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Maui June 2015

mwest9 | Jun 17, 201505:40 PM

We stayed two weeks this time in Napili, our quiet haven in north West Maui that we love so much (except for the long drives to get almost anywhere else). We hit some favorites and some new spots since the last time we were there about 4 years ago.

Focusing mostly on the positive (there weren't really that many disappointments and they were minor), here's a few thoughts.

Excellent pie was had at both Leoda's in Olowalu and especially at Sugar Beach Bakery in Kihei (next to Ululani's). I had the Olowalu lime at Leoda's and the lilikoi lime at Sugar Beach and they were both delicious, hard to pick a favorite. The lilikoi lemonade at Sugar Beach was really good, too. Our friends also liked their savory breakfast pies, too.

We had really good breakfast sandwiches and lunch sandwiches at Leoda's too, but they are a bit pricey at lunch when a $14 sandwich doesn't come with any sides at all and you are feeding a bunch of hungry teenagers. Their french toast, however, was just too dry and the creme anglaise was too thick to remedy that. Still a very good spot with high quality food and drink.

We finally dined at Mama's Fish House and we enjoyed it. They do a surprisingly good job for such a high volume restaurant. Its not on the fine dining level of Merman's, IMO, with the simpler preparations, sauces and ingredients, but the fish is outstanding and well cooked and seasoned and we loved the retro Polynesian decor, its like stepping back in time to a 70s tiki bar. Kinda crowded, though.

We ate three times at Merriman's, once for a multi course dinner and twice for drinks and apps at the bar. All three times were fantastic with the high quality fish and produce, sophisticated ingredients and preparations and very good service and the most beautiful setting by far of any restaurant we've been to in the Islands. Merriman's Kapalua has never disappointed us. The scallops in black bean sauce and the cavatelli pasta with mushrooms, asparagus, ricotta and beurre blanc were stunning and bowl-licking tasty. Also loved the fried chèvre with strawberries. Lobster bisque was a fairly good broth, but raw corn and flat leaf parsley as ingredients detracted from the dish, I thought. We loved the macadamia crusted monchong with mushroom sauce too. My lamb dish had a lot of strong flavors going on in the side dishes that were a bit overwhelming to one another, but the lamb itself was very good. They had a Ken Wright 2013 Willamette Pinot Noir that I thought was a good deal for $72 and as delicious as his wines always are.

High quality cocktails have been hard to find in Maui as has been discussed on this board in the past. The best we had, comparable to what one finds in a major continental US city, were at Cane and Canoe at Montage Kapalua. Very good and measured Old Fashioneds with no muddled fruit, just bitters, citrus zest and a Luxardo cherry and our friend had an equally good Manhattan there. We also had good cocktails at Monkeypod Kitchen in Wailea. They make a Jetsetter's Julep with strawberry, mint, kombucha and Knob Creek single barrel bourbon at 120 proof that is bang for your buck! They also use lilikoi foam on their Mai Tai. Food there was fine, nothing exciting nor too disappointing.

We tried Fleetwoods and like at Monkeypod, found the cocktails to outshine the food. Their deconstructed pina colada (Lime In The Coconut) was great as was the Sour Flower with sour sop juice and lilikoi foam. We had the steamed mussels in coconut broth and the beet and chèvre salad and both were tasty but not exceptional. Our friends were not impressed with their Ahi BLT.

We got Donut Dynamite donuts from Memphis Belle coffee in Kihei and they were delicious and gourmet and worth seeking out for sure, of course better when fresh, but hard to get unless you are in Kihei in the morning or Kahului swap meet on a Saturday.

Star Noodle lived up to its reputation and our expectations and was worth the effort to get a reservation. We took home leftovers and the pork broth was so rich that it completely congealed in the fridge, a sign of a very rich and properly made stock with tons of flavor. Frekaing delicious!

We also had a great lunch at Shark Pit food truck near Star Noodle. We had poke-marinated steak salad and some of the delicious lemonades made to order with fresh fruit purees. Guava flavor was excellent! Shark Pit is in the process of opening a restaurant in Lahaina.

Someone on this board recommended Pi Pizza in Lahaina and we enjoyed the pizza, salads and panini there, good call, they are doing good stuff, better than other pizzas we tried at Lahaina Pizza Co. and Monkeypod Kitchen.

I don't love the crowded and hectic happy hour at Hula Grill in Kaanapali, but we had a surprisingly good entree of ono and opah with a lobster cream sauce there. Peter Merriman's name is still on the restaurant, but I doubt he does much consulting there any longer.

Photo at top: Merrimans pupu platter Photos below: two entrees at Mama's, Jetsetter Julep and Mai Tai at Monkey Pod, Scorpions at Mama's, beet chevre salad at Fleetwoods, mussels at Fleetwoods, cavateli pasta at Merriman's, whiskey sours at Merriman's, and Mama's Salad

Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop,
Mama's Fish House,
Merriman's Maui,
Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman,
Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman - Ko Olina,
Star Noodle,
Lahaina Pizza Company,
Hula Grill
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