Nom Nom Paleo

Air Travel With Kids Is Sucky

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It sure is nice to be home again.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Maui and spending time with my family but air travel with kids is the pits.  There is nothing worse than leaving paradise – except the messed up experience of being herded through airport security and then the agriculture checkpoint with two cranky kids and a ton of carry-on luggage.  It’s like having Gilbert Gottfried scream in your face, “HA! HA! VACATION IS OVER!”

To gird ourselves for our long flight, we stopped at the Whole Paycheck to pick up some take out to eat on the plane.  

We got a pound of carnitas:

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Mmmm mmmm mmmm.  Very tasty and well-seasoned.  It did taste more like kahlua pig than carnitas, though.

A medium container of roasted squash (winter and summer) with sage:

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This dish was way too heavy on the sage and oil.  I wouldn’t order it again.

A small container of curried broccoli salad:

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The salad was tasty but not really Paleo because it has canola oil based mayo and sugar in the ingredients.

Despite the squash snafu, this was a nice meal for the plane ride home.  Since the Whole Paycheck is near the airport, we’re definitely going to stock up here the next time we arrive in Maui and pick up to-go goodies when we depart.  

Fourth Time’s Not the Charm: Mala Ocean Tavern (Lahaina, HI)

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I guess going to Mala for brunch two days in a row was a little too much.  After our meal here this morning, I’ve fallen a little out of love with Mala.   Why, you ask?  Well, we discovered the hard way that if you decide to order things separately (eggs, bacon, etc.), you’ll get ripped off.  For example, I ordered the Great Start Breakfast ($12): 2 eggs cooked to order, hash browns, grilled health bread, jam, butter, and your choice of bacon, prosciutto, or lamb sausage. 

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I chose 2 eggs over medium, lamb sausage, and subbed out the hash browns with some fruit salad (for an additional $2 charge) so my final cost for this breakfast was $14.   Expensive, but a price I’m willing to pay for good food.

Fitbomb didn’t want to the hash browns or bread so he ordered a side of bacon ($7), a side of 2 eggs ($5), and Alii mushrooms ($12). 

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Yes, we should have asked how much the items would cost by themselves (it wasn’t listed on the menu) but we didn’t think his breakfast would be $24!  Next time, we’ll just get the Great Start Breakfast and waste the hash browns and bread.

Plus, we had to wait a long time for our food, our portions were smaller, and our waitress was really ditzy.  Maybe we were cranky because we were leaving Maui but our final experience here left a bad taste in my mouth.

Oh well, all will be forgotten when we return in a year.

Star Noodle, Take Three (Lahaina, HI)

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I’m happy to report that we ate at Star Noodle three times during our stay in West Maui and we didn’t eat noodles once!  We definitely have a crush on this restaurant so we chose it as our last dinner on the island.

I spied Sheldon Simeon in the kitchen (I don’t think he was there our other two times) and wondered if dinner would be even better tonight given his presence. I was happy to say that it was, and the platings were especially nice and polished.

Tonight, the new dishes we ordered were:

Spicy Namasu (cucumber, daikon, and carrot with a spicy, Vietnamese-y vinaigrette):

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Charbroiled Miso Salmon (alas, a tad over-cooked for my taste):

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The oldies but goodies we ordered again were the Ahi Avo, the Rib Eye, Yakitori, Steamed Pork Buns, and Brussels Sprouts.

Fitbomb liked the food so much that he purchased Star Noodle shirts and a baseball cap.  Now he can look like an official Star Noodle waiter!  

Brunch at Mala (Lahaina, HI)

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Yep, this is the third time this week we’ve dined at Mala Ocean Tavern.  This time we came for brunch and the setting and vibe were perfect for a lazy Saturday in paradise.  Before leaving the Bay Area, we had checked the 10-day forecast and had braced ourselves for rain on our last two days here.  Lo and behold, today we have nothing but sun and clear skies.  Woo hoo!

After a lazy morning spent snorkeling at the beach and building sand castles under the direction of a very pitiless taskmaster (5 year-olds are real slave masters), we headed to Mala for some grub.  Here’s what we ordered this time:

Fresh Maui Gold pineapple boat with baby coconuts and balsamic vinegar:

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Teddy’s Loco Moco: Kobe beef patty, 2 eggs fried over easy, green onion, and mushroom gravy.   Fitbomb requested no organic brown rice and the server visibly balked.

