Saturday, January 30, 2016

Maui Sweet Eats

I had a lot of random sweet treats in Maui, which I decided to smush into one entry.

Ululani's Hawaiian Shave Ice
multiple locations

Of course, I had Ululani shaved ice.  It's like the Starbucks of Maui.  It's everywhere you turn, on every corner.  It turned out to be better than what I imagined for Hawaiian shaved ice.  The shaved ice I've had before was pretty icy and crunchy.  The flavoring was like dyed sugary syrup.  I'm not sure how they make their shaved ice at Ulalani but the ice is smooth and the flavor doesn't taste like it was just dumped on top from a squeeze bottle.

Mango, Passionfruit, Strawberry, Coconut Pudding (Haupia)
The shaved ice was pretty tasty, but it was hard for me to tell which flavor was what.  It all kinda blended together.  The most interesting part was the haupia, which I thought was going to be weird because I'm not a huge fan of coconut.  It actually added a creamy richness to the cool icy fruitiness.  You have to get the haupia at the bottom!

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Friday, January 29, 2016

Mama's Fish House

We had our last dinner in Maui at this local favorite.  While the menu prices rivaled those of Lahaina Grill, the white linen and suited waiters was replaced by blue Hawaiian patterns and casual button ups.  The food is less fancy, but still tasty.  We were kind of in a hurry to get through our meal since some people in our party were trying to catch flights to the airport that same night.

Bread & Butter
Warm and soft.

Cream of Mushroom Soup
Compliments of the house.  Solid.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Kihei Caffe

So my favorite part of Maui was watching the sun rise at Haleakala Crater.  It was pretty painful waking up so early and driving up the windy mountain, only to wait for over an hour for the sun to rise in the blustery cold.  The picture does not do the experience justice.  You feel like you're on top of the world.  Watching it from above the clouds as golden rays of sunshine are about to drown the world in the warmth of its light.  Before you know it, night becomes day within minutes.

I totally passed out on the way back down the mountain and woke up as we were arriving to Kihei Caffe.  It's a local joint, very Hawaiian, and very laid back.  You stand in line, pay for your order, and they bring the food to your table.  The food is equally as unpretentious as the setting.

Breakfast Burrito eggs, cheese, home fries, salsa, guacamole, jalapeños, flour tortilla
The Flatulent Snorer was adamant about the burrito.  I think he was a bit disappointed.  There wasn't much too spectacular here.

Pork Fried Rice & Eggs onion, bell peppers, portuguese sausage, ham, bacon
The fried rice was my favorite dish.  The combination of portuguese sausage, ham, and bacon created a deliciously smokey, salty, and savory breakfast dish.  I would recommend this one.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Koiso Sushi

The one restaurant that has eluded The Annoyer during the previous 4 times he visited Maui is Koiso Sushi.  It's one sushi chef manning an 11 seat sushi bar and one 4 top table.  It's sort of like your neighborhood sushi joint, but you can't just walk in any ole time you please and expect to be seated.  The diners next to us made a reservation 1-2 weeks ago.  I made reservations 3 months ago.  Even when I called, I only got my 3rd choice for reservation times.  Only after my arrival, did I discover that the place was so small, so accommodating such a large party is no easy feat.  I scoffed when an unknowing and obviously ill informed couple casually walked in and asked for a table that night.  Chef Hiro has been manning his restaurant for 19 years solo, taking few vacations or holidays.  He said he'd rather work than sit at home.  I just finished re-watching "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" during which Jiro also voices the same sentiments.  Is this a commonality among the older generation, older Japanese, or just anyone who is very passionate about his/her craft?

The fresh fish selection and the strong Japanese presence, albeit many generations old, is the perfect formula for delicious sushi in Hawaii.  If the quality of the sushi doesn't sell you on this place, then certainly the price tag will.  A 13 piece omakase will set you back about $45.  This meal, was by far, the best value for the entire trip.

My eyes lit up at the practically full tray of uni.

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Star Noodle

Before Sheldon Simeon took home the title of Top Chef, he was the executive chef of Star Noodle. I'm not sure if the place was as popular before or after his win, but it has 2679 reviews on Yelp averaging 4 stars now. That's pretty stellar.  In any case, multiple friends have tried this place in the wake of his win and have told me it is not worth a visit.  I was gonna skip the place all together, but The Keeper heard great things and wanted to give it a shot. 

We ordered a hefty round of appetizers/small plates to start.  I wonder who was the mastermind behind that move...

Star Kim Chee napa cabbage, garlic, ginger
Of course The Keeper is gonna have her opinion about the kimchi (being Korean), which she prefers less pickled.  The Flatulent Snorer and I like it more ripe, but definitely not bubbling.  I actually quite enjoyed the kimchi, not too sour, sweet, salty, stinky.  Pretty tasty, but can obviously be skipped.

