Namahana Books, Bikes And Bites
Have you been to Kaua‘i Mini Golf yet? If you haven’t, it’s worth a swing. This December marks the two-year anniversary of the course that winds through 2.5-acres of a Hawaiian cultural history garden — and it’s free for Hawaii residents on the last Sunday of each month.
After you play a round, have a bite to eat at Namahana Cafe. Inside, browse the gift shop that features local art as well as products including Kaua‘i Coffee, Monkeypod Jam, Waialeale Kava Source and Second Skin Naturals.
Cozy-up on the couch and use the free Wi-Fi, or peruse an extensive book collection about Hawaii’s history, culture, food and plants. If you prefer, order an espresso in the outside dining area and enjoy the lush forest view. After you’ve rested, hike or bike a 5-mile intermediate trail.
“Mr. Bill Porter opened free access to the Wai Koa Loop Trail,” says Cherie Grousset, president and CEO of Anaina Hou Community Park (AHCP). “He wants people who don’t have a bike to be able to ride, so we have an onsite bike specialist, and we rent mountain bikes.”
Kilauea native Oshi Grady is the onsite bike specialist, and owner of Waialeale Kava Source. To learn more about kava, Grady and his company, check out this week’s Farmers Market column on Page 12. Bike rentals, Kaua‘i Mini Golf and the Namahana Cafe are a small part of AHCP. The 15-acre community-based organization also features the Kaua‘i bus park-and-ride, as well as twice-a-week farmers markets and HI5, 5-cent beverage redemptions.
“Bill and Joan Porter gave a large legacy gift to the community by donating the land, infrastructure, buildings and construction costs,” says Grousset. “The gift, when finished, will approximate $25 million.”
Future plans include expanding the playground, a 10,000-square-foot concrete skate park, and an indoor/outdoor performing arts center that accommodates up to 250 people.
The Kilauea Pavilion is the cornerstone of AHCP, and will include state-of-the-art facilities such as a commercial kitchen for food production; conference rooms; an indoor movie theater and stage; and a landscaped outdoor pavilion for community events such as luaus, hula, weddings and first baby celebrations.
Namahana Cafe serves a diverse clientele of local and visiting families, as well as active adults and kids, challenging Grousset to balance fast food with wholesome food that can be sold at affordable prices.
“We’re in a unique situation,” says Grousset, a mother, certified herbalist and former vegan. “We’re trying to serve the fast food need with food that we can be proud of.”
Like a protective mother, Grousset has her eye on every menu item, and has spent considerable time sourcing the best fast-food ingredients.
“We’re feeding kids and families here,” Grousset continues. “We don’t want to be slinging poor, nutrient-empty food, but we know there’s a time and place for a treat, so we have shave ice!”
The small menu features Angus burgers ($6.25) served with potato chips, and Bruddah Dave’s Hanalei taro patties ($7.25). Both are served on soft taro buns made by Kaua‘i bakery Pueo Bread. The hot dogs are Hebrew National 100 percent beef ($3.50 for “The Works”), and eight flavors of Papalani Gelato ($3.75, single scoop) are available.
There’s also a Chicken Balsamic Wrap ($7.25), with lettuce, onion and tomato, and the vegan Island Burrito ($6.25) comes with refried beans, lettuce, kale, cilantro, daikon radish and Kaua‘i Papaya Salsa.
“Fresh food has the densest nutrition,” explains Grousset. “We use Kaua‘i-grown vegetables from our Namahana Farmers Market (Mondays and Saturdays) as much as possible, as well as lettuce from Kaua‘i Fresh Farms. We’re willing to take a smaller margin so we can offer fresh food.”
Namahana Cafe 5-2723 Kuhio Hwy.,
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Marta Lane is a freelance food writer. For more information, visit TastingKauai.com.