two weeks. I've ordered the Lonely Planet's guidebook, but see I should have just paid more attention to your recent posts. These are all great and filled with tips I will put to use. . .especially the food recommendations! Thanks much for the suggestions.

    1. Be sure to sample all the mai tais so you can determine for yourself which one is the island's best!

  2. Aloha! You're right about shave ice, lilikoi, and mai tais - hopefully made with Koloa rum! I'd add loco moco, kalua pig, lau lau and mac salad to the list, too! I always scan Kauai posts a bit defensively to see whether the writer ever made it to the North Shore, where we live. Most visitors hang out in Poipu and other South Side communities, which are lovely, but quite different. Just yesterday we met a couple who said they've been vacationing Kauai for twelve years, and this was the first time they'd ever been in Hanalei. =:-O So glad you enjoyed our island!

    1. This food tour was just in the south. But I did make it to the north this time, too. Those posts are coming! Meanwhile,

  3. Looks great, I would love to take this food tour when I visit Kauai again hopefully someday soon!

  4. It all looks great, but where's the SPAM?

    1. It's there in the Kukuiula Market--you must have read too fast!

  5. Your self-guided Hawaiian food tour looks fantastic. Passion fruit chiffon pie and macadamia nut ice cream. Yum.

  6. Such variety and everything looks so good especially the passion fruit chiffon pie!!

  7. Well, you succeeded in making me hungry after dinner. That chiffon pie looks amazing!

  8. I love Kauai and I actually thought the food prices were very reasonable for Hawaii. I'm a vegetarian which limits what I can eat, but I could definitely have that pie!