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Kauai 2015: Acai Bowls, Brenneke Beach, Kauai Coffee, Josselins Tapas

This is part of our Kauai 2015 Trip Report:

Day 1 Part 2:

After a long journey to Poipu, we finished unpacking and headed out to get some breakfast – I really wanted an acai bowl because I love them and I don’t get my fix as often enough on the east coast.

We arrived early so we were ready to head out and explore Kauai!

We headed to Aloha Aina Juice Bar which is in Koloa (5 min drive away) in the back of the Kukuiula market (Update 2016: They have moved to their own standalone store in Lihue. I’m so happy! Find them here.) I ordered a BIA: an acai bowl with kale, berries, banana, granola, coconut, and honey, and Steve got the Tree Bowl: acai with mango, berries, coconut, and banana. They were delicious and huge! The large sized is served in quart-sized containers and had plenty of fruit and toppings.

At the back of the Kukuiula Market is Aloha Aina Juice bowl. They have fresh juices, smoothies, and the best acai bowls!!

My delicious and huge BIA bowl.

With our craving satisfied, we decided to walk to the beach. With beach bag in tow, we followed the path next to the house to Brenneke Beach. It took about 15 minutes to walk there. Next time we will just drive since we can bring the chairs!

Walking the “green belt” which is the pathway from our cottage to the beach.

Some beautiful flowers lined the walkway

Almost there!

We made it!

The beach was wonderful, the waves were softly rolling and the golden sand felt good. There were people but not terribly crowded. Some parts were rocky but the area towards the left and right were sandier (is that a word?) but the rocks provided some good snorkeling closer to shore. We snorkeled and saw some huge fish! Why are the fish on Kauai so big? They were some of the biggest I’ve ever seen snorkeling in Hawaii. Next to Brenneke is beautiful Poipu Beach and we decided to head there the next day.

The beautiful beach

Some areas were rockier than others but it provided good snorkeling (just don’t get caught in the waves!)

Finally got to feel the sand between my toes.

After spending the morning at the beach, we got hungry so for lunch we headed back to Koloa town. We’d heard good things about the Koloa Fish Market so we stopped there for some ahi tuna poke and plate lunch. The place is very small (takeout only) but there were a handful of people already in line. We got a tub of avocado poke and a lau lau plate lunch which we brought back to the condo to eat. The food was very good, and the lau lau was served with rice, lomi salmon, a very small container of shoyu poke, and chicken long rice which I really like. These foods are very traditional Hawaiian dishes and I consider them a must try! A little primer below:

Lau Lau is usually pork and salt fish wrapped in ti leaves and steamed. You remove the outer tough leaf which holds it all together but the inner leaves are soft like spinach and are flavored with the porky and salty goodness.

Lomi Salmon is like Hawaiian ceviche that includes diced salmon marinated in tomatoes, onions, and Hawaiian sea sat.

Poke (pronounced poe-keh) is Hawaiian sashimi-style salads, mostly made with raw fish like tuna or yellowtail and seasoned with Hawaiian sea salt, soy sauce (shoyu in Hawaii), sesame oil, and various other spices. Usually there is seaweed, onions, and scallions in poke but you can find lots of variations like wasabi, avocado, spicy sriracha mayo, etc. Many establishments will have their own way of preparing poke so it’s best to try them all! Even Costco sells poke which is delicious, and all supermarkets have a poke counter.

Chicken Long Rice: this is a very comforting dish made from cooking translucent rice noodles in a chicken broth full of ginger and aromatics. The result is not quite a noodle soup but somewhere in between a noodle soup and dry noodle. I guess you can call it a wet noodle. The ginger helps with digestion and it’s great to have a bowl when you’re feeling a little under the weather.

Hawaiian plate and avocado poke.

Lau lau is pork steamed in ti leaves usually with a piece of salted butterfish which adds flavor. It’s smokey and tender.

Closeup of avocado poke, which tasted like fresh ahi tuna mixed with avocado, salt, and onion. It was really good. The avocado adds a creaminess, much like the mayo-based pokes but without the mayo!

I wanted some shave ice and I heard about this place called The Fresh Shave located 15 minutes away in Kalaheo. It’s a food truck that serves handcrafted shave ice with fresh fruit and seems like a nice twist on a classic Hawaiian treat…unfortunately on the way there I found out that they were closed on Mondays. Oh well. We decided to head a little further west, Hanapepe to be exact, to check out the Taro Ko factory, which is basically a little hut that hand-makes batches of taro, sweet potato and regular potato chips. You enter the little wooden house and there are boxes filled with bags of stuff they have fried up that day. There was one guy frying up chips in a huge vat of oil. You are able to sample almost anything they make. We bought a couple of bags of fresh taro chips and some li hing potato chips to try.

Taro Ko Chip factory

Frying up the chips!

Bags are between 4.50-4.75 I think per bag. Note the taro does sell out sometimes, so best to get there early if you want taro.

Although I’m a fan of li hing (preserved salty sweet plum powder, common in Asian foods) I ddecided I didn’t quite like them sprinkled on chips. The taro chips were great though! Sliced very thin they kept a nice crunch.