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Omelette of the day filled with Kula cherry tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms, and mozzarella cheese.  I asked to sub out the hash browns with a small side salad.

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Side of house made lamb sausage:

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I found these patties a tad under-seasoned but I’m a salt fiend.

Our favorite side on the island: BRUSSEL SPROUTS!

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Mala really is one of favorite spots here in West Maui.  We’ll definitely return – maybe one last time tomorrow for brunch!

Make Your Own Paleo Kalua Pork Salad @ Aloha Mixed Plate (Lahaina, HI)

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It’s nearing the end of our weeklong stay in Maui so we’re re-visiting a bunch of our favorite restaurants for second (and third) meals.  Tonight, our kids seemed too punchy to eat out at a restaurant so we opted for take out from Aloha Mixed Plate.  I’m not sure why we were being so selfless.  If our kids are shits we ain’t coming back for another year anyway. 

In all honesty, the food at Aloha Mixed plate is really only mediocre at best.   Most of their items are really sweet (e.g. teriyaki beef) or too tough (e.g. kalbi) but one item that really shines is their kalua pig.  It’s tender, moist, and seasoned just right.   I thought the only way to order it was to get the Hawaiian plate lunch but then you get a bunch of stuff I don’t like (e.g. poi, tough haupia, rice, macaroni salad).   When I called in my order tonight, I learned that you can order just the kalua pig as a side and it would only cost around $5.  As a result, we cobbled together our own Paleo kalua pork salad with some take out items and things in our fridge/freezer.

From Aloha Mixed Plate, we ordered a garden salad (split between Fitbomb and I):

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Three sides of kalua pig (split amongst 3 of us):

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Add some nuked frozen broccoli and sliced avocado and VOILA:

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Tasty, healthy, and cheap Paleo kalua pork salad!  

What to Order When Your Non-Paleo Friends Wanna Go Get Pizza: Matteo’s Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant (Wailea, HI)

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We are currently in Maui with our best friends, who happen to eat decidedly non-Paleo.  They are some of our favorite people in the world and the thing we love to do the most is eat out together.  Now that Fitbomb and I have changed our diet, eating out with them is not as simple as it used to be.  It’s hard to share everything like we did in the past and choosing a restaurant to eat at is more complicated because they LOVE Italian.  I don’t WANT to eat pasta and pizza but I still crave them sometimes. Especially if someone is oooohing and aaaaaaahing across the table from me while enjoying a bitchin’ dish of papparadelle with pork sugo at Delfina.   But I digress.

Besides Sansei, the only other restaurant our friends wanted to try in Maui was Matteo’s Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant in Wailea.  Again, since I’ve been a total food dictator when it comes to choosing where to eat this week, I relented and we dined at this pizzeria today after our morning trip to the Maui Ocean Center.

WTF did Fitbomb and I eat? 

Antipasto Platter with salumi, mixed greens, olives, and a mini Caprese salad:

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Beef carpaccio with mixed greens, capers, and a lemon dressing:

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House salad with added chicken:

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House salad with added shrimp:

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The food was fresh, delicious, and reasonably priced and you have a beautiful view of the ocean and golf course when you dine out on the patio.  I was glad that the salads and apps were really well-composed and carefully prepared —  and not some half-assed concessions for non-pizza eating folks.  See?  You can eat something filling and delicious and decidedly non-carby at pizza place!

Yes, A Tourist Trap Can Be Tasty And A Good Deal: Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar(Lahaina, HI)

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I was not looking forward to dinner at Sansei because our dinner there was really disappointing last year.  We ordered all their “signature” dishes and it was a bunch of crazy-ass fried cream cheese filled sushi rolls or dishes topped with sickly sweet sauces.  Icky. 

Our friends really wanted to eat here this week so I relented and reluctantly agreed to go.  I’ve been dictating where we’ve all been eating this vacay, so I suppose it was time I let someone else have a say.  And boy, was I glad I did.

This time, we steered away from the stuff that was noted as crowd pleasers and simply chose items that looked delicious and not overly complicated.  Here’s what we had:

Cajun seared white tuna sashimi with shaved Maui onion, red jalapeno and Yukke sauce:

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Roasted Japanese eggplant with sweet miso-sake sauce:

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Grilled Upcountry shiitake mushrooms with tangy soy-ponzu sauce:

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Ahi tataki salad:

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“Kenny G”: thinly sliced fresh sashimi grade shiromi with shiso, minced garlic, and masago in a tangy ponzu vinaigrette:

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Delicious but what’s the deal with the name?  How is this a homage to the easy listening smooth jazz King?

