ADDRESS: 2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka Road, Suite #A-201, Koloa, HI 96756
Another island, another highly anticipated restaurant to try. It came time for my family to hop over to Kauai after spending two full days in Maui ziplining, Segway-ing, and exploring Lahaina Town. During trip planning, my cousin Connie had recommended for us to check out Eating House 1849 during our stay on the island. An acclaimed restaurant by chef Roy Yamaguchi, Eating House turned out to less than 10 minutes away from where we were staying in southern Kauai.
The restaurant’s location worked out great for us, since we had caught a mid-afternoon flight over from Maui and by the time we got settled in at the resort, it was already pushing 6:30 p.m. I had booked us a reservation on OpenTable about a month prior, especially since that was going to be our Mother’s Day dinner. Walking up to the restaurant, I was really glad we had gotten the reservation; the dining room was absolutely packed! People walking up to the hostess stand were told the next seating was at 8:45 p.m. If we had been in that situation, I don’t know if my stomach could have held out until then!
It wasn’t too long after we checked in with the hostess that we got shown over to our table, located right in the middle of the dining room. There honestly wasn’t a bad spot for a table on the floor. If you sat on the outer rim of the dining room, you looked out to the shopping area and scenic views that nature afforded in the distance. If you sat closer to the central area (like we were), you had a prime view of the kitchen, separated from the dining area by a pane of glass. The line cooks were all busy working away, churning dish after dish out to all the hungry diners.
I took one look at the menu and I think my hunger doubled. Everything just sounded delicious, but luckily our waitress Sierra came to the rescue when we were a bit overwhelmed. We asked for her opinion about various dishes and she didn’t skip a beat when answering our questions or highlighting other menu items as alternative choices. Even though she certainly had her personal favorites, she said you really couldn’t go wrong no matter what you ordered.
Because of how hungry we were, we all decided to start off with some appetizers (or “pu pu” in Hawaiian). Sierra recommended for us to try their pork & shrimp potstickers, one of their most popular appetizers. To pair up with that, we also ordered the Eating House Rainbow Poke, featuring Hawaiian kampachi, ahi tuna, and salmon, finished off with an orange yuzu soy glaze and crushed pine nuts.
As tough as it was to choose appetizers to order, I think it was just as difficult for all of us to figure out what entrées we wanted to order as well. Between salads, rice, noodles, and meat dishes, the menu featured something for everyone, no matter what kind of food mood you were in that particular day. Feeling particularly carnivorous? Why not go for a 16 oz. ribeye steak? Or perhaps you’re feeling more fishy? A blackened island ahi tuna steak with soy mustard butter sauce may be more up your alley. Sierra had been making a pretty good case for their “kamameshi,” or hot pot rice bowl, paired with butterfish. It was one of their more popular entrées on the menu, so when it came time for me to order, I thought, “hey, why not give it a shot?”
Eating House 1849 works to infuse the simple flavors of a plantation town with modern Hawaiian cuisine, using the freshest local ingredients. It’s then very fitting that the restaurant uses heavy influences of plantation décor throughout the restaurant, with the classic wood material used for tables, chairs, flooring, and even creating rafters in the high ceilings. The “Eating House” name pays homage to one of the very first restaurants that opened up in Hawaii, where the ingredients were also sourced from local farmers, ranchers, and fishermen. The restaurant is open air all the way around, and uses large fans to keep everyone cool in the warmer weather. When you enter through those two front doors, it really does feel like you stepped back into another time period.
Our appetizers arrived in no time, plated elegantly where the eyes certainly feasted first. The pork and shrimp potstickers were lined up one by one, each having a sprinkle of Chinese sausage bits, scallions, and garlic aioli, all served on top of a Korean chili vinaigrette. The rainbow poke had such a great contrast of colors, with three different types of fish intermixing with cherry tomatoes, orange bits, and cucumbers, garnished with furikake (dried seaweed seasoning) and tobiko. Between the two dishes, I think I enjoyed the rainbow poke more, with the citric acid and cherry tomatoes providing a crisp flavor to contrast against the sweetness provided by the poke and tobiko. The furikake was what added the savory element to tie everything together.
