I’m staring at the food perched atop the elegant black dish. I want to eat it, but can’t quite bring myself to start chopping into its cascading rainbow beauty with my fork. Then my stomach growls. It wants me to use the fork I’m holding. It wants me to use it right now. I hesitate another moment, then dive in.
The object of my affection is a plate of Cajun seared ahi, draped in avocado slices and a spicy pineapple salsa and served with brown jasmine rice and sauteed vegetables. Everything about the entree is perfect: the fish is thick and the salsa is spicy and sweet at the same time; the rice is fluffy; even the vegetables, often a disappointment at many fine establishments, are surprisingly tender. It’s a dish fit for any Wailea resort, yet I found it—indeed, devoured it—at little Market Street Cafe in Wailuku.
Set up in the old Squeaky’s building between Wailuku Town and Happy Valley, Market Street Cafe is a delightfully eclectic establishment located almost exactly where you’d never expect to find such a place. Aside from the tricky parking lot striped in a way that forces a driver into an awkward reverse no matter how he or she points the car—and menus that resemble photocopied handbills tucked beneath windshield wipers—the cafe is an outstanding destination for anyone from the hurried worker on lunch break to a couple out for a relaxing dinner.
The menu, which has gone through many changes since it opened a few months ago, offers a surprising array of selections. There are, for the locals raised on plate lunches, entrees like barbecued chicken, chop steak, Mahi tempura and chicken curry, all served with the requisite white rice and mac salad.
But then there are choices like Chop Chop Salad—a heaping plate of lettuce, bleu cheese crumbles, shredded bacon, turkey, salami and cherry tomatoes. There’s eggplant parmesan, an appetizer dish offering strips of thin Japanese eggplant sliced longer than your hand, then breaded and drenched in cheese and marinara and served with a couple pieces of garlic bread.
There’s a host of tasty flatbread pizzas, topped with barbecued chicken, Thai chicken, and Mediterranean toppings (onions, eggplant, peppers and goat cheese). And there’s a turkey club sandwich that seems almost overwhelming: a thick helping of smoked turkey, topped with applewood bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion and pesto mayo, then stacked on a wheat ciabatta roll.
Even the burger—topped with bacon and cheddar cheese and then slathered in plum barbecue sauce—is something to behold. Getting your mouth around it is one quandary, but eating it before you fill up on the thick, crispy French Fries it comes with is quite another.
And all that’s just the base menu. On any given day the specials board contains items like kalbi short ribs, rib eye steak with sauteed shitake mushrooms, Cajun mahi quesadilla and coconut crusted mahi with the same flavorful salsa as the ahi above.
Those wanting dessert are in for a whole other range of options, including chocolate cake, key lime mousse, banana pudding and a passionfruit mousse drizzled with strawberry sauce that goes down much too quickly, especially after a lunch dominated by a plate of seared ahi. MTW