Day 8 on South Maui (pt II): Coconut’s, Shave Ice & The Four Seasons

Feeling like a kid again in this place

Feeling like a kid again in this place

As if swimming with dolphins and sea turtles and skipping along the waves wasn’t enough (Blue Water Rafting Tour post), after a quick shower and change it was time to head out for an actual lunch and indulge in the rest of our day.  Lets get to it…

By now, you may have read my rather long post about our two trips to Star Noodle (posts HERE and HERE). If so, you know about our bartender Victor from the second trip and his many recommendations and tips (dude is a font of information, we should’ve tipped more).  One of his tips was to check out a place called Coconut’s Fish Cafe down in Kihei. To be fair, this place isn’t exactly a secret, but I’ll take a local recommendation, especially one I’ve had a chance to vett a little bit, over a guidebook any day. And I’ll take a local recommendation augmented by a guidebook and trip advisor and yelp any day and twice on Sunday. So, all showered from our snorkeling, it was time for stop number one and this

Exceedingly fresh fish at this "fast food" spot

Exceedingly fresh fish at this “fast food” spot

And this

A surprisingly good piece of fish

A surprisingly good piece of fish

and technically these
The fish in both of the above photos was fresher than you typically expect to get at a fast food joint. I can’t be sure, but I’d swear I saw a sign that says it was caught and/or filleted the same morning we ate it. If not, it certainly hadn’t been out of the water very long. The taco order was $14 and came with two very large mounds of fish, mango salsa, tomatoes and cabbage. We split this order, as one taco really is pretty big and we wanted to try the sandwich as well. I had to heat my taco up with some Tiger Sauce, which was like an island version of Crystal hot sauce—except not nearly hot enough. That’s okay. The fish taco was good, but not close to any number of places in Southern California (or, you know, Baja in Mexico).

As for the fish sandwich, it was almost very good. The blackened Mahi for $12 was actually delightful, cooked perfectly and seasoned well. The sauce, which was a blend of a few spices I can’t place and a creamy base, was also quite good. Where it fell down was the industrial wheat bun on which they chose to serve the thing. It is a shame to come so close on a sandwich and get tripped up on something pretty basic. Still, this was a great moderately priced option. Knock off a couple points for being in a strip mall–most people have plenty of those in their home cities–but the service was great and the cashier was friendly and helpful. Worth a stop if you are in a pinch for lunch.

Ahhh, Shave Ice
After lunch, Wife scoured the InterWebs for a decent shave ice place, which found us driving to the north end of Kihei to Ululani’s, which is the photo at the top of this post.
There were tons of options to choose from in this little place. It reminded me of a lemonade stand, built out a little bit, with Hawaiian treats instead.  Quick aside: The lemonade stand reference reminds me of this ad campaign of Susie from the Verizon commercial, which is a welcome change from the not so distant past.  Choosing to have a girl represent bright-eyed entrepreneurship and successful business leader is something I never saw on T.V. as a kid.  This type of ad is, in my opinion, a simple example of how much American society is growing up during the post-baby boomer generation.  Funny, Generations X and Y get a lot of flak for us not accomplishing all that much, but I’d say our wave of non-helicopter parents and skinned knees with iodine instead of no-sting anti-bacterial whatever you call it has created a generation of open minds.  Independent open minds that don’t view celebrating the accomplishments of women, minorities or the gay community as banal political correctness but instead as a foundational part of a legitimately inclusive society.  My generation doesn’t really seem to be “saving” anything, but we sure are making it easier for those that are.  Plus, honestly, I think we’re more open to learning from people who are younger or less experienced than our parents were.  I started thinking about this reading this pretty hilarious article from a well-connected friend of mine and it seems our generation has done at least a few things right. *jumping down off soapbox*

Back to Shave Ice…

I asked for a few shots of syrup in the process, which begins with one person pulling in the shave ice, then handing it to another who pokes the rounded mass with a couple long toothpicks, presumably to get the syrup into the depths of the ice, then this begins

One stage of the magic that is shave ice

One stage of the magic that is shave ice

And it finishes with this
This stuff was effing delicious! I had macadamia nut ice cream on the bottom, mango, pineapple and passion fruit syrup. It’s probably the most gluttonous thing we’ve had on our vacation, but man it was good. At $3.75 for the smallest one–which is plenty–it’s a nice deal on an island not exactly known for them.  We drifted across the street to the park
And took in a little random wave crashing and traffic as we slurped and chomped our way through a little post lunch treat. Fully sated, it was time to nap.

This little jaunt was followed by some old fashioned scrabble playing and lounging on a lanai that turned out to be much more private than I’d thought.

Dinner at The Four Seasons
This trip to Ferraro’s will be necessarily short. We first visited this Italian restaurant in The Four Seasons two years ago and very much enjoyed our meal. The food was just as good this time, but the experience for me was very different.  More on that in a moment. First up, we started with a shredded romaine lettuce Caesar salad

Less than stellar photo of my salad

Less than stellar photo of my salad

And a bruschetta trio that included traditional tomato, olive tapenade and roasted red pepper, separately on three small pieces.

Bruschetta trio

Bruschetta trio

These were both fine, not great but not bad. I enjoyed this view, though

So, this certainly seemed worth it

So, this certainly seemed worth it

And that was almost reason enough to go anyway. I can’t say much about these appetizers, mostly because neither of them were standout offerings. The table bread with Hawaiian sea salt and olive oil was actually nicer than most similar items.  We then opted for a half portion of the housemade tagliatelle with manila clams and cherry tomatoes in garlic. Fresh pasta is almost always at least above average, and this was no exception. We opted for the half portion of the dish, which turned out to be plenty. The dish was, again, just okay overall. And for the price point (category: ‘damn expensive’) on these items and the setting I wanted more. Moving on to the main course, we went for the seared Ahi with spinach and caramelized fennel with fingerling potatoes.

This was an almost standout dish. The fish was perfectly prepared and the spinach was sautéed really well with garlic. The fennel didn’t work as well for me as for Wife, but still a good effort. At $48, my suggestion would be to make a reservation at Mama’s Fish House instead. The fish is a bit better, the overall preparation is much better and the view is at least as spectacular.

The reason the dining experience wasn’t the same for me as the last time is that I’ve changed in two years. I expect more than a vessel for conveying my food options out of a server. Especially fresh off a really superlative effort by Kevin at Monkeypod, the boring almost disinterested service we received left a great deal to be desired.  Fortunately, I’m married to a very cool woman I like being around, so we had plenty of conversation to keep us going.  Plus, to be honest, we WERE on Maui after all.  I don’t usually write things like this, but I’d skip this place, even if you are staying in the hotel, and either walk over to Nick’s or Mala or head north a bit up to Napili.  Thanks for reading, click HERE to return to the index of our March 2013 10-day trip. Or click here for part III of this day.

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