And now, it was time for the heavy hitters. Our entrées had arrived and visually, everything looked great as well. My brother’s “Hapa” burger was overflowing with toppings on the bun. My mom’s beef short ribs were plated exquisitely on a bed of horseradish potato purée. The gruyere cheese from my dad’s corned beef Reuben sandwich was oozing out of the bread. The butterfish on my rice bowl looked like it was glazed perfectly on the outside.
But the taste has to back up the looks to be the complete package, and almost all the dishes achieved that. The butterfish from my rice bowl practically melted right in my mouth, with the soy glaze on the fish giving it a great balance of sweet and savory flavors to contrast with the natural taste of the fish and the rice. The corned beef on my dad’s sandwich had great savory flavor and combined well with the caramelized onions and cheese. My mom’s beef short ribs were unfortunately a little too bland, with the honey mustard flavor not really coming through. The potato purée and demi glace helped the flavors a little, but even then the meat still needed a pinch more salt.
It was my brother’s burger dish, however, that really stole the show. The hapa burger patty featured a mix of ground beef, Portuguese sausage, and wild boar, topped with smoked gouda cheese, chipotle aioli, two fried onion rings, caramelized onions, avocado slices, lettuce, and tomatoes. Now you talk about a gourmet burger right there. Sweet, savory, spicy, smoky, it had it all. The toasted bun and onion rings gave the burger a nice little crunch each time you took a bite. The flavors were all balanced and never overpowered each other. I think my brother had to actually take a moment to wipe away a tear of happiness after he finished eating that burger. If I could give it a double star recommendation ranking in my Dish Spotlight below, I really would.
Eating House 1849 was a great way for my family to start off our stay on Kauai (not to mention being a fantastic restaurant choice for our Mother’s Day dinner). Who knew that such a flavor powerhouse of a restaurant was tucked away in the quiet neighborhoods of southern Kauai? This place is an absolute must visit, especially if you’re staying at one of the several resorts in the area nearby. I would have probably been happy eating here every night we stayed on Kauai, to be honest. The relaxed ambiance, delectable flavor combinations, and outstanding service all contributed to a overwhelmingly positive experience at this Kauai restaurant gem.
Let’s now take a look at the Eating House 1849 Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
Pork & Shrimp Potstickers
Crispy potstickers filled with pork and shrimp, served with lup cheong (Chinese sausage), garlic aioli, and scallions garnished on top, and Korean chili vinaigrette underneath.
** “Hapa” Burger **
Burger patty made with a mix of ground beef, wild boar, and Portuguese sausage, topped with smoked gouda cheese, onion rings, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado slices, and chipotle aioli. Served on a lightly toasted bun.
And finally, here are my rankings for Eating House 1849:
Food: 4.75 / 5
The flavors of all the dishes (with the exception of the beef short ribs) were pretty much spot-on. Like I mentioned above, the menu showcases various rice, noodle, seafood, and meat dishes with exciting flavor combinations. Out of them all, however, the most memorable dish will certainly be that hapa burger, with its bold, layered, and hearty flavors something that could justify flying back to Kauai just to eat.
Atmosphere: 5 / 5
I always really enjoy restaurants that offer diners a view into the kitchen, as it showcases how hard their staff works day-in and day-out. For an area that frequently gets nice climate, it was great to be able to sit indoors, have all the rectangular windows open, and feel the natural air roll through the dining room. The ever-present theme of wood in the dining furniture and décor really helped to bring out the plantation-era feel of the space.
Service: 5 / 5
Sierra couldn’t have done a better job as our waitress. She was very friendly, knowledgeable about the restaurant’s entire menu, and certainly made us feel welcome at the restaurant. She never hesitated to answer any of the questions we had about the food or drinks, and stopped by frequently during the meal to make sure we had everything we needed for a great dining experience.
Price: 4.25 / 5
Seafood items are certainly at a premium, with many of those dishes running for $30+ on the menu. My kamameshi, for the quantity of food that in the bowl, I thought was priced a little high. On the contrary, I thought that pricing the hapa burger and corned beef Reuben under $20 each hit the mark, given the quality of the ingredients used to make the food.