Ahi Avo lemon pressed olive oil, sambas, usukuchi 
Here we go again.  I'm not even going to comment anymore.

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Braddah Hutts BBQ

So if you've ever been to Maui, you've probably done the "Road to Hana" trip.  It actually sounds much more glamorous than what it actually is, which is just a really long and windy drive around the north part of the island.  You're supposed to get off at various scenic points along the way to take in the natural beauty and wonder of Maui. The drive itself is only 2.5 hours but making multiple stops along the way can really drag out the trip.  You also have to factor in the time it takes to drive that same road back before sunset to avoid a dangerous nighttime drive on a windy narrow road.  It's easily an all day affair.  Knowing this, we tried to hustle and make only a few stops along the way, with the most time spent at the Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach.

Even then, we didn't end up eating lunch till 1245-1pm, which means we spent 4 hours on the road!  We were pretty famished by the time we got to Braddah Hutts and literally just beat the rush.  The food here is simple. It is a food cart after all. The focus is BBQ meats and grilled fish plates.

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Lahaina Grill

The Annoyer prefaced Lahaina Grill as our fanciest meal of the entire trip.  So The Keeper and I made sure to wear our nicest outfits with heels, and basically look a little less Hawaii and little more LA.  Lahaina is quite a drive from Wailea so we were lucky to be able to push back our reservation because it takes a bit of time to get our LA faces on ok?  Turns out we got the nice semi private dining area, which kicked the dinner off on a special note.  The place is definitely a white linen and suited waiters kind of place so check your flip flops at the door.  Although, I'm sure they'd still welcome you dressed in the standard Hawaiian attire.  Lahaina Grill serves contemporary seafood and steak with a Hawaiian twist in an elegant fine dining setting.  Translated, the place is NOT cheap.

Bread & Herb Compound Butter
Warm and soft bread with gobs of flavored fat makes for happy campers anywhere.

The Cake Walk 
lobster, pacific rock crab and diver scallop with avocado relish and mustard cream
seared ahi tuna cake with avocado relish, sushi rice, nori, tamari ginger vinaigrette
white shrimp cake with hoisin, crème fraîche
I didn't get to try any of this, but it is one of the more popular items at Lahaina Grill.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

South Maui Fish Company

We opted for more poke and fish tacos for our third lunch.  Food trucks seem like quite the popular thing in Maui. I wonder if they were popular before the crazy food truck trend hit the mainland. In any case, we hightailed it here after dropping off 3SB for his kite surfing lessons. The rest of us obviously value chowing down on delicious eats rather than enriching our lives with new exciting experiences the way 3SB does it.

The wait was a bit long, but they do make it clear that everything is made to order. Their al fresco dining area leaves much to be desired. I didn't mind the janky chairs and tables, but the flies were a real nuisance and forced us to eat our food in our minivan. 

Poke Bowl half spicy, half traditional, rice, pineapple cole sl
I really thought the poke bowl was better than Eskimo Candy's poke bowl. The fish wasn't doused in sauce. It was well seasoned and balanced. Not too sweet, salty, or oniony. The spicy version was also not as mayo-y. The seaweed salad was replaced by coleslaw. Everyone enjoyed the bits of fresh pineapple in the slaw, which made it unique and refreshing. I can't say I prefer slaw over seaweed. I would have opted for both!

Fish Tacos
These were unanimously better than the ones at Coconuts. The fish was more moist and plentiful. The coleslaw was a perfect complement. The texture of the tacos were far more palatable.  A gentle squeeze of lime really rounded things out.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016


Most of our dinner reservations were made with recommendations from The Annoyer who has been to Maui now 6 times. But Migrant was a place of my choosing based on Yelp and Top Chef. The chef/owner here is none other than winner of season 10, Sheldon Simeon, the surprise dark horse who shocked many by taking the title. The restaurant is located inside the Marriot hotel in Wailea. The feel of the restaurant is more contemporary than most of the other well established Maui eateries we tried on our trip. The menu is also more modern being family style/shared small plates. This is usually my preferred way to dine because it allows you to try more options with a larger party.

The complimentary chicharones we're a a very rich complimentary starter in place of your traditional bread. It came with a vinegared soy sauce. I didn't really like it. They were good on their own.

One thing you'll notice about our meals is the sheer number of plates we ordered for a group of 7. The Annoyer's brother, the formerly famous food blogger known as 3SB (you can check out his now defunct food blog here), has a severe case of FOMO. So he massively over orders for "fear of missing out" (for those not hip to the language of the Millenials), everywhere we went. Everything sounds "yummy" to him and/or elicits a "Ooo."

Braddah Carrots fresh burratta cheese, roasted heirloom carrots, big island honey, candied walnuts, carrot top pesto
The carrots came highly recommended by our waitress but I didn't see the appeal. I didn't think all the flavors of candied walnuts, burrata, pesto, and carrots went well together. Nothing bad here, just not my favorite.

