On the last day of our Kauai vacation, Dan and I stumbled upon a gem of a restaurant. When I am traveling near the ocean, I want fresh, local food – preferably fish just caught – and a view of the ocean. The Hukilau Lanai located in the Kauai Coast Resort behind the Coconut Market Place in Kapaa, fits that bill. We have returned since that trip in June of 2009 now that we live on the island.
The dining room is missing one wall so it spills out onto a lanai where you can dine as well. The view from the lanai creates a serene setting. The resort’s perfectly groomed grass seems to flow like a river to the nearby ocean, exotic flowers lining its banks.
Recently, I had the chance to interview the owner and Executive Chef Ron Miller. “When people dine here, I want them to feel comfortable. Like they’re friends dining on the lanai” says Ron. No doubt, that is what has kept Dan and I coming back, Hukilau’s atmosphere is so inviting, it’s the perfect place to create intimate memories. Plus, the food and cocktails are excellent.
Chef Ron’s menu is a splash of local flavor; fresh fish caught by family fishermen, all manner of produce from local farmers including vanilla beans, mushrooms, and “lilikoi from the neighbor kid’s fruit stand” says Ron.
Dan and I are peaceful and relaxed in this serene setting while local musicians play Hawaiian music softly, in the background.
One of our favorite appetizers is Adam’s Poke Nachos ($13) a fantastic combination of crispy wonton chips, ahi poke, avocado, tobiko fish roe and a wasabi cream sauce.
Dan’s favorite entree is Wally’s Steak Crown Royal ($28) flavorful medallions of beef tenderloin in a rich Crown Royal demi-galce. I usually order the fish special which changes daily. I once had Uku; a delicious deepwater snapper that is sweet and moist with a meaty flake.
Chef Ron creates local cocktails as well, even infusing vodka with Hawaiian vanilla beans for a martini called the Orchid. A special we recently had was a cool and refreshing margarita made with fresh coconut water.
If you come to Kauai, I recommend eating here right before you head back home. You’ll create a final imprint of iconic Hawaii in your mind and, it’s close to the airport!
Posted by: Bruce Fisher