thanks to you Chowhounds, tried several spots.
for Lunch Plates ...
FORGET Aloha Lunch Plate in Lahania, it's a tourist trap for gringos like us. crappy food.
Instead, for VERY down home, Da Kitchen is great as reported (went to the Kehei hole in the wall, gotta try the Mountain View branch here on the mainland). styro plates and no ambiance at all, but Jo loved the chicken katsu, ate about 20 pieces.
i loved Tasty Crust in Kailuku better. like a local diner. gotta eat my way through their bigger menu. beam me over! perfect opakapaka, perfect shrimp tempura. jo loved the katsu here too. good won ton, pork broth, not chicken broth.
the mac salad both places was different, but both very good, fresh veggies.
for lunch, the Plantation House as adverstised is a beautiful place. food was good, but not great. still i'd go back and try dinner at sunset. very romantic.
Kimo's in Lahina is part of a multi-restaurant stable. just so-so, but the beach location is great, no question. same with Hula Grill up in the Whalers shopping mall (boring mall). overcooked fish taco. blah mahi-mahi entree. buy booze and hang out, but not food.
a friend gave us the Luau at Lele dinner show as a gift. you don't expect much for the food at a dinner show, but it was a surprisingly good sampler style dinner along with the great dancing show. i'd give as gift to friends, or take mom and dad. worth the price. by the way, there are as many very buff guys in the show/servers as pretty gals. equal eye candy for the ladies, only place i could ever say that!! jo loved it.
Sansei was much better than i expected from the recent Chowhound reports, new place up there, what's that name of that zone? got there at 5:30 and indeed got the discount on menu items, even though we had to sit at the bar with no reservations. great bar. and the ahi was just right. the several rolls we got were very very tasty - very very fresh fish, interesting spices, not like we get here on mainland. i could eat my way through the whole menu, beam me over! fair price for the fare.
wish i could say the same for Mama's famous Fish House. for $90 a person, i expect everything to be top notch, even here in SF. not so in Maui. the whatever appetizer was totally forgetable obviously, i can't recall it! my cocconut crust fish was perfect, yes, loved it, but Jo's mixed platter of two kinds of fish fillets and 'hawaiian' sides was terrible. both fish were overcooked, the sides a throw away. my sides were also totally boring rice pilaf and asparagus. i mean, come on guys, try something! where Sansei made the sides very intresting and tasty, Mama's were useless, the Lele Luau sides were better even. No excuse at this price. the place is beautiful of course on the beach, but the restuarant must seat 300+. too big for any kitchen. but to be fair, the famous "pearl" dessert was truly, really delicious. jo loved it. bottom line - you pay, i'll go again and try my luck on the entrees, but not on my own dime.
by the way, the only-one-road traffic jam getting to Mama's through Paia is incredibly horrible. add a 1/2 hour at least to your trip, even a full hour at peak dinner time.
oh, and we had some snacks at our Hyatt hotel place, Cascades - not bad if that's where you are staying, but don't go as a destination.