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Monday, February 22, 2010

restaurant review-- mama's fish house, paia, maui

when planning our trip to maui a couple of weeks ago, two friends said, without reservation, "go to mama's fish house." mama's is an oceanside restaurant in a shabby-chic converted beach house on maui's north shore. opened in 1973, mama's was the first fresh fish restaurant on the island. not only is all of the fish served caught that day or the day before, but produce is grown on the island as much as possible. mama's is all about sustainability and local producers. they even list the fishers, vessels, and catch locations on the menu! the food was out of this world, the service exceeded both of our expectations combined, and the whole experience was more than worth driving an hour from where we stayed. 

let's start with drinks (as one does). we arrived about an hour early for our 4:30pm reservation, so they sent us to one of the bar areas for a pre-dinner cocktail, a welcomed stop after a somewhat stressful drive along part of the beautiful, but winding and narrow (sometimes one lane!) mountain road, the road to hana. for me it was a mai tai, a vintage recipe from the 1930s from trader vic himself, because let's face it, one simply can't visit hawaii without enjoying a mai tai from a glass tiki head. rob's drink was the surprise-- gin with guava and lime, and a powdered ginger and sugar rim. we both agreed, though he loves gin and i am no fan, this was one amazing cocktail! 

one of our first glimpses of the magical experience that is the service at mama's was when, as i twirled the orchid from my drink in my fingers, the bartender asked if i'd like to wear the flower in my hair. wull yah! he held up a toothpick and asked, "can i help?" he skewered it, i tucked it in. cool.

now that i was accessorized, it was time to eat. we started with an amuse-bouche of a bisque of some kind. i didn't quite hear the description when it came out, but it was wonderful-- tasted packed with cilantro. next was one of the best appetizers i've ever ever had ever. polynesian seared beef, with mixed vegetables in a zippy lime and herb dressing, served in a grilled papaya. oh man, that was good stuff. the beef absolutely melted... (i really shouldn't be writing this post before lunch!)

for the entrees, rob's was a mahi mahi stuffed with lobster, crab, and maui onion, baked with a macadamia nut crust and topped with a lobster tail. 

mine was a chef's special in honor of valentine's day. (note the "hearts" of palm...) the fish was monchong, topped with crab and macadamia nut, and served with a passion fruit sauce. (passion? valentine's? get it?) forbidden rice, honey gingered carrots, and asparagus made up the rest of the plate. 

after ordering coffee and turning down dessert, a staff member placed two spoons on our table. "i sense a complimentary dessert," said rob. sure enough, our waiter swept in with two scoops of banana ice cream and said, "couldn't let you leave without something sweet. it's on me." i'm not normally interested in banana-flavored anything, but this was either exceptionally wonderful, or i was too blissed out to notice. probably both. 

from the open window, inviting in the ocean breeze and the occasional bird, we watched the roaring pacific ocean and a steady flow of beach visitors, including a wedding party having their photos made. (tip-- if you have an early reservation and show up before dinner service begins, you're more likely to get a window-side table!)

mama's was an experience that kept on giving. she's generous enough to have a couple of recipes on the website, which we took advantage of the next day in order to continue our mama's fish house experience from our west maui condo. that post coming next...

mama's fish house website. it's flash, so i couldn't post any specific links, but there's a lot of fun info here. also, it plays island music so you may want to mute before clicking! 

want. to. go. back...

1 comment:

  1. My mum went there, few years ago.
    She loved it, too.