Shannon Did What / Travel + Lifestyle Blog

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The Ultimate Guide to Maui Eats

TravelShannon GuerreroComment

When I was trying to figure out what blog posts to write about Maui, I started outlining out the usual ones - where to go, Instagrammable Spots, hidden finds - and then I thought, wait, how could I forget about the food?  It dawned on me.  When I do my research for my trips, I usually focus on the places and things I’d like to do and see and not on food.  Food should be at the top of your list the next time you visit Maui.

This foodie guide basically is ten+ years worth of eating and research.  Big kudos goes to my mom who could probably tell you about any eatery on Maui because she’s eaten at them all.  I actually heard of a couple of places on Instagram to eat at and her response was no don’t go there, t’s a tourist trap and the food’s not actually good.

So, this guide is approved by mom which undoubtedly makes it the best places you should eat at while on Maui.  I realize now that I didn’t take nearly as many photos as I should have of my food, but it makes sense.  All my dishes smelled and tasted so good, they were consumed way faster than I could’ve taken out my camera.

DA KITCHEN

This is probably one of the most authentic Hawaiian places you can eat at.  It’s become the place my family eats at directly off our flight because it’s just 10 mins outside of the airport and right near the Costco.  Here’s how it goes - land in Maui, eat ’til we can’t eat anymore at Da Kitchen and then pick up more food at Costco.  It’s all about food.

It used to be more like a hole in the wall, locals only stop but more recently more people have heard about it causing there to be long wait times multi times a day.  And when I say hole in the wall, it’s a term meaning the best possible, authentic type of place.

Try the fried spam musubi or if you’re feeling super hungry and brave get the Notorious B.I.G. Moco.  It’s Loco Moco on crack, literally.  If you don’t know, Loco Moco is hamburger patties topped with fried egg over rice covered in gravy.  Imagine that with four times the amount of food.  That’s the Notorious Moco.

ALOHA MIXED PLATE

Someone asked me the other day if I had Poke while in Hawaii.  My response was, “I don’t go to Hawaii for Poke, I go for the mixed plate”.  Really, poke may have been invented in Hawaii, but if you want real Hawaiian food you get mixed plate.  Aloha Mixed Plate is the absolute must go-to spot in Maui.

I’m pretty sure everything on the menu is delicious, even though I don’t think I’ve ever eaten anything but a Kalbi Ribs plate here.  For you newbies, mixed plates are usually meat, rice and the famous Hawaiian macaroni salad.  My family also highly recommends the Kalua Pig sandwich.  It comes with some pretty tasty local farm grown sweet potato chips.

This was also a hole in the wall place but over the years they’ve really done amazing expansions and renovations.  You’ll most likely encounter a line here, as well.

ULULANI’S SHAVE ICE

Not all shave ice are equal.  I’m telling you, it all comes down to the consistency of the ice.  Some places just don’t have the right kind of machines.  Ululani’s have the right kind of ice machines.  Their shave ice is that melt in your mouth, super fine ice.  Just like snow.

My new favorite flavor combination: Mango, Lilikoi (Passion Fruit) and Guava.  The perfect tropical Hawaiian flavors.

There’s a great location in the heart of Lahaina.

LEODA’S

I’m starting to think every recommendation on this list usually has a wait out the door.  Leoda’s is no exception.  Unless you catch it at exactly the right time, like we lucked out on.

Leoda’s is famous for their homestyle comfort food and homemade pies.  My boyfriend and brother happened to order the special of the day and it was literally the only thing they both talked about the entire rest of the trip.  They had the special pastrami sandwich that had caramelized Maui onion, sweet bbq sauce on a fresh potato roll. Oh boy was it incredible.

STAR NOODLE

Most of the spots I listed above are lunch spots, maybe dinner, but Star Noodle is a can’t miss dinner spot.  If you guessed their noodles are absolutely delicious, why yes you would be correct.  You can’t go wrote with the Hapa Ramen, Star Udon, Singapore Noodles or Pad Thai. Literally writing this is making me hungry.

Come here for the noodles, but order the pork buns, too.  Pictured above. Best piece of advice I have is share.  That way you can get all the dishes to try. That’s why there’s only one pork bun shown above! Normally comes in three.

Make sure you make a reservation, otherwise, like the rest, you’ll definitely be stuck waiting!

