Sam Choy's Kai Lanai

3.7
1105 reviews
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$30 and under
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Hawaii Regional Cuisine
Top Tags:
  • Scenic View
  • Great for Outdoor Dining
  • Special Occasion
You'll experience the wonderful hospitality of the Hawaiian culture, the sensational aromas of fresh, island cooking and the innovative recipes created by Hawaii’s culinary ambassador, Sam Choy.

At Sam Choy's Kai Lanai, a stunning 230-degree view of the Pacific stretches out in a beautiful blue oasis before you. “The Short Bait” bar is a fun place to meet friends for pupus or sit by the fire pits and watch spectacular sunsets. The superb service and warm Aloha welcome will make this your top dining choice at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Dining Style
Casual Dining
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Cuisines
Hawaii Regional Cuisine
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Hours of operation
Serving Daily - Lunch and Dinner, Breakfast on Saturday and Sunday

Monday - Thursday 11:00 am - 9:00 pm
Friday 11:00 am - 9:30 pm
Saturday 7:00 am - 9:30 pm
Sunday 7:00 am - 9:00 pm

HAPPY HOUR - Daily 3:00 - 5:00 pm
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Phone number
(808) 333-3434
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Payment options
AMEX, Diners Club, Discover, JCB, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Casual Dress
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Executive chef
Sam Choy
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Private party facilities
If you have an intimate party or a large gathering, you will select your menu or defer to Chef Choy’s suggestions and life-long experience in preparing custom, creative and undeniably delicious food.
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Private party contact
Don Girvan: (808) 333-3434
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Neighborhood
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Parking details
Lot plus over flow parking lot with cart service between over flow lot and restaurant.
Additional
Beer, Fireplace, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Non-Smoking, Outdoor dining, View, Wheelchair Access, Wine
Reviews from verified diners
1,105 reviews
3.7 out of 5 Stars
Outstanding
34%
Very Good
31%
Good
15%
Fair
10%
Poor
9%
3.7
food
3.6
service
4.2
ambience
3.4
value
Noise · Moderate
64% of people would recommend it to a friend
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FW
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on July 10, 2018
Overall 2food 3service 1ambience 3

The OpenTable app specifically asks for an indoor or outdoor reservation. But the restaurant couldn’t care less. When I reminded the hostess, she said there were not any tables outside available, when clearly there was an open 6-top. We only had a party of 4, but the 6-top remained unused during our entire meal...poor customer service.

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JB
1 review
Dined on July 7, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 1

Unfortunately Poor service spoilt our meal. The only positive was the view from our table onto to shopping Centre Solar panels

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NP
1 review
Dined on July 5, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 3ambience 4

Great location and pretty good service. This restaurant has the potential to be really great and in fact it was at one point. Unfortunately it has gone downhill. This is not my first bad food experience here. I thought initially that I “caught them on a bad day”. At this point they are all “bad days”. On this particular experience the vegetables served with my fish were soggy the way frozen vegetables are. The fish was over cooked. Our poke appitizer was served luke warm after our dinner was, even though it was ordered well before our dinner. To be fair management and our server were very gracious about the mistake but there is no excuse for the poor quality of overpriced food. As a resident of Kona I am saddened that Sam Choy’s no longer holds themselves to a higher standard. Easy to do when you primarily serve a revolving door of tourists.

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JI
Hawaii
2 reviews
Dined on July 5, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 4

The noodles dishes had a LOT of vegetables and very little pasta.
At one point we asked one of the servers for an appetizer and when it did not arrive for a long time, we asked our waiter and was told dont ask them. They will never out in our order. Sounds a little ridiculous and does not seem like they communicate.
They gave us a discount on one if the pasta dishes but it wasn’t about the money, it was the idea of a pasta dish with very little pasta. If thats the case, dont put it on the menu.
Hope it improves, we like the area.

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DC
Denver
1 review
Dined on July 1, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Always enjoy our meal here when we visit Hawaii. Delicious fresh fish options.

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DH
1 review
Dined on July 1, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 2ambience 3

we sat at a table for 20 minutes. The waiter was either new or having a poor night. Dinner was good but not something we’d go back for.

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DN
1 review
Dined on July 1, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 3ambience 5

The appetizers were excellent. The rice was hard and sent back twice only to get another uncooked rice. Otherwise, it would have been great.

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LW
Seattle
1 review
Dined on June 24, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Gorgeous views, wonderful food, a little pricey,but worth it

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MB
San Diego
2 reviews
Dined on June 23, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 5

Unfortunately we had to wait for the food to be served due to running out of the original plate. The waiter was very apologetic and provided us with an appetizer. Otherwise, the food was delicious. We will come here again.

