Favorite places to Eat on Kauai
I think that I’m like a lot of people when it comes to food. The love of a certain food is often generated by a memory. I love Hamura Saimin because it brings back memories when I ate there with my young daughter over 20 years ago. For those of you who have never tried it, saimin is a noodle soup dish unique to Hawaii and found throughout the islands. Back then, Hamura Saimin, on a back street of Lihue, was a small Mom & Pop establishment that few tourists knew about. Long gone is the original owner, the elder man with his smooth skin and placid expression who once stood for hours amidst the rising steam of the pot of boiling fresh saimin noodles. One by one into the towering stack of bowls, he carefully ladled the noodles, vegetables and wonton, keeping each order straight in his mind. I went there often and I always ordered the special with extra veggies.
It came in the largest bowl and was loaded with pieces of pork, 2 wontons, fish cake and half a hardboiled egg which I shared with Malia. She loved the spicy mustard and shoyu mixed separately in a small bowl and added to the saimin. As a toddler, Malia could wield the chopsticks better than most adults. In her small left hand she held the deep plastic spoon and pulling the noodles from the hot salty broth she swirled them into the spoon and sucked them up. I guess it is a result of the internet, Yelp and Urban Spoon that has brought so many new people to fill the old linoleum counters. I am the same when I travel; I go to the internet sites that advertise a restaurant, and my fingers find their way to my new favorite places.If I were to choose a place I love to eat today, it is Mermaids Cafe. Mermaids is a total Hippy place. Or maybe it is considered not Hippy but Hip. Either way, it is a hole in the wall; literally. Mermaids is in the heart of old Kapaa town, on the makai (ocean) side of the road.
It consists of an enclosed postage stamp sized kitchen where 2 people work. One takes orders while the other cooks. The customers either wait at one of two small outside tables or stand around. Wait is the key word here. If you are in a hurry, don’t bother to stop and place your order. The service at Mermaids is a combination of laid back and” talking story” with anyone who stops by. The food is made to order and everything is done by hand on the spot. On the menu are organic salads, Tofu or Chicken Satay Wraps, Chicken or Stir Fry Noodle Plates, sandwiches and curry. They are open from 11 AM to close, whenever that is.
I have a story to tell that I promise is pure truth and it kinda of says it all about Mermaids. One day while waiting for my Ahi Nori Wrap to come out, I watched a young couple wander up to the window to check out the menu. As they read through the choices, the woman brought out a crystal on a string from a hidden pocket inside her caftan. She held the crystal over the menu while her interested partner peered at the bobbing jewel. They waited to see what item on the menu the crystal would align itself with. Evidently they got the right sign and up to the window they walked to place their order. So whether or not you are a believer of crystals and mermaids, don’t miss this restaurant with a fine assortment of delicious and fresh island fare.