The Best of Maui, 2012

The Best of Maui, 2012

Aloha!

Every year The Maui News runs a contest for people to vote on the best of everything Maui, including restaurants and activities. It is the Valley Isle’s “Best of Maui” survey, established in 1992. The results are in…and while I whole-heartedly agree with some, others leave me scratching my head. Huh? For instance, Alan Wong’s new “Amasia” won “Best New Restaurant” and since we were just there for my birthday (and the review will be posted later on), I can’t say I back up those reader’s opinions.

But that’s what Opinions are all about, right?

However, as we sat at Amasia (at The Grand Wailea) we looked around, and comparing it to other restaurants, said, “You just can’t beat “Mama’s Fish House” for ambience on Maui–and sure enough, listed under

“Best Ambience” was Mama’s Fish House.

Best Water Activity: Teralani Sailing Adventures. I have been on almost every boat EXCEPT the Teralani!

Best Lu’au: Old Lahaina Luau. I disagree. I would move in and live at “The Feast at Lele” luau and let them feed me their gourmet food for the rest of my life. (We have friends in Europe who say that their night at The Feast at Lele was the highlight of their entire Hawaii trip, which included multiple islands.) But I’m talking food here, and the Old Lahaina Luau’s buffet line and watery drinks just don’t do it for me.

Best Restaurant Overall: Lahaina Grill.  Oh, my. Don’t get me started on the last time we went there. A mix-up with our gift card (we were in the right, they were in the wrong)– had the waiter chasing us down the street as if we’d robbed the place. Not a fun way to end the evening. Anyway, as Mike just said, “Why would anyone go there, when Gerard’s French Restaurant is just down the street? It’s way better.”  I can’t agree more, though Gerard’s did win for Best French Restaurant.

Best Ethnic Restaurant: A Saigon Cafe www.mauivietnameserestaurant.com 1792 Main St., Wailuku. Again, sorry. Just can’t agree with those who say they crave the “exotic and fiery rice in a clay pot.” Their food doesn’t win me over, the place has a strange smell from those clay pots –maybe Chinese Five Spice?  and it has always seemed a bit seedy, but the article on its win says that it’s under a renovation that should be completed next week. But there are obviously people who love this place.

Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant- Ruby’s Diner 275 Queen Kaahumanu Center www.rubys.com  Kids’ menu available for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Best Resort Restaurant: Ko at the Fairmont Kea Lani Foods from Maui’s illustrious plantation heritage: Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Portuguese. It just re-opened this spring after a $5.1 million renovation. It’s next on our list of places to try, but I’ve heard really good things about it from friends.

Best Sushi: Sansei, in both Kihei and Kapalua www.sanseihawaii.com This is also our choice for sushi because of their early-bird and after-10 pm discounts.

Best Pizza: Flatbread Pizza Company, Paia www.flatbreadcompany.com

Best Seafood: Mama’s Fish House www.mamasfishhouse.com What’s not to love about Mama’s?(other than the large dent in your wallet) Its ocean-view, cove-like setting makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time to Trader Vic times, only better, much better. I once asked about their many wow-factor tropical floral arrangements and was told they have their own floral designer who works only for them. So that explains it. I’m not even a fish eater…but I love Mama’s.

Best Bakery: Komoda’s Store and Bakery in Makawao. They’ve been in business for 96 years, they must be doing something right! They’re best known for their cream-puffs, however all the breads are done by hand, 100% from scratch. No automation involved.

Best Steak: Ruth’s Chris Steak House. www.ruthschris.com. They have two locations, one in Wailea and one in Lahaina. We go for their prime time special, between 5 and 6 PM; the three-course special runs $42.95 and is more than we can possibly eat.

So that about wraps it up… What is your opinion of this year’s winners? Who would you add or subtract from the list?

A hui hou. If you’d like to subscribe to this blog please click the Follow Button on the Home page. Mahalo for stopping by!

Aloha, Jamaica

Restaurant Review: Colleen’s at the Cannery

Restaurant Review: Colleen’s at the Cannery

Aloha!

Colleen’s at the Haiku Cannery http://colleensinhaiku.com/location.html is an out-of-the-way gem mostly frequented by the locals, but it would be an excellent stopping-off point on a trip back from Hana for the tourists. When you come to the Haiku Community Center, make a left and then another left onto Haiku Road, and up to the Cannery, which will be on your left also. It’s across from the Haiku Post Office. On our visit for Mike’s birthday, we saw one tourist couple waving a Maui driving map about, but other than that it was an interesting mix of locals who could have been doctors or windsurfers, sitting next to the guy with hair halfway down his back….and bare feet. Only in Hawaii.

We went on a Friday night and waited about thirty minutes for our food, but the service was good and the wait staff attentive with refilling water glasses. Colleen’s ambience reminds me of something you would find in Berkeley or Benicia, the town I was from in California. It has a restful vibe and they’re doing it right with the portions and flavors. The the only thing missing for me is artwork–a place for the eye to land. So I had to content myself with people-watching.

The place was packed and all tables full during the dinner hour (we arrived at 7 pm, with no reservation). Don’t stand at the door and wait, because it’s seat-yourself. Mike had the special: mahi-mahi with tiger prawns in a beautiful beure-blanc sauce that was excellent. We detected a hint of saffron. It came with a large scoop of fluffy, not gummy, rice and asparagus, for $25.00.

I had the Warm Bacon Spinach Salad for $14.00. It was quite large, had crispy potatoes, carmelized onions, cherry tomatoes, fresh bleu cheese and white truffle vinaigrette. If anything there was a little too much dressing and bacon in it (full slices, unusual for this salad.) In addition to their full pizza menu, the dinner menu is imaginative and it would appear there is something for everyone: BBQ Baby Back Ribs in a Maker’s Mark Honey sauce, a Shrimp and Garlic Linguine, Wild Mushroom Ravioli for the vegetarians (very important in Haiku) and a Vodka Penne Pasta, in addition to the Burgers and Fresh Daily Catch. I saw a number of Fish and Chips baskets come out, so they must be worth trying, if that’s your thing.

We were too full for dessert. We grabbed their breakfast and lunch menus also and plan to go again soon. The breakfast menu is typical and includes an Organic Tofu Vegetable Wrap. For the vegetarians, lunch includes a Grilled Ono and Avocado Wrap  (if you eat fish) and a  Roasted Vegetable Wrap.

The place is clean, comfortable (lots of booths, a biggie for me) and the noise level surprisingly low for concrete floors and high ceilings with an open-kitchen plan.

Give Colleen’s a try if you venture to Hana, or make it a destination with a pretty drive and side trip to Paia or Makawao. I think you’ll be pleased.

Colleen’s at the Cannery: 810 Haiku Rd., Haiku, HI 96708. 808-575-9211

Zagat Rating: 21/30.

A hui hou (til next time). If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button on the Home Page.

Aloha, Jamaica