You could not select a better place to share a really special evening with friends than the Tea House, because this restaurant combines delicious food with the friendliest service on the island, and, as if that werent enough, a Japanese garden setting to make everything seem just a bit magical. Here you can dine on soft mats at low tables next to the goldfish and water lilies.
Children can wander around and count the carp (tell them to be careful; one of our two-year-olds tumbled in!). Local families have been coming to the Tea House for more than sixty-five years. Today they still appreciate superb cooking at reasonable prices, and its a rare wedding, anniversary, welcome or farewell party that does not take place in one of the tea rooms by the garden.
The Miyake family cooks with subtlety and flair, and creates a genuinely special cuisine, with 35 Chinese and Japanese entrees at reasonable prices from $4.75-$14.75. We recommend the won ton soup ($6) as the finest anywhere, generously garnished with scallions, pork, and slices of egg foo young.
Children will love the crispy fried chicken with its delicate touch of ginger ($6); the boneless pieces are just the right size for little hands.
When our party is large enough, we ask the owner to order a several course dinner, and we are always delighted with the new dishes we discover.
Fresh island tempura with fresh fish or shrimp is spectacular, served on an enormous platter, and the taste is just as wonderful ($9.75). Vegetarians will love the vegetable tempura ($6.50) or crispy tofu tempura ($4) served with teriyaki sauce and green onions. Sashimi of ahi and ono is fresh and elegantly arranged. A specialty, mushrooms stuffed with crab ($5.75), is lighter than many versions of the dish, and very tasty.
Chinese chicken salad has lots of chicken, lettuce, crispy noodles, and wonderful dressing. The sushi bar features excellent salmon skin handrolls with crispy grilled salmon ($4.25). California rolls ($4) have real crab without mayonnaise.
Reserve at least three days in advance to choose where you dine. Avoid the rather non-descript front dining room, and try the teppan yaki room and sushi bar.
Our favorite, however, is the tea house by the gardens, where we can listen to crickets sing the songs of evening while stars light up the velvet sky. If mosquitoes like to pick on you while ignoring your friends, dont be bashful about asking for a mosquito coil. The incense smell is great, and it keeps the bugs away!
In more than twenty years of dining, this special restaurant has never let us down. The cooking is consistently excellent, the prices remarkably reasonable, the service exceptionally friendly, and children are treated with more than usual tolerance by waitresses like Sally and Arlene who genuinely love them.
Because this is a restaurant where you should sample as many dishes as possible, and because it is such a special place, we like to save the Tea House for our last night with our Kauai friends, and ask any kapunas who might be listening to speed our return! You shouldnt miss the Tea House either.
For more restaurant reviews, consult your Kauai Underground Guide.