maui - eating/food report
as promised, here's my eating/food report. DH and i were in maui for a week at the end of august. we stayed at the maui kai condos in honokawai. we never fully adjusted to the time difference (we're from toronto) ... and we didn't want to give up the sunsets off our balcony each evening ... as a result, we ended up eating pretty early each night. i was 6 months preggers during this trip and definitely can't pack it in like i used to! as you will see from where we ate, we were pretty casual/laid back during our trip.
i've broken this down by restaurants, followed by food stores. here goes:
aloha mixed plate - lahaina
we went here for our first dinner. we were exhausted from a long flight and starving by 4 pm (jet leg from the east coast). service was fast. we were seated right near the ocean. setting is nice. food was okay ... combine tired + hungry and really, any food would've been fine.
TJ's warehouse - wailuku
we stopped in here for a quick 'bento' lunch while in wailuku. i had a pre-package bento box (misoyaki butterfish) and DH had a sampling of items from the hot table. food was really good and cheap. the place was full of locals; we definitely stood out as tourists!
home maid bakery - wailuku
we went here for dessert after TJ's. we got coconut mochi (interesting) and some malasadas. the malasadas were piping hot. maybe i'm missing something, but they seemed like a plain donut to me.
cilantro mexican grill - lahaina
good mexican food in lahaina. the food could've used some more seasoning ... but the self-serve salsa bar more than made up for it. i had a taco combo and DH had a burrito combo. prices were really reasonable.
jawz taco truck - makena beach
we stopped in here after a snorkeling trip to molokini. we had fish tacos and they were DELISH! really hit the spot after our snorkeling trip. we had our first shave ice here too ... which was nothing to write home about (see ululani's below).
star noodle - lahaina
the restaurant just opened for all day service the week we arrived. since we still hadn't adjusted to hawaiian time, we were eating our dinners pretty early. we were seated promptly when we arrived around 5 pm. the vietnamese crepe was AWESOME. ordered the pork buns and brussel sprouts ... to see how they compared to momofuku ssam in NYC. have to say, these were good but momofuku ruled, hands down! also ordered the look funn rolls ... and thought i died and went to heaven. the sauce was so good that i ordered a small bowl of rice to sop it all up. sigh ... still dreaming about that sauce.
we loved star noodle so much that we went back for our 'farewell' dinner before driving off to the airport for our overnight flight home. the vietnamese crepe was worth having twice!
moana bakery - paia
stopped in here for a quick snack after our helicopter tour ... things were pretty pricey but very tasty. we got a cinnamon bun and a cookie. yum!
geste shrimp truck - wailuku
i'm not a huge shrimp fan but i have to admit, these shrimps were mighty tasty! didn't really care for the mac salad ... but to be honest, i'm not a pasta/mayonnaise salad fan. we shared one scampi order.
we returned here a few days later and tried the pineapple shrimp. also very good but i prefered the scampi.
tasaka guri guri
refreshing treat on a HOT afternoon ... but not sure DH and i 'get' the hype. i liked strawberry better than pineapple but DH preferred the opposite. we both agreed, we liked ululani's shave ice better.
sansei - kapalua
we were the first in line at 4:30 pm ... it was a PAIN to have to wait in line till 5:15 pm. however, food was definitely good. this is NOT authentic ... so if you're going here hoping for some authentic japanese food, go elsewhere. HOWEVER, the sushi/rolls were definitely UNIQUE and tasty. the shrimp dynamite was SUPER yummy. and the shrimp cake with whatever sauce was AMAZING. we also had sunomono, panko crusted ahi, japanese eggplant, lobster/blue crab ravioli (i'd skip this next time), ahi poke, sansei's special roll, and the yellow submarine roll. we were able to take advantage of the 25% discount ...but we both agreed, we would return regardless of the discount. gratuities of 17.8% are automatically added to the bill.
i know. i was NOT planning to go to mcdonalds. but friends told us we HAD to try the haupia pie. well, i have to say ... it's worth the trip to mcdonald's for haupia pie. not sure if it's authentic or what but it was delicious. and the pie was DEFINITELY fried ... wow. delish.
ululani's shave ice
so good that we went back twice. the flavours are AMAZING ... i always had mac nut ice cream and adzuki beans and DH always had haupia ice cream and adzuki beans. we got mochi balls once ... they were good but i think i'd rather have mochi as mochi ... and not as an add in.
merriman's - kapalua
this was our 'splurge' dinner. we had 5:30 pm reservations and watched a wedding ceremony take place during sunset. it was really beautiful. service was great. food was delicious. we each had starter salads and our entrees. no booze or dessert. the bill was just over $100 (pre-tip).
honokowai okuzaya - honokowai
i'd read mixed reviews about this place but it was so close to our condo that we decided to give it a try. not cheap but decent food. we both had the ono with lemon/caper sauce...i think the total was $35. as we were driving out of the parking lot, we noticed a taco truck (ohana tacos?) was setting up in the parking lot! DAMN!!! we both agreed we would've preferred tacos for dinner! oh well ... next trip.
honolua general store - kapalua
great stop for a cheap breakfast or lunch. the store is definitely geared towards tourists in the kapalua 'village'. the hot table had some interesting dishes ... not sure what we ordered but the lady behind the counter said it was philippino. whatever it was, it was good! lunch for both was about $15.
