Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Maui, Part 5, The Final Chapter: A Mixed Plate, A Mix Up, And Mixed Feelings--Aloha Mixed Plate
The first time we went to Lahaina's Aloha Mixed Plate was on purpose. Having heard that this restaurant, an offshoot of the Old Lahaina Luau, was one of the best bangs for your buck in Maui, Isaac and I headed down the overly commercialized, Crazy Shirts- and ABC Stores-laden Front Street to have dinner.
The restaurant is basically a huge wood deck facing the ocean in back of a small, shack-like house. Sit in the part of the deck right next to the water and you can eat your meal prohibition-style with no alcoholic beverages at all; sit in the back part of the deck closest to the shack and you can lush it up. We chose the part of the deck closest to the shack for obvious reasons, and though we weren't in that section where we were right up on the ocean's ass, the view and sound of the water were no less spectacular. We could also hear the music from the Old Lahaina Luau next door, which though somewhat overpowering at times, was nice in that we got a little entertainment without actually paying for entertainment.
sit right up here....
...and you can't have this
My Hawaiian Plate was basically just a kalua pig plate with the usual two scoop rice and mac salad plus some added acoutrements of poi and lomi lomi salmon. I don't know if you know this about me, but I have a thing for boiled/braised cabbage, so to be honest, I think the reason I liked the kalua pig so much that night wasn't so much because of the pork itself but more so because of the ample amounts of cabbage it was cooked with. Take that and the fact that I hadn't had much in the way of vegetables over the several days we'd stayed in Maui, so my withdrawals for greens were making me gobble that kalua pig up. As for the pork itself, there were tasty patches that had moist little slivers of nicely browned pork laced with luscious pork fat which I love on kalua pork; at the same time there were dry and bland patches which I made sure to eat with cabbage shreds to make them more palatable. The rice and mac salad served their purpose in making the whole thing stick to my ribs more and I hardly touched the little condiment cups filled with lomi lomi salmon and poi. I had a little taste of the lomi lomi salmon, and let's just say that it did not smell or taste fresh and as for the poi, well, I've always thought it was pointlessly tangy, so I left it alone.
had they had a plain cabbage plate, i'd have ordered that
what's the poi-pose?
Isaac's grilled mahi mahi was, as all the mahi mahi we'd eaten on the island, very nicely done. The piece of fish was moist, flaky and grilled so that it had a nice tasty charred exterior. There seemed to be two kinds of mahi plates available at Aloha Mixed Plate, one that is served in typical plate lunch format with two scoop rice and mac salad and another that is served in typical American grill format with fries and cole slaw. Though we'd pointed to the one in plate lunch format, there was a little mix up and the fish came out with the wrong starch & salad combo; the mistake was fixed right away however and Isaac was happy once again with rice in his belly.
not quite the mix up i'm referring to
That, however, is not the mix up that I'm refering to in my post's title. The second time we went to Aloha Mixed Plate was by accident, or more specifically, because we happened to get lost in Maui. Now you're probably wondering, "How the hell does one get lost in Maui??? Isn't it all just one road that goes all the way around the island?" OK, OK, so maybe we didn't get lost in the sense that we wouldn't have eventually found our way back, but rather we were lost in the sense that for about an hour, we didn't know where the fuck we were.
On our last night in Maui, we'd originally planned to have dinner at the Paia Fish Market, which according to some of our friends and some locals we'd talked to, had fish that was just as fresh if not fresher than that at Mama's Fish House, but served in a not-so-tourist-attractiony-atmosphere and at a fraction of the price. Having left all of the good Maui maps and books at the hotel, the only map we had in the rental car was some simple line map inside a cheesy Maui tourist brochure we'd picked up either on the street or in our hotel lobby. And stupid tourists that we were, decided that it'd be a good idea to take the northwestern route from Ka'anapali past Kapalua to Paia since we had yet to see that side of Maui.
"Hmm, according to this here map in this here brochure, it looks like the same distance to Paia as our usual route"
So at about 5pm, we got into the Buick and drove north on Highway 30, instead of the usual drive south and back onto northbound Highway 380 route. It's true what they say about how no one part of Maui is the same--this northwestern part was a bit more rocky than other parts of Maui we'd been to and the unusual rock formations provided an interesting backdrop to the gorgeous ocean that surrounded us. For about an hour, we drove and drove on this windy mountain highway and at first, were awed by all the beautiful scenery until we realized that there were no signs telling us where we were in relation to our destination, that the sun was starting to set and that we only had a quarter tank of gas left.
"Hmm, I wonder when this windy road will end..."
"How much longer do you think?"
The stupid newlywed tourists (a.k.a. us) were optimistic though, and kept driving in hopes that they'd have to eventually get there, and kept driving until the two lane windy highway turned into a narrow one lane road.
"Uh, I don't think we should be on here."
"Do you think we should turn around?"
(Yeah, you think?)
Fortunately, there was a fruit stand on the side of the road that was still open and I got out and asked the very bored looking teenage girl where we were and how much longer to Paia. Not even looking up at me, she said that we were in a town called Kahakuloa and that it was at least another hour and a half drive to get to Paia.
We had to drive further down in order to find a place to turn the Buick around, and after we finally turned the car around, drove about one mile per hour in silence, shitting bricks and praying that no one would be coming the other way on this narrow, windy one lane road that by the way, is located on the side of a mountain. Don't forget that it was getting dark very fast.
And just as we thought we had cleared death when the highway turned into a two-lane road again, things started to get really eerie as what we like to call the "Maui Hick"--a man who we could tell was missing teeth even at the speed he was driving--came speeding towards us in some kind of golf cart looking vehicle and chasing after him, a pack of rotweilers. It doesn't end there because a little further up, we encountered a pack of donkeys that had taken the liberty to just chill on the road. The combination of our headlights, the twilight lighting, and the somewhat evil stare of donkeys made the entire experience feel like something out of The Omen. Imagine the joy we felt when we finally saw the lights of Kapalua from a distance. Yeah, yeah, I know you're probably thinking "Where is your sense of adventure, DG?" I'll tell you where it was--we left it L.A.
After that surreal experience (and no I was not exagerrating any part of that) we didn't have it in us to go around searching for a place to eat so back to Aloha Mixed Plate it was. This time around, I ordered the kalbi plate which wasn't very good as the sauce on the kalbi ribs was way to sweet as well as way too sticky and abundant. Isaac ordered the shoyu chicken (sorry, no picture) which was good but nothing special--just teriyaki chicken, basically. The lackluster food didn't stop us from being happy that night though; sometimes there is comfort in the safe and familiar.
far from k-town kalbi
All in all, I had mixed feelings about Aloha Mixed Plate. On the downside, the food was mediocre to decent at best; on the upside, you really can't beat the price (about $25 for two entrees and two cocktails--cheap by Maui standards) and the prime location right on the water. It was also there for us in a time of distress, which is always allright by us.
Aloha Mixed Plate
1285 Front Street
Lahaina, HI 96761
To see Kirk of mmm-yoso!!!'s review, click here.
Well boys and girls, that concludes my recap of our Maui trip--it's about fuckin' time, don't ya think? Don't forget that I still have Oahu to write about (yeah, you thought you were off the hook, didn't you?), but at the rate I'm going, it'll be July before I finish my Hawaii series. Because I'm nice, I'll give all y'all a short break from the Hawaii posts and do a couple of LA-based posts in the interim. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!