I may have eaten a few bags of these during our trip…

We headed back east to Kalaheo and stopped at the Kauai Coffee Plantation which was right around there. We enjoyed samples of the coffee in their outdoor tasting area. I asked about the malasadas (fried Portugese doughnuts) they have in their buy propecia online snack shop but they only had cold ones and I wanted fresh hot ones. Next time! The coffee sampling was fun with the Blue Mountain roast being our favorite and we bought some bags to take home and give as gifts. We also got one bag ground for us so we can drink it here. Steve also got a cool t-shirt on sale!

At Kauai Coffee Plantation

Plenty of coffee to sample, some flavored ones as well as some decaf roasts which are decaffeinated using the Swiss Water method.

We decided then to head to Costco back in Lihue to get some supplies for the week. Yes we should have probably headed here right after we got out of the airport, but we didn’t really have a plan. In fact, this was kind of a recurring theme throughout the week since I didn’t really do much planning for this trip, so there are times we had to backtrack. LOL. It’s ok, we got to drive through the tree tunnel again!

More tree tunnel, wheee!

At Costco we were excited to see the poke guy was there and we bought some spicy poke and limu (seaweed) poke to eat. We love poke and we can’t get enough when we’re in Hawaii. Also, I don’t normally eat tuna regularly…it’s just not as good on the east coast and getting high-grade tuna sashimi or sushi is very expensive. I tend to save all my tuna eating for when we’re in Hawaii where it’s super fresh and not that expensive for the quality. You will be amazed as to what tuna tastes like here compared to what you have had in the past.

At Costco also bought some wine and water, basic supplies for the week! I was tempted to get a case of the Hawaiian papayas I love so much but they weren’t ripe yet and looked like they wouldn’t be for a while so I thought I’d have better luck in a supermarket.

Since we had a tiring 24 hours so far, we decided to have an early dinner at Josselin’s Tapas Bar and Grill located in the Kukuiula Shopping Center. The area is very pleasant and upmarket and noticeably a lot more crowded than when we were there in 2010.

I really like the Kukuiula Shopping Center because I love the open air feeling of the plaza with the palm trees.

I also noticed that a new restaurant was about to open, Eating House 1849 by Roy Yamaguchi of Roy’s Restaurants fame! It’s located right above the Dolphin, however throughout our stay it did not open. After we got back I see this article that it’s going to open next week! Doh.

Roy Yamaguchi’s new restaurant which opened after we left.

It is too bad because I love the Hawaii Roy’s and the one in the Poipu Shopping Village was closed (it basically is moving to the new Kukuiula location with a name/dining concept change).

I was looking forward to our dinner at Josselin’s Poipu location as it is very popular and gets many raves. It’s geared as a tapas bar and grill with shared plates and locally sourced ingredients (which has pretty much become the norm in Hawaii, much to our delight). The space is located on the 2nd floor, and had a nice modern decor with funky light fixtures that reminded me of rattan donuts.

Modern decor and a full bar at Josselin’s.

I like the light fixtures! Why does everything remind me of donuts?

We enjoyed our dinner but I was not terribly impressed with certain parts of our meal because some of the flavors were not balanced. The food is served tapas-style but I thought the portions were much larger than traditional tapas fare, which is fine with me! We were soon visited by the sangria cart which I thought was a nice concept.

The sangria cart

I was feeling tired so I got a virgin lychee sangria which was very good, and DH got a pomegranate sangria which was blech. It tasted like overly strong cough syrup and there was too much alcohol in it so that it wasn’t refreshing, but a rather syrupy drink.

Virgin lychee sangria and the cough drop-flavored pomegranate sangria. Take my word, order the lychee.

We ordered the salt and pepper octopus in a pineapple salsa; while the octopus was deep fried and crispy, the salsa was overpowering and slightly too sweet.

Crisp fried baby octopus on top of a too sweet pineapple salsa.

The goat cheese naan bread, which while tasty, was more like a calzone and not a naan bread.

Is it a naan, or a calzone? Maybe it’s a stuffed naan! It was pretty good, but it definitely was a calzone.

The pumpkin ravioli in brown butter was good, with a nice filling and al dente wrapper.

The pumpkin ravioli were moist and cooked very well.

Seared diver scallops over saffron risotto was pretty good although there could be more sear to the outside. I actually prefer my scallops raw (sashimi-style) but don’t mind when they are seared as long as the seared has a purpose, like giving texture to the soft scallop.

Seared diver scallops over saffron risotto.

Unfortunately the crab-crusted opakapaka (pink snapper), which is one of my favorite fishes, was overcooked. The sauce it came with was good though, and the crab crust was really clever and formed a nice crunch to the fish. Luckily opakapaka is naturally quite moist to begin with but it’s terribly sad to overcook such a nice piece of fish.

Crab-crusted opakapaka, which although had great accompanying sauces, was overcooked.

Maybe the chef was having an off night? It’s too bad, but this won’t deter me from returning as there are other things I would like to try on the menu.

We headed back to the house for the night but not before stopping for a pint of Lappert’s ice cream. We got the Kauai pie: Kona coffee ice cream swirled with chocolate fudge, coconut flakes, macadamia nuts and vanilla cake crunch as well as some traditional mac nut ice cream. It was so yummy!

That’s the end of our first day! Although we got delayed we still pretty much had a full day in Kauai and were able to do (and eat) a bunch of things. Thank goodness for the time difference (5 hours behind New York)!

Visit the rest of our Kauai 2015 Trip Report.

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