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Maui on the cheap

Maui on the cheap
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    Post #1 - March 8th, 2010, 5:22 pm
    Post #1 - March 8th, 2010, 5:22 pm Post #1 - March 8th, 2010, 5:22 pm
    Hey Everyone, I'm going to Maui at the end of April with my best friend and wanted some recommendations on cheap eats. I've got a great list of more expensive places to go, thanks to the search option on here, but am looking for the more obscure places that I should hit up.

    I'm staying in Lahaina and I like all types of food, if that helps.

    Thank you
  • Post #2 - March 8th, 2010, 9:34 pm
    Post #2 - March 8th, 2010, 9:34 pm Post #2 - March 8th, 2010, 9:34 pm
    what neck of the woods are you staying in?

    Paia is a great little hippy town with some small places that are reasonable. Flatbread Company is a smallish pizza chain (under 10 locations) on the west coast but their pizza is pretty great. their oven is worth a peek. Paia Fish Market is reasonable for what it is.

    for breakfast Big Wave Cafe is a diner that's got some interesitng local fare too... but the reviews as of late are pretty mixed, perhaps it's gone from a local to too publicized.
    Big Wave Cafe
    1215 S Kihei Rd Road
    Kihei, HI 96753

    kind of in the airport area there are a few Vietnamese and/or Korean places that might be budget friendly and at least one of them has to be worth eating at.
  • Post #3 - March 9th, 2010, 5:27 am
    Post #3 - March 9th, 2010, 5:27 am Post #3 - March 9th, 2010, 5:27 am
    there is not much that is cheap in lahaina, BK whopper is 7 bucks .
    a must is the old lahaina luau 8) :mrgreen:
    oldlahainaluau.com
    philw bbq cbj for kcbs &M.I.M. carolina pit masters
  • Post #4 - March 9th, 2010, 7:41 am
    Post #4 - March 9th, 2010, 7:41 am Post #4 - March 9th, 2010, 7:41 am
    Just got back and I would say a "Maui cheap" option is Lahaina Safeway for poke... many varieties and VERY fresh. We also ate at Lahaina Coolers and had some very good Kalua pig. It's a little bit of a drive but if you should happen to go to Big Beach there are several trucks and stalls serving cheap street food. The names escape me but one we were told to avoid was Maui Jawz.

    We did not eat here but we did get some very fresh Ono (Wahoo) from Eskimo Candy in Kehei. Took it back and made civiche which turned out fantastic. The place was sworming with locals and several people I asked said this was the place for seafood. It's a combination restaurant and market.

    Not sure what your more expensive list looks like but I, along with other LTHers, highly recommend Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar. We went with all sushi which was incredibly fresh and very tasty but they also have a pretty large selection of entrees. We went to the Kapalua location and reservations are recommended.

    Lahaina Safeway
    1221 Honoapiilani Highway,
    Lahaina - (808) 667-4392

    Lahaina Coolers
    180 Dickenson Street
    Lahaina, HI 96761-1215
    (808) 661-7082

    Eskimo Candy
    http://www.eskimocandy.com/

    Sansei
    www.sanseihawaii.com
  • Post #5 - March 9th, 2010, 10:06 am
    Post #5 - March 9th, 2010, 10:06 am Post #5 - March 9th, 2010, 10:06 am
    also apparently a whole foods has opened not one but two stores in maui since my last visit, which i imagine has some local pre-prepared options
  • Post #6 - March 9th, 2010, 10:55 am
    Post #6 - March 9th, 2010, 10:55 am Post #6 - March 9th, 2010, 10:55 am
    I have a trip to Maui in the cards as well, so thanks. I was a little bummed out to click through the EskimoCandy site and see that, essentially, none of the fish or seafood is local. Even the fish one thinks of as "Hawaiian" (mahi, ono) is listed as sourced from Japan and Taiwan. I can't say I'm surprised. But I wonder whether anyone knows about places where one can get true "day boat" stuff like you might find in Mexico (or Florida or the Carolinas for that matter). Maybe the sport fishing charters' overflow ends up somewhere? I'm thinking it goes to the "fancy" places' kitchens (that is, what's not iced and flown to Tokyo).
  • Post #7 - March 9th, 2010, 11:38 am
    Post #7 - March 9th, 2010, 11:38 am Post #7 - March 9th, 2010, 11:38 am
    If you're in Lahaina or Kihei on a Sunday evening, be sure and check out Sansei's sushi special. It's 25% off most sushi on Sundays. 50% off if you're a local. There was a serious line when we got there 40 minutes before they opened for dinner. The sushi was quite good, not the best I've ever had, but better than most. So often "value" sushi is sub standard.

