Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mama Kwan's Tiki Bar & Grill - Kill Devil Hills, NC

Mama Kwan’s Tiki Bar & Grill
MP 9.5 Croatan Hwy
Kill Devil Hills, NC

Mama Kwan's is a pleasant beach restaurant with grass mat ceilings, surf boards on the walls, and paddle fans keeping everyone cool.  The tables are laminated with a tropical flower motif – very bright and colorful.  There are tropical flowers and beach murals on the walls, a big U shaped bar, and TVs on every wall.  The greeting area features a thatched roof hostess station and there are wood floors throughout.  The bathroom alcove is painted with a bright seascape and signs for “Dudes” and “Babes” don the doors– lots of fun.  The atmosphere overall is colorful, welcoming, noisy, and exciting.  There is reggae, beachy music piped in and the menu is very friendly with add ons listed as “And Maybe.”  One of the featured items on the menu was listed as B.O.F.F. with the description reading “basket of French fries – duh.”  Very cute. 

Bathroom Doors
Grass mat ceiling with mounted surfboard
Bar area

When we went on a Tuesday for lunch, there were lots of locals with not an empty seat in the house.  After looking through the menu we ordered Blackened Tuna Nachos, Jerk Wahoo, Blackened Fish Tacos, regular Fish Tacos, and Jerk Chicken Tacos. 

The Blackened Tuna Nachos came as an appetizer and the presentation was very inviting.  There were homemade tortilla chips topped with melted shredded cheese, big chunks of blackened tuna, tomato, lettuce, red onions, scallions, and Napa cabbage all covered with a drizzle of sour cream lime sauce.  It looked scrumptious and from the very first bite we were in love.  We ordered this appetizer because of the novelty and were delighted by the flavor.  The tuna was perfectly cooked, delicious, and intensely seasoned.  The chips were crisp and light, the vegetables were fresh, and the lime sour cream sauce was exquisite.  We devoured the entire dish and were scraping the bottom to get the last bits up.  Definitely order this when you visit.  DEFINITELY!

Blackened Tuna Nachos
The Jerk Wahoo was beautifully served atop jasmine rice, covered with black beans, then the Wahoo, and topped with a slice of grilled pineapple.  There were grilled grape tomatoes and steamed broccoli dancing around the sides and the plate was a work of art.  The fish was delicious, but overcooked so somewhat dry.  The rice was plain, but offset by the black beans and pineapple – quite delicious.  We added some soy sauce (there’s a bottle on every table) and that polished off the fish beautifully.  Overall it was a large serving that we couldn’t finish, and a delicious entrée.

Jerk Wahoo

 Both the Blackened and regular Fish Tacos came with a big scoop of jasmine rice topped with sesame seeds, three fresh flour tortillas, a mound of pre-shredded cheddar and jack cheese, scallions, Napa cabbage, and lime sour cream sauce.  They also came with a side of salsa.  The difference between the blackened fish and the regular fish – both Mahi Mahi – was the intensity of flavor.  The blackened fish was highly seasoned and succulent and the regular fish was delicate and pleasing.  The tortillas were fresh and soft.  Once we assembled the tacos, they were delicious; however, we would prefer freshly grated cheese to the pre-shredded variety we were given as the flavor wasn’t as bright.  The rice was plain and dry and we really didn’t eat much of it.  The fish tacos are good and are a signature dish for this restaurant.

Fish Tacos
Blackened Fish Tacos

The Jerk Chicken Soft Tacos came with big chunks of fresh red tomatoes, fresh spinach, chopped red onions, a mound of shredded cheese, salsa, and lime sour cream sauce.  The plate was completed with a big scoop of jasmine rice topped with sesame seeds and three fresh flour tortillas.  The tortillas were, like all the others, fresh and soft, and the rice was plain and next time we’ll ask for a substitution.  The tomatoes and spinach were very fresh and overall the taco was delicious.  The chicken was cooked well and the combination was delicious.

Jerk Chicken Soft Taco

The plating of all the dishes was beautiful and well executed.  There was a spicy red sauce garnish on each of the plates – originally we thought it was just for decoration, however, when one of the Mahi Mahi tacos came in contact with it, we discovered it was actually the perfect complementary flavor for the dish.  We would have loved a side order of that and will ask for it next time. 

Overall our experience at Mama Kwan’s was excellent. The servings are large and the food is great.  The atmosphere is fun and relaxed and was a great addition to our vacation.  Of all the dishes we tried, the Tuna Nachos beat everything.  As we left, we noticed the picnic tables outside and thought it would be a great way to spend an evening to eat dinner and look forward to returning to try other menu offerings.  If you’re in Kill Devil Hills, we highly recommend that you stop in and try this local favorite.  

Mama Kwan's Grill & Tiki Bar on Urbanspoon

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