Shichimi Seared Fresh Atlantic Salmon and Tiger Prawn served with asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, and soy butter sauce:

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The salmon (which wasn’t local) was a tad over-cooked but the soy butter sauce was pretty amazing.

If any of you are interested in totally blowing your Paleo diet, order the tempura fried ice cream.  It’s vanilla ice cream wrapped in buttery pound cake, rolled in roasted macadamia nuts, flash-fried and served with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. 

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This dessert is the sole reason our friend wanted to eat here.  It was not cheat-worthy in my book so I abstained.

Our meal was great and it cost HALF of what we paid the night before at Mama’s Fish House.  The fish here is super fresh and I definitely preferred the raw preparations to the cooked ones.  If you order before 6 pm, your bill is 25% off – so go be like an old lady and come in early!

It’s Déjà vu All Over Again, Part 2: Star Noodle (Lahaina, HI)

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No, we didn’t go to Mala again (we’re going for brunch this weekend) but we made a second appearance at Star Noodle.  Hey, pickings are slim here in Maui! So if you like a place, you should stick with it.  Life’s too short to waste a meal on something shitty. 

Today for lunch we ordered the following items:

Pan roasted local mushrooms:

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Mmmmmm.  Umami goodness.   I liked this mushroom dish better than the similar one we ate at Mala the other day.

Special of the day: balsamic marinated grilled beef over local greens:

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The beef was well-seasoned and served rare – just the way I like it.  The dressing also had a nice kick to it.

Garlic steak served sizzling with onions and scallions:

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This steak was tasty but a tad over-cooked for my taste.  Fitbomb also found it a bit too sweet.

All in all, the food was nom nom-approved and it’s not just good for Maui —  I wish this place was located back where we live!   However, like all Asian places, it’s hard to eat truly Paleo at Star Noodle because there’s sugar, cornstarch, soy, etc. in almost everything even when you are avoiding the obvious carb-y things like noodles, rice, and dessert.   But I’m on vacation so eff all that stuff!

Dining Out Paleo: Mama’s Fish House (Paia, HI)

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Okay, I’d heard about Mama’s Fish House for a long fricking time but I always resisted coming here. Apparently, the fish was super fresh, the prices sky high, and the setting was old school Hawaiian. I also knew that it was a total tourist trap and I was skeptical about going to such a popular place. But can 580+ Yelpers be wrong? Well, my curiosity got the best of me and I booked us a table here tonight.

What did we eat? Our first taste was a freebie shot glass filled with tomato ginger bisque:

My appetizer was Ono marinated in coconut milk and lime, Tahitian style. You know how I love my coconut.

Fitbomb ordered the blue prawns in Tahitian vanilla beans and coconut milk sauce:

These prawns were super tasty. Maybe because they were coconut-y.

I was going to order their signature dish, macadamia nut crusted mahi mahi stuffed with lobster, crab, and Maui onion, but the server informed me that it wasn’t gluten free. Instead, she steered towards the Lehi fish that could be served gluten free. The Lehi fish was sautéed with tomatoes, white wine, garlic, and capers. I subbed out the lemongrass rice pilaf for some mixed vegetables.

My dish was fine but not mind blowing and there were some bitter zucchini in my mixed veggies.

Fitbomb ordered the Mahi Mahi Hawaiian style which came with a coconut butter sauce, Kalua pig, grilled Hana banana, sweet potato, star fruit, and poi:

Again, it was good but not $40+ good.

At the end of the meal, we got some free haupia (coconut jello):

What’s my verdict? It’s tasty and tiki-tastic but too damn expensive. I liked the Hawaiian theme, the friendly service,and the beautiful postcard views of the Pacific. However, it’s waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay over-priced, an hour drive from where we were staying, and maybe a little too kitschy. Plus, I like my food prepared more simply. If you have a super fresh fish caught within 24 hours, why is it necessary to drench it with a thick, heavy ass sauce? Would we return? Fitbomb says “NO!” but I say maybe. It appeals to a wide swath of the population for a reason so it’s a good place to take grandparents, picky eaters, kids, etc. if you’re willing to pay through your nose. But you better be willing to treat them, or you’ll be in the doghouse.