JAPENGO

This has become my family’s last dinner in Maui tradition.  I don’t know if it’s more because of the view or the food.  It really is a combination.  Japengo is located inside the Hyatt in Ka’anapali perched just above the pool, overlooking the ocean.  If you time it right, you can catch the sunset from your table.  And there is nothing like a Hawaiian sunset.

Japengo does Asian, Hawaiian, farm-to-table fusion like no one else.  Literally you can’t go wrong with anything on this menu.  My absolute go-to on the menu is the Japengo Fried Rice.  The malasadas are delicious for dessert too.  Though they’re not quite Leonards on Oahu, they come with to die for dipping sauces.  Guaranteed, you’ll be liking your fingers.

Bottom line, come here for the food or come here for the view, either way you won’t be disappointed. 

KULA LODGE

We more or less stumbled upon the Kula Lodge this trip and were so surprised we had never visited before.  Their food is delicious, but their location is the beyond.  Located on the side of the Haleakala volcano in upcountry Maui, the vantage point from Kula Lodge is pretty much incomparable.  You can see almost the entire island of Maui.  They also have a really cute garden that has a very Hobbit-eque vibe.  Its unique architecture just makes it they much more enticing to see.

I will also say the Caesar salad here is one of the best I’ve ever had.  There was just something about their house-made Caesar dressing.  I can just taste it now, yum.

MALA

Mala is the place to eat for ocean side dining in Lahaina.  When I say ocean side, I literally mean on the ocean.  There’s maybe 3 feet between the ocean waves and Mala’s windows.

If you like oysters, you have to try the Hood Canal Oyster Shooter (pictured above).  In all honesty, it looks a bit suspect when it arrives at your table, but oh my, this is one savory, tasty shooter.

You can also head over to their sister restaurant located directly next door, Honu.  The same breathtaking ocean views, but seafood and pizza based.

I hope my lack of food porn photos don’t discourage you from putting these places on your food bucket list.  I promised they will not disappoint.

Happy eating!

Yours Truly // Shannon

Skydive Hawaii

Life, TravelShannon Guerrero2 Comments
Skydive Hawaii

Jumping out of a plane at 12,000 ft sounds crazy, right?  Like who would want to do that? But seriously, I think skydiving is both the craziest thing I've ever done and the most exhilarating thing I've ever done.  I've always considered myself an adrenaline junkie, contrary to what many people may guess about me.  I had been throwing around the idea of skydiving for a while with friends.  So when I heard that one of the best places to go was in Hawaii, I couldn't get the idea out of my head.  I kept thinking how can I miss out on this crazy opportunity to see such a beautiful landscape from the sky?

I think the scariest part of skydiving is the plane ride up.  You are packed into a tiny craft plane, sandwiched in between strangers, straddling a wooden bench.  It probably would have been more awkward seeing as there wasn't even an inch between me and a complete stranger who I happened to be latched to, if I hadn't been completely consumed with fear thinking "what the hell am I doing" and "how much higher are we going?"  Thank god, Potter, my skydive instructor, was super cool and kept making sure I was good.  The actual jump part wasn't half as terrifying probably due to the fact that it happens so quickly and the land isn't even recognizable as land.  At 12,000 feet, the Earth looks more like a crazy beautiful painting, just a bunch of shapes and vibrant colors.  When it was my turn to jump, I don't think I could even register quick enough that I was about to jump out of a plane.  It was like: "you ready?" - "wtffff" - "3, 2..." - so many pretty colors - "holy sh*t, I'm flying!!"

The free fall was my favorite part of out of the entire experience.  You feel like you are weightless and flying.  Although, I'm pretty sure I screamed my head off the entire time.  The landscape and views are amazing.  It's even better you can see one of the best beaches in Oahu, the North Shore from above.  I don't think there's any better way to view the world, especially Hawaii.  Once the chute opens, it really just feels like you're parasailing through the sky.  The landing was something that frightened me a little but it turn out to be so easy. Tuck your knees high, listen to your instructor and land standing up like a boss (haha that sounds weird coming from me).

The experience as a whole was something I will never forget.  The people at Skydive Hawaii were so welcoming and nice.  I was checked in, signed my life away (literally) and up on the plane within 20 minutes of arriving.  I did have a reservation (which is key) and it was just me, so that probably factored into the speedy service. I definitely would recommend getting the earliest, if not the first, reservation time of the day, as there tend to be delays and what not. If you have a later reservation and there are delays you could end up waiting for hours. Again, crazy I didn't wait long since it was literally the only clear, blue sky day in the middle of 3 hurricanes.  And when in doubt, buy the pictures AND video.  It is totally worth the money.

