Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hawaii Part I: Maui

I just got back late last night from my trip to Hawaii. My sweetie and I had a great time lounging in the sun and sand and enjoying some great food. Here's a synopsis of the first part of our stay in Maui:

Day 1: We arrived at Kahului after an early morning departure from San Francisco. After the long flight, we found our way to Da Kitchen, a Hawaiian plate lunch place conveniently located just a few blocks from the airport. My girlfriend ordered the Hawaiian plate lunch consisting of pork lau lau, Kalua pork, chicken long rice, and lomi lomi salmon, while I opted for the loco moco. Of course, both plates came with the obligatory two scoops of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad. Each plate was enormous, with easily enough food for two people.

Sated with our plate lunches, we made our way to Lahaina, to the bed and breakfast where we were lodging during our stay in Maui. We chilled out for a while after our long journey before we headed into town to check out the local trinket shops and art galleries prior to our dinner at the aforementioned David Paul's, located in the heart of Lahaina waterfront. We were tempted by their tasting menu, but after a long session of hemming and hawing, we decided to order a la carte. We started out dinner with a couple of appetizers: the crispy blue corn crusted chile relleno and the Cake Walk, a trio of little bites of Kona lobster cake, Louisana rock shrimp cake, and seared ahi cake. Both the chile relleno, which was stuffed with prawns, scallops, and cheese, and the Cake Walk were excellent. The presentation on the Cake Walk was particularly impressive, drawing comments from the couple sitting at the table next to us. For our entrees, my sweetie had the Maui onion and sesame seed crusted ahi, which was a bit underwhelming, while I went with the Kona coffee roasted rack of lamb, which was excellent, even though the coffee flavor really didn't come through. Overall, dinner was good though it was quite expensive.

Day 2: We started out the day by driving down to Makena and having the Sunday champagne brunch at the Prince Court at the Maui Prince Hotel. The buffet was very good, with a nice assortment of sushi and sashimi to go with the traditional brunch buffet fare, which included made-to-order omelettes and roasted meats from the carving table. After brunch, we headed out to nearby Big Beach, where we sat out and soaked in some rays and played around in the warm ocean water. It was very relaxing. After a couple hours of sun, we headed back to Lahaina so that we wouldn't be late for dinner at the Old Lahaina Luau. The ocean-side luau, considered by many to be the best and most authentic on the island, features an all-you-can-eat menu of traditional Hawaiian foods, such as Kalua pig, poi, guava glazed chicken, and taro salad, all of which you can wash down with a never-ending stream of drinks from the open bar. After dinner, the luau puts on its nightly entertainment program of song and dance, presenting the history of the Hawaiian people and culture, which both of us thought was pretty cool.

Day 3: After a quick breakfast at the B&B, we again made our way to the beach, settling this day at Black Rock Beach at Kaanapali, where we relaxed under the warm sun. I also gave snorkeling a try for the first time, under the guidance and watchful eye of my sweetie, who made sure that I did not get myself into any trouble. The water was very clear that morning so we were able to see several varieties of fish swimming in the waters near the beach. My girlfriend also saw a sea turtle, which ventured into the rocks near the shore after which the beach is named. After being thoroughly exhausted by the sun and the snorkeling, we headed for a quick lunch at the Aloha Mixed Plate, where we enjoyed another plate lunch, though one that was much more reasonably sized than our meal two days earlier. The shoyu chicken, for which the restaurant is well-known, was especially good, both flavorful and juicy.

We headed back to the B&B for some rest before heading out for dinner. That day, we were celebrating two years together :-) so we wanted to try out someplace nice, though neither of us were up for anything too formal or elaborate. We settled on Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar. The restaurant had relocated and opened in a new location just a few days earlier, so we had a little adventure finding it, driving around the Kapulua resort several times before my eagle-eyed girlfriend caught its new location next to the Ritz-Carlton resort. We settled down at the sushi bar and both quickly decided on the omakase menu. The omakase dinner started with a nice bowl of red miso soup, followed by ten pieces of nigiri sushi, ranging from baby yellowtail to o-toro, all of which were very good. While enjoying our dinners, we engaged in a nice conversation with the sushi chef, who really hooked us up by sending out an extra full order of o-toro nigiri and some ahi poke - both on the house! We finished off our dinner with some deep fried tempura ice cream, which we both really liked. It was a very nice conclusion to an excellent day - a great day on our anniversary.

Next up: Our last two days in Maui before moving on to Waikiki Beach.