Thursday, October 13, 2011

Neide's Salsa & Samba (Hanalei, Kauai, Hawaii)

Chicken Ensopado

It might be the only Brazilian restaurant on the island of Kauai. But Neide's Salsa and Samba, hidden behind the excellent BarAcuda in Hanalei, seems to do a pretty fair job of representing the cuisine. 

At a recent dinner, we tried the ensopado (stew) of chicken, potatoes and carrots in a "special Brazilian sauce" (pictured at the top of this post). The stew was quite sweet -- a bit too sweet for my tastes, as though ketchup might've been the ingredient responsible for the hint of tomato -- and pleasantly garlicky in a restrained, mellow way. Chicken (two pieces of skin-on thigh bone meat) was fall off the bone tender without being dry. Potatoes and carrots still had a tiny amount of bite, though they'd been cooked long enough that the flavors from the sauce had thoroughly infused them. This was a well made, home-style comfort food and enjoyable to eat, despite the pronounced sweetness.

Justin ordered the panqueca with beef, described as a "crepe filled with ground beef sauteed with bell peppers, onions and savory spices, then topped with meat sauce and parmesan cheese". I'm sure there are many ways to make a panqueca, but this half moon version, similar in appearance to an omelette, was a departure from the rolled versions I've had in the past, and exorbitantly stuffed with filling. The crepe was nice and thin, but the filling was, to me, a bit boring. Ground beef was sauteed with corn (not bell peppers), spooned into a crepe, then topped with a tomato sauce (not meat sauce as far as I could tell) and cheese (not Parmesan, but perhaps cheddar). Justin said he enjoyed the food.

Panqueca with Beef

Both dishes came with a generous portion of black beans and rice. Rice was fluffy and well cooked. Beans had the firmer texture of having been prepared from their dry state, rather than from a can, and were very minimally seasoned. They were basic, but enjoyable. (Let it be noted for the record that I adore well made beans and rice.)

Decor isn't fancy. There are some tables inside, but the real draw is the outdoor seating on the patio. The tables were rather sticky, but what the digs lacked in charm, the view of the mountains to the south of Hanalei, while the sun was setting, and the very nice waiter more than compensated for. (In the opposite direction, the glimpse into BarAcuda's back kitchen area was interesting, too, but maybe not as much for other people. :) There are a few Hawaiian beers on offer -- three or four the evening we went, several other standard issue beers and tropical cocktails (mai tais, pina coladas, cuba libres, etc...), and even some wines by the glass. For the Hanalei area, prices were fair: Each of our mains was about $13 and substantial enough to last us two meals. Fish tacos and enchiladas were $17. Steaks were, I think, the most expensive item on the menu and about $20.

If you need a break from the area's more upscale offerings or just have a sudden hankering for Brazilian food while on Kauai, Neide's isn't a bad place to go.

5-5161 Kuhio Hwy, #105
Hanalei, HI 96714
(808) 826-1851

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