One of the main reasons I went back to Maui was because my youngest cousin was graduating from high school. So two of my others cousins, who also live in Washington, our significant others, and my 18 month year old nephew made our way back home to celebrate this special occasion.
High school graduations in Hawai’i are a huge deal. I mean HUGE deal. The oversized signs of senior portraits. The sea of people cheering on their brother/cousin/neighbor’s sister who you used to babysit. The leis. So. Many. Leis. We literally refer to the portion after the formal graduation ceremony as the “lei-ing part.” It’s the part that people go to if they don’t want to sit through the one- to two-hour long program and still want to congratulate the handful of people they know. That’s an event all in itself.
Anyway…graduation. Once we landed, we were given our duties for prepping for graduation AND the graduation party.
So after a few days of making signs, decorating, and being asked for logistical advice as an event coordinator, it was time to relax…and to consume all of the sugar that I usually refrain from eating. Confession: I don’t have that much of a sweet tooth. With the heat and humidity, though, I just wanted to eat shave ice, ice cream, smoothies, anything cold and fruity. So I did.
Do you know what a LAVA FLOW is? Basically it’s a piña colada with strawberry purée. When I was younger, I remember going to restaurants with my parents and having them always ask me if I wanted a lava flow. I would nod, and they would order a virgin lava flow for me. It wasn’t until I was 16 when I realized what “virgin” meant when ordering a drink. Ha!
The thing is, though, I don’t really like rum. Or any liquor (unless it’s of a tequila shot with an orange wedge chaser, which is my newfound treat!) So during dinner with my cousins on our “day off” along the beach at sunset, I ordered a virgin lava flow. No regrets.
That same night, we were strolling through Lahaina on Front Street – a very tourist heavy area on the west side of Maui. It’s also a fun place to just wander. I really wanted shave ice, but Ululani’s was closed. Womp womp. We passed by Ono Gelato. My almost cousin-in-law, D, and I went in.
A lot of people are still learning this about me, but I don’t like cow’s milk or cow’s milk-based products. So I steer away from dairy products as much as possible, especially ice cream. Thank goodness for dairy-free, though! And Ono Gelato had a section of maybe five or six dairy-free flavors.
I opted of a scoop of DAIRY-FREE COCONUT GELATO. So good. So creamy. And it was the perfect cold treat for a warm night in Lahaina.
After two days of salt water therapy; soaking in the rays; and getting sand all in every place imaginable, we were burnt. I could feel the crispiness of my skin. And it hurt! I put on sun screen, plus it was cloudy the whole time…and I still got kissed by the sun.
Then it was time to head back to Wailuku so Z and I could make a Costco run. Why would we go there?! To pick-up our favorite Hawai’i staples in bulk, of course!
After shopping, I needed a treat and I was craving Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice. This once small operation, which only hand a few locations on the island, had expanded.
Have you had shave ice? No, not shaved ice…just SHAVE ICE.
But have you had Ululani’s? Their ice is shaved so smoothly that after the syrups are poured on, it becomes almost creamy. But not so much like “snow ice.”
At Ululani’s there are so many flavor options. Z chose the Sunset Beach flavor combo – guava, mango, and passion orange (picture at the top). He likes fruits, obviously. I chose coconut and green tea with a snow cap, which is a sweetened condensed milk topping (couldn’t stay away from dairy this time).
Our last dessert at home was refreshing and brings a lot of nostalgia for the both of us.
Then the inevitable came: our last day on Maui. Cue the tears.
My cousins and I kept making plans to eat at one of our favorite restaurants, Sam Sato’s, and our plans kept changing. But we could not leave the island without going. Z has tried the famous DRY NOODLES from here, because I used to always bring back a little from my vacations home. He had, however, not been to the actual restaurant; so this was truly a treat for all of us.
Sam Sato’s is a small place. There’s always a wait. Parking may be tricky. The food is low maintenance and so, so, so good. Maybe I’m a little biased?
I have many childhood memories of my grandparents and parents taking me to Sam Sato’s. Before they moved to the space they’re in now, it was a smaller, brown building – almost like a shack. I don’t remember there being a parking lot. Just dirt and trees. That has changed, but not their noodles or any other dish.
So for our last breakfast on Maui, we ordered dry noodles, BEEF STICKS, and a BANANA PANCAKE. Well, Z let me order and that’s what I got. I know right..noodles for breakfast? Always, whenever I can get it. I think Sam Sato’s is the reason I’m a huge noodle person. Ok, so what are dry noodles? It’s basically fried noodles, but not chow mein…fried saimin is more accurate. Topped with char siu, bean sprouts, and green onion. Served with a side of soup, which helps to loosen the thick noodles.
And for our breakfast dessert: banana pancakes! One of the best pancakes ever. Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. I would suggest just ordering one of these since one pancakes takes up a whole plate; unless you’re JUST getting pancakes and are really hungry, then maybe two would suffice.
This was definitely one of the better ways to end our Maui trip. A meal with my family at a restaurant we’ve cherished for many years. And to have finally brought Z and D, who are not from Maui, to a place our family loves was wonderful. Actually, we enjoy this place a ton that my cousins went there again the morning before their flight back to Seattle, which was the day after we all just went!
To say the least, three years away from Maui was long enough. I am glad I made the trip as it was a wonderful six days full of family, warmth, and so many delicious finds. I’ll be back at the end of the year and am excited to (re)discover the place I call home, again.
Ono Gelato Company | Multiple locations
Ululani’s Hawaiin Shave Ice | Multiple locations
Sam Sato’s, Inc. (Yelp page link) | 1750 Wili Pa Loop, Wailuku, HI 96793