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Mar 12, 2013 02:31 PM

Itinerary Suggestions

Hello fellow chowhounds - My wife and I will be celebrating our 1 year anniversary with 3 days in Honolulu and 4 days in Maui. We have a tentative plan which at this point is highly flexible. I appreciate your input and recommendations.

Day 1 Dinner rec needed
Day 2 Lunch - Helena's Dinner - Alan Wong's
Day 3 Lunch - Rainbow Dinner - Yakiniku Hiroshi
Day 4 Fresh Catch

Day 4 Dinner rec needed
Day 5 Lunch - Gazebo Dinner - Star Noodle

Day 6 Road to Hana Mama's Fish House - way back

Day 7 Lunch rec needed Dinner - Banyan Tree
Day 8 Lunch rec needed Dinner rec needed

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  1. What days of the week will you be in Hawaii?

    Helena's is open ONLY Tuesday through Friday. Many of the home style and poke places aren't open every day or open late.

    For Honolulu, malasadas at Leonard's, pre-dinner cocktails House Without a Key, a visit to the KCC Farmers Market on Saturday AM, and dinner at Sushi Izakaya Gaku and/or Nanzan GiroGiro should be on your list. Reservations highly recommended for the latter two.

    For Maui, where are you staying?

    Ululani's Shave Ice is a MUST. I also like Local Food for lunch, Eskimo Candy for poke lunch (closed weekends) & Kihei Caffe for breakfast.

    Road to Hana plus Mama's on the way back seems ambitious. Dinner at Mama's is best when you can see the sun setting. Your timing may mean you'll miss this.

    15 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Awesome....We'll be in Honolulu from Thursday thru Sunday. Thanks for the Gaku and Nanzan rec. That is right up our alley.

      As for Maui, we'll be in Kapalua. The only reason I have Banyan Tree on the list is because they have 50% off wines on Wednesday and we'll be staying at the Ritz. Perhaps it's not worth it and worth swapping out. It seems that Merriman's and Gerard's gets a lot of love from other chowhounds so I'll probably pencil one of them in.

      We weren't planning on the doing the entire Road to Hana that's why I scheduled Mama's. Would it still be too much for one day?

      1. re: shake N baik

        For the KCC Farmers Market, I would get there either before opening or right at opening. Parking can also be tough.

        Here's my trip report, where I talk about my meals at the KCC Farmers Market, Sushi Izakaya Gaku, and Nanzan GiroGiro:

        I've never driven the road to Hana from Kapalua, so I guess it just depends what your actual timing is, how far you plan to go before turning around, how many stops you plan to make. I also personally dress up a little for dinner at Mama's. Check the sunrise/sunset calculators online, too, so you know when to make your reservation.

        1. re: kathryn

          After your inputs I'm going to have to reconsider my dining strategy. My only must is Alan Wong's and Star Noodle so there's room for a lot of change. Is the only way to get a reservation to Gaku and Nanzan via phone?

          Google maps is giving me an estimate of an hour drive from hotel to Mama's. Hence my attempt to kill two birds with one stone. Will have to rethink and do some more researching.

          Thanks so much!

          1. re: shake N baik

            Yeah, and its a little annoying to call Honolulu from the East Coast because of the time difference but it's definitely worth it. Gaku is pretty small and we saw walk ins get turned away. And GiroGiro only does two seatings a night. Do the later one if you might want to hang out and take your time. The guys there are really fun to talk to.

        2. re: shake N baik

          Aloha. .
          We enjoy happy hours at Hula Grill and Dukes for $4 mai tais and great calamari, Kahalua pork sliders.
          Top of the Waikiki with the rotating crown is great for HH too with fab views.

          Alan Wong's is great.
          Mariposa for lunch at Neiman Marcus
          Pineapple Room Alan Wong's for casual

          Drinks at the Mai Tai Bar at the Royal Hawaiian..beers are $6 and mai tais are $14+..depends on your budget.

          Roy's Waikiki, is one of the best and not in the same league as the other Roy's..GM, Diva has so much Aloha and the Butterfish and Ahi are sublime.

          Breakfast at Moose's for the 2 for 1 coupon in the back of the 101 Things to do booklets..great deal and good breakfast.

          Leonards for malasadas!!

          Rent a car for the day at Enterprise on Lewers and hit up snorkeling at Hanauma bay and then North Shore for Giovanni's for the best garlic shrimp with 2 scoops..
          Matsumoto's for shave ice.

          Mama's Fish house for sunset or lunch
          Gazebo for breakfast or lunch..not dinner
          Hula Grill in Ka'anapali for happy hour..great deal...Duke's too.

          Wonder if Plantation house will be back open from the fire at Kapalua..this is one of the best for breakfast!

          Bev Gannon's General Store
          Sansei for sushi..decent since your up West.