    When we were there, I found a real love for poke. My favorite was the spicy squid with kimchee flavor. I tried the Foodland in Kihei and Safeway in Lahaina. Both were good and cheap.

    We also had a great cheap meal of Japanese food at Izakaya Matsu in Kihei.

    Maui Brewing's brewpub in Lahaina is sure to have some cheap eats. I loved their beer when I was there. It's canned on island.
  • Post #8 - March 9th, 2010, 12:27 pm
    Post #8 - March 9th, 2010, 12:27 pm Post #8 - March 9th, 2010, 12:27 pm
    We got married there. <Sigh>. I still adore it.

    It does depend on where you are staying/exploring on the island. That said there are usually vendors on the side of the road for fresh fruit. A market in the county seat( Wailuku) with a larger selection of fresh fruit & fresh fish.

    Also on the south end, south of Kihei look for the smoker on the side of the road. There used to be a woman who sold fish tacos.

    As much as I love food, the fruit & vegetables are great so we generally did that for breakfast. I'd pack sandwiches with avocado for lunch, & then we just ate where we landed for dinner.

    Have a great time.

    Hike the King's Highway.
    Ava-"If you get down and out, just get in the kitchen and bake a cake."- Jean Strickland

    Horto In Urbs- Falling in love with Urban Vegetable Gardening
  • Post #9 - March 9th, 2010, 2:00 pm
    Post #9 - March 9th, 2010, 2:00 pm Post #9 - March 9th, 2010, 2:00 pm
    JeffB wrote:I have a trip to Maui in the cards as well, so thanks. I was a little bummed out to click through the EskimoCandy site and see that, essentially, none of the fish or seafood is local. Even the fish one thinks of as "Hawaiian" (mahi, ono) is listed as sourced from Japan and Taiwan. I can't say I'm surprised. But I wonder whether anyone knows about places where one can get true "day boat" stuff like you might find in Mexico (or Florida or the Carolinas for that matter). Maybe the sport fishing charters' overflow ends up somewhere? I'm thinking it goes to the "fancy" places' kitchens (that is, what's not iced and flown to Tokyo).



    I've not eaten here or seen the fish that they have but the claim is fresh maui fish caught by local fisherman.

    http://www.fishmarketmaui.com

    This is another market / restaurant.
  • Post #10 - March 9th, 2010, 4:05 pm
    Post #10 - March 9th, 2010, 4:05 pm Post #10 - March 9th, 2010, 4:05 pm
    jaholbrook wrote:
    JeffB wrote:I have a trip to Maui in the cards as well, so thanks. I was a little bummed out to click through the EskimoCandy site and see that, essentially, none of the fish or seafood is local. Even the fish one thinks of as "Hawaiian" (mahi, ono) is listed as sourced from Japan and Taiwan. I can't say I'm surprised. But I wonder whether anyone knows about places where one can get true "day boat" stuff like you might find in Mexico (or Florida or the Carolinas for that matter). Maybe the sport fishing charters' overflow ends up somewhere? I'm thinking it goes to the "fancy" places' kitchens (that is, what's not iced and flown to Tokyo).



