Big Island and Maui
We are just finishing up a trip to the Big Island and Maui. Here are the highlights:
The Big Island
Rapanui - Oh my goodness! The food here was just fantastic! As previous posters have noted, it is a small, out of the way place but oh so worth the search! We had won ton and spring roll apps and they were both great. They were made special by the accompanying dipping sauces, namely a ginger-mint-mango sauce. We tried several entrees including the beef cashew, macadamia shrimp stir fry, ahi stir fry, and pork satay. They were unanimously fabulous. The servings were generous and the prices reasonable, especially for the quality and freshness of the food. We had a peanut butter bar and coconut cream pie for dessert. Great as well. The most astonishing thing about this restaurant was that all the cooking was done by one guy in a very small galley kitchen.
Tex In Drive In - malasadas! They had filled (guava, chocolate cream, and vanilla cream) and plain, all filled to order. Our first malasadas and definitely a gold standard. They were light, pillowy, sugary goodness.
Mama's Fish House - Great as always. We had a lunchtime reservation and let them know we were celebrating a big anniversary. We were greeted and seated by Jake who showed us to a lovely table and presented us with leis. The food and service were top wonderful. Definitely not inexpensive, but a wonderful way to celebrate with Grandma and the kids.
Merriman's at Kapalua - again, we alerted the reservations agent that we were celebrating our anniversary and were greeted warmly. Our table was nicely situated and pleasant once the sun shade was lowered. We had a wonderful view of the Maui sunset. We shared a prawn sous vide appetizer which was just okay. It consisted of 3 head-on prawns with a few citrus segments. I found the prawns a bit mushy but it was my first exposure to sous vide...maybe it's supposed to be soft. I had the butterfish and my husband had the mahi. The entrees were both very good. The desserts were definitely the standout. We had the fruit soup, ice creams/sorbets, and a lemon tart. The ice creams and sorbets were outstanding...passion fruit, pineapple, mango, orange/sage (I think), and maybe a vanilla. The wine list and drink menu were extensive and seemed to be reasonably priced. The service was not the best we have experienced on the island. All in all, I was not as impressed as I expected to be by the whole Merriman's experience....
on the other hand
The Hali'imaile General Store - stole the show! We drove up from Napili for lunch and were just blown away by the food. We scored a wonderful table by the window (just by luck). I started out with a lemon-ginger cocktail that is now my new favorite. It had lemongrass, ginger, lemon, lime, and vodka. It was spicy, sweet, and tart all at the same time and very refreshing. We shared the crab pizza and a calimari salad. The famous pizza was definitely delicious...a delicate, creamy crab atop a pizza crust. The calimari salad had fresh greens topped with fried calimari and onions (pickled). It was topped with a tangy dressing. My husband had the shrimp tacos and I had the kalua pork enchilada pie that was topped with a mole and salsa verde. For dessert, we split a passion fruit creme brulee served in an almond tuille cup with fresh strawberries. Hands down, this was the best meal we had on Maui. The food was imaginative, fresh, beautifully presented, and the servings were huge (at least by Maui standards). Bev Gannon was "in the house" and made the rounds of the dining room, signing cookbooks and inquiring about everyone's dishes. I just can't say enough good things about our delightful lunch. We can't wait to return.
Where we didn't go...
David Paul's Island Grill - After checking out their menu posted outside the restaurant, we decided to pass in favor of Merriman's. The menu seemed to be more classical and heavy, as opposed to light and tropical...given the heat and humidity on Maui, the menu just seemed to rich and heavy for us. Maybe next time.
We have had a wonderful time here and have certainly had some wonderful food. Now, sadly, it's time to go home and head back to the gym to atone for all my sins..
Glad to here you enjoyed Rapanui. We went back in January and wrote about how great it was. While I love the other usual suspects, I get more of a kick out of finding gems like Rapanui. It's just really good food. I hope they survive this economic downturn.
Mahalo for the post, and Happy Anniversary. Over the decades, we've celebrated ours in Hawai`i and have seldom been disappointed.
As for the prawns, they should NOT have been mushy. Unfortunately, they probably came from either the US, or Asian Mainland. Prawns should have a texture not unlike well cooked monkfish, or lightly done lobster. These probably had not traveled as well as they should have. With the shrimp-farming operaitons on the Northshore of O`ahu, I am a bit surprised. Farmed shrimp can be almost as good as wild, and sizing can be more even, if done properly. Given his penchant for fresh and local, I am surprised at this from Chef Merriman.
With that one exception, it sounds like a wonderful occasion.
Thanks for reporting,