Kaua’i Shave Ice Review #4: Wailua Shave Ice

Wailua Shave Ice's little red trailer is located on the makai (ocean) side of Kuhio Highway in Kapaa, on a vacant lot between two storefronts.
Wailua Shave Ice’s little red trailer is located on the makai (ocean) side of Kuhio Highway in Kapaa, on a vacant lot between two storefronts.

Blink as you drive by, and you might miss the little red trailer tucked between two storefronts in Old Kapaa Town. If you do, you’ll be missing out on some very, very tasty and refreshing shave ice.

The staff at Wailua Shave Ice is super friendly!
The staff at Wailua Shave Ice is super friendly!

Wailua Shave Ice’s offerings are huge, all made with natural syrups, and come in some unique flavor combinations. Although WenYu and YaYu had sampled their offerings before, our visit last month before taking WenYu back to college was the first time for both Brett and I. We loved every bite and vowed to come back again.

The shave ice menu - all cost just $6.50
The shave ice menu – all cost just $6.50

On this visit I ordered a Lava Flow (pineapple, coconut & strawberry), Brett and WenYu each had a Kauai Orange Dream (orange & coconut milk topped with haupia foam), and YaYu tried a Wailua Sunrise (pineapple & orange). There’s a generous amount of seating in back, and although there were others waiting in line, it didn’t take long for our order to come up. Because Wailua Shave Ice does not come with ice cream, I was very surprised by how big the servings were. All shave ice at Wailua Shave Ice, no matter the flavor, costs just $6.50, a very reasonable price considering how much you get. Each shave ice is also topped with fresh fruit (or crushed Oreo on a Cookies & Cream shave ice, or chocolate sauce and toasted coconut on the Almond Joy shave ice). You can ask for a snow cap, but many of the recipes come topped with haupia (coconut milk gelatin) or coconut milk foam, so ordering a snow cap might be sort of redundant for those flavors.

Looking inside a Kauai Orange Dream - you can see how huge the serving is!
Inside a Kauai Orange Dream – you can see how huge the serving is, and how fluffy the ice is! All the serving cups are recyclable paper.
The Lava Flow. The cap on top is made with coconut milk
The Lava Flow. The cap on top is made with coconut milk.  The straw is so you don’t miss out on a single drop.
YaYu's Wailua xx. It looks plain, but was VERY tasty. Wailua Shave Ice natural syrups are DELICIOUS!
YaYu’s Wailua Sunrise. It looks plain, but the flavors were very rich and tasty. Wailua Shave Ice’s natural syrups are DELICIOUS!

WenYu and YaYu enjoyed their shave ice from Wailua so much they went back again the next day for another. Brett and I’ll be going again too – Wailua Shave Ice has earned a spot near the top of our favorite’s list.

YaYu ordered a Cookies & Cream shave ice when she went back.
YaYu ordered the Cookies & Cream flavor when she went back.

Wailua Shave Ice is located at 04-1306 Kuhio Highway in Kapaa. They’re open daily from noon until 5:30 p.m. and accept debit and credit cards. Parking is available on the street or in back.

#Kaua’i: Kountry Kitchen Restaurant & Cafe

I may be biased, but this is hands down the BEST place for breakfast on Kaua’i.

The humble-looking Kountry Kitchen
The humble-looking Kountry Kitchen

Located in Kapa’a, across the street from the Kapa’a Library on the Kuhio highway, Kountry Kitchen offers an extensive menu of breakfast flavors and local favorites, including kalua pork omelettes and loco moco (fried egg over rice covered with gravy). Portions are tasty, filling and BIG. There’s a different fresh juice selection offered daily, depending on what’s in season. I’ve had papaya juice, fresh pineapple juice, and on our last visit likikoi (passionfruit) juice, which was out of this world.

The restaurant's interior is kitschy but fun, with lots of chicken- & rooster-related nick-nacks.
The restaurant’s interior is kitschy but fun, with lots of chicken- & rooster-related nick-nacks.

Our first meal on Kaua’i when we arrived in 2014 was breakfast at the Kountry Kitchen, and each year since we’ve gone back to celebrate our anniversary (this year was a bit belated as we were just home from Oahu on that date). We make a point of going there for breakfast whenever visitors, both family and friends, are here and it’s one of Brett and my favorite date locations. They’re also open for lunch, but breakfast Hawaiian style is their claim to fame with both locals and visitors.

WenYu's Eggs Benedict with a side of rice - VERY Hawaiian!
WenYu’s Eggs Benedict with a side of rice – VERY Hawaiian! (I had a 1/2 order of Eggs Benedict with no ham and a side of pineapple. I know there was butter in it, but it was worth the cheat).
Brett's coconut pancake is plate-size (and yummy). The coffee is pretty darn delicious too.
Brett’s coconut pancake is plate-size (and yummy). The coffee is pretty darn delicious too.