    I've not eaten here or seen the fish that they have but the claim is fresh maui fish caught by local fisherman.

    http://www.fishmarketmaui.com

    I've seen several men fishing, for family and to sell with nets & spears both on Maui & a couple years ago on Oahu. One taught my husband how to cast the nets.
    This is another market / restaurant.
    Ava-"If you get down and out, just get in the kitchen and bake a cake."- Jean Strickland

    Horto In Urbs- Falling in love with Urban Vegetable Gardening
  • Post #11 - April 21st, 2010, 11:41 am
    Post #11 - April 21st, 2010, 11:41 am Post #11 - April 21st, 2010, 11:41 am
    Thanks everyone for the tips. I'm leaving this Saturday and will post when I come back for future reference.
  • Post #12 - April 21st, 2010, 6:59 pm
    Post #12 - April 21st, 2010, 6:59 pm Post #12 - April 21st, 2010, 6:59 pm
    I was recently in Maui - I really can't help you with "cheap" because most of my meals were pretty pricey. But at the same time, I was absolutely thrilled with the pristine quality of the seafood I encountered at almost every meal, and the quality of the food surpassed my expectations (probably because I stuck to seafood).

    One of my two favorite dinners was at Merrimann's in Kapalua, a relatively short drive from Lahaina. My other favorite meal was at Mama's Fish House, which is quite a drive from Lahaina but worth it. At both Merriman's and Mama's, the quality of the sashimi/poke (particularly the ahi) offerings was amazing . . . flawless, beautiful raw fish. And I loved the wok fried whole moi at Mama's (pictured below), which might look like a bit of a mess but was delicious:

    Image
    Wok fried Moi at Mama's Fish House

    We also had a fantastic lunch at Bev Gannon's Hali'imaile General Store. The highlights of lunch were the sashimi pizza (a cracker thin crust with edamame hummos topped with ahi and a soy-sesame aioli) which is pictured below, and a blackened ahi wrap with a Thai chili sauce.

    Image
    Sashimi pizza at Bev Gannon's Hali'imaile General Store

    Bev Gannon's place would make for a very nice lunch on the way to/from Haleakala or the airport.

    I had heard of a couple of nice breakfast spots, Gazebo and Plantation House (at the Kapalua golf course). We tried to get into Gazebo but it appeared that the wait would be longer than an hour. We had a very nice breakfast at the Plantation House, where the food was very good and the views spectacular. I heard the view of the sunset from Plantation is great, but we didn't experience it on this trip. Have a great time in Maui.
  • Post #13 - April 22nd, 2010, 11:46 pm
    Post #13 - April 22nd, 2010, 11:46 pm Post #13 - April 22nd, 2010, 11:46 pm
    My wife and I went to Maui on our honeymoon back in September. We also had an excellent meal at mama's fish house

    Our appetizer:
    Image

    I also got the Wok fried Moi, which was excellent...and my wife got the Ono I believe, also very good. Dinner wasn't exactly cheap though, I believe we spent a decent amount for this meal

    If you're in Lahaina, look no further than Ahola Mixed Plate Probably one of the cheaper places for fairly decent food, and you get a pretty good view too. The good seats usually have some sort of wait.
  • Post #14 - April 23rd, 2010, 6:54 am
    Post #14 - April 23rd, 2010, 6:54 am Post #14 - April 23rd, 2010, 6:54 am
    The quality of the raw seafood available in Maui reminded me just how landlocked we are here in Chicago. It had been a few years since I saw seafood so magnificent and so fresh and I could not believe just how wonderful it can be. So my additional advice for Maui is get as much of it as you can.
  • Post #15 - April 25th, 2010, 7:47 pm
    Post #15 - April 25th, 2010, 7:47 pm Post #15 - April 25th, 2010, 7:47 pm
    Here's a great place for Maui on the cheap. http://www.pioneerinnmaui.com/
    It's right by the Lahaina harbor where they have all the water activity, like cruises, para-sailing...etc. In the Best Western, right on the corner facing the ocean. It's an open air saloon with a big naked lady mural in this bar where these big, great, Mai Tais were only 4 bucks and people were eating some interesting food, like seafood pasta and the staff was friendly as can be. We found it on our last day and I wished we would have found it earlier.
    "Good stuff, Maynard." Dobie Gillis
  • Post #16 - April 26th, 2010, 8:54 am
    Post #16 - April 26th, 2010, 8:54 am Post #16 - April 26th, 2010, 8:54 am
    BR wrote:The quality of the raw seafood available in Maui reminded me just how landlocked we are here in Chicago. It had been a few years since I saw seafood so magnificent and so fresh and I could not believe just how wonderful it can be. So my additional advice for Maui is get as much of it as you can.


