However much we love to dine at fancy restaurants with multi-course menus and a great view, we know some of the best food comes from local mom-and-pop type places. Often times in Hawaii, great food is served in foam containers from a take-out window, which is fine with us as we can enjoy it on our lanai or directly on the beach. Million dollar-views coupled with 7 dollar-lunches. Sounds good to me!
Hawaiians have mastered the concept of an Asian-style mix plate, typically called a “plate lunch”. It really is just a choice of entrees served with one to two scoops of rice, and usually macaroni salad “mac salad” or a green salad. Entrees usually include choices of Asian and local staples such as kalua pork, korean-style kalbi ribs, lau lau (pork and fish wrapped in ti leaves and steamed) or squid luau (squid stew in coconut milk and taro leaves), as well as Japanese inspired meat cutlets called katsu. There are often vegetarian options such as my personal favorite, nishime ( Japanese-style stew with carrots, white radish, bamboo shoots, and other assorted veggies). The portions are always very large and filling, which is great for sharing! Steve and I would usually share a plate lunch which is plenty for the both of us for a semi-light meal, although on more than one occasion I’ve ordered up to 3 plate lunches at a time because I couldn’t make up my mind. Everything looks so delicious!
Here’s part 1 of some of our favorite places for a cheap and usually quick bite on the beautiful island of Maui. This list is compiled from 3 different visits over the past few years. I’ll create lists for other islands too. Enjoy!
This is a new find for us – it’s a new modern Thai bistro who’s chef hails from the other side of the island, Hana. Apparently the Thai food was so good in Hana that people would brave the windy Road to Hana just to eat there. But now luckily for us, this newly opened casual eatery is located in Kihei which was close to where we were staying in Wailea on this past trip.
I really wanted to go here because I wanted to try their version of “chicken rice” which is one of my favorite things to eat in Singapore. The Thai version is called Khao Mok Gai I believe, but unfortunately the day we dined there, they did not have it, so I ordered something else off the menu. I cannot for the life of me remember it’s name but it is actually a rare Thai dish of rice noodles and spiced beef and tomato.
I was completely blown away by this dish. When it was first set down in front of me, I didn’t think it looked that special, and thought it looked like a sort of fettucine…but the flavors of the spiced beef were delicious, there is an unexpected spice and savoriness of the dish, combined with the chewy noodles, fresh tomato, and crisp lettuce which just worked. I’m glad I ordered this and I will find out the name of this dish one day!
Steve got a spicy shrimp fried rice and he asked for it Thai hot, and boy was he sweating. He really liked it though. I had a bite and thought it was great but really spicy!!
We really enjoyed this place and the cute modern decor was a welcome respite from the heat.
Maui Thai Bistro • 2439 South Kihei Road Suite 103B • In The Rainbow Mall
A must-do on every trip to Maui is having a bowl of dry-mein at local institution Sam Sato’s. The wait is usually at least 15-30 minutes for lunch and they close at 3pm so go early for a table. We’ve eaten here on every trip and want to go back for more! I don’t know what they put in their noodles but it’s sooo good. The noodles are chewy and tasty, never mushy. The sauce is barely there yet hugs each strand of noodle making it perfectly seasoned. I like to drizzle a bit of soup on the noodles so that its just slightly wet. Then dig in.
Noodles come in different sizes but we found the best deal for 2 people is to order the extra large bowl and share. It’s huge and plenty for the both of us, and I usually won’t share my dry mein!
Sam Sato’s • 1750 Wili Pa Loop, Wailuku, HI 96793
Located just above Kaanapali Beach, the Fish Market Maui is sells both ready-to-cook fish as well as tasty seafood treats, such as poke, fish n chips and Steve’s favorite, fish tacos.
We ordered fish tacos here as well as poke. The tacos come in both grilled and deep fried versions, and the fish they used was mahi mahi. The deep fried tacos were better, of course. 🙂 There are a few tables outdoors but otherwise seating is limited. They also sell fresh fish that you can take back to your condo and grill/cook.
The Fish Market Maui • 3600 Lower Honoapiilani Rd, Lahaina, HI 96761
This little take-out window in a strip mall can be easy to miss. It took us 2 tries to find it but it was well worth it. The food is local and Filipino-inspired and prices are fantastic!
We got the kalua pork with cabbage and the lau lau. Both portions were generous and super delicious! The kalua pork has just the right amount of smoky saltiness and cabbage went well with it. The lau lau was yummy – you peel the outer leaves off and the inside is like spinach leaves with pork and salty fish.
Don’t miss out on getting some chili pepper water to go! There is a large jug with a vinegar-type liquid with tiny little chili’s in it. It adds great acidity and packs a punch to almost everything. It goes great with the aforementioned pork-y dishes.
Local Food • 222 Papalaua St, Lahaina, HI 96761
Gosh how I miss Maui! It’s been an ice/snow storm filled week here in the tri-state area and I am so ready to go back! Stay-tuned for more Maui posts!