Da Kitchen Cafe
Nelson @ Maui: Just after getting off the plane and starving we tried this highly recommended nearby restaurant and it turned out to be one of the best meals of the trip! They serve local Hawaiian food in gigantic portions with a nicely decorated interior, pop music playing and attractive waitresses.
This pupus (Hawaiian for appetizer) if friend spam musubi: spam wrapped in nori, panko battered, deep fried and drizzled in their signature homemade teriyaki sauce ($5.49). Although it's hard to judge the scale in the picture, these were huge, closer to the size of sandwich than a roll. An interesting concept, but not as good as I was hoping due to the large amount of rice. Deep frying is a good idea though and maybe we'll start seeing more sushi rolls deep fried.
I've blogged about the loco moco dishes in Hawaii before, but this is an extreme version. Da Kitchen's version under the subheading Moco Madnees had a few varieties and I picked the Katsu Moco: hamburger patty topped with chicken katsu, gravy, two eggs, onions and mushrooms all over local style fried rice ($15.99). Once again it's hard to get the proper impression of the size of the bowl, but this is truly gigantic, enough to feed 2+ people. Surprisingly the best part of the whole dish was the excellent fried rice. I love ham in my fried rice as I grew up with it and I think it tastes perfect in a fried rice. What made this fried rice even better was that it also had Portuguese sausage, bacon, egg and green onion. The chicken katsu was perfectly battered and fried. The beef patty was gigantic, dwarfing any fast food burger in existence. I liked the fact they added mushroom and onion on top, but wished for just a little more gravy. So much food that tasted soo good!
It was so good that on the way out of Hawaii we had to go back and get a Loco Moco to go. This time we tried the Polynesian Paralysis Moco: Fish tempura, Kalua pork, two eggs, onions, mushrooms and gravy over local style fried rice ($16.49). Best decision ever. Although it got a little cool as we didn't eat it right away, it was still amazing. The fish tempura batter is not like the traditional Japanese shrimp batter and yet not like a typical fish & chips beer batter, but somewhere in between. It was something new and it was good. The fish inside was also very tender and full of taste. I love pork and this one was good too, but not the best I had on the trip. Of course the excellent fried rice was delicious and to top it off they added two scoops of white rice. So much food and all of it so good!
Sometimes my favourite meals are just cheap, heaping and tastes good; and not at all needing to be fancy. This definitely hits that sweet spot. If I'm ever back in Hawaii I am definitely coming back here!
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