Sustainable green taste of Kauai

Located in Kapaa, under the palms of the Kauai Coast Resort, the Hukilau Lanai is as fresh as it gets. Those concerned with organic, sustainable living would be impressed to know that Kauai’s own Hukilau Lanai came in third in the 2013 People’s Choice Nature’s Plate Award competition of the Nature Conservancy.

Serving Kauai’s community since 2002, the restaurant has a passion to keep it local. They strive to use ingredients and products from Kauai and the neighbor islands. Their handcrafted cuisine is made from scratch. Health conscious, their kitchen offers many options for vegetarians and gluten sensitive customers.

During my visit, I started with a complementary candied ahi appetizer, which includes a coffee spiced cubed ahi (yellow fin tuna) on a bed of white rice with a coconut chipotle sauce. The sauce was made with just the right amount of spices. Next, I tried a another appetizer, the sweet potato ravioli with roasted Okinawan sweet potato, feta cheese and lemongrass cream sauce for $9. The mixture of sweet and salty from the potatoes and feta was surprisingly delicious.

For the main course I had the ono, which is a marinated grilled Wahoo, coconut sambal kabocha pumpkin sauce, jasmine rice and tropical relish for $29. There is also the filet mignon, which is a char-grilled, center-cut beef tenderloin with Ulupalakua red wine sauce, with the potato of the day for $32. All of the dishes just melt in the mouth and the portions were generous. The vegetarian lasagna stands out, too.

“We use something local in each dish. We try to support the mom and pops’ local businesses. We believe in staying local, sustainable and green,” Chantry Williams, manager and 10-year employee of Hukilau Lanai said.

The servers of Hukilau Lanai are friendly, professional and efficient. They take care to visit the table several times to be sure water glasses are filled and the food meets expectations.

And as for the atmosphere and environment, it’s beautiful, but relaxed. It’s spacious inside, with a view of the picture-perfect lawn and ocean just beyond. There was plenty of conversation and laughter among the guests, even some folks singing happy birthday. A cool evening breeze added to the ambiance.

The restaurant is also the venue of choice for Malama Pono’s annual Kauai Sings event.

The Hukilau Lanai is a little hidden away, but easily found behind the Coconut MarketPlace. It is open for dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday and offers a special food and wine tasting menu from 5 to 5:45 p.m. If you want to sample their kitchen, this is the best time to go.

You can get five food courses and five wines for $40, or just food for $28.

“Each course is an appetizer for one, with five of them, you will no doubt get a meal,” Williams said.

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