Being born and raised on Maui, there are a few food spots that are near and dear to my heart and are staples within the local community. Give them a try next time you’re in town, and as always, please support the local businesses and show respect to the local culture here!
If someone was to ask me what my “death-row” meal would be, Sam Sato’s would be my answer without hesitation. This has been my favorite local restaurant to eat at since I was a kid, and not much has changed since then. Tucked away in the heart of Wailuku, this small little spot is famous for their dry mein, and other local dishes. My go-to order is a large dry mein (dressed with some of the accompanying broth, shoyu, tabasco, and black pepper), two beef barbeque sticks, and an order of the crinkle-cut French fries. The restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch, and there can be a wait for dine in during peak hours, so make sure you plan accordingly. And make sure you try some of their lima bean manju or other pastries on the way out!
If you like poke and fresh fish, Kaohu Store in Wailuku is a must-try. They are known for having some of the best fresh poke on the island, as a lot of other supermarket poke uses previously frozen fish. Don’t get me wrong, I love Foodland and Times Supermarket previously frozen poke as much as anyone else. But if you’re in search of the freshest poke possible, Kaohu Store is one of your best bets. They also serve delicious plate lunches and local-style red hot dogs. And if they have it, give their pohole (fern) salad a try!
If you don’t know what a “plate lunch” is, then you don’t really know local Hawaii food. The classic plate lunch comes with one or two “entrees” (teriyaki chicken, kalua pork, lau lau, chicken katsu, etc.), along with two scoops of white rice and a side of mac salad. Da Kitchen has been one of Maui’s favorite plate lunch spots for the past 20 years, and is the perfect introduction into the world of local Hawaii cuisine. They also have a deep-fried spam musubi if you’re feeling adventurous and want something unique!
Komoda Store and Bakery
This classic bakery in the middle of Makawao town has been one of Maui’s gems for the past century. Growing up on Maui, if you brought Komoda’s to a party or gathering, you were instantly everyone’s favorite person and life of the party. They are famous for their fresh malasadas, stick donuts, cream puffs, butter rolls, and other delectable sweets. Just like Sam Sato’s they are open early and close after lunch, but they do run out of certain treats as the day rolls on – so it’s best to get their early in the morning!
This is another Maui gem that’s been around for over a century. If you love sweet, cold treats, this is the spot for you. Guri-guri is a top secret family recipe that is a cross between sherbet and ice cream. There are only two flavors, strawberry and pineapple and they are both delicious. You are able to order 1 to a few scoops of one flavor, or a mix of both. I personally am a strawberry fan and get two scoops. They are served in a small cup with a classic wooden ice cream spoon, adding to the history and “no-frills” type approach. Located in Maui Mall, this is a must try for anyone that wants something only made on Maui.
Japanese food lovers, this one’s for you. This small take-out only spot in the middle of Wailuku town is famous for their chicken katsu. If you don’t know what chicken katsu is, it’s sliced breaded deep fried chicken served with an umami-rich katsu sauce. The standard chicken katsu plate also comes with white rice, and your choice of side (mac salad, kimchee, wakame, nishime, etc.) They also have other Japanese favorites such as Oyaku Don, udon, tempura plates, and more. My go to is a chicken katsu plate, nishime, and substitute wakame for white rice (if I’m watching my carbs lol). Best chicken katsu in town!
These are just a few of my local favorites on Maui, and I love to eat – so if you want more suggestions, just reach out to me!