Josselin’s Tapas Bar & Grill

October 16th, 2012 · 1 Comment

Kukui’ula is a newer development in Poipu on Kauai. It broke ground in 2008, but it’s been a slow go for them. There are super expensive homes, an ultra exclusive, private golf course, and The Shops at Kukui’ula, a shopping center with a ton of stores and restaurants. Oh, and a roundabout was added. As far as I can tell, the shopping center is the only part that’s doing well, the rest is a ghost town. The homes are too expensive and only people who live there can use the golf course and spa. Unless you’re Dallas and you get some family hookups, but that’s another story. Anyway.. last year we didn’t really hang out at Kukui’ula, even though it was just down the street from where we stayed. And we weren’t in Hawaii in 2010, to save for our wedding. In 2009, I remember driving on the roundabout with Dallas’s Aunty Kathy, but we were only on Kauai for one day and so I didn’t see any of it. This is a long way to say Kukui’ula is new to us, even though we visit Poipu almost every year.

Whenever Dallas and I wanted to have a fancy dinner on Kauai, we’d always go to Roy’s. And we swear, because Chef Roy Yamaguchi is from Hawaii, the Roy’s restaurants there are way better than on the mainland. Also, because they get fresh Hawaiian fish and ingredients at the Hawaii locations. We visited the one in Chicago and were not in love, but always have had a good meal at Roy’s on Kauai. Well, of course, when the schmancy Kukui’ula development opened, it included some fine dining options. We read about Merriman’s Fish House and Josselin’s Tapas Bar & Grill but never had a chance to go. We made plans with Paul and Kate to have dinner our first night on Kauai and when they suggested Josselin’s we jumped at the chance.

Chef Jean-Marie Josselin is well known in Hawaii and is one of the 12 founding members of Hawaii Regional Cuisine. I read that at one time he had seven restaurants in Hawaii, including Pacific Cafe in Kapa’a, Kauai. As of the late 90s, they’d all closed and he only had a Las Vegas restaurant. Josselin’s is his re-entry into Hawaii. The goal of Josselin’s is to create tapas-style dishes with tastes from all over the world prepared from local Hawaiian ingredients.

After we were seated, we started out with table-side sangria. The waitress serves your drink from a mobile bar. I don’t know why this is supposed to be impressive, really. It’s not like table-side guacamole where they have to prepare a bunch of things and you can adjust your level of spiciness. She really just asked what kind of sangria you wanted – classic red, lychee, pomegranate, berry-acai or lilikoi – and then poured it from a ladle into your glass. .. but whatever. I drank the lychee sangria and it was good.

Jocelin’s serves all tapas, so we ordered a ton of things to share. The menu is split into four sections: Hand Crafted Tapas From the Heart, Tapas Inspired From Our Local Farmers, Tapas From Our Kiawe Wood Burning Oven, and Tapas Inspired From The Fish Market. We ordered a few things from each section of the menu.

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Deep Fried Curried Oysters / Cucumber Sauce

Assorted Poke of the Day

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Roasted Japanese Eggplant / Goat Cheese Fritter / Chili Basil Vinaigrette

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Kiawe Roasted Asparagus / Apple Smoked Bacon / “61 Degree” Poached Organic Egg

36 Hours Braised Pork Belly / Apple Kimchee / Rosemary / Orange / Lehua Honey

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Slow Cooked Butterfish / Stir Fried Vegetables / Soy Mirin Reduction

Seared Diver Scallops / Saffron Risotto / Bay Leaf Beurre Monte

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Some things on the menu we loved and some we were not that crazy about. Nothing was really bad, but we liked some things more than others. We loved the pork belly that was cooked for 36 hours and the butterfish was great too. The eggplant was very small, but that was ok because what we really loved about that dish was the salad. The poke was good, but it was $16 and was literally like four bits, one bite on each miso spoon. It killed us a little that we could have gone anywhere and gotten about a pound of poke for that much. Overall we had a good time even though we were super travel weary. We liked the food and had fun catching up with Paul and Kate. And it’s good to know we have other fine-dining options on Kauai.

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