The best “sushi & Japanese restaurant” in Kauai is Japanese Grandma’s cafe!

Aloha! Japanese cuisine has been one of the popular food to eat in the US. There are so many Sushi or Japanese restaurants exist now. 
People consider Japanese cuisine is not only tasty yet healthy.  No wonder Japanese/sushi is popular among America. 
Let me introduce the most delicious Japanese cuisine and sushi restaurant in Kauai island!

I am originally from Japan so I gravitate toward authentic Japanese food. 

The place I went abroad was Guam since my aunt lived there.  It was about a 4 hours plane ride from Japan.  As you know Guam is a part of the United States so Guam is the closest to America from Japan. 
I still remember having Japanese food in Guam in 80s. I was missing Japanese food after being there for three days.  I ordered the meal at one of the Japanese restaurants there but it was not a great experience.  The miso soup tasted with some miso paste and hot water, no flavor at all. 
Now, you can find a great Japanese food at a lot of difference cities and places.  Honolulu, Hawaii is one of the great place to eat Japanese cuisine.
I tend to cook Japanese food at home a lot.  However, there are some things it is difficult to cook at home.  I also craved the delicate flavored professional Japanese cuisine or sushi.  When I first moved here in Kauai, I flew to Oahu and had some Japanese cuisine since I couldn’t find the place I particularly like in Kauai. 
There are some good sushi places in Kauai, such as Hyatt, Koa Kea hotel or Dolphin restaurant but it is not authentic Japanese sushi.  It is hard to describe what makes NOT authentic sushi. It can be the doneness of the rice, seasoning ratio of sushi rice, size of the sliced fish, size of the rice ball, how much tension the chef uses to make rice ball etc. The list is very long. I know it is a small things but when all the checkboxes are checked, it will make authentic Japanese cuisine and sushi! 
There are not only sushi restaurants but also Japanese restaurants.  Most of the places are considered as Americanized Japanese food.  For example, one of the popular Japanese dish, tempura is so breading heavy and you can be full by just eating the breading on tempura.  I don’t say I am a great chef but I have to say I can cook better Japanese cuisine than what most of the restaurants offer in Kauai.  
That being said, we finally have a great authentic Japanese cuisine/sushi restaurant in the city of Hanapepe, Kauai. I approve their Japanese cuisine/sushi 100%! I can say This Japanese restaurant is the BEST Japanese restaurant you can go in Kauai! 

“Japanese Grandma’s Cafe”(Japanese/sushi restaurant)finally opened in Hanapepe town in Kauai island!

“Japanese Grandma’s Cafe” (Japanese/sushi restaurant) opened in Hanapepe town in Kauai island in July, 2016. 

”Japanese Grandma’s Cafe”(Japanese/sushi restaurant) was open by Keiko who is the owner of this restaurant. Her father was Japanese restaurant chef in California so she grew up eating great Japanese food, which means she has a great palate when it comes to a great Japanese cuisine.

The restaurant chef, Shin is Japanese and he is a sushi chef so you can enjoy authentic Japanese sushi at “Japanese Grandma’s cafe” (Japanese/sushi restaurant).

The restaurant was used to be an art gallery. It is a great cafe setting restaurant now. 

One third of the space is boutique shop called “Blue/Umi”(left side) and about two third of the space is the restaurant. When it was first opened, the space was smaller but the restaurant was such a hit, they expanded a bit more.

There are sushi counter and some table seating in the restaurant.
There are some outdoor space in the back of the restaurant, which you can rent for the private gathering or party. The decor is Hawaiian feel to it and very lovely.  
Let me introduce some of the menu at “Japanese Grandma’s Cafe”(Japanese/sushi restaurant)!

“Japanese Grandma’s Cafe” (Japanese/sushi restaurant)My recommendation lunch menu(11am-3pm)

☆ Poke bowl $17(Ahi, vegetable, Tamanishiki rice with Chef’s special sauce)
*add masago or avocado $2.50   *Substitutions for white rice

*Local Organic Green +$1    *Brown Rice +$1

You are probably thinking poke? I can eat that anywhere especially while we are in Hawaii. Let me tell you it is different from regular poke which typically has the based flavor of oil and soy sauce. “Japanese Grandma’s Cafe” (Japanese/sushi restaurant) uses miso based special sauce created by chef Shin. He even cut fresh tuna for each order.

The fresh tuna, crisp vegetables and the special sauce is simple yet very satisfying flavor that you can find any other restaurants in Kauai. Highly recommended! 

 Tempura Bowl 
  Shrimp Tempura Bowl $17 *Vegetable Tempura bowl $12
    Mixed Tempura Bowl $15
“Japanese Grandma’s Cafe” (Japanese/sushi restaurant) has a great tempura. The breading is very complex when it comes to tempura. It is supposed to be light, crispy and not greasy. They use “Tamanishiki” rice which is one of the best short grain rice that is cropped in America.
They also use fresh vegetables that are harvested locally in Kauai. It will get topped off with some rice seasoning, green onions and sesame. 
[Choose a sauce]
* House Teriyaki  *Tempura Glaze  *Spicy Yuzu Kosho  *Eel Sauce

*Garlic Sauce *Tamari Garlic Ginger.


[Add Ons]

*Avocado +$2.50 *Soft Poached Egg +$1.50 *Shrimp Tempura +$1.50/piece  *Veggie Tempura $2.50/3pc  $4/5pc


[Substitutions for white rice]

*Local Organic Green +$1    *Brown Rice +$1


“Japanese Grandma’s Cafe”(Japanese/sushi restaurant) My recommendation Sushi lunch menu(11am-3pm)

☆Futomaki-Rito *Shrimp tempura $11  *Poke $13  *Eel $14
Japanese style sushi-burrito rolled with seaweeds.
 Includes, cucumber, avocado, greens and Tamanishiki rice.