          Snorkeling Molokini in the morning can bring out the Monk seals..

          Luaus are fun to watch the dance but the food and drink blows and you are spending tons of $$..imho, save it and go to a nice dinner and see a dance at a resort for free!

          Ritz Kapalua is one of the most haunted places on the island...the ice cold spots at the pool are wild..

          Have a great time and report back!

          1. re: Beach Chick

            Actually Plantation House supposedly reopened already.

              1. re: killersmile

                Great news. I had not read that yet.



                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  Aloha Bill..
                  You two playing Kapalua?
                  Breakfast at Plantation House with their Ahi Benedict in a wasabi hollandaise is sublime.

                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    It was open in January and I know friends ate there during the W&FF. The chef is different than before the fire, he moved on to Kahana Grill. My friends who live in Kapalua have said the quality is not the same and limited.

                    1. re: manomin

                      Aloha manomin..
                      Thanks for this info!


                      1. re: Beach Chick

                        I totally enjoyed a meal by the PH former chef Alex at Kahana Grill, lovely. Wish I had it now!

            1. re: kathryn

              Also, if one enjoys "adult beverages," then the drive from Mama's to anywhere in West Maui would be a trek. Until we could stay on the property, we only did lunch there.

              I agree about Hana, and Mama's. Though they are "on the way," the trip to Hana is sort of a full day, if one takes in any of the "sights," and if not, why do it? Once, after a scathing article in the local paper, regarding the "tourists" clogging up the Road to Hana, I decided to pull out the stops, and did the full drive in 49 mins. from the 365 to 380 cut-off. No locals were in my rear view mirror for more than a few seconds, and we hit Hana with smoke coming from the brakes, and the tires very hot. Also, the horn was very warm, from blowing it, before every bridge, and around many curves. Now, I used to do fender-to-fender racing in the SCCA, so it was really nothing new to me, though my wife was strapped in pretty tightly. Normally, it's a half-day out, and half-day back, as the views differ, depending on direction. I would not do that extreme trip again, as once was enough. If you ARE elsewhere on the Island, then I heartily recommend looking into staying at the Inn at Mama's Fish House. We turned down free nights at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, to stay there, and finally have dinner at Mama's. It was worth the difference.



              1. re: Bill Hunt

                Do you think Koiso is worth the 50 minute drive from Kapalua?

                Also, we weren't planning on going to a luau but saw an old thread mentioning Feast and it made me wonder if its worth going to that over a meal at Lahaina Grill or Sansei. Thoughts?

                1. re: shake N baik

                  It really depends... Do you have excellent nigiri sushi available to you at home? It's not all that different from a very good sushi restaurant in the mainland. But if you don't have a place like that < 1 hour from you at home, then you might think it's worth it.

                  But, if you are going to Sushi Izakaya Gaku in Honolulu, and having some sushi there, then neither Sansei or Koiso in Maui will live up to Gaku.

                  I don't think you can really compare Feast at Lele with Lahaina Grill and Sansei.

                  Sansei is also not all that different from a typical shopping mall / strip mall / fun fusion rolls place in the Mainland, except for the 50% off deals. If budget is a big issue, then it might make sense, as Feast at Lele and Lahaina Grill are not cheap.

            2. day 1, maybe side street inn (either location) or lucky belly? Ichi Riki?

              4 Replies
              1. re: KaimukiMan

                Lucky Belly looks awesome. However, the menu looks similar to Star Noodle.

                DC is getting better with their Izakaya-ish fare but it's still lacking so we may have to double dip.

                1. re: shake N baik

                  Lucky Belly is no Star Noodle , totally different.

                  1. re: shake N baik

                    Lucky Belly is to me more of a Momofuku Noodle Bar type/clone restaurant, if that makes sense (I see you're a former NYer).

                    1. re: kathryn

                      I knew your handle was familiar. My family and friends are in NY so I make it up there once every couple of months. As much love as I have for the Momofuku brand I may have to pass on Lucky Belly since there are clones in DC as well.

                2. well if Ichi Riki and Lucky Belly are out, then I'd go for Side Street Inn, Hau Tree Lanai, or Nico's. If you want to spend more then there are the big guys (Alan Wong, Mavro, Roy's and of course LaMer, along with Nobu's and Morimoto's - but those last two you can get other places.) Dialing back a bit, Hiroshi's or Tapa's at Restaurant Row might be good choices as well as would Town or 3660 in Kaimuki. The list starts to get pretty long (one full page, nine point type, 4 columns on my personal list)

                  1. I'm kinda dense sometimes . . . what does your updated Itinerary look like?

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                      In Honolulu I'm set for dinner with reservations already confirmed for Yakiniku Hiroshi, Alan Wong's, and Sushi Izakaya Gaku. For lunch I only have Rainbow Drive-In as a definite. I have Helena's penciled but since I won't have a car I'm open to something closer to the Marriott. Ono Hawaiian is a possibility and I will be hitting up the Saturday Farmers Market. I still need to fill out two lunches.