duke's beach house
after a week of mainly seafood meals, i was CRAVING red meat. and being our last night in maui, i REALLY wanted to make it back to the condo in time for our last sunset. we went to dukes (just a short walk along the beach from our condo) and were both pleasantly surprised by our meals. we ate on the more casual patio. we had a great starter salad with kula beets and surfing goat dairy cheese. wow! i wish i had this cheese earlier in the trip! i had beef tacos and was surprised at how flavourful the dish was and how TENDER the beef was. DH had a chicken/rib combo and was also pleased.
and now, for the food stores:
safeway - lahaina
we went here our first afternoon/evening to stock up. i was expecting MUCH more expensive prices. organic milk and yogurt were the same price as what we pay at home. i know prices for dairy in the US are generally cheaper so maybe that's where the sticker shock comes from? bread was a bit more expensive than home. we noticed that packaged foods (i.e. cereals, crackers, chips, etc.) were significantly more expensive. we did not buy produce here. i signed up for the safeway discount card at the cash register and we saved a few bucks on some specific items.
foodland farms - lahaina
i kept hearing radio ads about how foodland farms carries local produce ... but you had to look pretty hard! i was surprised at how much produce was imported (either from mainland US or other countries). we bought some provisions for lunches here ... roast chickens, tomatoes, etc.
honokowai farmers market - honokowai
best place for produce! the actual outdoor market is on m-w-f mornings ... but there's a retail store open seven days a week (i think). the outdoor market seemed to have more produce. we stocked up on apple bananas, papayas, pineapples, sugar cane, coconut, etc. there's also a good selection of flavoured cream cheeses, guacamole, salsas, etc. i really liked the banana bread that we got here too.
times supermarket - honokowai
on a quiet afternoon, DH and i wandered over to times. things were pricier here than the safeway/foodland farms. but, when we travel, we like checking out local grocery stores to see how different things are compared to home.
julia's banana bread
this doesn't really count as a 'store' per se. more like a roadside stand. we took a drive around west maui from honokowai to wailuku one afternoon. we picked up two small banana loaves and a box of coconut candy. NOT cheap ... $25! but really tasty.
whole foods - kahului
the only place where i was able to find kula strawberries ... very tasty! other than that ... it was pretty similar to most other whole foods that i've been to.
costco - kahului
friends of ours had raved about costco during their trip to oahu/big island from a few years ago. so we went to check it out. not sure what all the fuss is about ... we bought some kona coffee and that's about it. as there were only two of us at the condo for one week, it wasn't worth buying anything in bulk.
we enjoyed our time in maui. i liked that water was served at every restaurant as soon as we sat down. i got a bit tired of heavy sauces/foods towards the end of the trip. we had plans to go to the old lahaina luau but since we were never awake past 8 pm each night AND since we had already eaten at aloha mixed plate, we nixed our reservations. not saying that AMP was a substitution for our luau. we made reservations at merriman's instead and were glad we did. i was totally craving potatoes by the time we got home ... there was a LOT of white rice in our diet that week! prices weren't as outrageous as i was expecting ... i guess that's a good thing! i fell in love with ono (wahoo) and somehow don't think i'm going to be able to find it at a fishmonger in toronto. i'm also on the hunt for taro chips!
We had dinner reservations at Hali'imaile General Store yesterday (2-12-12) prior to a Keali'i Reichel performance at the MACC. I got my favorite appetizer, the Sashimi Napoleon. Just as good as it was when we were here 2 years ago. Wife got one of the salads that has candied walnuts in it. It was good with the wasabi vinagrette dressing. I got the special which was a filet of monchong fish with two seared scallops over mashed potatoes. The fish was hot, scallops were warm and the mashed potatoes were almost cold. My wife got the planked salmon with fried fingerling potatoes which was very good. I didn't complain about the food because we were in a hurry to get to the MACC at 7:30. Our reservation was at 5:30 and we thought we had plenty of time, but turns out the kitchen seemed disjointed and took longer than we thought. We did make it to the concert on time and Keali'i was great!
My thoughts on Maui restaurants...
Pacifico- Good mostly seafood place. Prices aren't cheap, but not crazy either.
Merrimans- Very good food and service. Nice wine list.
Spago- Pricey, with food and service not up to the other Spagos I dined in. Servers are not trained well...several instances of having a server going over each of my shoulders at the same time...waiter didn't know easy menu questions. Not the first disappointment here.
Sansei- Inventive sushi place with a good local rep. Its OK, not great.
Nicks Fish House- Food and service are excellent. OK wine list.
We just got back from where Jaw's Taco truck is south just past Wailea. There is a green trailer that is grilling BBQ chicken breasts that I'm going to be eating more of. I nearly had to physically fend off my kids to get some and they had already eaten their food. I'll try to report back when we don't go after snorkeling, incase it was just that we were hungry.
re: The Gut
We're here on Maui as I type this. Went to Honolua Store this morning for breakfast. Cold hash browns, cold biscuits, hot eggs, cold bacon. Looks like ABC drug the quality down when they took over. We'll give them another try for lunch just to make sure. We've always loved the place for it's reasonable priced food.