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Maui: Gannon's, new Alan Wong, Merriman's, Haile Maile...decisions!

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Aloha -

Heading to Maui in a few weeks and staying near Wailea. Last time we were there (four years ago) we loved Haile Maile General Store for an upscale meal and places like 808 deli, Paia Fish Market, Sansei Sushi (yes it is just big rolls but it was great at 50% off!) and other less $$$ places for other meals.

This time we have a kid with us but are bringing the grandparents and have promised ourselves two fancy dinners. A lot has changed in four years - lots of additions to the market. So feedback on Gannon's vs Haile Maile vs Merriman's vs Amasia (alan wong)? Or if there is a place you like better than all of those let me know. Gannon's is very close for us (we are staying on the golf course) but I haven't seen much talk about it on this board. I like seafood and playful, interesting farm to table concepts. My partner likes meat and we both like cocktails (though we can get those anyplace).

Also if any of these fancy spots are just as good as/better for lunch than dinner we could do that.

I went ahead and made reservations for the new Alan Wong place at the Grand Wailea based on his star power and place in Honolulu. And the fear that waiting might mean being out of luck. But we can cancel if it turns out to be all fluff. Also they don't post prices but i am assuming it will be similar to Honolulu (around $100 for a tasting menu no drinks or extras). If anyone goes, please report back!

And of course other recs welcomed as well as always.

Mahalo!
Born to Eat

Also heard 808 deli has a new bistro. Anybody been? We did Cafe O'lei last time - it was a good value but didn't blow me away.

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  1. Stayed in Kihei, just north of Wailea this past January. My recs:

    Yee's Orchard -- Awesome pineapples and Golden Glow mangos. Not cheap, but very tasty fruit. They also sell starfruit, apple bananas, papaya, passionfruit, guava, coconut, and more. The Golden Glows also have a very skinny seed, so you get more flesh off this variety than other types. They are also a bit larger and hefty than Mexican mangoes. Closed Mon and Fri. Only open 11-5. Easy to miss as it is literally a small hut at Kihei Road and Nohokai St. It is on the east side of the street. Great fruit, worth the effort to find it! We went back twice.

    Awesome breakfasts at Kihei Caffe. GREAT hole-in-the-wall breakfast spot, they close at like 2pm or 3pm. Try the pork fried rice with ham, bacon, Portuguese sausage, and scrambled eggs! Or the cinnamon roll french toast they do on weekends. Or the regular french toast (made from Hawaiian sweet bread) or pancakes, both topped with macademia nuts and bananas, smothered in coconut syrup. Loco Moco is only OK, but everything else we tried was excellent. We went back several times.

    Poke for lunch at Eskimo Candy. Off the beaten path. Super nice people. Great poke bowls with four types of poke over mayo/wasabi and rice, with some seaweed salad in the middle. I loved the furikake style best. We went back multiple times, we liked it so much. Our usual order was two poke bowls and maybe an appetizer, if dining in. However, it's much cheaper to buy the poke by the pound and get a side of rice or two if you are taking out. The fried calamari was very good (fresh, not rubbery, not too oily), but the coconut shrimp was even better. Crispy, tender, and tasting of real, fresh coconut. Not greasy at all. We loved this place and went back multiple times in a row, but mostly for takeout lunch. Great spot. We now miss it very much!

    Monkeypod Kitchen -- Solid food and good cocktails. Great pina colada with fresh pineapple juice and coconut cream. Slightly more upscale than the other places, which is saying a lot for Maui. Have the pizza and Kula strawberry pie! It's good for when you want something less casual near Kihei, since it's such a little, sleepy beach town, you might get tired of too many hole-in-the-wall places.

    There is also an awesome vintage Hawaiian shirt store on the 2nd floor of the shopping complex Monkeypod Kitchen is in.

    Coconut's Fish Cafe -- An unassuming place that looks more like a fast food joint/deli. Friendly service. Great 17 ingredient fish tacos. There's usually a line. Also the guy who runs it is a huge Packer fan and transplant from the Mainland, funnily enough.

    Was not a big fan of Cafe O'Lei.

