It was a Wednesday afternoon when my friend and I sat on our boards in the calm waters off the Olowalu coast. With all the hype of a forecasted south swell, we expected a little more than trite conversation with other hopeful surfers. After several hours of disappointing sets, I proposed the idea of heading back upcountry and getting some food at the Pukalani Country Club. He accepted. The prospect of having some good food somewhat redeemed the delinquent waves.
We headed in, dried off and shook away the sand as best we could. Forty-five minutes later, we pulled into the parking lot. Our shorts were still wet and sand clung to our bodies as we walked in.
The host greeted us casually, as if they were expecting us. The Country Club is a familiar place for nearly all Upcountry residents.
Just five minutes from any point in Pukalani, the club and restaurant is a second home and a staple of the community. You’re almost always sure to run into someone you know.E
We sat at a table near the entrance of the long house-shaped room. Large windows occupied the west-facing wall, allowing a nice view of the West Maui Mountains and the Kahului flatland. Directly below the windows lay the 18th green. If you go during the day, you can watch golfers attempt to end their round on a good stroke here. It often provides some humor or at least a little light conversation.
I soaked in the ambiance. Nothing too fancy, a picture here and there and Hawaiian music playing on the stereo. Every time I come here, I feel relaxed and comfortable, with little to distract me from my food and company. Just like home—without the dirty dishes.
The menu here is simple, full of island favorites. If you need your fix of kalua pig ($8.50), lomi salmon ($5.75), poi ($3.35) or saimin ($6.50), this is the place for you. It’s also one of the few establishments I know of that serves these dishes on a regular basis with superior service and quality.
When our server came by, my friend ordered the Pan Fried Breaded Mahi Mahi ($11.75). I went with the Lau Lau Plate ($11). The plate dishes come with a choice of rice or poi (I always go with the poi), soup, haupia and a sliver of Kula onion with chili pepper water and sea salt. These plates are reasonably priced from $8 to $12.
If you’re in the mood for something lighter or healthier, you can always opt for the salad bar. The Country Club is one of the few places I know of that offers this amenity.
Waiting, my friend and I began chatting about what we would do the next day. Before we could get into it, our food arrived. After that, our lips moved, but no words were spoken.
At first, the portions appeared small. The lau lau was a little smaller than a tennis ball, but it came with a nice bowl of poi. I was done within a matter of minutes. I guess I tend to have an appetite after returning from the beach.
My hunger satiated but not overindulged, I sat back and waited while my companion finished. His mahi looked good as well, but I declined a sample when he offered.
I peered out the wall of windows. The sun was dipping below the West Maui Mountains, casting shadows over the island. I was feeling the fatigue of a long day and a fulfilling meal. We talked a little more about what was going on during the weekend.
Nothing much was the consensus. Then we parted ways, making plans to test the waters again. Maybe at Ma’alaea next time, or perhaps Big Beach. The swell was supposed to last for several more days. MTW