Seriously one of the best decisions I've ever made.  I would definitely go again!  Any suggestions where?

Check out Skydive Hawaii the next time you're on Oahu.

Yours Truly // Shannon

Oahu : Malasadas + Shave Ice

TravelShannon GuerreroComment

Let's continue the Oahu Island tour with a food section.  All of the food that Hawaii is famous for is to-die-for.  Seriously, give me a mixed plate with some marinated Kalbi short-ribs, rice, double the mac salad and a side spam musubi and I'm a happy girl.  I could give a list of great places to eat the most savory dishes, but there are far too many to name.  Find a local and ask where they eat, that's how I like to do it.  But no, this post isn't mean to be savory, it is sweet and filled with sugary goodness.  

My two favorite "if you don't go here, you'll regret it" things that are native to the island of Oahu are Malasadas and Shave Ice.  And i say native, not because they only exist here (you can get these anywhere in Hawaii), but because the most famous places to get these items are on Oahu.

Let's start with Malasadas.

The name Leonards is synonymous with the world of Malasadas.  And if it is isn't, it should be.  This is the only place to go for an original Malasada.  Stop in here for the most fresh, moist, sugary piece of pastry you'll ever have in your life.  Similar to the Beignet from New Orleans, but different. No need to even spring for one of the specials or anything jelly-filled. Stick with the original.  They come out hot from the fryer.  You may even need to do the hunched over Guy Fieri eating pose with these.  You know, elbows up, bum out and a clear area below what you are eating to minimize mess.  There will be mess.  It's inevitable with that amount of sugar coated on every inch.  Just be careful to not burn your fingers and mouth from unwillingness to wait for it to cool down.  Trust me, I burned my fingers to get the picture below.  I am already salivating just writing about Malasadas.  And don't be embarrassed to go here more than once during your stay, I sure did.

When it comes to Shave Ice...

A debate comes to mind.  There are two places on the island that claim to have the best Shave Ice.  People choose sides and declare which they feel is the best.  It was so extremely hot during my visit that Shave Ice every day was a must.  This may have been an excuse but does it really matter?  Since I was eating it daily, I had ample chances to determine which side I am on.  The two places in question are Waiola's and Matsumoto's.

Waiola's Shave Ice is shaved so fine that it tastes like you're sticking out your tongue in a snow fall.  It literally just melts in your mouth.  Waiola's has two locations.  I went to both.  No preference really, except one had seating and parking while the other was just street parking.  Both locations are "hole-in-the-wall" types offering that quaint Hawaiian vibe.  You walk up to the small window that is attached to a general store (mostly filled with candy, as if you aren't about to have enough sugar).  It has that mom and pop type feeling and a product that is truly delicious.  

By the way, I fell in love with the tank that I'm wearing in the above photo.  Just looking at it makes me wish I was on vacation right now.  Grab yours from Ily Couture, here.  They have the cutest stuff!

 

Matsumoto Shave Ice is located on the other side of the island on the North Shore of Oahu.  It's a hard place to miss, since there will most definitely be a line out the door when you drive/walk by.  Located in a little shopping center, the crowd can get large.  Matsumoto's had a little less of that quaint mom and pop vibe.  As you enter the same type of general store as Waiola's (except this one is full of memorabilia), there is a worker standing there to take your order. He/she writes which flavors you'd like and hands you a bowl with those instructions written on the bottom.  It is more like a factory-line process with maybe 5-6 people handling each stage along the way.  The Shave Ice here is more coarse than Waiola's is which you have to chew it a bit after putting a scoop in your mouth.  Still good, but different.  The line moves fast so don't let that deter you.

If you couldn't tell, my winner is undoubtedly Waiola's.  I much prefer a melt in your mouth, snow-like treat than something that is more like coarse, tiny pieces of ice.  The shaved ice flavors are one in the same, so there is really no comparison in that area.  Again, really just a personal preference of textures.  Nonetheless, either will definitely cure you of that sun stroke you got from laying on the beach all day.

I hope this post has made you hungry because it sure has had that effect on me.  

 

Moral of the story: Go to Hawaii, eat lots of sugar, every day.

 

Also, if you missed it, check out some great Off the Beaten Path places to go in Oahu, here.

 

Yours Truly // Shannon