Sunday, January 17, 2010

Aloha Hawaiian Barbecue - part 1

Aloha from Maui! Besides playing on stunning beaches of white, black, brown and red sand, getting "mugged" by two humpback whales, and hiking along jagged lava rock trails, we've been enjoying another offering from Maui: barbecue.

I was going to write this as a daily series of each barbecue joint, but as internet service is very limited, I'll post what I can now. Cross your fingers I'm able to finish.

We started out in the super touristy area of Kaanapali, but are now in the more remote area of Hana. This is more our style. Still, we ate some tasty pig getting here.

The Kaanapali Beach Hotel boasts as being the "most Hawaiian hotel". Perhaps when compared to the other high rise corporate structures they are, but to me the place felt more like a Hawaiian-themed hotel in Vegas. I didn't feel like I was really in Hawaii. Perhaps watching native Hawaiians sweep native leaves and flowers from the non-native grass three times daily was it. We checked out after two days in search of more local digs.

I was surprised, then, by how good the pulled pork hash was at breakfast. Big tender pieces of lightly smoked smoked pork mixed with potatoes and onions. It was best early, but mighty good. The other thing "most Hawaiian" was their nightly luau. The musicians and dancers were excellent and genuinely loved what they did.

We headed to Lahaina to see some whales (and boy did we!) and to lunch at a place we'd read good things about, the Aloha Mixed Plate. It did the reviews justice - generous portions, affordable, and tasty. Eric tried the Kalbi Beef Short Ribs and I ordered the Hawaiian Plate. His ribs were classic Korean barbecue that has greatly influenced Hawaiian barbecue. In fact they seem to have three types of barbecue here - kalbi marinated then grilled meats, slow cooked pork, and mainland 'cue.

My Hawaiian plate included pulled pork and cabbage, rice (traditionally served here), a creamy macaroni salad (also traditional here), poi, a sort of yogurty-tasting apple sauce-looking dish made from taro, and lomi lomi, a salmon-tomato salsa. Everything was delicious on its own, but they especially were lovely together.

That day we went out on a whale-watching tour and got mugged by two humpback whales. That means THEY came closer than 100 feet, the closest boats can approach them. Our two humpbacks sidled up within FIVE FEET of the boat! Thousands of humpbacks come to the warm waters of Hawaii to mate and give birth. They don't eat a bit of food during their visit. It's hard to think of a creature the size of a school bus not eating anything for months. We sure couldn't do that!

We didn't stay in Lahaina, but headed toward Kihei. There we tried another great offering in Hawaii - sushi. Sansei Sushi was packed to the gills with hungry locals and tourists. I think our waitress was a little shocked by just how much we ordered, and by the fact that our one and four year olds both put away the eel like it was candy. Though Kihei looked like a great town, we decided to head a day early to the more laid back lodgings in Hana. I'll post about that next. Until then, Aloha!

Aloha Hawaiian Barbecue part 2: A trail of pork along the road to Hana.


  1. I made brisket and ribs for my son before I left to head back home and used Cuban Mojo as marinade, but now I have a taste for Hawaiian flavors...

    I wish the photo would jump off the page!

  2. How funny that you'd post this today. We were driving in Hollywood and I noted a Hawaiian BBQ place then found myself explaining that it was all about the combo plate, not a slab of ribs. And voila! You appeared out of the blogoether and explained it visually, too.

    Yum. And thanks!

  3. Thank you both for your comments! We ate so well in Maui. When it wasn't barbecue, it was local fresh fish, organic produce from a nearby farm, or grassfed island-raised beef we grilled ourselves. Mmmm.

  4. Yum! You have certainly whet my appetite. A group of us are holidaying in the big H next year and we can hardly wait. He he! " Sansei Sushi was packed to the gills"? I think you mean packed to the rafters. ;)