I’ve been to Mama’s Fish House exactly twice in my lifetime. The first time I went sight unseen, with only their website and internet recommendations to go by, I thought for sure I was walking into an overpriced tourist trap. The prices looked expensive and the pictures looked like there was a certain amount of kitschiness to the whole place that gave me the sense that maybe Mama’s was a restaurant that had seen its better days.
When you first drive up the Hana Highway, going north past Paia, you start to wonder whether you passed it or not. Just as you start to feel you’ve gone too far, a boat which looks like it’s been slung ashore by a storm, is perched on a small dune.
We had specially requested a table by the portion of the restaurant that looks out through the coconut grove and onto the ocean. Since this trip was for our anniversary Mama’s was gracious enough to give my wife a lei to commemorate the occasion.
A present from Mama
I’ve been to plenty of places that roll out the red carpet and offer up beautiful settings, but it’s ultimately about the food, isn’t it? You bet, and Mama and her staff deliver in a big way. We started off with the crab cakes. For me, these are always a dangerous choice because it is so easy to make either something that’s very pedestrian or really bad. In true fashion however, the kitchen came through with two ever-so-delicate crab cakes (complete with a claw), that were untainted by any residual oil. As with most everything here, the presentation is anticipated almost as much of the taste itself.
Some people are into wine, some just like appetizers, we are dessert-aholics. This is a dessert that is one of the best tasting AND the best presentation I’ve ever seen. When I think of the Black Pearl I don’t think of Jack Sparrow first – I think of Mama’s famous Polynesian Black Pear with chocolate mousse and lilikoi cream in a pastry shell. This right here is worth the price of admission. A lot of times these fancy presentations usually have individual components that look good, but one or two parts don’t taste that good. Each and every part of this thing is to die for. Hands down this is the best combination of creativity in presentation and taste I’ve ever had. This is a must try.
This experience is truly a sum of its parts. There is a subtle layering of all the little design details to the grounds and the restaurant make for a wonderful setting. For us the server was courteous, as well as very knowledgeable. Above all else, the food is just great straight forward Polynesian fare. Mama’s Fish House will be a stop for as long as we continue to come to Maui.
Mama's Fish House
799 Poho Pl
Paia, HI 96779