On one of our first nights here, we happened to stumble upon the Tasting Kauai food tour. Last year, we took a walking food tour through Puerto Rico and it was educational, interactive, and delicious. So, when we saw this food tour highlighting the north shore, we were sold. This four hour tour started at the unassuming North Shore General Store in Princeville, where we met the owner and enjoyed a well-priced burger with Princeville-sourced beef and some homemade pizza. It was really cool to hear about how the owner took this general store, installed a kitchen, and now cranks out up to 200 pizzas per day in the peak of the summer. They also got their feet under them by supplying the food trucks to feed the workers who renovated the St. Regis down the street. This place was great for affordable comfort food with Hawaiian flair.
The second place we stopped was just across the parking lot and called Tiki Iniki, which was the retirement dream of Michele, a former broadway singer and dancer. Oh, and she is married to Todd Rundgren (you may recognize some of his music if you google him). She beautifully decorated this lounge with authentic tiki-themed decorations meant to look like the classic tiki lounges of old. At Tiki Iniki, we enjoyed the original recipe Mai Tai – which is sour – as compared to the sweet Hawaiian recipe. We also sampled the Guava-Yuzu-Soy Glazed pork ribs, which were awesome. This is the place to go if you are looking for the over-the-top tiki experience.
Our third stop was at the beautiful St. Regis to have a personal tasting with the head chef of the Kauai Grill, Neolani Lei Planas, who had recently returned to Kauai after a 15 year stint at a number of prestigious restaurants in Las Vegas. She made us a campari tomato gelee with mozarella and basil, which was truly a work of art. It was great talking with her about the restaurant and how she designs the menus.
The fourth stop was the Hanalei Taro and Juice Company for some authentic Kalua pork and Lomi Salmon on top of Poi. This was the first poi I have ever tried and I have to say that I am not a fan. It has the texture of mashed potatoes that have been over-smashed to a gluey consistency. I am glad that I tried it, but I won’t be ordering it again. The pork on the other hand was great. The Hanalei Taro and Juice Company owns the taro farm in the Hanalei valley and produces some of the best taro products around.
Our final stop was the farmers market to meet a local woman who made amazing juices (including soursop with pom juice) and banana-macadamia-chocolate loafs. Afterwards, we browsed the booths at the farmers market and grabbed some homemade ginger beer and a bag of dragon eye fruit (for only $3)! It was a rainy and windy day so there was unfortunately a low turnout for vendors.
After our wonderful food tour, we headed down to Lihue to the Kilohana plantation to have authentic Hawaiian Mai Tais at the Mahiko Lounge. We hit happy hour at the perfect time and enjoyed great deals on beef satay, ahi avocado poke, and Kalua pork quesadillas. Mahiko Lounge is located in the old mansion of a former sugar plantation and is decorated in the original style of the early 1900s. Each day, the Mahiko Lounge fresh presses sugar cane for their Mai Tais (and these were some darn good Mai Tais). Afterwards, we walked around the 16,000 square foot mansion and browsed some of the shops. This is also the location for tastings of the Koloa Rum Company (which was already booked up). We had had plenty of Koloa rum in our Mai Tais by that time though.
Overall, it was a great way to spend a rainy day in paradise. Aloha!