The most consistent piece of advice we got from everyone before our trip was, “Go to Mama’s Fish House.” We always take restaurant suggestions very seriously, so we kept this item at the top of our list. When we got into the car in Kahului, I immediately turned to Anish and said, “Mama’s for lunch?” We had plenty of time before check-in at the hotel and a fresh seafood lunch sounded ideal. He agreed, so we called ahead to make a last minute reservation for lunch.
Because Anish’s sister Diya is THE BEST, she’d sent us a gift card for our Mama’s meal for my birthday. Thank youuu, Diya! We pulled in to the parking lot at Mama’s, let the valet guy take our car (complimentary!), and walked down the gorgeous path to the Mama’s Fish House cove.
WOW. The location is seriously incredible. It’s a restaurant with its own cove and beach surrounded by palm trees, bathed in sun, and cooled by the sea breeze. We were grinning like fools at this point and staring at each other like, “Can you believe this is real?” 5 hours earlier we were in the overcast Bay Area and now, we were standing barefoot in the warm sand on a private beach in Hawaii. Life is crazy.
We wandered around for a few minutes, taking photos and breathing in the island air, before heading over to the hostess station to tell them we were there. They sat us in a huge booth facing the beach and we immediately ordered tropical beverages. When in Hawaii, right? Another piece of advice we got about Mama’s… “Get the Ho’okipa Sunrise!” It’s a cocktail made with Stoli Citrus Vodka, pineapple, lime and Creme de Banana, i.e. DELICIOUS. I understand why our beloved Minards were raving over it.
For lunch, we shared everything so we could try more things, like a good foodie couple. 😉 Here’s what we got:
- Hawaiian Ceviche: Uku (a local fish) with mango, kaffir lime, spicy Maui chili pepper and cilantro with breadfruit & sweet potato chips. — THIS DISH WAS HEAVEN. We were drooling over it and gobbling it up, while saying to each other with stuffed mouths, “Mama’s was worth it JUST FOR THIS.”
- Grilled Maui He’e (octopus) caught by Rogelio Balala diving offshore from Spreckelsville. — Also delicious and super tasty. We loved having the details of who caught the fish and where. Local at its best.
- Ono (another local fish) caught by James DeBussey trolling near Keanae, seared in a Hana ginger-panko crust with Kalua pig fried rice. — Pig fried rice?? Panko crust? Yes, this dish was an easy choice for us. We ordered the fish at the recommended medium-rare cooking, and it was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The fresh ginger gave it a great flavor.
By the time we finished all that and I’d had another drink – this time a creamier one, Pina Colada style, but with a cacao liqueur – we were stuffed and couldn’t get dessert. Not a big deal and we were happy with what we’d had, and still craving more of that ceviche.
After eating, we went back out to the beach and put our feet into Hawaii’s Pacific for the first time. Ahh….
Overall, the food was fantastic and worth the hefty island price (pretty much the norm at all the restaurants we went to). If you go to Maui, EAT AT MAMA’S. Get the ceviche and the Ho’okipa Sunrise. You’ll thank me later.
We left Mama’s cove feeling full and happily on vacation. We were ready to zip across the island to the west side to see our gorgeous hotel and the beaches of Ka’anapali for the first time.
I was completely unaware that Anish had a ring hidden in his pocket and special plans for the days ahead…