We finally made our way to Maui after our 3 day hiatus in Oahu. Unfortunately, both my boyfriend and I contracted a stomach flu during our trip, which kind of put a wrench in our eating plans. We also spent a few meals eating at his grandma’s house, so we didn’t visit that many restaurants.
Leilani’s @ 2435 Kaanapali Pkwy
One of the first places we went to was Leilani’s Beach Side Grill. We actually came here twice because after eating there for dinner, we got a coupon from the waitress for a free hula pie if we go back. I’m a sucker for good food deals. Both times we sat on the first floor for casual dining. The second floor is more formal dining, serves a different menu and is probably a bit more expensive.
When we came for dinner, I ordered a drink called lava flow. This stuff is delicious. I couldn’t even taste the rum, just the mixture of coconut cream, strawberries, banana and pineapple juice. You must try it if you ever see it on a menu!
I went on to order the Grilled Fish Sandwich, which turned out quite bland. The fish was also a bit dry. I wish they gave me more pineapple salsa for flavor. The sea salted fries that came with the sandwich were addictive though!
Brandon ordered a Crab & Shrimp Melt, which was just delectable. I took multiple bites since his tasted better.
A couple days later, we came back for our hula pie after scuba diving. This time, no lava flow. It was just too early in the day. I was trying to stick to a strictly fish diet while I’m in Hawaii, so I got the Ono Fish Tacos that I was eyeing at another table the other night. This ended up being a good choice. The ono was moist, rubbed with cajun spice, placed on top of aioli-like sauce and stuffed in a soft taco wrap. My only gripe was that it didn’t come with the delicious sea salt fries. I did get some crispy nachos that I added to my taco for crunch.
My boyfriend ordered the Kalua Pork Cuban. It was basically very moist flavorful pulled pork topped with a roasted garlic aioli.
For dessert, we got our free hula pie. The entire time I thought it’d be like apple pie, but with pineapples (since we’re in Hawaii and all). Instead, it turns out to be this ginormous ice cream cake that is the the epitome of decadence. Leilani’s and their chain of restaurants are the creators of this massive monster. It’s a thick layer of macadamia nut ice cream, topped with macadamia nuts, chocolate fudge, chocolate cookie pie crust, a shot of espresso, and whipped cream. AH! I think my teeth were in danger of falling off after eating most of that cake. It was pretty darn good though, albeit too sweet for some.
Overall, it was a pretty good eating experience. The atmosphere was nice, the service was great and the weather was perfect. No wonder TS restaurants own so many other places around Maui.
Tasaka Guri Guri @ Maui Mall
For a little snack before a movie, my boyfriend took me to Tasaka’s to get some guri guri. What is guri guri? The Japanese Hawaiian natives meant to call it “goodie goodie” but termed it “guri guri.” It sounds close enough. This frozen dessert is something like shaved ice, but creamy like sherbet. I can definitely taste the condense milk in this, and in my humble opinion, adding condensed milk makes almost anything yummier. Tasaka is a very small store owned by an old Japanese man. For around $1, I highly recommend you go and try it. The pineapple flavor is much better than the strawberry, which tastes kind of medicinal.
Olowalu General Store @ 820 Olowalu Village Rd
My boyfriend took me to eat another signature Hawaiian snack: Musubi, also known as spam sushi. He dropped by the Olowalu General Store on our way to his grandma’s place. Don’t be scared that this place looks like a dump from the inside and out. The musubi is worth it. It was just the right level of saltiness. I tried a musubi from a big super market later in the trip and it just didn’t taste nearly as good. Definitely a great snack to bring with you on long trips.
Aloha Mixed Plate @ 1285 Front Street
This was a restaurant that was nearby my boyfriend’s house and was recommended by my coworker. It is cheap compared to other places in Hawaii. Despite how the website comes across, it’s actually very low key and casual. You’re basically sitting on patio furniture and your food is served on paper plates. You are still sitting by the ocean though :)
I decided to order from the plate lunches – what they’re famous for. I chose the BBQ Mixed Plate, which came with teriyaki chicken, teriyaki beef and kalbi. Every single one of the meats were marinated really well. The side of macaroni salad was okay. I passed on it.
My boyfriend got the Breaded Teriyaki Plate, which was also really good. You can tell the meat was pre-marinated before they breaded it with panko and fried.
If I’m ever back on Maui, I would definitely make another trip here to try out another lunch plate. They’re very homey dishes that I’d like to be able to make myself.
Star Noodle @ 286 Kupuohi St
How did Yelp give this place 4.5 stars, am I missing something? I came here with very high hopes after a long day in Hana, an undeveloped area on the island. We went out of our way to find this restaurant since it’s kind of located in a strange place that seems even more removed from civilization than Hana itself. I just recuperated from my stomach flu and wanted to get some delicious food. Instead, I got Star Noodle. I have to give them credit for the nice modern decor and good service, but that doesn’t give you a right to charge me a premium for bad food.
We started off the night with the Pork Buns. I haven’t gone to NY in a long time so I haven’t gotten my Pork Bun fix. Needless to say, I was super excited. Oh so disappointing! They were nothing short of MEDIOCRE. They use a hoisin sauce that just cheapens the entire dish. I also didn’t really like the cucumber or shiitake mushroom they added. Honestly, this is a very simple dish and sometimes simplicity is a virtue.
We also ordered the Yakitori, which was beyond bland. I had to douse my chicken over and over again in the little sauce that was on the plate. They should take some pointers from Aloha Mixed Plate on how to marinate food. Although the sauce was good, it wasn’t enough to save the chicken. Another simple dish messed up.
For our noodles we ordered the Fried Saimin as recommended by many Yelpers. Bad idea. I’m not sure if they added more seasoning or if it was the spam, but it was ridiculously salty. New Englanders could use it on their porches to absorb all the snow we get. My boyfriend had an upset stomach after and still dreads eating fried noodles now. It definitely made an impression.
Finally, what was I thinking when I ordered dessert here? Maybe I was hopeful that they’d get malasadas right since I’ve been meaning to try it. Unfortunately it was another failed dish. The malasadas did not have a soft center like I expected. It tasted really dry and gritty. Even the chocolate and caramel dip didn’t help. My boyfriend said he’s had better ones at the local county fair.
This entire meal was enough to ruin my perception of food on Maui. Perhaps the executive chef was home and some incompetent assistant took over for the night. Perhaps it was just my bad luck. But one thing’s for sure, I will never come back to this place.
Dollies Pub & Cafe @ 4310 Lowr Honoapiilani Rd
Dollies is this cute little pub located in Lahaina with really friendly staff. Although friendly staff in Hawaii is sort of a given. I came here to get take out since my boyfriend was sick and I had to fend for myself. It turned out to be pretty good.
I never had French Dip before but the concept is genius. For all those that were deprived like me, it’s basically a cheesesteak sandwich with a side of soup for you to dip the the sandwich in, hence the name. The soup resembled the liquid part of a french onion soup. It also came with a side of salad that they gave me papaya dressing for. So good!
I also ordered potato skins as a side, but this turned out quite bland. I needed something more than just sour cream, green onion and cheese. There was no ketchup to be found in my boyfriend’s house :( and I was too lazy to go back out to get a bottle. Apparently, you could add chili! I totally would’ve done that if I had known. Sigh. Maybe next time.
I had fun in Maui but food experiences were less than stellar. There were solid restaurants, but nothing that really drew me in enough for me to want to go back… except maybe the pineapple guri guri :)
-Charmin Bear T