While the food is just as good as it was when we first went in 2014, the restaurant moved into a new, larger location next to their old one last year. The old location was infamous for its long lines and long waits for a booth or table, and while that’s mostly been taken care of you can still expect a short wait if you arrive at peak breakfast hours (9:00 – 11:00 a.m.).

YaYu's GIANT omelet with a side of fresh pineapple. I didn't think she could finish it, but she did.
YaYu’s monster Kountry Kitchen omelet (filled with ground beef, onions, green peppers, tomatoes and cheese) with a side of fresh pineapple. I wasn’t sure she could finish it, but she did. I understood when I saw the size of the omelet why she didn’t order the hash browns.

If you’re ever visiting Kaua’i, let me know and Brett and I will be happy to meet you for breakfast Kaua’i style at the Kountry Kitchen!

Kaua’i Shave Ice Review #2: Tege Tege Shave Ice

IMG_3769Tege Tege is the new kid in town when it comes to shave ice, or at least the new kid in the town of Kapa’a, on the east side of the island. Apparently Tege Tege has been operating up in Kilauea on the north shore for a couple of years, but a couple of months ago their truck showed up on the north end of Kapa’a, right next to Otsuka’s furniture store. We’ve never seen them without a line at their window.

Strawberry shave ice from Tege Tege
Strawberry shave ice from Tege Tege

While I was getting my hair cut yesterday, Brett took the girls to give Tege Tege a try. Brett selected a coconut shave ice, YaYu chose strawberry, and WenYu picked green tea. They also picked up an extra green tea shave ice for me (without the snow cap).

The ice shaver comes from Japan
The hand-operated ice shaver comes from Japan

Tege Tege’s ice is hand shaved using a special Japanese machine which creates extremely fluffy ice with an almost creamy texture. Organic fruit syrups are added several times along the way as the cup is filled with ice, ensuring each bite is full of exquisite flavor. Each shave ice receives a complementary snow cap, and with the exception of three flavors (grapefruit, lime and gooseberry) each icy confection is topped off with fresh, organic fruit. Instead of fruit, a green tea shave ice receives a generous helping of anko, sweet red (azuki) beans, the traditional accompaniment to green tea flavor in Japan.

The Tege Tege menu
The Tege Tege menu

All this quality and craftsmanship comes at a price though. Regular flavors are $7 each; green tea is $8.50. Ice cream is an additional $2.00 (we skipped the ice cream). Tege Tege only offers eight flavors, but finished product is big, and the shave ice is dessert quality and very filling.

Green tea shave ice
Green tea shave ice with anko

The Tege Tege trailer is within walking distance of our house, so I’m sure we’ll be going back one of these days. The cost is pretty high for shave ice, but the quality is several steps above what we’ve had elsewhere. The presentation is beautiful, the flavors unbelievably rich, and the texture amazingly creamy. In our opinion, Tege Tege is well worth a splurge once in a while!

#Kauai: Java Kai

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I’ve usually been one to avoid coffee stores and buying coffee drinks, but the other day when my friend Mary and I needed to get together I suggested we meet at Java Kai in Kapaa. Our girls had been encouraging me to go, and the meeting seemed the perfect excuse to give it a try.

It’s going to be a very, very long time (like until I receive another gift certificate) before I ever step into a Starbucks again now that I’ve been to Java Kai.

Art on the wall, from local artists, are for sale.
There’s loads of art to take in while you wait or have your drink, all from local artists, and all for sale.

This great coffee house is located in Kapaa’s Old Town area, and has an incredible menu of very tasty coffee drinks, and well as tea drinks and smoothies you won’t find elsewhere. Most coffee drinks are in the $4 to $5 range, but they are big! They also offer a splendid selection of pastries, breakfast sandwiches and lunch items (including vegan and gluten-free items – coconut-lime cupcakes were the vegan offering the day I was there). If it’s crowded (some times I’ve seen the line going right out the door), and you’re in a hurry, there’s a “secret window” in the back that supposedly goes faster. Like almost everywhere you visit on Kaua’i, the Java Kai staff is genuinely friendly and helpful.

WenYu and YaYu often stop for a coffee drink when they walk into town (yes, it’s within walking distance of our house!), and are working their way through the menu. Thai coffee, frozen hot chocolate, and Maui mocha (chocolate and coconut) are currently at the top of their favorites list. The day I was there with Mary I stuck with a boring, but very well-made soy latte and enjoyed every sip.  Any of their drinks can be made with soy, coconut or almond milk.

Sitting outside with our BIG coffee drinks
Sitting outside with our BIG coffee drinks

Although there’s plenty of seating inside, if the sun is shining I recommend the outdoor seating. Grab your coffee (and treat if you indulged), and head outside to watch the parade go by. Love Java Kai!