Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Keoki’s ParadiseRestaurant Insider
April 3, 2022
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: T S RESTAURANTS
ANNE LEE speaks with Keoki’s Paradise general manager DARIN TANN
Keoki’s Paradise opened in January of 1986 in Poipu. This T S Restaurants is a hidden Hawaiian paradise nestled within lush foliage, meandering streams and cascading waterfalls. Its specialty is handcrafted fresh fish prepared with local island flavors. It also features prime rib, steaks and lobster. Keoki’s Paradise also has exclusive exotic tropical cocktails and live Hawaiian entertainment.
When I sat down with general manager Darin Tann, I was impressed by the beautiful interior and the open dining room. This was the perfect way to try a few of their popular dishes and cocktails and hear more about this magical place.
AL: What makes this restaurant group so unique?
DT: T S Restaurants is so special because of how close-knit our company is. I have a great relationship with our owners and executives. They are very supportive and genuinely care about me. One of my favorite parts of working with T S is how focused we are on serving our communities. They encourage us to do more than just run a restaurant; they want us be involved and make an impact on the community. Also, they truly care about a work and life balance. They are very supportive of me going on surf trips.
AL: What are the most popular items at Keoki’s Paradise?
DT: Our Panko & Mac Nut Crusted Fresh Hawaiian Fish ($36) is crusted with panko flakes, Parmesan and mac nuts, and sautéed until golden brown. It is served with a lemon caper beurre blanc, basmati rice pilaf and locally grown bok choy. Another popular item is our Seafood Risotto ($35), a nice creamy dish with tons of seafood offered with the mushroom, spinach and chardonnay herb risotto. Lastly, our Prime Rib ($41) is only offered “while it lasts.” It is nice cut of Double R Ranch Signature Beef with mashed potatoes and local-sourced vegetables.
AL: How does the chef come up with the menu?
DT: Our chefs change and adjust our menus throughout the year and follow our concept of working with local farmers, ranchers and fishermen. We only serve quality ingredients that are sustainable. In addition, we incorporate kalo or canoe plants in some of our dishes. Our concept is heavily focused on the relationships we have all throughout Kauai. One thing that is very unique to Kauai are the pohaku kui ai (poi pounders). These large stone tools were used strictly for the purpose of mashing kalo (taro) into poi, a smooth, sticky paste that was the Native Hawaiians’ staple food. It was a repetitive job that required a lot of arm strength. The poi pounders found on Kauai and Niihau are shaped differently than the ones on the other islands. They’re cut in the shape of a ring with a hole cut through the stone and in the shape of a pedestal — these are two-handed poi pounders.
AL: Tell me about the dishes that you selected for us to try?
DT: The Crispy Hoisin Honey Pork Ribs ($17.50) are all-natural pork ribs with a chile-spiked hoisin glaze, served with pickled cucumber. Guava BBQ Chicken ($29) is an all-natural half chicken with a local-inspired guava barbecue sauce with a Kauai-made vegetable kimchi.
I also had them prepare a vintage 44 Mai Tai ($18), our locally influenced version of the original mai tai. We add fresh lime juice, Koloa rums and a splash of fresh pineapple juice. The Chee Hoo Chiller Slushie ($20) is always a favorite; refreshing and fun. It’s served in a coconut with 100% Hawaii-grown fruit juice slushie, and your choice of vodka, tequila or rum.
AL: Where do you like to eat?
DT: On Kauai, I enjoy eating at Kiawe Roots in Lawai for their Tinono Pork Belly; the Spicy Ramen at Eating House at Kukuiula; and the Fried Kona Kampachi at Hualani’s at Timbers Kauai. However, I am not picky. Give me anything with noodles — from pasta to pho — I’m in!
AL: Anything else you want to share?
DT: Keoki’s is a very special place. There are many memories here for many of our kamaaina and visitors. We may not be by the beach like many of our other T S Restaurants, but it’s truly a hidden gem. You would never realize you are in a shopping center.