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Kauai 2015: Tip Top Motel, North Shore, Hanalei Taro, Hamura Saimin

This is the 4th day of our week-long Kauai 2015 Vacation.

After our island-grown dinner with Kauai Ono the night before, we woke up the next day and decided to return to the North Shore and visit the beautiful beaches and scenery. On the way there, we stopped at the Tip Top Motel and Bakery in Lihue for some breakfast. It was probably our favorite breakfast of the trip!

Tip Top Motel and Bakery in Lihue

The space is very large and looked like a diner that had not changed in 30 years. Don’t come here for the ambiance but the food was great and filling. We ordered two of their most popular dishes, oxtail soup and mac nut pancakes. An odd combination, yes, but eating savory soups for breakfast is quite common in Asian countries and I wanted to balance the salty with a sweet entree.

Old-school no-frills diner type setting

My oxtail soup came piping hot, and it was delicious! Served with a side of grated ginger and cilantro, it was the perfect soup with tender oxtails and flavorful clear broth with Chinese veggies and bean thread noodles.

Our breakfast feast

The banana mac nut pancakes were really good, fluffy and moist, yummy! We hoped to return again for breakfast on this trip.

The drive up north was pretty slow because of all the traffic, but slowly we made it through to Princeville. It looked beautiful and green…but as we drove we realized the sun was leaving us and it started to rain! The north shore is known to be more “wet” thus the lush green scenery.

Driving north was quite rainy but still beautiful.

This wasn’t a short shower after which the sun would come out…this really was an all-day type of rain. It poured at times, and other times you’d just be enveloped in a mist of water. It didn’t deter us though. We drove all the way to Haena/Tunnels Beach and just decided to sit on the beach for a while, even if the weather wasn’t cooperating. It was still very beautiful, with the fog enveloping the mountains near the beach. At times the sun looked like it was going to peep out but it never did, I guess we were not going to spend much time at the beach today.

Haena Beach with the mist in the background

Still quite beautiful despite the clouds and rain.

I have an almost identical picture taken in 2010, You can see it in this post.

Sometimes the sun looked like it was going to peek out but it never did…

I like how moody our pictures came out though

We even saw a turtle in the waves!

After about an hour of pretty much sitting in the rain, we decided to call it and just shop and eat around the Hanalei area. We drove to the Hanalei Taro and Juice truck so we could try some items made with their fresh taro. Since we had a large breakfast, we just got some snacks – a taro acai bowl and a smoothie with a taro base, banana, coconut, and soy milk.

Hanalei Taro and Juice Co Food Truck

They have lots of items made with taro in addition to regular food.

More of the menu

Taro acai bowl, delicious! 

Cocolicious smoothie.

The taro base in the smoothie is high in calcium, dairy free, and it gave the drink a thick texture and depth. It was an awesome smoothie (more like a milkshake because it was so creamy). The acai bowl was great and they blended taro into the acai as well to give it a creamier texture. So many uses for taro! In addition they also have hot foods like lau lau or kalua pig plate lunches, taro hummus and chips, taro burgers, and baked goods. I’d like to try some of their other stuff one day!

We went to the Ching Young marketplace area in Hanalei and walked around for a bit and I got some gifts in the shops. When browsing some stores we noticed that it started to pour outside. So we had a coffee and sat watching the rain. It wasn’t that bad actually – it was very peaceful watching the rain come down. After about half an hour we decided to just run to our jeep – we got a little wet but at least it was a warm rain!

Rainy Day at Ching Young Village in Hanalei

We drove down to Kilauea and stopped at the Kong Lung Co store, which sells unique and artistic goods, many of them Japanese – there were lamisil price kimonos and happy coats), as well as pottery and stationary. It was very nice to browse, but it’s definitely one of the pricier boutiques on Kauai. Out back they have a few restaurants and an Island Soap and Candle Works store. The pikake is a favorite scent of mine!

Kong Lung Company store with very fancy items like these beautiful kimonos

It was just too foggy and rainy to go to the Kilauea Lighthouse which was our original plan so we skipped that. A short drive away was the Kilauea Fish Market – where they had just made a fresh batch of shoyu poke so DH got a tub to eat. It was ono!! There is a lot of good poke on Kauai and it’s been great trying different ones!

Onolicious poke from Kilauea Fish Market

I made a little collage on instagram on all the poke we’ve been eating on Kauai. My friends were very jealous!

A collage of the various ahi poke we’ve been eating on Kauai during this trip.

As we drove back south, the weather started to clear up and soon it was super sunny right where we hit Kealia Beach…then, just a few miles south of that, we saw a dreamy rainbow! It was so cool we had to pull over and cross the street to the beach to take some pictures. The rainbow was so big that you couldn’t see the top of it as it was hiding behind clouds but the parts you did see were vibrant and clear. It was amazing. We felt very lucky to see this rainbow!

Saw this from the car and we had to stop!

What a huge rainbow!

We just sat and stared at it for a while.

It’s hard to capture in pictures but this particular rainbow had very vibrant colors at its two ends

After gawking at the rainbow for some time, we drove a few miles south and right as we got into Kapa’a we saw some food trucks again and decided to stop because we wanted to try the fish tacos at the El Pastor truck. Steve got some fish tacos and I walked over to the Thai food truck next to it and wanted to get a drink. I got a mango-pineapple-coconut concoction that was good but not as great as the taro smoothie I got earlier. We ate at the picnic tables there. The fish tacos were pretty good but not mind-blowing.

Thai food truck

My smoothie, not quite as good as the one from Hanalei Taro.

Tacos al pastor (minus one because Steve already ate it)

Since it was still fairly early and not quite dinner time (plus we also just had a large snack), we just drove to Kapa’a and walked around there. I liked some of the boutique-y shops and we bought gifts from the ABC Store. The Hee Fat General store (BTW, I love the name Hee Fat!!) had shave ice but since I had so many smoothies already I decided to save it for another day.

After a few hours of walking around we decided to get some gas at Costco and dinner at Lihue – Hamura Saimin was calling our name!

Hamura Saimin is an institution on Kauai, and is a James Beard Award winner for American Classics.

Hamura Saimin was actually fairly crowded. We grabbed one of the last few seats together around the counter area. We both ordered the medium saimin and the crispy fried won tons. They were quite busy and service was slow but the food came pretty quickly.

Classic saimin with a side of fried wonton. Mix the mustard and shoyu for a nice sauce which compliments the noodles and wontons. The mustard has a very spicy kick!

The noodles were pretty good as I remember them. It’s more of a nostalgia and comfort thing for me as they are not the best bowl of noodles I’ve eaten, but it hit the spot and it wasn’t a heavy meal. I noticed they sold some local produce in bags, we saw star fruit, eggplant and longans which were tempting but I didn’t think we could finish the entire bag as it was quite big.

local produce for sale

Back at the condo it was more pie and ice cream before calling it a night! Our day on the north shore didn’t bring us much sun but the misty mountains and the beaches were still really pretty. We were rewarded with a beautiful rainbow in any case! Hopefully our next day will be sunnier!

Read the rest of our Kauai 2015 Vacation trip report.

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