    This has as much or more to do with culture and tourism as it does with proximity to the sea. In HI, as in my native FL, much of the stuff isn't local, as noted up thread. Not that it matters too much. Hawaiians expect great seafood and the Japanese tourists really have high standards; all visitors benefit. Plus, if you are careful and look hard, it appears that (as in FL, NOLA etc.) you can get fresh local seafood.

    We are not landlocked, by the way. We are on a huge lake. :wink: I grew up with day-boat shrimp and grouper, but my years in Chicago have led me to conclude that really fresh whitefish, walleye and yellow perch are the equal of most great ocen fish. (Though I wish we had local shellfish!)
  • Post #17 - April 26th, 2010, 9:13 am
    Post #17 - April 26th, 2010, 9:13 am Post #17 - April 26th, 2010, 9:13 am
    JeffB wrote:
    BR wrote:The quality of the raw seafood available in Maui reminded me just how landlocked we are here in Chicago. It had been a few years since I saw seafood so magnificent and so fresh and I could not believe just how wonderful it can be. So my additional advice for Maui is get as much of it as you can.


    This has as much or more to do with culture and tourism as it does with proximity to the sea. In HI, as in my native FL, much of the stuff isn't local, as noted up thread. Not that it matters too much. Hawaiians expect great seafood and the Japanese tourists really have high standards; all visitors benefit. Plus, if you are careful and look hard, it appears that (as in FL, NOLA etc.) you can get fresh local seafood.

    We are not landlocked, by the way. We are on a huge lake. :wink: I grew up with day-boat shrimp and grouper, but my years in Chicago have led me to conclude that really fresh whitefish, walleye and yellow perch are the equal of most great ocen fish. (Though I wish we had local shellfish!)

    I certainly understand what you are saying about the demand for better quality seafood, but if you seek it out in Maui, you can find local and very fresh seafood and both Mama's and Merriman's (which I mention above) offer a number of such locally caught items (based upon what I was told at each restaurant and from what appears on Mama's menu). And I guess my reference to "landlocked" here in Chicago wasn't dead on . . . it's just that my seafood preferences leave me searching for fresh fish (and certainly shellfish) not found in the great lakes.
  • Post #18 - April 26th, 2010, 9:30 am
    Post #18 - April 26th, 2010, 9:30 am Post #18 - April 26th, 2010, 9:30 am
    ..and thanks for the leads. I will be definitely visit the places with locally-caught (or farmed, see below) stuff. No snow crab or Chilean sea bass for me.

    PS, your moi pix led me to look up the critter. If a whole fish is on the menu, I get it. Moi seems to be a plate-sized fish.

    Apparently, moi was once a big deal in HI, then was overfished to the point it was seldom seen, but now it is farmed and back in a big way. Notwithstanding my newish love of lake fish, the thought of farmed fresh water fish skeeves me out (tilapia or catfish, cheek by fin in a murky pond); I have no such problem with farmed ocean fish. The farmed Greek porgy I get here at Venus and in Astoria is a great fish and, despite the plane trip, is usually pristinely fresh.
  • Post #19 - May 13th, 2010, 2:55 pm
    Post #19 - May 13th, 2010, 2:55 pm Post #19 - May 13th, 2010, 2:55 pm
    Okay I've been back for two weeks now and honestly I had some good meals out there and honestly it was not as expensive as I was lead to believe. We even went to McDonalds, walked in and out, just to see how much more expensive their meals were, and they were the exact same as Chicago, if not a little cheaper.

    The one place I have to recommend that would be considered a GNR if it was in Chicago is The Gazebo. Our bartender at the hotel told us about it and it's a little hard to find, but if you are staying around Kapalua/Lahaina, then you HAVE to go. It's literally in a Gazebo off the water in a condo unit. It's 100% outside, covered by the gazebo and all of their food is local/fresh ingredients. They make everything by hand every morning, minus sandwich bread, but a sandwich isn't thre reason why I went. We were in Maui for 8 days and went three times, this is how awesome it was and it was so rediculously cheap. I would highly recommend the following items:

    Banana/Macademia Nut Pancakes - Best pancakes I've ever had, sorry mom. Light and fluffy, almost like the mix was blended in a blender to get in extra air. AMAZING.

