Maui report - just visited Wailea/Kihei 3/2014
Just returned 1 day ago. I was able to find all sorts of great info about the food and restaurants in the Wailea/Kihei area on Chow before my trip. Here are some thoughts and experiences from this visit:
Maui Tacos, Kihei, multiple locations - The fish tacos here are probably some of the best things I've eaten in a chain restaurant/fast food place. The fish is grilled - not fried - which I really like, and sooo fresh. It's straight forward in a good way and has a big selection of tasty salsas and garnishes on the salsa bar. I think I ate at 3 different Kihei locations and they were consistently good. (I even made DH stop at one on the way to the airport to have one last taco before flying home.)
Migrant, Wailea - This was our favorite restaurant in Wailea. In fact we ate there 2 of the 7 nights we had on Maui. It's in the space that has been Mala in the Marriott and is in transition to becoming Migrant. This makes the atmosphere a bit strange since it's still kind of the former and current restaurants at the same time.
The chef is Sheldon Simeon (from Top Chef) and he was on site both nights we dined there. Both nights we had sauteed pea greens and they were delicious! The opaka (snapper) special one night was absolutely the best dish we had on this visit. The fried chicken was also one our favorites. Everything we had here was wonderful. It must be in the recipe testing phase though because both nights things were prepared a bit differently. The prices - for Wailea - were reasonable but this may change too.
Coconuts Fish Cafe, Kihei - The fish tacos and fish sandwiches here were very fresh and tasty. There was just a bit too much sauce in the coconut milk dressed coleslaw that tops them. The fish didn't shine through it the way we'd have liked it to.
Home Maid Cafe, Kihei - (not to be confused with Home Maid Bakery which we didn't get to) Went there for breakfast on our first morning. It's very, very casual. The service was a bit slow since they were so busy. He had the eggs with portuguese sausage and really loved the sausage. I had a simple cheese omelette with veggies. They also serve saimin and plates like breakfast loco moco. Some of the locals told us this was their breakfast place every day that it's open.
They make malasadas to order here and they were very popular. The dishes we'd had were very generous so we didn't actually eat any even though they smelled amazing!
Ululani's, Kihei- This is the place that we learned what all the fuss is about shave ice. Favorite flavors were coconut, passion fruit and mango. It's really as good as everyone says it is.
Ko, Wailea - The atmosphere here was very nice and service polished and gracious. The food was fine, seafood and fish very fresh, and portions generous. Maybe we're too picky but it didn't really impress with the flavors. It's pretty pricey not to be better than it was.
Monkey Pod Kitchen, Wialea - This place is loud, kind of sports bar loud, including surf videos and live music. The wine list is surprisingly good, served in good stemware and there are many good beers to choose from. The food is local, fresh and tasty but not amazing. It does stay open later than most of the places on Maui.
Sansei, Kihei - This was a real puzzle to us. It was absolutely packed the entire time we were there. The sake selection was small but nice. The butterfish and miso appetizer was so good we ordered a second one. The rest of the food was a disappointment. We ordered 2 pieces of kampachi and 2 pieces of hamachi sushi from the specials. It wasn't like any sushi I've had before in the way it was cut - the grain of the fish (while it was fresh) was going all different ways on each piece - and the rice was very cold and not much flavor. I ate only 1 piece. Another roll we ordered was served on a plate of sauce and was not like anything I'm used to either. The shrimp dish we ordered didn't change our mind so we stopped there. This wasn't a place we'd go back to again.
Jawz fish truck - Each taco is really 2 tacos. We shared one for lunch. It was plenty, tasty and fresh. We'd have eaten here again if we'd seen it again.
If it's of interest, Hotel Wailea's renovated rooms each have kitchenettes that have a double 15" Wolf induction stovetop, a Wolf convection/microwave and a 24" Subzero with one freezer drawer and one refrigerator drawer.
Sansei is packed because of the massive early bird discounts. Not because the sushi is amazing. And everything is relative. I'm guessing a lot of the tourists eating there don't have excellent sushi at home to compare to.... If you search on here you'll see a bit of dissent around Sansei's quality.
Thanks for the report.