Mama’s Fish House in Maui

I’ve had this post written and in the chute for a quite a while now. I had really wanted to share some of the amazing food that I got to try when I was in Maui last May… but life happened and I put this post on hold. I decided to make this my last food related post for 2012 since this post has been sitting around pretty much fully written (might as well finally publish it) and it was absolutely one of my culinary highlights from the year. If nothing else, it was one of the meals I was most looking forward to all year (I made my reservation about 4 months early if that is any indication) and it was certainly the most expensive place I ate all year! The post did need a little editing, but when all is said and done, getting to eat a good dinner, at a wonderful local restaurant, in Maui, while enjoying a fantastic view of the ocean, with someone who meant a lot to me, really was a pretty cool culinary experience worth sharing. So here are my somewhat belated thoughts on Mama’s.

Mama’s Fish House
799 Poho Place
Paia, Hawaii
Mama's Fish House on Urbanspoon

When I first started planning my trip to Maui, one of the very first things I did was jump onto Urbanspoon and start searching for great restaurants. Any time I searched for anything about food in Maui, Mama’s Fish House came up and it was recommended to me by pretty much everyone I talked to. I thought it would be nice to splurge on one dinner and go somewhere really special, so I made reservations for Mama’s Fish House in Paia. The condo I was staying at was in Wailea, which is considered to be in South Maui, and Mama’s Fish House is on the North side of the island, so it was about a half an hour drive to get to the restaurant. I made the reservations for 6:00, as the sun was going to be setting just a bit before 7:00 and I had read that Mama’s Fish House would be a great place to watch the sun set.

Mama's Fish House

Mama’s Fish House

When we arrived at Mama’s Fish House we gladly dropped off the car at the complimentary valet and then headed over to the front of the restaurant to check in. We were a little early for our reservation so they suggested that we wander around the grounds of the restaurant for a while and then come back to be seated closer to our reservation time. Mama’s Fish House is located right on the ocean, I don’t think they could have found a more beautiful, picturesque location.

Lovely view

Lovely view

Exploring

Exploring

We were seated quite promptly and received prime seating right at the front of the restaurant, by the big open air windows that looked out onto the ocean. I guess it pays off to plan 4 months ahead!

View from the table

View from the table

Our server introduced himself and then presented us with the drink menu to mull over. I chose a lilikoi (passion fruit) daiquiri and it was very refreshing. I really love the smell and taste of passion fruit, it just seems so tropical and exotic.

Passion fruit daiquiri

Passion fruit daiquiri

After our drinks arrived we were given the menu, which is updated daily to reflect the local fish caught that morning. It was really cool to see that the menu not only identified the type of fish, but also who and where the fish were caught.

Homemade bread

Homemade bread

Before we ordered our waiter brought out some delicious, homemade bread. It was warm, very fluffy and fresh. As well, we were presented an amouse-bouche of a tomato bisque. It had a great, refreshing tomato flavour.

Tomato soup

Tomato bisque

We decided to start with 2 appetizers that we would share: the Macadamia nut crab cakes with fire and ice relish and the Ahi sashimi salad with crispy wonton strips, pohole fern, wasabi goat cheese, Kula vegetables and roasted sesame seed dressing.

Neither appetizer disappointed. The crab cakes tasted so fresh, not fishy at all and were full of large chunks of crab meat. The fire and ice relish was a little spicy and went really well with the crab cakes. My only complaint is that I only got to eat 1 crab cake!

Crab Cakes

Crab Cakes

I really, really enjoyed the Ahi salad. I developed my love of Ahi on this trip and the salad showcased the beautiful, ruby-red fish so well. I thought the wasabi goat cheese was just delicious, not too over powering, the wonton strips added a great crunch and the salad was finished off really nicely with the sesame dressing. But I almost always love any type of sesame dressing. I’d love to try to recreate this salad at home if I could get my hands on some fresh Ahi from somewhere like Billingsgate Fish Market.

Ahi Tuna Salad

Ahi Tuna Salad

For my main I ordered the dish that everybody seems to talk about when they go to Mama’s: Mahimahi stuffed with lobster and crab and baked in a macadamia nut crust. I was really looking forward to this dish and I think maybe I built it up a little too much in my head. Or, maybe I just don’t like mahimahi that much. Or maybe it wasn’t that good that day. Don’t get me wrong, it was ok, just not what I was hoping it would be. I think maybe the fish tasted a little too fishy to me? Which I would guess just had to do with the type of fish, not the freshness, as the fish was supposedly caught that morning.

Stuffed Mahi Mahi

Stuffed Mahi Mahi

For dessert I had the macadamia nut banana crisp which was topped with French vanilla ice cream. (Can you tell the theme of the evening was macadamia nuts?) The crisp was to die for. I’ve never had bananas in a crisp before and I thought they worked really well, especially with the macadamia nuts. The dessert even came with a little turtle cookie on top, so cute!

Banana Macadamia Nut Crisp

Banana Macadamia Nut Crisp

Overall the dinner at Mama’s was pretty good. Maybe not quite worth the prices they charge, but I am still really glad I went and had the chance to experience it.

The thing about Mama’s is that I had such high expectations about dining there. I’d spent a lot of time and effort planning this trip; finding fun things to do, cool places to see and especially interesting places to eat. That’s just how I am and I guess when I put so much time and effort into something, I have really high expectations about what I am going to get back. The funny thing about expectations is that sometimes when you hope for a lot, no matter how much time and effort you put in, you are going to be disappointed. And that’s just the way it is sometimes. Quite frankly the disappointment stings even more when you have been looking forward to something for a long time and have invested a lot in it, in this case, my money.

So, would I go again? I really don’t know. The ambience was great, the drink was delicious and the appetizer and dessert were very tasty, but the entrée just, well… left a bad taste in my mouth. And the entrée is a pretty important part, especially when it ends up costing you so much. I am sure I will be back to Maui many times and maybe I’ll go back to Mama’s, but for now, I think I would like try somewhere new for my expensive, splurge dinner on my next trip to Maui. So, hopefully I will be back in Hawaii soon and will have some new, exciting culinary adventures to share.

Some of my other culinary highlights from 2012 are:
- dinner at Corso 32 with my family the day after I found out I would be getting my CMA designation
- mosh burger pop ups, featuring medium rare burgers
- getting meat drunk with the floor hockey team
- blue cheese crusted filet mignon at Rustica Steakhouse at the Silvertip Resort in Canmore
- making homemade grilled pizzas and bellinis with my mom

Aloha! Happy Sunday!

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5 thoughts on “Mama’s Fish House in Maui

  1. Pingback: XIX Nineteen | Life is Better Red

  2. Pingback: Small Town Spotlight: Paia, Hawaii - Hopper Blog

  3. Pingback: Paia Fish Market | Life is Better Red

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