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Eskimo Candy

The Annoyer is pretty easy going about things. He doesn't have a strong opinion about many things, but when it comes to Eskimo Candy, he won't consider any other place for poke. You can try to reason that the poke at Eskimo Candy is too sweet, too saucy, too anything but he'll argue and disprove your opinion. In actuality, it's my opinion so there is no right or wrong, but he won't have anyone speaking badly about his precious Eskimo Candy.

The restaurant itself is so kitschy in a seafood restaurant kinda way. Pirates, nets, fish, sharks, and mermaids are plastered wherever there is space. The menu is pretty large and you wouldn't think poke is even the focus of this joint, but The Annoyer would eat this for lunch everyday if he could. 

Poke Bowl shoyu, furikake, wasabi, spicy ahi pokes, seaweed salad, wasabi aioli, ric
I will admit that the poke bowl here is a great deal. You get 4 types, over a bowl of rice, and a side of seaweed salad for $12.  I was a bit disappointed there wasn't some crab salad too, which I've gotten used to with the poke bowls I've had back home.  There's also a little bit of wasabi aioli over the rice which I didn't really notice. It was easily overwhelmed by the over marinated poke itself.  The savoriness of soy sauce and the sweet zing of either sugar or honey are really in your face. It is partly in a good way.  The poke is really flavorful. The shoyu one seemed like the base flavor of the furikake and wasabi ones so I preferred the kicked up flavor of the latter two as my favorites.  The spicy one was a touch too mayo-y for my liking.  So on the flip side, the in your face flavors make for some tasty bites, but all that sauciness gets to be overwhelming after a while and you really lose the natural flavor of the fish.  The Annoyer wholeheartedly disagrees.

We actually had some of the cooked items like the captains platter and seafood chowder. The captains platter is solid, but the chowder was too creamy without enough flavor to balance it out. 

Don't get my wrong, the poke bowls at Eskimo Candy are pretty good, I just don't agree with The Annoyer that it is THE BEST poke bowl on this planet. I certainly couldn't eat this everyday, but then again I can't eat anything everyday.  I will admit that I've never had any poke like the kind at Eskimo Candy so you can look forward to something unique here.  The cooked stuff is good, but nothing too special.

10 - You NEED to eat here
9 - Awesome! (if you like cannolis)
8 - Very good
7 - Good 
6 - OK 
5 - Average
4 - Not bad
3 - Not good
2 - Terrible
1 - Do NOT eat here

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Friday, January 15, 2016

Wow Wow Lemonade

I had my first and best ever acai bowl when I was on the Big Island. Ever since then, most acai bowls have fallen pretty short.  The acai is either too icy, too watery, or too sour.  The toppings are a little plain or uninspired.  Wow Wow didn't quite live up to my first acai bowl experience, but it was  much better than any of the version I've had on the mainland.

No Ka Oi Bowl organic granola, superfood acai, local apple banana, blueberries, sprouted raw almond milk, kula strawberries, bee pollen, hawaiian honey
I didn't get to try much of this.  I'm not sure the others in my party understood what an acai bowl was.

Haupia 'Ono Bowl coconut custard, granola, superfood acai, apple banana, kula strawberries, coconut milk, blueberries, maui macaroons, organic coconut, hawaiian honey
The fruit, coconut, and acai part was pretty standard. What made it special was the coconut custard at the bottom. It was creamy and not overly sweet. It paired well with the tart acai.  I was happy that the acai part was not too watery or sour. The Annoyers and I destroyed our bowl. 

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Coconut's Fish Cafe

So after a long flight we finally arrived in Maui. The weather was a very welcome change. Not that SoCal is like Siberia or anything but I'd take 70-80 degree weather over 50-60 degrees weather any day. And it turned out that we traded a week of rain for a week of sunshine as well! Good fortune was on our side.  Our first stop was the ever popular Maui establishment, Coconut's Fish Cafe. I remember very little from my previous, but I do remember the wait was long and that remains unchanged. Luckily, we chatted up another couple during our 15-20 minute wait for food, so the time passed by quickly.

Onion Rings
These guys came out first to save us from our hunger.   The Annoyer felt they were better than your average onions because they were probably made with sweet Maui onions.  Honestly, the onion is never the star of the show in an onion ring.  It's all about the batter, which crisped up nicely and hid all the oil well.
Fish Tacos grilled white corn tortillas, cheese, tomato salsa, famous coleslaw, mango salsa
The fish tacos were interesting. It was basically a crunchy grilled tortilla with a soft tortilla on top of that with melted cheese. The fish was grilled and tender.  But I quite enjoyed the mountain of crunchy cabbage slaw, tomato and mango salsas.

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