“And how’s your son?” asked Barbara Kikuchi, the owner of the restaurant Waikapu on 30. I told her that he was getting big–over two now–and apologized for not coming by earlier. After all, we’d moved back Upcountry.
A couple years ago, my family and I lived in Waikapu next to the community center, so I’d walk with the kids to Waikapu on 30, which if is on the left hand side of Honoapi‘ilani if you’re headed to Ma‘alaea, right before you hit Maui Tropical Plantation.
The Mom & Pop vibe of Waikapu on 30 was always part of the charm. I enjoyed seeing the same people day in and day out–mostly Kikuchi and her daughters–and how they’d comment on my son’s growth. He was a brand new baby when they first opened up.
We’d have an easy lunch–hot dogs, cold drinks, chili and rice. The food was always homemade-tasty and served up quick and piping hot. Often, they’d have baskets of bananas and other fresh fruit for sale and spam musubi on the counter.
So when the craving for lau lau hit this past Friday I decided to return to Waikapu on 30.
But after entering, I started having second thoughts about the lau lau plate. What about the shoyu chicken? Sautéed Ahi or chilidog? I nearly changed my mind and went with the hamburger steak plate. I’ve had it many times in the past and knew it would be good. At the last minute, I decided to stick with the lau lau. It was a good choice.
Waikapu on 30’s version strays far from the usual small chunks of meat. Mine was seriously more like a whole pork roast steamed in luau leaves. The flavor was good–just salty enough to satisfy and as tender as shredded kalua pig. And the serving was enough for two people at least. Well, two people or one really hungry Polynesian.
While waiting, I noticed that the place looks the same–a wall of chilled beer and soft drinks, a small selection of canned goods and the sign above the register offering a free hotdog coupon to anyone who is standing at the register when an ambulance or fire truck goes by (it happens more than you’d think).
I did notice that that they added Coke and root beer floats to their menu. And I’m talking real root beer floats made with huge scoops of Roselani ice cream. So I got back into line and ordered one.
It was huge and creamy, made with generous scoops of ice cream. It was the best float I’ve had in a long time, and I do love my floats.
Since Waikapu on 30 is strictly take-out, I debated taking my lunch to the lawns of the Maui Tropical Plantation. But responsibility reared its ugly head and I returned to the office and ate beneath florescent lights and a computer monitor.
Frankly, after finishing my lau lau plate–complete with two scoops of sticky rice, refreshing lomi salmon, a large helping of potato and egg mac salad and a slice of sweet potato–I can tell you that the ambiance around eating such a meal is unimportant. No, the really important thing is having a couch nearby so you can retire for an afternoon nap after coming down with what my family always referred to as “Polynesian paralysis”—being too full of good food to function. MTW