    Macademia Nut/White Chocolate Pancakes - Very good, but I liked the banana one's better, my personal preference.

    Fried Rice with Spam and Sunny side egg on top - this was really good. I was intrigued with eating fried rice for breakfast with SPAM, as I've never had SPAM. Man, this was perfectly salty. The peppers and onions were very fresh, not soggy and oversaturated from sitting around/pre-cooked.

    Honestly, check this place out. There are no reservations, you have to wait in line. We were told by the waitress that the best time to come was 11:30 as the wait is not as long vs. going early.

    The Gazebo
    5315 Lower Honoapiilani Road
    Lahaina, HI 96761-9005
    (808) 669-5621
  • Post #20 - May 13th, 2010, 4:21 pm
    Post #20 - May 13th, 2010, 4:21 pm Post #20 - May 13th, 2010, 4:21 pm
    Thanks. Will seek it out. Going next month.
  • Post #21 - May 13th, 2010, 8:23 pm
    Post #21 - May 13th, 2010, 8:23 pm Post #21 - May 13th, 2010, 8:23 pm
    As I noted above, we tried going to the Gazebo after hearing so many great things about the place, but we showed up probably around 11 or 11:30 am only to find an incredibly long line. I walked up to the restaurant and decided that all of the people in the line could probably fill the restaurant twice. We were too hungry and suspected that the wait would easily be an hour (probably longer) so we headed to the Plantation House and enjoyed a very nice breakfast. I can't compare it to Gazebo since I didn't get to eat there, but if you go to the Gazebo and the line is too long, head to the Plantation House which is nearby. The food is very good and the views spectacular.
  • Post #22 - May 14th, 2010, 2:48 pm
    Post #22 - May 14th, 2010, 2:48 pm Post #22 - May 14th, 2010, 2:48 pm
    Hey BR, didn't see your post about Gazebo. I went to the Plantation House as well and you cannot compare the two. The Gazebo is basically a hole in the wall with really amazing food. The Plantation house looks like a country club/golf club and though the food was good, it wasn't anything sweeping to me. The wait at the Gazebo is well worth it.
  • Post #23 - May 14th, 2010, 2:59 pm
    Post #23 - May 14th, 2010, 2:59 pm Post #23 - May 14th, 2010, 2:59 pm
    Shaggywillis wrote:Hey BR, didn't see your post about Gazebo. I went to the Plantation House as well and you cannot compare the two. The Gazebo is basically a hole in the wall with really amazing food. The Plantation house looks like a country club/golf club and though the food was good, it wasn't anything sweeping to me. The wait at the Gazebo is well worth it.

    I'll definitely hit it next time, but the one time we went the wait looked ridiculous. We ended up trying the buffets at the Westin, Sheraton and Hyatt (once each) and they were all . . . buffets . . . lots of average food (but convenient) and all similarly average.
  • Post #24 - June 24th, 2010, 1:14 pm
    Post #24 - June 24th, 2010, 1:14 pm Post #24 - June 24th, 2010, 1:14 pm
    Back from Hawaii; thanks to everyone for the tips. I really like Hawaii, particularly Honolulu. It's a real town with some rough edges behind the spectacular beach/shopping/humanity on parade extravaganza that is Waikiki. It's similar to Miami's South Beach or Santa Monica (I love both), but for me better than either. In Santa Monica, the beach is mostly a backdrop. The sand and surf is integral in Miami, but South Beach is nearly fatally tainted by hair gel and Axe body spray in a way that Waikiki is not.

    This alley giving public access to the beach in Waikiki sums it up. To your left, old ladies and strippers doing laundry in coin-operated machines 100 yards from the sand.
    Image
    To your right, the Royal Hawaiian, one of the most splendid of the seaside "pink ladies" (like the Don Cesar in St. Pete, still going strong after 100 years).
    Image I could see Charlie Chan, Jack Lord or Dog the Bounty Hunter chasing bad guys down this alley.

