Kahului & Kihei
There are two keys to good leftovers. First, the food has to be the right quality and variety to hold up during a lonely night or two in your fridge sandwiched between the two percent milk and the empty pickle jar. Second, the portions have to be ample; obviously it doesn’t matter how good a dish would be the next day if you polish it off in one sitting. Da Kitchen meets and exceeds both criteria, particularly the second. Its menu is diverse enough to feature multiple items—the chicken katsu being a prime example—that taste just fine when re-heated or even eaten cold in a pinch. And the portions…oh man, the portions. There may be a few out there who can routinely clean their plate at this beloved local eatery, but unless you’ve got a powerful hunger and a limber stomach, you’re walking out of there with a doggie bag.
Of all the world’s regional cuisines, Asian food probably holds the title of Most Leftover Friendly. Wok Star combines influences from several Asian sources—the word “fusion” is over-used, but it applies here—with a result a happy convergence of flavors, and one mean leftover. Whether it’s a bowl of fried rice, curry or an order of crispy spring rolls, there’s no shortage of options for that day-after snack. And if you want to make sure you have some food left, order the banana lumpia with chocolate ice cream as a top-off.
Cold pizza is like the Michael Jordan of leftovers—it may not technically be the best ever (noodles, Wilt Chamberlain) but it’s the one most people think of first, and it’s pretty damn good. (Adding a layer to the tortured sports analogy, there’s actually a bad show on ESPN called Cold Pizza.) There’s just something about day- (or two-) old pizza that pleases the palate. While purists might argue the fare at Flatbread isn’t pizza in the strictest sense, no one would argue it isn’t good. The available toppings run the gamut, with the connecting thread being freshness and quality. And the thin crunchy crusts have the advantage of not getting soggy, a bonus when you’re planning to wrap them in foil for a midnight munch session.
Another leftover truism: noodles keep well. You’ll find no shortage of them at Ramen-ya, used as the centerpiece of various savory concoctions. And oh yeah, the portions are huge. The big bowls come heaping with goodies and the broths are rich and flavorful. Eat half at the beginning or end of a night on the town, take the rest home and enjoy re-heated in the morning (on the stovetop, not in the microwave) to sooth whatever post party ails you may have acquired. Works every time.
Unassuming from the exterior, inside Saeng’s has a pleasant, even classy open-air feel that’s a rare commodity in Wailuku. The ambiance is so good you might just stick around long enough to finish whatever enticing Thai dish you select. Any of their curries—prepared with fresh Maui veggies and herbs and served on both ends of the spicy spectrum per request—or the Pad Thai are recommended if you’ve got an eye toward stretching your meal into tomorrow. MTW