Traveling through the islands of Hawaii, people usually hunger for some good local cuisine. There are times, though, that the hole-in-the-wall place just doesn't have the right atmosphere and the “touristy” places are just filled with too much kitsch and, well, tourists. In Lahaina, on the island of Maui, a great option in LuLu's Lahaina Surf Club and Grill. Less than a block to the waterfront and tourist area, yet far enough away that the locals can enjoy the place too, LuLu's is the perfect place to have some “ono” Hawaiian food and some nice tiki cocktails and local beers also. LuLu's has a nice bar area and dining area inside as well as a delightful patio with wooden tables for outside dining. Watching over the patio area is “Elviki”, a Hawaiian tiki that looks suspiciously like someone famous who might have sang a song and made a movie about Hawaii.
LuLu's drink menu has all the usual island type tiki drinks and also some interesting twists too. The margaritas are rimmed not with salt but instead with Li Hing Mui, a slightly tart Chinese powder that the Hawaiians have adopted as their own special treat. Lu Lu's Signature Mai Tai is topped with sea foam and served in a local, fresh hollowed out Maui Gold pineapple with the obligatory “umbrella” on it. Draft beers include local brews from the Kona Brewing Company and Primo Beer from Honolulu. Bottled beers are available along with wines from mainland, Chilean and Australian wineries. Many of the beverages are also found at a good discount on their late evening “Power Hour”.
Maui is one of the most popular islands to visit when vacationing in Hawaii. Visiting Lahaina during the day meant that lunch was the big meal to try. LuLu's has several options, including a full sushi bar menu. On the sushi as well as the lunch menu, Ahi Poke stood out as the appropriate Hawaiian appetizer. The poke dish was beautiful, with nice red ahi tuna, accompanied by sliced local sweet Maui onions, inamona (made from local kukui nuts and salt) and Hawaiian chili flakes in a soy sauce-sesame oil vinaigrette. Black and white sesame seeds topped the delicious, fresh fish. Poke of course is one of Hawaii's specialties and LuLu's does the islands justice with their version. The flavors blended perfectly and the ultra-fresh fish had great texture.
For lunch, burgers and sandwiches include many with a Hawaiian ingredient twist on them. The local favorites however are the way to go in order to taste some of the local specialties. The Chicken Katsu Curry started off with a nice chicken breast, deep-fried in panko crumbs and then topped with a Japanese curry sauce. This dish, a fixture of plate lunches all over the islands, is served with a generous scoop of macaroni salad and one of their Hapa fried rice. The curry provides a perfect topping for the crispy chicken, adding a little heat and lots of flavor to the dish.
Another local favorite in Hawaii is saimin. Saimin is Hawaii's take on Japanese ramen dishes. Several variations are on LuLu's menu. A traditional bowl of saimin soup comes with a delicious broth, thin ramen noodles, some SPAM, Chinese BBQ pork, fish cake (a traditional component of Japanese ramen), and topped with shredded Nappa cabbage. The Hawaiian touch is evident in the Oxtail Saimin version, which takes the basic saimin soup, adds tender braised oxtails to it along with bok choy, cilantro and local daikon kaiware sprouts. A good dose of grated ginger adds a nice touch of spice to the broth. This soup can hold it's own against any other soup on the islands. The rich broth with the Asian flavors in it makes the soup into a tasty, substantial meal. This is where Hawaiian cuisine excels; taking an Asian, Portuguese or American dish and adding Hawaiian flavors to it so the result is a dish which is at once identifiable as to it's heritage but modified so it adds a definite Hawaiian touch.
LuLu's has other local dishes such as the ubiquitous “loco moco”, a breakfast specialty but available all day and including a hamburger patty on a bed of rice, onion gravy and a scoop of macaroni salad on the side. Huli Huli Chicken, rotisserie-style with a special Hawaiian sauce is another good choice for your meal. To top the meal off, Hawaiian malasadas, a version of a doughnut that is typically Hawaiian makes a fine dessert.
LuLu's is walking distance from Front Street and the waterfront in Lahaina. It makes a great place to go for breakfast, lunch, dinner or just cocktails. With local foods, tiki drinks and a nice atmosphere, LuLu's will remind you why Hawaii is a great place for a relaxing vacation with wonderful food. Oh yes, and awesome drinks too!
LuLu's Lahaina Surf Club and Grill
1221 Honoapiilani Hwy # A1
Lahaina, HI 96761-1797
Phone: (808) 661-0808