Local, family-owned, ‘hole in the wall’ restaurants have a strong appeal to me. They often lack a fancy decor and sometimes the service is similar to what you would experience in a coffee shop. Nevertheless, it’s usually an opportunity to try something that the locals enjoy at a inexpensive price point.
Not long ago, I vacationed with my family in Maui and felt that it was an opportunity to enjoy the food that the locals enjoy versus going to where the tourists flock to. My wife told me that she wanted a place to eat near Kahului Airport. After doing the research, I selected Da Kitchen.
Da Kitchen is located 5 minutes away from Kahului Airport in a busy strip mall. Despite the steady stream of people entering the restaurant, there was ample parking in front of the restaurant. I was surprised that we were seated immediately.
I ordered the saimin, my wife ordered the kalbi ribs and my daughter ordered the deep fried spam musubi. The Kalbi BBQ beef was very tender and the flavor was the result of an excellent marinade. I loved the broth on the saimin and the number of different additions to the soup. I hate to admit, but the deep fried spam musubi was actually tasty. The texture was crispy on the outside and the combination of the teriyaki sauce with the spam and rice made it flavorful.
A couple of days later, we drove the Road to Hana. On our way, we stopped for breakfast at the Tasty Crust in Wailuku. After finding the restaurant, you’d think that you just pulled up at a roadside diner on Route 66. Even the restaurant sign had a nice healthy coat of rust.
Walking inside Tasty Crust was like a walk backwards in time. Vinyl booth-style seating with formica tables lined the perimeter of the restaurant. Two older men were sitting at the counter reading the daily newspaper. I felt I was in an era before cellphones and other personal electronic devices; people were actually looking and talking to each other.
My wife ordered their signature pancakes and my daughter ordered spam and eggs. “When in Rome”, I thought and so I ordered a local moco. I’d have to say that the food prepared at the Tasty Crust was better than some of the Hawaiian restaurants in the South Bay.
If you had a bad luau experience and disliked poi and Kahlua pig, consider trying Hawaiian food again. You may be pleasantly surprised.
- Da Kitchen
- Tasty Crust
- 1700 Mill St., Wailuku, Hi; (808) 244-0845