    Please don't throw a shoe at me, but after 9 days in Hawaii, I'm still of the opinion that it ranks pretty low in terms of tropical destinations for food. Certainly, all of Mexico and much of the Caribbean offer much more interesting and delicious food at both the local and "fancy" levels. (Never been to Thailand but can only imagine.) If you expand the comparison to summer seaside regulars such as New England, Florida and the Carolinas, I'm afraid the 51st state also lags. Local fish is maddeningly hard to find. I had a car and wasn't afraid to use it to get away from tourist zones for in-condo dinner shopping. No dice. NB, oddly enough, local beef is pretty easy to find, in burgers usually, and is terrific. More below on this.

    Islanders swear by the ahi poke at Safeway, for example. While quite good, the tuna comes frozen from Asia. Even local-ish places such as Eskimo Candy and Alexander's in Maui mostly use frozen imported stuff. Allegedly local mahi was a fairly ubiquitous exception, though dolphin isn't a favorite of mine and it tended to be cooked into tough oblivion. One local fish was new to me and pretty swell: monchong, a formerly disfavored critter like so many other tasty fish. Had it a couple of times, including at Stella Blues in Kihei, Maui. I'll admit, it reminded me of grouper. And, Stella Blues gave me a serious sense of déjà vu. How is it that mid-scale restaurants in beach towns can be so alike, thousands of miles apart?

    The one area where Hawaii stands tall, food-wise, is Japanese. Decades of free-spending, gastronomically patriotic/xenophobic Japanese tourists have made Hawaii, Honolulu most especially, a great spot for ramen, sushi, izakaya, okonomiyaki, you name it. If I could have convinced my family, I would have eaten Japanese each and every meal while in HI. As it was, Japanese meals were a strong plurality.

    One of my favorites was Ramen Nakamura, smack in the middle of the main drag in Waikiki. Known for oxtail and tonkotsu, this shop often had a long line of Japanese tourists outside. Despite some language hurdles, our family was very welcome and some of the older Japanese tourists seemed equally astounded and pleased to see us slurping ramen at the bar. By the way, everyone knows this, but I was still blown away by the frequency with which Japanese tourists document their meals. I mean, the average Japanese tourist puts the most snap-happy LTHer to shame. Something like half the diners at this ramen shop were photographing noodles. Same thing at the Cold Stone and the Starbucks. Anyway, my pork bone(tonkotsu)/shoyu ramen was terrific. [The sign says cash only, Yen or US Dollars accepted.]

    Image

    I also enjoyed the much more grungy Nisei ramen place across the street -- Ezogiku. Ambience was similar to Hamburger King, and the ramen was pretty good. The wide variety of not-necessarily-traditional condiments (Korean, Viet and Chinese stuff) lets you amp up the OK broth in a way you wouldn't with the serious, subtle stuff at Nakamura. There's ramen in airports, it's everywhere. The sheer number of options and the very high bar set by Japanese tourists has me thinking Honolulu is right there with LA and NY, very possibly better, for ramen. While Hawaii deserves its reputation for ridiculous tourist-gouging, I found the Japanese-oriented places to be real bargains, both relatively within HI and objectively as compared to mainland cities. I chalk it up to high standards and a Japanese economy that has been on the rocks much longer than ours.

    Other than Japanese, Hawaii is good for, what else, Hawaiian. This cuisine has its limits. The best plate lunch or bowl of Spam saimin is still lunch truck or steam table fare. I sought out and went to the place that locals often cite as the best example of down home island food --maybe the Moon's Sandwich Shop of ono grinds, if I may. That place is Sam Sato's, currently operating out of an industrial complex near the airport in Maui. Closed on weekends, long waits, almost entirely locals-only. If there's a GNR in Hawaii, this is probably it.

    Image

    Image

    Burgers, good. Breakfast (eggs with rice, spam and linguica (universally called "Portuguese Brand Sausage", regardless of the actual "brand")) very good. Dry saimin with fried egg and Spam on top, terrific.

