One of the first things anyone should notice when visiting Kauai are all the chickens. They are literally everywhere. They are leftovers from the colonial era when passing ships left them, gave them away or some escaped. They are wild all over the island. Seeing that the island is composed of almost a third by people of Filipino decent, and as a culture they wouldn't let a wild chicken go to waste, I was a bit baffled. I asked a few people but nobody could really give me an answer to their live and let live policy of the wild chickens. One of the oddest sounds though was hiking through a dense jungle and instead of monkeys or birds, all I could hear were roosters crowing everywhere.
|Poke (pronounce poke-ee)|
Poke is a raw fish salad served over top rice, most commonly sushi rice. The fish chunks were usually coated in a mayonnaise based dressing with some spices and other local ingredients. It was outstanding and above was our favorite version served from the Kealia Poke food truck near a string of shops in the town of Hanalei on the north shore. Now normally I would think twice about eating raw fish out of a food truck but over the years, I've found most food trucks are more immaculately clean than many kitchens in brick and mortar restaurants simply because they are more visible. Also being surrounded by an ocean, I figured it had to be fresh and it certainly tasted extremely fresh. Over the course of our week, we would try poke at many other places but none of them were nearly as tasty as the version above.
|Puka Dog and Mexican fish bowl|
The resort where we were staying at had something like seven restaurants on site and there were brick and mortar restaurants everywhere we went however, due to their middle of nowhere in the Pacific locations, they were insanely expensive by Midwest standards. While we could afford to eat at them, our fiscally conservative nature plus we were usually on the way to somewhere anyway, led us to find many a meal from food trucks or small island shops. These two were from small shops at a small strip mall.
Puka dog was another thing everyone told me was a must have and I firmly believe that this is one of those things made for tourists. I'm sure the locals had one now and then but it wasn't a staple of their diet which was what I was after. It was essentially a grilled hot dog stuck into a bun with a hole cut down the center that was pumped full of liquid cheese and a mango relish. It was tasty but not what I was seeking. We also tried the Mexican fish bowl from another nearby vendor and while it looked good, it was vastly under seasoned. In fact, anything remotely Mexican that we had during our trip was pretty bland. Fortunately, we didn't go there for the Mexican food so steered clear of it for the most part.
|Hawaiian burgers from Ono Char-Burgers|
While these most definitely aren't local but are stereotypical of being anywhere tropical with a beach, we did have a couple drinks one evening at the hotel while listening and watching some local talent play. However, those things cost us over $20/each so we mostly stuck to drinking the local water which was free and quite good.
I did see a few locals eating these and didn't see many tourists eating them but the paring of things full of carbs seemed odd. It was very filling (as one would expect) and was tasty, especially the two salads in the white cups, but it isn't something that I would every crave. I ate this one and then stuck to other foods for the remainder of the trip.