In the past, Hawaii, like Britain, has been the butt of many culinary jokes. And to be honest, I was not exactly expecting food to play a major role on this holiday. Things have definitely improved, but to avoid disappointment when in Maui, I would recommend skipping Paia Fish Market and Sansei — in a word, minging.
It’s very difficult to stay hungry in Hawaii. Let’s just say there are ‘American-sized’ portions and then there are ‘Hawaii-sized’ meals that will leave you clutching your belly and wondering why you kept eating! Of course we had to try a bit of everything and found it difficult to make room for the next meal. Here are some of the top eats that we enjoyed while in Maui.
From crazy combinations of loco moco to fried spam musubi and an ono Hawaiian Plate, Da Kitchen Express and Da Kitchen Cafe both offer tasty local food that will keep you full for days. Our first meal in Maui was at the Express location in Kihei near our flat and we liked it so much we also tried the Cafe in Kahului a different night. Da Kitchen Cafe even has the option of ordering chicken long rice as a side for only a few dollars. I was not prepared for how massive the “side” would be — it was more like a bucket of soup than a bowl.
We were rather jet-lagged and often missed the lunch service at several places so had to try our luck at random places. I thought perhaps the “general store” would offer sandwiches to go, but it turned out to be one of chef Bev Gannon’s restaurants! Although the ‘bar menu’ that was offered was simple, we were happy to have something light and tasty to tide us over until dinner. This location gets extra points for having incredibly cute decor — love the pineapple chairs!
Although we’re not huge fans of dining in hotel restaurants (due to crazy mark-ups for usually disappointing fare), we were happy we gave Kō a go. The portions were not truly ‘Hawaiin-size’ but I suppose could be considered by fine-dining standards. I’m not even a huge fan of buckwheat soba noodles, but these were wonderful with miso glazed prawns. And their pohole salad is the BEST–I wish I could eat it every day!
We came here in hopes of trying their version of pohole salad and were gutted to find that they had run out — it was barely even noontime! But the steamed pork buns (nod to Taiwanese ‘gua bao’), scallop shots and Hapa Ramen were all delish. It is a bit odd to me that there isn’t much ‘authentic’ Japanese food to be found in Maui (or Hawaii in general) considering the large Japanese population on the islands.
I wouldn’t say that Mama’s is a tourist trap, but it definitely is tailored to non-locals with its own manicured beach and slightly over the top ‘island-themed’ decor. The seafood was fresh and the dishes were tasty but I’m not sure it is worth the extra money. They do get extra points for having their own beach.