    Da Kitchen Express -- decent enough local fast food chain. Get the three item combo, it's the best thing there. Chicken katsu, teriyaki beef, kalua pork (salty but good w/ rice). Order carefully, and you'll have a solid meal, but the menu definitely has duds.

    Ululani's Shave Ice -- amazing shave ice. They have one in Lahaina and one by the airport, the Kihei one is opening very soon. 61 S. KIhei Rd. Best of the 4-5 places I tried. Local Boyz was #2.

    2 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Thanks so much! These are exactly the places I
      Love and I agree with your assessments. Kihei caffe
      Was a favorite for us last trip as well. Will try monkeypod, Eskimo candy (love
      Poke) and the shave ice place. Did u try 808 deli or bistro?

      1. re: BorntoEat

        No, as we were trying to eat more local foods.

    2. Spago Chef's Tasting menu is a little more $ but very dependable and would be my choice.

      1 Reply
      1. re: russkar

        Yes, russkar and I are at one on the recommendation of the Spago tasting menu, he does a brilliant job.

      2. I probably sound like a broken record, but a couple years ago I had a fantastic dinner and overall experience at Merriman's. I'm not a fan of the huge hotels/resorts that you get in Wailea, so that would factor into my decision. Napili is quite a drive from Wailea, but it is way more laid back and even Kapalua resort feels more spacious and open-aired to me than the Wailea resorts. Merriman's in Napili has such a great view, I mean the setting is just gorgeous and the food and wine were superb. Its fine dining in a sleek contemporary setting, but not so formal that kids can't go there. Merriman's definitely is a farm-to-table ingredient driven kind of place, I was very impressed.

        1. Spent a couple of weeks on Maui over St. Paddy's Day and, in addition to hitting our usual haunts, discovered The Star Noodle, which was very, very good for lunch. The Pan Asian restaurant specializes in *small plates, * a la Spanish tapas, and we really loved the tempura shrimp, two colossal shrimp (isn't that an oxymoron?) in a perfect batter served with some type of yummy dark sauce. Wished, though, that there had been more of the sauce on the plate. Hubby had the barbequed pork buns, which he really liked, but too much breading for me. We then split a bowl of pho, which was very good. Rather hard to find in an industrial area up the hill from Walgreen's. Really fills up at lunch time. We arrived about 11 and it was perfect. Great table and ocean/harbor view. They also have a sushi bar and a long, communal table that runs the length of the restaurant. Visit the restrooms. They are unusual!

          No trip to Maui for us is complete without a late breakfast at The Plantation House in Kapalua. We usually arrive between 10 and 11 a.m. and have always been given a front-row, killer view table. I had the crab egg Benedicts ($13.95) and hubby had the ahi egg Benedicts. Great coffee and wonderful serving cups. You can just imagine Tiger teeing off just below the restaurant. And the view just takes my breath away.

          Other breakfast spots we hit are Cane and Taro, Hula Grill and Kihei Caffe. We tried the new --to us anyway -- Capt. Jack's on Front Street and the food was very good but the service was deplorable!! I specifically ordered a condiment when I gave my breakfast order and when the food arrived, I reminded the server of my request. I sat there and waited and waited and waited for him to return from the kitchen as my food went from hot to tepid. He had the personality of a slug and appeared hung-over. I wish I were one who could equate my tip with service but, unfortunately, I always leave 20 percent or better. Then, I just never return.

          The best mai tais we had were at the Mai Tai Lounge on Front Street. Unfortunately, we didn't discover them until a couple of nights before we returned home. Had a memorable St. Paddy's day at Lahaina Coolers, one of my favorite happy hour places. Many locals patronize this bar/restaurant and I can see why. We'd had breakfast there prior to a whale-watching cruise and, walking back to our condo in late afternoon, we returned to LC for a cocktail. We were greeted like long-lost family. A wahine put green beads around my neck and before I knew it, she had painted a shamrock on the back of my hand and on one cheek. We had a great time partying with our new-found friends. Made me feel like we were back in our Elks Lodge at home!

          And to top it off, hubby surprised me with tickets to the Jimmy Buffet and the Coral Reefers Band concert at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center! Wow. Just wow. Be sure to check their entertainment schedule for the time of your visit. You might find something good going on. Great trip and I can't wait to return next March!