drinking at a kava bar and feeding moray eels

cup of kava

Cup O' Kava at Kanaka Kava Bar..

I love finding these little jewels. I had stumbled upon the Kanaka Kava Bar not a minute too soon, just when I was about to accept the fact that Hawaii’s big island was completely void of any funk at all. Tucked away in the back of the Coconut Grove plaza, this sweet little spot serves as a unique and friendly oasis to both tourists and locals.

So exactly what is kava? Also known as Hawaiian 'Awa', the bar's website describes it as a "natural antidepressant and relaxant", though I actually found it to be a stimulant and also a mild anesthetic (my face and extremities felt rather numb after ingesting it). Made from the pulverized root of the (fresh) kava plant, the resulting mash is strained through a cloth and then mixed with fresh water. After the kava has been poured into a large hand carved wooden bowl, it is continually stirred, mixed and splashed (to keep it from separating and also to keep it fresh) and then served by ladle into a coconut shell cup. It is supposed to be consumed quickly (“slammed”) before the root has had a chance to separate and settle in the bottom of the cup. The liquid looks like muddy water taken from a torrid river and tastes like it too. But it is more than just a beverage. Taking kava also has a spiritual and social significance. “Made from the root of a species of pepper plant known as Awa (Piper methysticum, which is "intoxicating pepper"), Awa has been used by people indigenous to the South Pacific for over 3,000 years. The Kava beverage is a central part of Polynesian Society, and has been used for centuries as a ceremonial, medicinal and also recreational drink.”

Kanaka Kava Bar

The local patrons I sat amongst during my kava experience were super friendly and seemed to assume personal responsibility in seeing that each visitor felt welcome (as did the staff). The food menu looked appealing…..a simple but inspired looking Hawaiian selection of items such as Poke (fish), Kalua Pork, Taro (steamed in coconut milk) and Haupia (sweet potato pie) and I regret that I did not manage to fit in a return visit and order a meal. As I was getting ready to leave, bar regular ‘Dave’ was preparing to head for the beach and feed the moray eels. He was going to serve them fish trim from the restaurant kitchen and asked me if I would like to come along. Absolutely! As the beach was right across the street, we were at the water’s edge in mere seconds. Dave scattered the tuna trim buffet on the rocky shoreline. Eels have an impressive sense of smell and, in no time, were slithering up the rocks and snatching their supper. They ranged in length from 1-2 metres, some of them grey, some white and even one red ‘viper’ which measured about 5"-6” in diameter. They were very hungry and very creepy. (See video below)

Moray eels

Moray eels just the way I like 'em..... at a safe distance.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love those eels, by the way...

Thanks again for the treats. So good.
Very happy people at the bookstore today.

N @ D's.