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Z
Hawaii
1 review
Dined on June 20, 2018
Overall 2food 1service 2ambience 4

Ordered lamb medium rare. It was served burnt black and well done. Difficult to cut, meat very hard. Also, lamb was not warm. The glaze on the lamb was charcoal black. Food was not edible. Had to wait an additional 10 minutes for replacement. Other guest’s food was prepared properly.

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K
Hawaii
6 reviews
Dined on June 18, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

Food was excellent! However, our waiter was slow in getting to us throughout the meal.

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OT
Miami
1 review
Dined on June 15, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 3

Worst food and restaurant that we experienced on a two week trip to Hawaii. Waitress brought two incorrect dishes and then argued that we ordered them. All dishes were composed of low quality meats dripping in uncreative and poor tasting sauces. Ribs, steaks, duck, and fish...all the same story. Place was empty and now we know why.

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S
1 review
Dined on June 15, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 4

Nice view if weather is good at evening time. Food is OK and service is good.

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OT
1 review
Dined on June 10, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Poke platter was awesome. So large we ordered a salad instead of dinner.

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OT
Denver
22 reviews
Dined on June 9, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 4

Went during trip to Kona. Good food. Recommend goin before sunset to see the views.

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KC
Seattle
6 reviews
Dined on June 6, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

It was a special spot for our last night on Hawaii....beautiful expansive view for sunset. We thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience...food, view, and ambience.

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J
Minneapolis
5 reviews
Dined on June 1, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

We ate here for our last dinner on the Big Island during our vacation. Our server was friendly and knowledgeable. Our drinks and food were extremely tasty and well presented. We were happy with our choice to eat here. Some of our view was looking at the tops of nearby buildings, but if you look beyond that, there is a lovely view of the ocean.

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JA
Phoenix
3 reviews
Dined on June 1, 2018
Overall 2food 1service 1ambience 2

We hadn't been to Sam Choys and we remembered it as very good. We were very disappointed. Our server was very strange putting his tongue inside his cheek and assuming poses. We didn't know what he was posing for but it did not put us at ease. The food had really slipped. The fresh catch was supposed be macadamia nut encrusted. The server told us they were out of Mac nuts. There is a KTA Market down the driveway. Go buy some Mac nuts!!! So our friend ordered a Japanese dish 'tonkatsu'..this is always served with a dipping sauce. The server told us they don't serve the sauce there. So our friend's food was dry. I ordered the duck. It was tough and the skin was not crisp, just very greasy. If we had been by ourselves I would have sent the food back, but I didn't want to make a scene. I just know that Sam Choys restaurant needs a redo and we won't patronize there until it gets one.

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S
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on May 30, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Great food great service and friendly staff always. Very fresh fish and very reasonable prices! Enjoy the local vibe!

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J
1 review
Dined on May 28, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We had a wonderful dinner with an EXCELLENT waiter. He most very attentive and his recommendations were perfect. We were treated to desserts because we were celebrating birthdays. I hope to go back again soon.

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HP
Atlanta
16 reviews
Dined on May 26, 2018
Overall 2food 4service 1ambience 3

Horrible service, waited over :15 minutes before anyone came over and acknowledged our table. Service was slow. Felt ignored. Most of the evening. Even with reservations didn't feel like it was a great table all the way in the back on the side. Maybe a big party. But staff is nice and friendly. I feel like the menu changed. Food was ok didn't have the wow factor I remembered. I was a bit disappointed.

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M
1 review
Dined on May 15, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Wonderful view, good food, great place to see the sunset.

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O
Vancouver
5 reviews
Dined on May 15, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

we enjoyed our annual farewell to Big Island dinner at Sam's again this year. as always everything especially the view was exceptional. we ate a ton of fresh Island seafood prepared in a variety of ways, with good cocktails and a great ambiance.

will always go back.

thank you

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JM
1 review
Dined on May 14, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

SERVER, Nathan,was a great addition to the establishment.

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OT
St. Louis
2 reviews
Dined on May 13, 2018
Overall 3food 1service 5ambience 5

The menu supposedly has several gluten free entrees. What they don’t mention is that all the sauces with those entrees have gluten. I received ahi tuna with nothing on it but scallions. All salad dressings also have gluten. Do not eat here if you’re gluten free. At least they refunded my meal

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m
1 review
Dined on May 12, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 3ambience 1

For the prices of the food...totally not worth it. Waitress was awesome but kitchen was slow.

