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Maui report!


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Restaurants & Bars Hawaii

Maui report!

Nicole | | Oct 2, 2012 03:09 PM

We had a wonderful time eating our way through Maui a couple of weeks ago. We mostly ate in South Maui, but had a couple of meals in the North and West. Here are reviews of the places we ate. All reviews for dinner unless otherwise specified.

Mama's Fish House
Good but not great. Don't get me wrong, we enjoyed our meal (lunch), but we enjoyed other Maui meals more, and they were less expensive to boot. We ordered the 2 most highly recommended fish entrees, which were each $48 at lunch (I think maybe $10 more at dinner?) and both were satisfying but neither blew us away. I got Hawaiian snapper with a mushroom sauce. Very tasty and earthy, but this was basically Chicken Marsala with fish, nothing inventive or special. Husband got the mahi mahi (IIRC) stuffed with crab and lobster. It was good, but his take was that any fresh fish stuffed with lobster is going to be good, he wasn't blown away. Also, the service wasn't very good, particularly in relation to the price point. For instance, my water glass was empty for a while, whereas the other restaurants we visited never let it get less than half full. In a more striking example, at some point our toddler knocked over my husband's water glass, so that our table was covered with water and ice. The ice was very visible to anyone glancing out our table, but still no one came over to help us, and it took me way too much time and effort to flag down my waiter to get help with clean up. In short, I'm glad we went here once, but we definitely wouldn't return, and I now understand the mixed reviews this place gets. Although other hounds I highly respect love this place, I wouldn't recommend it.

Nick's Fish Market (Wailea)
Nick's was everything I wished Mama's was. The food and service were both exemplary. The tuna dish we ordered was the best fish I have had in my life (and I have had lots of great fish). The service was extremely attentive without being intrusive. A+ all the way. This was probably my favorite restaurant of the trip, and among my top 10 dining experiences ever.

Monkey Pod Kitchen (Wailea)
This was great for a more casual option. Everything we ate was excellent. Service was good, but more casual given the more casual vibe of the whole restaurant. Loved the calamari appetizer that had fried pineapple in it, I could have eaten a dinner sized portion of this on my own. :)

Spago (Wailea)
Food and service were both excellent. If you've eaten at the Spago in Beverly Hills or elsewhere you will find that this Spago's menu is quite different, with an emphasis on integrating local Hawaiian ingredients and flavors. For instance, both the Beverly Hills and Wailea locations are known for their raw fish cones, but we preferred the ones at Spago Wailea. The dessert menu, however, was the same as BH, and while deliciious, not that inspiring. However, this was made up for by an excellent selection of local coffees. :) An all around wonderful experience.

Amasia (Wailea)
This is Alan Wong's new restaurant. He is known for being one of the founders of Hawaiian regional cuisine, and this restaurant is supposed to be a fusion of Hawaiian and Asian, as the name indicates. In reality, I found that it was more Asian (particularly Japanese) than Hawaiian, which was slightly disappointing to me only because I happen to to be able to get excellent Japanese food where I'm from, and I was looking forward to more Hawaiian flavors. Still, the food was very good, and the price point was actually pretty reasonable given the location. The service, however, was pretty unpolished, especially given that we were in such a nice place (the Grand Wailea). The service did not live up to the food. It sounds silly, but the most memorable dish was actually a dessert that had a decidedly Hawaiian influence-- pineapple "shave ice" (basically pineapple that is frozen and shaved to mimic shave ice)...this was way more delicious than it had any right to be!

Duo (Wailea)
We ate the breakfast buffet here multiple times (5 times?) and ate dinner here once. The breakfast buffet is typical for this kind of upscale resort. Everything was good, nothing blew me away (pancakes are very good, btw). Variety was good but not amazing. It's $35 for the full buffet, and $30 if you don't want hot items. It's well worth it if you are staying at the Four Seasons, but I don't think I would come here if I wasn't staying there.
For dinner, we had the unlimited raw bar (note: not offered every night, call to confirm that they have it when you want to go). This was delicious, and well worth the $69 per person price. In addition to unlimited seafood, you get fries (maybe the best fries I've ever had) and a glass of Prosecco includes. The seafood includes 3 types of oysters, various kinds of pokes and ceviches, huge prawns, lobster tails, two kinds of crab claws and legs, etc. It was all incredibly fresh. The only surprising thing was that the prawns were not deveined and there was a bit of sediment in my oysters...quite strange considering how much effort the restaurant went to in providing high quality, all you can eat would think it would be perfect. At any rate, food and service were still excellent and I would heartily recommend the raw bar (did not order off the regular dinner menu).

Paia Fish Market
Really casual place (order at the counter and they bring it to you), we ate here before leaving for the airport. Food was very good, good value, large portions. I wouldn't go out of my way to eat here but would definitely eat here again if it was convenient (e.g., before airport, coming back from Hana, etc).

Pioneer Inn Grill and Bar (Lahaina)
Good breakfast, good value. Macademia nut pancakes were good but nothing special. Food that I wouldn't go out of my way for, but would definitely eat again before taking a boat road out of the Lahaina harbor.

Kihei Cafe
Excellent breakfast. Low prices (for South Maui). Cinnamon roll french toast was delicious! It wasn't listed on the menu but they had it as a special. Macademia nut and banana pancakes were very good but not special (comparable to Pioneer Inn). I would definitely come back here.

Ululani's Shave Ice (Lahaina)
We discovered this on our last trip to Maui, in my opinion this is the best shave ice on the island! Very soft ice, great flavors. Excellent.

Local Boys Shave Ice (Kihei)
We ate this on the last trip too, and it wasn't as good as I remembered it. Ice was too chunky, more like a snow cone than shave ice. I've got to find a better place in South Maui for my next trip!

Poolside service, Four Seasons
I think this is the same menu as room service. I have to say, my expectations for poolside food were low, and they were continually exceeded. We ordered lunch and cocktails poolside multiple times, and everything was consistently excellent. It is of course expensive, but there is nothing like relaxing in a poolside cabana and having good food and drink brought to you (it worked particularly well for us because our toddler napped during this time). We were having big breakfasts and dinners so for poolside lunch we ordered 1 dish to share and 2 cocktails.

I think that is it! It was a great trip filled with great food! Even the places that disappointed me a bit were still good, they just weren't as good as the other places I was so fortunate to visit.