By Anni Caporuscio
My experience at Neide’s Salsa and Samba in Hanalei was unexpected. I walked in with a narrow view. I thought the food would be “Latin American” and I was focused on “Mexican,” maybe, beans and rice, putting things into tortillas, spicy, spicy, spicy, etc.
Neide serves traditional Brazilian food — and she serves it joyfully and plentifully.
Neide (pronounced NAY-dee) is a little firecracker who spends long hours on her feet prepping and cooking and cooking some more. We shared plates, family style, with a few staff members, and the plates kept appearing before us, one after another, beautifully presented and passed around, faster than I could write down what we were eating.
In between bites, we talked.
“You won’t get food like this anywhere on the island — unless you go to Neide’s house,” said Candace, a cook at this warm North Shore restaurant. The food reminds her of the local style in the way that it is family style; simple, fresh, good food.
Neide bases her recipes on growing up in Brazil in a big family. She recently updated her menu to reflect mostly Brazilian food, although there are still some Mexican standards that the regulars love, like the Fish Tacos and Seafood Enchiladas.
Neide is from Northern Brazil, where the climate is similar to Kaua‘i, so they eat like here: fresh fish, lime, coconut, fresh greens and rice.
All the fish is fresh, all the greens are local, and all the sauces are made in-house.
Neide’s Salsa and Samba is the courtyard of the brown building across the highway from Ching Young Village, offering picturesque views of mountains and waterfalls. They also cater to small parties and can be reached at 346-1905.
- Anni Caporuscio is a food lover and can be found daily at her Kapa‘a business, Small Town Coffee.