Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai

Sam Choy's Kai Lanai – Enjoy Classic Island Recipes Served with Aloha in Kailua-Kona
The Bottom Line:

Scratch-made Hawaiian classics are the name of the game at Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai. Born from the culinary passions of the Godfather of Poke, Chef Sam Choy, all their dishes promise to leave you wholly impressed. Their aloha spirit shines bright, too, making this a great place to go when you want pure perfection served with a smile.

- The Local Expert Team

When you’re craving all the Hawaiian classics, get on over to Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai to enjoy all the fan favorites. At this Kailua-Kona eatery, the crew follows the direction of the world-renowned Godfather of Poke, Chef Sam Choy, in creating scratch-made deliciousness. Then, they exude his bright aloha spirit in warmly inviting their guests to kick back and savor all the wonderful island flavors. Scenic sunset views complete the picture of perfection, making this a great spot to land when you want a meal to remember.

As a result, their tables stay filled with loyal patrons from open until closed, so you definitely need reservations. In fact, many guests cannot break themselves away from their tables, especially at sunset. So, book your reservation time for well before the sun starts to go down. Or be prepared to wait after your reservation time for all the patrons to slowly tear themselves away from the view. Don’t forget to ask for a spot out on the patio for the full open-air, oceanside dining experience.

If your table is not ready when you arrive, you’re welcome to sit by the bar for apps and drinks. Otherwise, your server will lead you to your selected spot, roll out the menus, and answer all your questions. They’ll come back often, too, to check if you want to put in an order to the kitchen or need anything else along the way.

As the kitchen receives your requests, they’ll get to work using fresh ingredients and time-honored practices to create your order from scratch. Expect a little bit of a wait for all that to happen, but it’s well worth the extra time. When your items finally arrive tableside, you’ll get to enjoy their artistic presentations to start. Once you get that first bite, however, you’ll instantly see just why this eatery remains a true local favorite year after year.

Their most popular items include:

Often regarded as the best on the island, the Calamari is a great way to start your meal. They make this dish by coating strips of calamari in a well-seasoned breading. Then, they fry them until golden brown and bring them to the table piping hot. Ask for your favorite dipping sauces to bring it all together.

The Best Beef Stew
For a decadently savory, beefy dish that’ll stick to your ribs and leave you feeling 100% satisfied, get The Best Beef Stew. Although they keep their recipe a secret, the name definitely says it all. Each bowl comes with your choice of white or fried rice as well.

Sesame Chicken Tenders
Do you absolutely adore sweet and savory flavors in every bite? If so, you need the Sesame Chicken Tenders in your life. They create this popular entrée by cutting the high-quality chicken into tenders and covering them in a light batter. After that, the strips go for a swim in the deep fryer until golden brown. Once they come out, they’re tossed in sesame seeds and plated up with coleslaw, fries, and tartar sauce.

To end your meal with pure magic in every bite, set your sights on their famous Key Lime Pie. Always made fresh in-house from scratch daily, this pie has an exquisitely creamy texture highlighted by sweet and tart flavors. Plenty of whipped cream comes on top and along each side – and it’s all finished up with a dusting of crushed mac nuts. It’s the only dessert in the house, but no one ever complains since it’s so darn good.

Insider Tips:
-Come by between 2 pm and 6 pm daily for happy hour specials.
-When ordering dishes featuring fish, let them know if you’d like your seafood more than lightly seared.
-Want to enjoy their most popular Hawaiian classics on the double? Just zip through the drive-thru to order off their abbreviated menu. With that move, you’ll have your fan favorites in hand before you know it.