Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In which we eat our way through the day

Kauai is a small island, and there's a single road that goes almost all the way around the island. Because of this, it takes a while to make your way around the island. Our hotel was located on the North Shore, so when we decided to explore the South Shore, about an hour and a half away, we decided to make a day of it. And not start to early. By the time we got down to Poipu, it was already lunch time!

After doing a bit more shopping, we hit up Kauai's best fast food - Puka Dogs!

As you stand in line to order your dog, you're faced with a sign, instructions on how to order your puka dog. First you must decide on whether you want a sausage or a veggie dog. Next, how spicy you want your lemon garlic sauce to be. Finally, comes the toppings - an assortment of tropical relishes to choose from.

"Puka" means "hole" and once you order, a soft roll is placed on their special "hole makers" to create a home for your new pet. Unlike a regular hot dog, which is served in a bun, the puka dog is slid into this hole, so you don't have to worry about your toppings leaking over the top. It makes one handed eating so very easy. We got an assortment of tropical fruit relishes - pineapple, banana, papaya - and everyone was pleasantly surprised at how delicious these were. Even Thatbrother, who decided to inform us on the way over that he doesn't eat hotdogs (which was a surprise to both UDubb and I........) I loved the puka dogs so much, I brought home some of that lilioki mustard and have been trying to talk Thatboy into letting us make puka dogs at home....although so far I've only gotten as far as putting homemade lemon garlic sauce on our regular hotdogs in regular buns.

Our next stop was Koloa. Koloa was, at one point in time, the center of industry in Kauai. This industry was sugar. And Koloa was home to both the plantation, mill, and where all the plantation and mill workers lived. The stores are in original and reconstructed buildings which used to house the general store, the gas station, barber shop, and other important venues of plantation town commerce. We toured through the museum and learned about the various immigrant groups who came to Kauai to work on the plantations.

And since it had been a couple of hours since we'd eaten, Thatmom determined a stop was in order.

Have I mentioned Thatmom's passion for ice cream? It far surpasses her passion for knitting. In fact, one of the bonding points between Thatmom and Thatboy is their equal love of ice cream. She loves when we come up for the weekend as her and Thatboy stand in the ice cream aisle to determine what they're going to indulge in. When planning the trip, Thatmom begged me to ensure there were numerous stops at Lapperts, her favorite ice cream on the planet, only available in Hawaii. She even told me she'd be just fine with having ice cream every day for lunch.

I was amazed by the number of rivers in Kauai - this one runs right through Koloa.

After Koloa we headed to a sight that I really wanted to see - Spouting Horn. When we pulled up, there was a crowd of people, pressed against the rail, watching this:

Exciting, no? Stick around for a couple minutes.

Spouting Horn is so named because when the waves come in, the water comes spouting up through a natural hole. It's a "phenomenon." And this is where I like to show off my "terrible movie" trivia - for those of you who've seen Fools Gold this is JUST like the area where Kate Hudson gets thrown into by the pirates and has to snorkel her way to safety by holding on to rocks.

Now if you noticed, we hadn't had anything to eat or drink in those past three pictures, which meant it was time for another round of refreshments. Thatboy and I had suggested a little sitting on the beach time. Since Thatbrother and UDubb are borderline alcoholics, they suggested we watch the beach from some place where we could get a drink. Thatmom suggested the Hyatt - and this was the view we enjoyed.

We didn't get to enjoy it for long. We gulped down our drinks and headed to Thatboy's dinner choice - Keoki's Paradise.

Keoki's is owned by the same people who run Dukes (in Huntington Beach and every island in Hawaii - we've been to and enjoyed the Huntington Beach restaurant) and Jakes Del Mar (which I haven't been to but have heard great things about.)

Keoki's carries the tropical theme to the extreme - look at this drink UDubb ordered. It's called the "tropical itch" and comes with a two foot back scratcher sticking out of it. And of course an umbrella. The crazy smiling psycho we had to pay extra for.

Thatboy and I shared the Kalua Pork Spring Rolls which were perfectly done. Not overly greasy or oily, light and crispy on the outside, and sweet and tender pork inside.

Thatbrother and I both had the filet mignon. After all the eating we had done, we opted for the "lighter" smaller portion. Thatbrother and I have been having a heated debate concerning capers lately, so he got a big ****eating grin when these little green suckers showed up on the plate. I did enjoy wiping the smirk off his face by informing him they were peppercorns.

UDubb and Thatmom both had the Opah, with different preparations. UDubb had hers grilled with local tomatoes and grilled polenta.

Thatmom had hers with a macadamia nut crust which the waitress assured her would help keep the fish moist. She was right. Thatmom found this opah far superior to the one she had the night before.

Always one to be difficult, Thatboy decided what he really wanted was a cheeseburger. But there wasn't one on the menu. Apparently there is one on the bar menu, so our very kind waitress offered to have the bar order it for him. He LOVED it - but that could have been the two mai tais talking. He thought it was a better burger than Duanes. Take note.

All the restaurants owned by this group feature a signature dessert - the Hula Pie. It's macadamia nut ice cream in a chocolate cookie crust, topped with hot fudge, whipped cream, and more macadamia nuts. The thing is gigantic, big enough for a whole table to share.

As for me, one dessert in particular struck my eye. Tropical Dreams ice cream is even rarer than Lapperts. Created on the Big Island, Tropical Dreams is a small batch ice cream maker. They use cream from All our cream comes from Big Island dairies and as much local fruit as possible in creation of their flavors. Because of the small batches, Tropical Dreams is only sold on the Big Island, one store in Kauai, and a few select restaurants. I'm not normally one for ice cream, but when I saw that Keoki's had a Tropical Dreams sorbet, I thought it was a good opportunity to try it. I had the lychee sorbet which really tasted like fresh lychees, only a little colder and creamier - I still had to do a little chewing because of the delicious fresh lychee scattered throughout the sorbet.

On the drive home Thatboy enjoyed his well deserved accolades for picking out such a great dinner - and we all went to bed with full stomachs.


  1. I am restraining myself from making all sorts of inappropriate puka dog jokes.

  2. I can't stop giggling about puka dogs. Hahahhahaa.

  3. Great pictures! I loooved that Hula Pie (we had it at Keokis AND Dukes because we couldn't get enough!)

  4. As a pregnant lady, those puka dogs look amazing! Wish I could find one around these Long Beach parts :)

  5. I just HAD to let your mom know that there is lots of Lappert's to be had stateside... I know because I can't go a whole year between bites of Kauai Pie! :)

    There are shops in San Diego, Palm Springs, Vegas, Monterey & the bay area!

    And... for special occasions you can even order it shipped to you!

  6. * I want a Puka dog!
    * I totally share Thatmom and Thatboy's affinity for ice cream. I could eat it all day, every day and be a very happy, 800lb camper. ;)
    * Um, I won't mention that Jim and I might have demolished a Hula Pie one night. Yeah. :/