Reporting back from my recent trip to Maui and Oahu. The two were night and day. Maui food was touristy and disappointing, but we had some awesome food in Honolulu.
In Maui we ate at:
- Mama’s Fish House
- Star Noodle
- Cane & Canoe
Taverna was ok, not great, but probably the least disappointing of the trip. Actually the quick $3.99 McDonald’s breakfast of Portuguese sausage, eggs, and rice + hash brown was the most enjoyable meal for the price .
Mama’s Fish House
Mama’s has fresh fish, but that’s about it, as far we were concerned. Prices are about double of what you’d reasonably expect them to be. Probably 90% of the patrons are tourists. My biggest complaint was that the flavors really didn’t match well - things were just strewn together randomly. E.g. the kampachi “ceviche” lacked fresh citrus acidity - there was no leche de tigre, only a subdued lemon olive oil (not a great one, at that), rendering the dish more like a crudo. Sweet potato chips and crunchy persimmons didn’t help much either, and the radishes and kaiware stems didn’t give it that fresh levity as advertised. It’s not hard to make good ceviche when you have good fish, and this was just a misguided dish for $28. Steamed opakapaka with ginger and peanut oil was a bland version of Chinese steamed fish, the edamame pointless and the whole dish was a let down for $55. The best thing was the “Traditional Hawaiian” plate with mahi mahi, ti leaf cooked wild boar, octopus luau, ahi poke, grilled plantain, and ube. Mahi mahi was fresh and cooked pretty nicely, but $52 for a mixed plate lunch? Be prepared to spend $100+ p/p, maybe $175p/p for a full meal. This place is overhyped and overpriced; I don’t get all the rave reviews…
Cocktails here are alright; they add up very quickly, though.
A hot mess of “ceviche” with too many flavors and no balance. Not a charitable presentation of the otherwise fresh kampachi.
Good but severely overpriced traditional Hawaiian plate.
Another disappointment, reminiscent of other somewhat competent but overpriced Pacific Rim tourist-geared joints. To wit, my “Fresh Lemon, Thyme and Sichuan Pepperered Kona Kampachi” with capers, fennel, and tomato was a hot mess. The “truffled potato ravioli” were literally potato-filled wonton skins. The “pasta’s” lemon beurre blanc clashed with the tomato and olive sauce, though I got a hint of success with the interesting effect of Sichuan pepper with the capers, but it was too little too late. Malasadas were too tough on the outside. Other dishes were nondescript - ok, but honestly not really any better than your local Il Fornaio, just with a sometimes messy Pacific Rim twist. Service, however, was very nice, as is the view.
Ubiquitous pork buns were good, but everything else was off. Udon and ramen both had really bad noodles. No bounce, bad chew; doesn’t matter if they’re homemade in this case. Yakitori is your run-of-the-mill chicken teriyaki on a stick. Kimchee had a hair in it, so I didn’t really touch that. Poppin’ place with a demi local celebrity chef, but if you want proper noodles, this isn’t the place. Maybe I’m spoiled in California.
Cane & Canoe
Nice space, just wish the food weren’t so mediocre oversalted and over-buttered hotel food. But then again, it is hotel food, so just relax a bit if you’re staying in the Montage, Kapalua, just don’t expect much from the food here.
Fine, but not as good as your average San Francisco or LA industrial Italian joint.