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EA
1 review
Dined on May 5, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

Very good service. My husband ordered the 'Sam's Island Poke (Raw)', however, it was very salty. We told the waiter and got a replacement right away... this time the teriyaki wasabi drizzle was in a separate container, food tastes good!

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A
Houston
6 reviews
Dined on April 28, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

One of my favorite restaurants on the BI & have been dining there every vacation since they opened! My only complaint is that the Grilled Oriental Lamb Chops did not have the sweet oriental glaze that I had become accustomed too, & my grilled vegetables with the macadamia nut crusted fish were as bland as they come & we're just steamed. So on both occasions I had to request Sam's oriental dressing on the side for a dipping sauce for the lamb chops & vegetables.

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PD
1 review
Dined on April 28, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 2

We visited Sam Choi's Kai Lanai in 2016 and were very pleased, so we took our family there, this year April 27th, and were disappointed in the ambiance and noise level (we were sitting under the roof and probably the noise is not so bad if you sit outside). A beautiful sunset would have partly compensated this, but unfortunately it wasn't visible due to the clouds :-(
The service was good and the waiter was very nice but could not fulfill our request to order an item from the lunch menu for one of us. The food was good but not outstanding and the chef visited our table for a short talk. All in all I would only recommend Sam Choy's Kai Lanai for dinner at a table outside when the sunset will be visible.

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PJ
Vancouver
2 reviews
Dined on April 24, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Sam Choy's is always a nice place for lunch. Casual, semi-outdoor tables with a cool breeze and a nice view of the ocean. I had the fresh fish plate with mahi mahi and brown rice, which was delicious; and my friend had one of the huge, wonderful salads.

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y
1 review
Dined on April 24, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 5

nice view!
open.casual.relaxing space
drink serve is slow
we need waiting 10〜15 min
suppose to be less staff

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OT
1 review
Dined on April 23, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 1ambience 4

Unfortunately the restaurant is severely understaffed. Service was therefore very slow. Our appetizer came out with our meal instead of ahead of time. Also, the portion size and quality of the food was not what it's been in the past. I have been going to this Sam Choy's for over 10 years and was very disappointed.

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m
Chicago
2 reviews
Dined on April 21, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great food, views and setvice

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JL
1 review
Dined on April 20, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 4

We had a great dinner with close family all visiting from Canada. Good options for meals. Everyone enjoyed their dinner and our service from Dale was excellent! We visited the restaurant several years ago and remembered that it had a great view and nice lights for evening visit. Would definitely go again!

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w
Philadelphia
8 reviews
Dined on April 19, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Wonderful place to view sunset. Good was great too.

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EH
1 review
Dined on April 17, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Very nice. Great service. The poki appetizer is to die for. Fabulous.

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OT
Tampa
1 review
Dined on April 16, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 5

Historically bad night at this joint. Poor service, inedible food, almost empty parking lot. This place has one of the best sunset view on the big island. In the past it has had food and service that rivaled the view. Not so on Sunday this week. Waited over an hour for overdone ( to mush) fish. Took forever to just put the order in, then the wait was ridiculous, and upon delivery it was obvious it cooked the whole time.

Even though they comped the food, I did not eat it. Look for another alternative.

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OT
Detroit
3 reviews
Dined on April 15, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

I reserved an outdoor table with fire pit on Open Table. When I arrived (10 minutes early) for my reservation there was a couple in front of us that did not have a reservation but they were seated at an outdoor table. We were next & told no outdoor tables available. We were sat at a table in the back adjacent to a wedding reception group. Service was very good until the wedding party arrived & then server was busy with them. Food was delicious but rest of experience was not.

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HB
Hawaii
1 review
Dined on April 15, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 1ambience 5

We reserved an outside table, but were shown an indoor table next to a screaming child. When we asked to move outside, the only option was a low cocktail table. We took it, but couldn't put our knees under the low table and had to perch throughout dinner. The view was worth it.

The waitress had trouble remembering our pupu order, and sent the wrong one, then acted like we were being difficult.

My mojito had no rum in it, just lime juice and wilted mint leaves. Ugh. Waitress insisted there was rum in it, I had to demand it be taken off the bill.

The food was very pretty, but poorly cooked. The lamb was nearly raw. My duck had beautifully crispy skin, but the fat hadn't been rendered, so I couldn't eat the skin, where all the seasoning was.

We won't go back there.

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JB
1 review
Dined on April 12, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Reservations accepted and honored on time. Parking good. Excellent view of the ocean. Sunsets fantastic. Food presentation good. Delicious calamari appetizers. Service respectful. Enjoyed the evening.

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