Eating in Central Maui
Mama’s Fish House. This island institution is located in a beautifully landscaped lot on a rugged, black lava-framed North Coast bay in Pa’ia. The huge, perpetually-packed restaurant specializes in guess what?; fresh seafood. Coming off the plane, an anxious to begin our drive to Hana, we settled for one appetizer–macadamia nut crab cakes with a somewhat spicy papaya relish–and one entrée skillet-seared papio (a mild, delicately-flavored white fish) with coconut, lemongrass and sweet potato mash. Although we have always enjoyed Mama’s, its popularity has come with some problems. We were seated without menus and since it took so long for our server to get to our table, we had to get our own. We had a long wait for our food and (both dishes were pretty good, but not especially flavorful) and the prices have crept steadily upward into nosebleed territory or about $30 for appetizers and $55 for entrees. Lovely, but not vaguely worth the price. We will probably pass on this restaurant on our next trip
Tin Roof. Although quality restaurants are limited around Kahului, Tim Roof is a labor of love from Top Chef Sheldon Simeon and his wife. This Philippine-inspired restaurant offers a choice of roughly eight (depending on specials) “tins” (actually compostable containers), full meals based on different proteins. Joyce hasd the daily fish dish of lightly-fried ahi belly with saffron rice, ginger and scallions. I went all out with the huge combination tin consisting of pork belly, garlic noodles, chili oil, scallion, ginger pesto and two, whole six-minute eggs, along with a side of macaroni salad. Although the dishes had a bit too much spice for Joyce’s tastes, I found the ahi to be nondescript. I did, however, enjoy the pork belly and would be happy to return (although not likely with Joyce).
Humuhumunukunukuapua’a (aka, HumuHumu) is one of the prettiest, and another of our favorite Maui restaurants. Nor did it disappoint on our return visit where we had two entrees. I, looking for a break from almost a straight week and a half of fish, enjoyed the rack of lamb with sauce verde yuzu puree and Moroccan-spiced carrots. Joyce’s grilled aeenho (a local grey snapper) was mild, but very flavorful with coconut rice baby bok choy and slightly tangy tomato-ginger emulsion. Wine to go with both was a 2014 pinot, courtesy of Willamette Valley’s Ken Wright Cellars.