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The Honeymoon Continues, Foodie Heaven, Finding Love # 3

Cuisine of the Heart

Kathy Leonardo and Richard Bilow share a romantic meal at Red Salt, Kauai
Kathy Leonardo and Richard Bilow share a romantic meal at Red Salt, Kauai

This is my third and final piece to my Finding Love Later in Life series, which highlights a shared love of food. This article was previously published on EatTravelGo.com

Our honeymoon would not be complete without dining out. One of the things I love most about traveling is tasting indigenous food. So I always ask the locals for suggestions. Introducing my husband (Richie) to this tried-and-true method of finding the best cuisine was exciting for me. Before we started dating, Kentucky Fried Chicken was on my husband, Richie’s personal “best-of” list, so fine dining was not his forte.

Hamuras, Saimin, Lihue, Kauai; photo by Kathy Leonardo; courtesy of ETG

It didn’t take long before a local suggested we stop into Hamoras for their saimin. As I entered the small counter-style eatery, I realized I had been here before, on my previous visit some ten years ago. This was a locals only joint with no tourists to be seen. I knew just what to order. The Special Saimin is a jumbo bowl of flavorful both with green onions, ham, fish cake vegetables, wontons, roast pork, egg and noodles. I ordered a bowl with a side of crispy fried wontons (filled with pork, shrimp and green onions) for my husband and I to share. Both were so tasty… there is nothing quite like this authentic home-cooked saimin bowl…delish. Hamoras has been in business since 1951, and the food is scrumptious. Sorry no website, see the FB Page. 2956 Kress St., Lihue;  

Konohiki Seafoods; courtesy of ETG

Another local recommended that we stop at Konohiki seafood (just down the road)…what a find. This take out only deli/food shop has the most interesting raw fish dishes, some fried options and poke galore. If you love sushi rolls, Konohiki offers a new take on this delight with their Kaiona Ballz and Star Ballz. They are heavenly and worth going out of your way to get. We had quite a yummy, and of course romantic picnic after our sushi seafood shopping spree. If you are near Lihue, where both of these eateries are located, be sure to stop by Wailua Falls. No need to put on your hiking boots here…just drive, park and enjoy the view.

Since I am fond of happy hours, I again asked some locals where the best ones were. The Beach House was suggested by several people due to its glorious view. As I walked in, I knew exactly why…the doors along one whole side of the restaurant were opened, overlooking a lush green lawn with the ocean just beyond. This was just the type of casual romance I was looking forward to experiencing with my Richie…I ordered a Monkeypod Mai Tai  concocted from a complex blend of old lahaina dark rum, old lahaina light rum, fresh lime juice, house-made macadamia nut orgeat, orange curacao and honey-lilikoi foam. It was simply decadent. The froth on top was tart but was quickly sweetened as the liquid portion of the mai tai rushed to my lips.

The Beach House Happy Hour food; photo by Kathy Leonardo; courtesy of ETG

The menu offered a large selection featuring an eclectic array of choices – from Pumpkin Ravioli to Lobster Deviled Eggs to Braised Pork Belly. I have consistently introduced my husband to the joys of the culinary arts, since we started dating. I have to twist his arm a bit from time to time, but he now admits that I know my food. So, selecting from the many options had us both ecstatic. We enjoyed the Poke Tacos, Szechuan Stir-Fry Green Beans, Pork Potstickers and House Cut Fries. The tacos, my husband’s favorite, were filled with fresh tuna which just melted in our mouths. The green beans kept their crunch. They were paired with macadamia nuts and bathed in a sweet Asian sauce, while the potstickers were delicious, with an unexpected kick of habanero. The Beach House, 502 Lawai Road, Koloa, HI 96756; https://www.the-beach-house.com

After my spa day, Rich texted me and revealed that he had to eat “now” after surfing and snorkeling all day. While waiting for him to pick me up, I asked the valet, “what’s a good happy hour close by? Two more nearby valets heard me and chimed in “Kalapaki Joes” – we headed straight there. I experienced a bit of energy shock after spending the day at the Grand Hyatt spa.

Kalapaki Joe’s Happy Hour, Kauai

The sports bar was lively and a bit noisy, but after a glass of wine, I soon adjusted to the animated atmosphere. This happy hour offered amazing deals, featuring one-dollar shrimp tempura, plus three-dollar fish tacos (two) and chicken wings for twenty-five cents a-piece. Needless to say, we ate a lot of these…they were surprisingly good. Kalapaki Joes, 1941 Poipu Rd, Poipu, HI 96756;

There were many other restaurants to mention, but my all-time favorite restaurant on the island was Red Salt, located at the Koa Kea Hotel & Resort (2251 Poipu Rd, Koloa, HI 96756). The food was simply outstanding. This romantic restaurant is located just off the beach by the beautifully landscaped pool. We sat at a window seat and watched the waves roll in. Starting off with a shaken martini at our table, we enjoyed a tropical cocktail called the Wipe Out (Ciroc Mango Vodka, Kettel Citroen, passion fruit, mango and pineapple) and a delicious glass of 2015 Ken Wright Cellars Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.

Seared Hokkaido Scallops, Red Salt; photo by Richard Bilow; courtesy of ETG

Our meal began with an appetizer of Seared Hokkaido Scallops (Sweet Roasted Corn, Portuguese Sausage, Charred Cherry Tomatoes, Champagne Beurre Blanc). The perfectly cooked scallops were swimming in a shallow pool of delicious sauce of roasted corn, and Champagne Beurre Blanc. The charred tomatoes brought a sweetness that complimented this savory yet subtle dish.

16 oz. Prime Ribeye Steak with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Red Salt; photo by Richard Bilow; courtesy of ETG

For my entrée, I chose the Furikake & Wasabi-Crusted Seared Ahi (Creamy Mushroom Risotto, Asparagus), while my husband went right for the meat. His 16 oz. Prime Ribeye Steak with Roasted Brussels Sprouts (Applewood Smoked Bacon, Peppercorn Brandy Demi Glaze) was cooked to order (medium rare), and had layers of flavor. The glaze complimented the tender meat, while the bacon brought it to a whole other level. Thank goodness it was such a large portion, or he may not have shared it with me. My dish was beautifully plated, featuring a tower of rare (as ordered) tuna encrusted with furikake and wasabi, with sesame seeds sitting atop a mound of creamy mushroom risotto.

Furikake & Wasabi-Crusted Seared Ahi, Red Salt; photo by Richard Bilow; courtesy of ETG

The Red Salt Cake (Chocolate Sponge, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Mousse, Haupia Custard, Caramel Glaze, Toasted Coconut Flakes), and the Chocolate Crème Brûlèe (Traditional Crème Brûlèe Infused with Valrhona Chocolate) were both spectacular…a chocolate lover’s dream. This was a perfect ending to a wonderfully romantic meal. Red Salt, Koa Kea Hotel & Resort. 2251 Poipu Rd, Koloa, HI 96756; https://meritagecollection.com/koa-kea/dining/red-salt

Chocolate Sponge, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Mousse

Heading home to Los Angeles, we knew that we were lucky to find each other. We were both grateful that we took time out of our busy lives to experience this honeymoon and kick-start our lives together. 

For more info about Kauai, or any of the beautiful islands of Hawaii, visit https://www.gohawaii.com

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