We just got back last night from 4 days on Kauai. There was no way I was going to the bother of forcing another abominable dish on my family on our lovely vacation.
So I did a little experimenting on myself.
I ordered vegetarian when I could, when it was available.
So here's what I/we got, in case you ever go to Kauai and you want to know where to go (or not). Mind you, we did NOT hit ANY fancy digs. We basically used the book "Kauai Revealed" as our main guidebook. Each of the islands have a "revealed" book, which I do recommend. Locals hate these books because they reveal all the hidden gems. Hey, we hate that the tourists have discovered Kailua beach and Lanikai! (the beaches near us) So there is that little moral delimma going on.
*sigh* I can't find the book right now - you know how it is when you get home and the suitcases explode... So I'm winging it by memory - ha!ha!ha!
We arrived Sunday around lunchtime and we decided to let Ryan pick out lunch - well, he had already spotted a restaurant in the book that he wanted to go to, so why not. It's called Brick Oven Pizza, and was rated Ono (delicious) by the book. However, the pizza is not baked in a brick oven. rats. The pizza is very expensive, and we didn't think their large would feed us all, so I ordered a sandwich for myself. I ordered the veggie sandwich. It had mushrooms, onion, peppers, olives, lettuce, tomato, cheese and pizza sauce - on a great french bread-like bun. It was good (despite me not liking olives or mushrooms) but the flavor too much of the same old, same old. It needed something on the side, like some pineapple slices or well, anything. BTW, we had two slices left over, so the large would have fed us all after all.
Sunday night we made sandwiches.
We stayed in a condo, so we fixed our own breakfasts. Sorry, I know breakfast can be the best meal.
Monday lunch we ate out at a place that was featured on Anthony Bordain - Puka Dog. www.pukadog.com You gotta check out the menu. Puka is Hawaiian for hole. The bun is like a loaf which they poke a hole in (jam it on a hot spike to toast the inside), squirt in the sauces and slide in the dog. The relishes and secret sauce and lilikoi mustard makes the dogs unique and fun. BTW, relish is a misnomer. If you read the reviews online it's true, the relishes are more like a syrup. I actually like the sweet and salty mixture. My order: the veggie dog with spicy secret sauce, mango relish and lilikoi mustard. You get two veggie dogs stuffed in the bun. If you order the polish dog, it's big enough for one in the bun. It dripped and oozed. The bun was soft and white bread, so all the sweet syrup on it kind of made it like a dessert along with the dog. Yum! Oh, the spicy sauce was NOT hot. The barest hint of spice. And I have a kinda tender tongue. So other lilly livered people can order spicy without fear.
The rest of my party ordered so plain it's not even worth writing about. Ryan and Gary had theirs plain and Jake had ketchup on his.
Monday afternoon we went on a helicopter tour. It's a "must do" in Kauai. We went on Blue Hawaiin Helicopters and our pilot was Kurt. He was cute and had that nice local way of talking. The tour was breathtaking.
Monday night we grilled steak, but went out for ice cream at Lappert's. Yum!
Tuesday we went to Waimea canyon and on the way back we ate lunch at a little deli called Kalaheo Cafe and Coffee Co. www.kalaheo.com It all smelled so good. I don't drink coffee, but sometimes you go to places that you wish you did. I ordered the cajun tofu and eggplant wrap. It was good, but very drippy. I wish they had sliced the tofu thinner to absorb more of the cajun sauce and wish they had sliced the eggplant thinner, just because I'm not a fan of eggplant. But I gobbled it up. Ryan ordered the grilled cheese which was just beautiful. You can see on the menu I had a few vegetarian options to choose from. It was a hard choice.
For supper we had pizza in Poipu at Pizzeti (IIRC). We got half cheese/half pepperoni. It was alright. We ordered thin crust, but I would not call it thin crust. More like a regular crust. (same for the other pizza joint) I like my thin crusts crunchy, cracker-like. (it makes it easier to over-indulge!) We had more ice cream for dessert.
Wednesday lunch was our last meal there. I really did some fast talking to get the people to agree to eat where we did. We had decided to drive up the north shore way, hoping to get a last glimpse of whales at the lighthouse, and I was scrambling through the book to find a place to eat. We ended up at a gas station (of all things!) in Princeville ( a very hoity-toity area). It was the Chevron in Princeville Station (IIRC) the restaurant was called North Shore Grindz. They boasted a burger called Bubbas BBQ burger which had bbq sauce and onion rings - the beef is locally raised/grown beef. Gary said it was good - the onion rings were a little larger than he likes and it was drippy good. The boys had pizza which looked and smelled so good. Nothing like what you would find at any other gas station (or 7-11), so get that out of your head. I ordered the "mean veggie" which was the veggie burger. It was a falafel, which I'd never had before, so I was dying to try it. It was fried, huge and crunchy. It didn't taste bad, but it was intimidating in size. And definitely not good for you since it was fried. Our burgers came with fries, nice and salty. A strange mix of skinny straight ones and fat crinkly ones. I guess they ran out of the fat ones. There are a few places to sit outside with the ambiance of cars and diesel.
One thing I've got to add about this whole thing. Hawaii in general is remote. Oahu is the main island, population-wise. So the outer islands are doubly remote. That is why I was so pleasantly surprised by what I saw in the grocery stores and even that Chevron as far as selection. Wow. Even better than the commissary. Well you gotta keep in mind that Hawaii is very hippy dippy, crunchy granola, close to the earth, tree hugging, you get my drift. So imagine my surprise to see gluten free cookies and organic goodies at the Chevron. There is a little grocery store in Poipu that has a great Asian section - specifically it had a LOT of the secret/mysterious ingredients we needed for our Thai cooking class. That was spooky weird, because it was quite hard finding the ingredients here! Made me think the owner had taken our class! There is even a vegan restaurant that I didn't make it to. It would have been a hard sell to the family. Oh, I even found Lara bars at the Times Market - I've read about these on blogs, but have yet seen them. So I snatched up 3. They were pricey. I bought a cherry one that I would cut up half into my morning oatmeal. Yummy! Just picking out oatmeal was an ordeal. The selection was huge. At the commissary (here) the only oatmeal brand is Quaker, and maybe a few generics. And they've been out of the plain instant oatmeal for weeks. At the Times, there was a staggering selection of brands and styles. The prices were staggering too. I just couldn't bring myself to pay $7 for a box of plain instant oatmeal, so I opted for the more generic version at $6.19. Ack! But there were all kinds of flavored, organic, steel cuts, flax seed added, yadda, yadda. I saw the Lara bars right beside them.
Anyway, this is hugely long. So I'll sign off. I hope this helps somebody, anybody, when they decide to go to Kauai.