Kauai Underground Guide

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Restaurant Kintaro

For more than fifteen years, Kintaro has remained Kauai’s best Japanese restaurant, a must if you are looking for delicious food in an attractive, comfortable setting. In fact, you will probably see the owner, Mr. Kim, hard at work running the smooth operation begun by his father.

You’ll also see a tasteful harmony of blues, whites, grays and tans in pleasing proportion. A fountain set in blue tiles and a sushi bar take up one long white wall. Nut-colored wood tables are set with chopsticks in blue and white wrappers, blue and tan tea bowls, and a striking single flower. Ceiling fans and air conditioning make Kintaro comfortably cool, and subdued Japanese music sets a relaxed mood.

What you choose to eat determines where you sit. Cocktails and pu pus are served in a comfortable, attractive lounge, where you can sip a wonderful chi chi, sample elegant sashimi, or munch on crispy fried won tons from the owner’s factory next door.

In the same spacious room, you can sit at the teppan yaki tables and watch talented chefs chop and flip and make things sizzle. As they will be happy to show you, the raw ingredients are fresh and of the best quality. Fresh island fish is enormous, and perfectly cooked to be tender, juicy, and tasty.
Following delicious miso soup, dinner entrees are presented on traditional sectioned wooden platforms and include rice, zaru soba (chilled buckwheat noodles with a seasoned soy-based sauce) and pickled vegetables, along with tea served in a blue and tan pottery teapot. Crispy shrimp tempura with vegetables ($13.95) is light and delicious, particularly the green beans. Beef sukiyaki in a cast iron pot ($15.95) is dark and dusky with translucent noodles, meat, and vegetables.

The best arrives from the hands of the sushi chef. Sashimi is excellent. Ours arrived with six elegantly arranged selections: thin slices of ahi, translucent slivers of ono, dark strips of pungent smoked salmon, shrimps cooked so perfectly that they seemed to melt as you tasted them.

According to our family expert Jeremy, Kintaro makes the best sushi on Kauai, particularly ‘California rolls’ ($4.50) with fresh crab and avocado, spicy tuna rolls, as well as the ‘salmon skin hand roll’ ($4.50), with crisp-broiled pieces of fish wrapped in a rice and nori cone. Watching the sushi chef’s lightening speed is great entertainment.

Children are welcome, as is appropriate for a restaurant named in honor of a legendary Japanese boy hero, and service is polite and, on the whole, unrushed. As our children have grown into young adults, Kintaro has become not just their favorite Japanese restaurant, but their favorite, period!

For more restaurant reviews, consult your Kauai Underground Guide.

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