“Japanese Grandma’s Cafe” (Japanese/sushi restaurant) Lunch Menu

“Japanese Grandma’s Cafe” (Japanese/sushi restaurant) My recommendation dinner menu (5:30pm-9pm)


*Ahi Poke Wonton Tacos  $13/2pc(add one taco +$4 )Ahi, Avocado, Tobiko, Yuzu, Wasabi, Aioli.

Looking good! This is the most popular appetizer.


*Agedashi Tofu $6 Fried tofu topped with grated daikon and ginger in dashi soy broth.

This one of my favorite dish.


*Tempura / Mixed Tempura $11 (Shrimp, Green Beans,Okinawa Sweet Potato, Kabocha, Eggplant)

It doesn’t matter lunch or dinner. Tempura is number one dish at Japanese Grandma’s Cafe. 
*Pan Seared New York $17 with Yuzu Kosho Glaze
The citrus flavor from yuzu and the spicy taste from pepper are great pairing with steak. The picture shows the half portion that I shared with my friend.
*Pork Tonkatsu $15 with Shaved Cabbage, Katsu Sauce, Spicy Mustard.
*Unagi  $14  Served over white rice with takuwan.
Sweet and Savory sauce with soft eel taste in your mouth. It is also great with perfectly cooked rice. 
*Hamachi Kama-Market Price with mixed greens, lemon, and ponzu.
I know it doesn’t sound like the best part of the fish but I promise, it melts in your mouth once you taste this! If you never tried it, please have your first one here. 
☆Sushi Set with green salad and miso soup
*Nigiri $42 (8 pieces Spicy Tuna Roll or California Roll, Ebi, Hamachi, Maguro, Sake, Tamago, Unagi, Seasonal White Fish)
This is chef’s special nigiri. Everything is perfectly assembled just for you.
*Warabi-mochi with vanilla ice cream and sweet beans.
It is not overly sweet and just perfect dessert that is green tea-matcha flavored soft mochi (rice cake).
Please open this link to view other items on their dinner menu.

Please try delicious sushi that Japanese chef Shin creates at “Japanese Grandma’s Cafe” (Japanese/sushi restaurant)

Sushi has been one of the popular cuisines now in Kauai that some of the restaurants and bars even build sushi bars to bring more customers to their places.

When it comes to sushi, the rice ball goes under the piece of fish serves very important part. The doneness, seasoning, temperature, density of the rice ball are all matters to make a great sushi. They used the short grain rice called “Tamanishiki” which the best rice you can get in the US.

Of course, any fish sushi Chef, Shin serves is fresh and delicious but the way he creates both sushi and rolls are exceptional. The pressure that chef uses to make rolls and rice ball under sushi pieces needs to be just right! not too soft and not too tight so when you pick them up with chopsticks or hand, they remain the shape yet when you bite rice doesn’t feel too dense. The pairing of his technique and beautiful fish makes the best sushi in Kauai!

Hope you understand what I am talking about when you experience the sushi at “Japanese Grandma’s Cafe” sushi chef, Shin will always welcome you with a big smile on his face!

Here are Tammy’s recommended sushi menu! 

 “Japanese Grandma’s Cafe” (Japanese/sushi restaurant) Tammy’s recommendation! Sushi! 


*Ebi  $6

Kauai is know to have a great shrimp(Ebi)! They are large and texture is beautiful. Ebi(shrimp) sushi pieces are not only my recommendation but sushi chef Shin’s as well. You can request small shrimp roll, too.


*Ika(squid) $13

You can taste deliciousness of Ika(squid)but also you can admire the knife skills that sushi chef, Shin presents on this piece.


*Unagi(fresh water eel) $9

Fresh water eel would melt in your mouth and well balanced unagi sauce is just perfect!

*Any white fish that changes daily is great as well so please ask sushi chef, Shin when you visit:)



*Tiger Roll $19 (Spicy Tuna,Shrimp Tempura, Ponzu, Japanese Dressing, Topped with Shrimp)


A proud presentation of shrimp goes on top and inside the roll. This roll will fill you up.


*Grandma’s Futomaki  $14 (Egg, cucumber, yamagobo, kanpyo, shiitake, eel, shrimp)

without eel and shrimp $9.50

This is a Japanese traditional roll with full of great flavors. It looks beautiful and people from Japan would feel nostalgic.


*Uni(sea urchin, salmon and tuna are delicious, too!

You can eat great sushi at lunch time as well. 

Please view other sushi menu from the link below. 

You can check any events that are held at “Japanese Grandma’s cafe” (Japanese/sushi restaurant)

There is Hanapepe art night on every Friday night between the hours of 5pm to 8pm. They changes what they do weekly, such as Hawaiian BBQ, drawing in backyard of the restaurant, fashion show, traditional special occasion Japanese dish(Kaiseki). You can’t miss these fun when you come to Kauai!


Hawaiian BBQ




Please check the events by viewing their website.

“Japanese Grandma’s Cafe” (Japanese/sushi restaurant) Contact information.

*Open everyday besides holidays(Please contact and check before you visit if you want to make sure)

*address:3871 Hanapepe Rd.


*HP :

Please understand when you order take out, 10% of the service fee is automatically added to the total.


I hope you are hungry for great Japanese food and sushi! Tammy’s recommended place to visit in Kauai, “Japanese Grandma’s Cafe”(Japanese/sushi restaurant).

When you come to Kauai, please come and try “Japanese Grandma’s Cafe”(Japanese/sushi restaurant)^^

*Information may get changed or updated since I wrote the article. Please excuse me regarding to the changes you may find.
Much Aloha♡Tammy


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