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Wednesday 5 September 2012

Mama's Fish House Maui, Hawaii - relaxed beachside place for fresh fish, seafood and drinks

Rating Food 8/10, Service 8.5/10
Recommended by a fellow foodie, we took her advice and made a lunch reservation, and were glad we did! Maui is known for being very laid back and you can saunter into almost any restaurant without reservations (especially at lunch!), but over the course of the meal, there were lots of other guests that dropped by without reservations and were turned away, so reservations are a must! This quaint little seaside restaurant imbues both rustic charm, home cooking, excellent service, and open to air dinning room with a view of the beach and ocean... perfect for a comfortable yet classy dinner or special event.

I rarely comment on the location of where restaurants are situated, however, Mama's Fish House deserves a special mention. We completely overshot it, so if you're heading there, look for this boat as the turn off into the restaurant's valet parking is here!

After dropping off your keys to the friendly parking attendants - once you see how tinny the parking lot is, you'll understand why you one need reservations and two, why they have a valet service! You head down a botanically landscaped walkway to Mama's Beach

And its a gardener's dream (or nightmare if you're stuck upkeeping), with the beach and ocean to your right and beautiful flowers, hanging greenery and arched trees along the path to the restaurant entrance

With a cute Tiki statue greeting you as you approach

And all sorts of nautical and island themed decor dot the restaurant. Including this neat light display above the main entrance

And finally, you can chose a seat in the main dining room away from windows

Or have a picturesque seat by the windows.. just more sunshine and insects buzzing in

A variety of wines, beers, teas, Kona Coffee and house cocktails are available. My boyfriend went for a Pau Hana advertised as a refreshing cocktail at the end of the day. It was lunch time, but why not! The bartender came out to mix his drink at table side and the mix of guava juice, Kula lime, Bombay gin, and ginger syrup is shaken:


And a few drops of flavored syrup is dripped slowly to the bottom of the glass

It might look like a colorful "girly drink" with a garnished of skewered fresh pineapple, but this drink packed a whallop of an alcoholic kick.

While tableside service is nice, I enjoyed my Strawberry Guava Fizz more than my boyfriend's drink: A hit of strawberries and guava juice is blended with lemonade, vodka with a splash of soda. The fruit flavors still shone through the generous splash of vodka. Mmm!

the APPYS!
We took a little while to decide what to eat as the menu is extensive and they had a nice marketing technique - they listed the names and style of who and how the seafood was caught as part of the menu descriptions. While waiting for our food to come out, we enjoyed a light yet creamy grilled asparagus soup. The grilling of asparagus really brought out the gentle sweetness of the asparagus. Mmmmm!

We also nibbled on some slices of freshly baked honey and poppyseed loaf. Love freshly baked soft pillow bread!

Our first appy was the Grilled Maui He’e (octopus) caught by Clifford Chow free-diving off Kanaha. This grilled octopus was served with a specialty avocado with edible skin.

The octopus was strangely a bit mushy instead of tender firm we were expecting, but we enjoyed the strong notes of orange, citrus and creamy avocado on the citrus laced salad the grilled octopus was plated on

Our next appy was the Maui Onion Soup with Gruyere cheese. A decadently salty savory broth rich with lots of gently simmered sweet Maui onions. The toasted cheese bread was a bit too hard both on the palate and to manoeuvre into the soup- would have been better if they just floated the bread on top of the soup and topped with cheese.

our next appetizer was the Ono marinated in lime and coconut milk, (Tahitian Ceviche) in a fresh coconut.

Plenty of thinly sliced fresh raw fish is gently cooked in lime juice and seasoned with a bit of coconut milk, fresh herbs and chilis

Served with sweet yam, potato and taro chips, the sweetness from the coconut offsets the savory tanginess from the ceviche. Wish they used a young coconut so we could easily eat the coconut meat afterwards. Nom!

We also tried a small bowl of Mama's Poi - traditionally hand ground boiled mashed taro root. This version has a texture of being run through a food processor, but serves a nice palate cleanser with its blandness and very faint sweetness.

After so many appetizers, we ended up sharing an entree so we could save room for dessert! The Mahimahi caught trolling in the Alenuihaha Channel by Shawn Conners is Mama’s stuffed fish with lobster and crab and baked in a macadamia nut crust. We were first given fish shaped dishes - reminiscient of something we'd find at Grandma's house

And tah DAH! The stuffed fish is served with a side of lobster tail, grilled asparagus and grilled corn on the cob.

The crust wasn't as I expected - the seafood wasn't encrusted in a crust made primarily with macadamia nuts, rather, it was a fine crumb semi-crisp-mushy crust with only a slight flavor of macadamia nuts (you really had to search for the flavor). The lobster/crab pieces are small (they do stuff a small piece of fish with it) were nice and moist, though the fish it was wrapped with was unfortunately overdone. Very difficult to execute it so both seafoods are done just right I guess. The lobster tail was cooked to a toothsome tender yum! And the veges - well, you can't go wrong with drowning them in butter. Mmmm!

After waffling over the Polynesian Black Pearl, a Liliko’i chocolate mousse in a pastry seashell and the Liliko’i Crème Brulèe , both passion fruit desserts, we went with the Crème Brulèe. Pastry Chef Lesley Jacintha makes a killer rich crème brulèe with a delicate burnt sugar topping and a the blobs of passionfruit goo punch up the fruit flavors in this delicious end to our meal

And with our bill, came two small complimentary pieces of traditional firm Haupia - coconut jello and thoughtful moist towels to clean off any sticky fingers.

Overall, a good relaxed place for a fancier lunch or special event. There was a few execution errors - mushy octopus and overcooked fish, but the friendly staff, beautiful setting and amazing desserts sets this place apart in Maui. Aloha!

Mama's Fish House
799 Poho Pl, Paia, Maui, HI 96779
Phone (808) 579-8488
Hours Open daily for Lunch 11am-2:30pm, and Dinner 4:15pm-9:30pm
Mama's Fish House on Urbanspoon


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Karen Christenson said...

Your photos are wonderful! I would suggest that in the future if you are not happy with your food (octopus or stuffed mahi mahi) that you give the restaurant an opportunity to correct their possible mistake and to make you happy - in the end they would much rather that than to see a "mostly" wonderful review like this. aloha! said...

Hi Karen,
We had a tasty time at Mama's Fish House, and were warned earlier by our fellow foody friends that the stuffed fish sometimes came out perfect, and othertimes a bit overcooked - we were hoping to be lucky - since both seafoods have disimular cooking times, it would be a tricky dish to execute on any given day :

In response to your comment about sending food back - we hate wasting food, so unless execution is really out of whack, we rarely send back our food... we eat anonymously and blog it the way we experience it to better reflect what anyone walking thru the door would experience.

But overall, hats off to Mama's Fish House's chefs and pastry chef :D

Stephania R. Johns said...

They also serve some nice fish and chips. I love their sour cream or zesty mayonnaise (lemonised) batter. It makes the fish and chips much more tasty.

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