    Another noteworthy place is Home Maid Bakery, near Sato's and the airport in Maui. This place, to me, was like Andy's on Division (RIP) in a Hialeah-meets-Uptown space. Home Maid distributes around Maui and possibly on other islands. But you need to walk into the store and talk to the Filipina baker-ladies to get the best stuff. That best stuff includes terrific Filipino sweet bread (ensaymada) and malasadas, the Portuguese-ish paczki doppelgangers. The malasadas at Home Maid rival the best paczki here, though the Polish austerity of good paczki is missing, in a good way. These babies were filled with some of the best pastry custard I've ever tasted, and the custard-to-pastry ratio was way out of whack in favor of custard. Sorry, I ate the pictures.

    Image

    Not much noteworthy and nice for me to say about the places in Maui closer to the beach. Like I said before, Stella Blues was pretty good. We also tried the much-heralded Japanese/Hawaiian fusion mini-empire Sansei. Food writers go gaga over this place's sushi and fish. I thought it was just pretty good. I tried to keep them honest by ordering [nigiri] sushi, even though the place is very much oriented toward lovers of wacky-ass crunch rolls with sweet mango teriyaki bbq mayo sauce -- i.e., not aimed at Japanese nationals, none of whom were apparent in the packed place. To my tastes, the sushi ranged from very good (yellowtail and ahi, presumably local) to something you might get at the mall, to be charitable (ama ebi and tako -- cooked, cold, rubber, both). I will note that the tamago was exemplary, which I know is a big deal to sushi fetishists. In Maui, Sansei is certainly among the best restaurants and should be visited. I just don't think many folks here would get that excited about it if the place were in a big mainland city.

    I cooked a lot and found myself stymied time and again in my search for fresh local fish and produce in Maui, where we were 7 of the 9 days. Damned hard even to find local papayas and mangoes, though some local stands had good stuff. I have a feeling I'd have better luck in the outskirts of Honolulu. Suffice to say, the Gulf, Chesapeake, Low-Country, Door County, Cape Cod, whatever crab shacks, oyster shanties, fish camps and lobster shacks that I love do not happen at the beach in HI. Or, if they do, they are much, much harder to find -- on foot, by car, on the Internet. Good thing I like ramen about as much as fried fish. Oh, and the local coffee deserves its reputation. Good local stuff just about everywhere.

    A few stops on the way out are worth noting. The beachside restaurant at the Halukelani (one of the 3 classic old hotels in Waikiki, along with the Surfrider and Royal), House Without a Key (apparently of Charlie Chan fame), is well-loved by locals. Delightful. Not a word I use, but it was. The place is all class in a very unpretentious way. Although the menu is geared toward the Japanese who seem to pick this serene hotel over the other somewhat more lively grand dames, it holds a secret -- one of the best burgers I ever tasted. Loosely packed local beef from mellow Hawaiian cows cooked over charcoal was about as good as a burger gets. The problem is, I ordered the ramen (what else). Very nice, but not as good as my kid's burger.

    Last, know that the plate lunch place in the Maui airport is a very fine example. For ten bucks, get the hand-carved roast beef, a ton of fried rice and a scoop of mac salad.

    Anyway, I loved Hawaii and liked the food. [Addresses to follow, sometime.]
  • Post #25 - June 25th, 2010, 5:54 am
    Post #25 - June 25th, 2010, 5:54 am Post #25 - June 25th, 2010, 5:54 am
    Jeff -- fantastic report. Thank you. I love the view of the Royal Hawaiian from the alley. Sounds like you found the best food possible while exploring the alley ways :) .
  • Post #26 - June 25th, 2010, 8:23 pm
    Post #26 - June 25th, 2010, 8:23 pm Post #26 - June 25th, 2010, 8:23 pm
    Thank you, Amy.

    By the way, looking at some of the earlier posts in this string reminded me that edamame hummus is pretty common as a delivery device for ahi poke, the large cubed, well-seasoned raw tuna salad that's probably the only really healthy local savory. It's something that works very well, particularly when some wasabi is added. Oh how I wish I could get good ahi poke in Chicago :wink: I'll have to buy some decent frozen fish and whip it up myself, like they do it in the land of rainbows.

    In fact, I think the "tuna tuna" prep at Masu described here viewtopic.php?f=14&t=28701&p=329000 is ahi poke w/ avocado (common enough that Safeway has it). So if one doesn't like the idea of this prep, poke is probably not going to work for you either.

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