I love fish and chips. I’m not bragging or confessing, just stating a fact. If I go out to eat and see strips of battered seafood and fries with a side of coleslaw on the menu, it takes a Herculean effort for me not to order it up.
Of course, not all fish and chips are created equal. In fact, more so than many other dishes, this one runs the gamut from delicious to downright unappetizing.
OK, now it’s bold statement time: having sampled a fair amount of what Maui has to offer, and finding more than a few worthy contenders for the crown, I’m prepared to offer Paia Fish market the title of best fish and chips on-island. They’re that good.
French fries are pretty hard to screw up (as proof of this, even McDonald’s gets them mostly right). Ditto coleslaw, though it does depend on what you like. Some prefer heavily sweetened slaw; others want to taste the cabbage. (The Fish Market version falls somewhere in the middle.)
But with any batch of fish and chips, the difference maker is the fish. Here it’s almost impossibly soft and flaky, flavorful but not too fishy and served with the perfect amount—and type—of batter to augment but not overwhelm. And you get four pretty good-sized pieces, so there’s little chance of walking away hungry.
For those who haven’t gone, the Fish Market is an unassuming little corner eatery, nestled among the sleepy shops of Paia. Orders are placed at the counter and the on-site seating consists of two rows of picnic tables. Since the place is usually packed, prepare to eat in close proximity to a stranger or two. The good news: most people in Paia are pretty darn friendly; if you’re in a sociable mood, you might even make a new acquaintance.
Naturally, despite my one-track culinary mind, the menu features options outside the you-know-what. The mahi burger and the seafood pasta are both fine selections, as are the fajitas. On my most recent visit, my companion ordered the fish tacos, which come heaping with enough filling to quickly overwhelm the soft tortillas (at this point use either your fingers or a fork, depending on table manners). For a truly hearty meal, add rice and potatoes. But make sure you save a little room…
For dessert: Ono Gelato
Get the scoop on a locally made frozen treat
Though we stumbled out onto Baldwin Avenue stuffed to the gills, we decided to head across the street for a little dessert at Ono Gelato. The problem is, once you walk through the door, the whole “little” part melts away faster than a scoop in the midday Maui sun.
Ono Gelato, for those unfamiliar, makes its own product, incorporating numerous local flavors—pineapple, lychee, lilikoi—in addition to old favorites like chocolate and French vanilla and seasonal concoctions like pumpkin spice and eggnog. They also sell coffee, locally made jam and other stuff but, well, we were there for the ice cream.
Or, excuse me, gealto, which is indeed different, both in the way it’s made and the way it tastes. Derived from the Italian word for “frozen,” gelato is denser and creamier than traditional ice cream and, according to the folks at Ono, has less harmful fat.
Which is fine, but what matters most is that it tastes really, really good. Good enough to convince you that you’ve got room for a double scoop. MTW