                      For Maui, I have Star Noodle, Mama's, and Merriman's as definites. Still need to make a decision on two more dinners. Just looking for anything good. For breakfast/lunch we have Gazebo and Ono Tacos on the list. I didn't realize there was a food truck scene in Maui so we might have to give it a try one day. Could use one or two more lunch recs. Thanks!

                      1. re: shake N baik

                        Thanks S&B,

                        There is lots of prepared food available at the KCC farmers market. Will you be taking the bus or is that going to be a long walk? Distance wise it isn't far (couple of miles), but the climb up Monsarrat on the back side of Diamond Head is no slouch of a hill. Near the bottom of the hill, the "Waikiki" end, there are a few places worth considering including Diamond Head Grill, South Shore Grill, and Pioneer Saloon - which is localized Japanese food. Of the three South Shore Grill is my favorite, the fish taco and kal-bi combo is usually my order there.

                        I'll stay out of the Maui discussion, it's been too long since I was there.

                        1. re: shake N baik

                          No poke specialists on your list? Ono Seafood on Kapahulu isn't too far from Ono Hawaiian.

                          1. re: shake N baik

                            Heartily agree with Merriman's. Consider going early and sitting on the back patio for a drink and the view before your dinner (they only serve limited food on the patio). Take the Kapalua shuttle. Go to Merriman's early in your trip. It is so convenient and in such a lovely setting you may decide a return visit is in order. We go there multiple times on our trips.

                            Re: Mama's and Road to Hana. If this is your first trip to Maui, I say do it. You don't want to trek all the way to Maui from the east coast and not do at least part of the Road to Hana. Take some nicer clothes and change at the restaurant or in a nearby town (Paia) on your way back. You will probably not want to drive from Lahaina area toward south Maui/airport direction any more often than necessary due to traffic, so best to combine in one trip in my opinion. (But I also don't like to go to Hawaii on vacation and feel like I am constantly in the car...). So I would also nix the sushi place in south Maui, especially if sushi in not hard for you to get where you live.

                            Lunches near Kapalua:
                            Napili market place has some decent lunch eateries, including Maui Tacos and a BBQ place.

                            A little further away is The Fish Market, where you can get fish, of course, but also great fish tacos and sandwiches at lunch time most days. Highly recommended.

                            1. re: shake N baik

                              nix ono hawaiian and try haile's, also on kapahulu. you want a positive experience with hawaiian food.

                              you may want to try zippy's on kapahulu for a lunch (or late night eats, they are 24/7). bakery, plate lunches, diner food, local flavors.

                          2. I would like to thank everyone for helping me plan a great trip. Here's a rundown of places we ate in Maui in no particular order. Hopefully I’ll have a recap of Honolulu up shortly.
                            Ono Tacos - I highly recommend this place for a quick, delicious, and cheap lunch. Their birria and lengua was tender and well-seasoned. The quality was comparable to good taco joints back on the mainland.
                            Ululani’s Shaved Ice – Wow…glad I didn’t skip on this recommendation. The fruit flavors were amazingly concentrated and intense and the shaved ice was incredibility light. This was the perfect treat after a morning of swimming and surfing.
                            Star Noodle – I thought the flavors were good but the execution was slightly off. Case in point, the crust on the fried shrimp wasn’t very crisp, all three pork buns had varying amounts of pork and condiments with two being a lot of bun, and the saimin noodles were really salty. Having said that, the Vietnamese Crepe was the clear standout and my favorite dish of the night.
                            Mama’s Fish House – My wife and I ended up going to Mama’s after doing the Road to Hana. We set off at 6:30 am and went straight to Kipahulu and did the hike to Waimoku Falls. We were selective about the sites we visited on our drive back and made our 5:30 dinner reservation with a few minutes to spare. The service and views were the highlights of the night followed by the Tristan lobster entree. The meat was succulent and it had to be the sweetest lobster we’d ever had. Other items such as the wasabi crusted calamari and the crispy mahimahi roll were good but not something I’d order again.
                            Lahaina Grill – Enjoyed the foie app and lamb chop entrée. The broth in the Maui onion soup was a little bland and didn’t have the deep onion flavor I was hoping. Service was great and the mixed drinks were well prepared.
                            Merriman’s – This was the perfect restaurant to close out our trip with. Good service, amazing sunset views, and well prepared dishes.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: shake N baik

                              Thanks for reporting back! I dream of Ululani's....

                              1. re: shake N baik

                                Aloha and thank you for report!!
                                Road to Hana takes way more time than people realize and you hiked the falls..awesome.
                                Glad you enjoyed Mama's and Merrimans.