This is the Hawaiian type of restaurant you hope to find, but rarely do.
It’s sometimes hard to find a good meal in Hawaii. The islands are often full of hype, chains, and tourists all too eager to equate cost with quality. Yelp stars don’t always help as many tourists give high points to great decor but substandard food, and it takes some time to find the signal in the noise. Since an expensive meal isn’t necessarily a great one, you have to do some digging to find where the locals eat. While on Maui, we were staying at the Grand Wailea, which is a great resort destination, but had limiting dining options. On a rainy day we set out to find a good local restaurant using the advice of locals who worked at the hotel. One recommendation was Nalu’s in Kihei.
From the outside, Nalu’s looks great. Although in a shopping mall, it has a real feel of Hawaii. It has the walls open, tropical plants surrounding it, and a high pitched roof. The inside is a little dark, but includes a great looking bar, surfboards, paintings of surf and volcanoes, and a menu that has plenty of options. Traditional items are found, such as loco moco, along with fusion twists, an egg foo yung loco moco. We ordered a variety of options, including a Foo Young Moco, Big Kahuna Omelet, pancakes, and a side of rice. The prices were a little on the high side, but still reasonable for Maui.
After ordering you sit down. Or try to, the place was packed at the end of lunch and we had to search and look for a seat. It didn’t take too long, but it shows how popular Nalu’s is. Water is freely available from dispensers with different fruit infusion mixes. All were great, but the pineapple mix was the best for us. Other drinks, alcohol, and coffee were available for order if needed.
The Foo Young Moco was an interesting take on the Loco Moco. The loco moco is a Hawaiian comfort food staple and typically comes with rice topped by meat, an egg, and gravy. The Foo Young Moco takes a twist on this and makes egg foo young, an American Chinese dish, into a loco moco. Instead of rice, it comes in bed of mung bean sprouts to be marginally more healthy. The result is very good and something to try if you like the loco moco, but want something different.
For our kids, we ordered a side of rice, in case they they wanted nothing else, and the result was a very artistic showing for something so simple. The rice was slightly flavored and quickly consumed.
Their pancakes were very large and very good. We didn’t expect Island pancakes to be this complete, but it was a great breakfast dish. The pancakes themselves were very buttery and light. The toppings, Maui Gold pineapples and bananas, were very fresh. However, the syrup was incredible. We couldn’t place the flavors, but would have loved to take it home. We ended up using it completely. Apparently it is a homemade rum syrup, but the flavor is not strongly rum like at all. This was very good indeed.
An omelets at Nalu’s rounded out our brunch. The eggs and sauce were very good, but the inside of the omelet was very savory. We had a Big Kahuna Omelet which came with an excellent fried rice in the middle along with golden furikake-garlic potatoes. This was a full meal in itself.
By far, Nalu’s is one of the best dining options we found on Maui and it is close to the resorts in Wailea. Assuming you have a rental car, you should definitely go to Nalu’s as it beats most dining options at the Wailea resorts. We wish we could have eaten here more, but there are only so many meals in a day.
Nalu’s South Shore Grill
1280 S Kihei Rd
Kihei, HI 96753
Yelp | Webpage
First Visit: 2020
Most Recent Visit: 12 January 2020
# OF VISITS: 1
Cuisine Rating: 14
Decoration Rating: 15
BEST BET (meats):
BEST BET (meals): Loco Moco