Random Revisit: Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop

meter-great-haLeoda’s is one of my favorite spots in the Hawaiian islands, so when the opportunity arose to pay them another visit I jumped on it. The drive from Kahului Airport to the west side of Maui takes you right past this local culinary gold mine, just about at the point in time you are tired of waiting in traffic.

Why hello there. It's nice to see you again.

Why hello there. It’s nice to see you again.

” The flaky messiness of the pies were part of the charm “

From the outside, Leoda’s didn’t look any different from the last time I visited. Same dirt parking lot, same glass case full of goodness, same awesome people working behind the counter. The spousal unit and I were already too full from the day’s previous eat-tastic adventures, so we just ordered a couple of apple handheld pies and a loaf of bread to bring back to the condo.

Leoda's scratch-made bread made some great toast throughout the week.

Leoda’s scratch-made bread made some great toast throughout the week.

Much later that evening, we managed to have enough room in our stomachs for a bit of dessert – out came the handheld pies. We were a little disappointed that Leoda’s changed their formula; the pies are now glazed and not dusted with baker’s sugar like they used to be. The glazing is undoubtedly easier to handle and tidier to consume than the sugar, but the flaky messiness of the pies were part of the charm.

I have to admit, the new glaze does a good job of keeping the pie in one piece.

I have to admit, the new glaze does a good job of keeping the pie in one piece.

The flavor of the filling and the crust was every bit as delicious as we remembered… but that last little bit of “wow” just seemed to be missing. Maybe we were remembering our previous experience more fondly than it actually occurred, but it seems Leoda’s has taken a teeny, tiny step backwards.

It's really all about the filling, and that's just as awesome as ever.

It’s really all about the filling, and that’s just as awesome as ever.

The good news is that they were so amazingly good to begin with, this minor setback really doesn’t make much difference. Leoda’s rating of 999 out of 1,000 tiny, angel-trained unicorns has been reduced somewhat – now they rank only around 950 unicorns. I still love Leoda’s, but I hope the sugared topping comes back one day.

+ Still the best pies on Maui
+ Lots of other great bakery options
+ It’s a great place to grab lunch
No more sugared topping. Sadface.

Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop
820 Olowalu Village Road
Lahaina, HI 96761
(808) 662-3600

I'm trying one of these next time. Promise.

I’m trying one of these next time. Promise.

The Waffle Roost food truck

meter-great-Every food truck needs to have some kind of theme, gimmick, or unique idea in order to attract attention. The Waffle Roost truck, as you might guess from the name, features chicken and waffles. While this isn’t a new or original idea, Waffle Roost just so happens to be the only one in the area serving up this deliciously weird combination. It’s one of those things that for whatever readon, just works.

This chicken must have grown up in the East Bay.

This chicken must have grown up in the East Bay.

” Waffle Roost somehow made a delicious food look exactly like collard greens “

I made my way over to this particularly-easy-to-spot-in-a-crowd truck and ordered the 2 Legit, which includes four unique and delicious foods: fried chicken, a waffle, mac and cheese, and collard greens. The boneless white meat fried chicken was darn near perfect and had a wonderful, flavorful crust on it. It was perhaps just the tiniest bit dry, but I still give it high marks. The waffle surprised me; it wasn’t the typical fluffy Bisquik style thing you’d expect, but rather a satisfying, whole-wheat-ish masterpiece with a wonderful crunch. It was excellent.

Please chicken, don't hurt 'em.

Please chicken, don’t hurt ’em.

The mac was cheesy and awesome, and it had a scratch-made flavor to it. I was starting to become impressed at this point. Last up was the collard greens, which I was not looking forward to. I don’t like cooked greens of any kind, collard even less so. Well, in for a penny in for a pound, as they say. Here goes a big bite of disgusting greens.

Hey. Now, wait a minute. Let me try that again.

Wow. They’re.. good! But they’re greens. I’m confused. I don’t know how they did it, but the magicians at Waffle Roost somehow made a delicious food look exactly like collard greens. I actually ended up eating the whole serving, I liked them so much.

This is the way they roll.

This is the way they roll.

Waffle Roost is undoubtedly one of the better food trucks in the SF Bay Area. Solid execution from the kitchen combined with high quality ingredients have made this mobile eatery the go-to spot for chicken and waffles within a 100 mile radius. I rate them a generous 215 out of 237 individual serving containers of maple syrup, a very respectable score indeed. The next time I spot this truck on the road, I’m going to follow it to wherever it’s stopping next.

+ Great waffles
+ Better collard greens
+ Can’t touch this
 –  Not the easiest thing to eat out of a to-go container
+/- But that’s just me being a whiner

Waffle Roost food truck
(408) 248-1289

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Small Bite: IT’S-IT

” Essentially San Francisco’s version of a Klondike Bar “

Every part of the US has a food item that they are famous for. Maryland has crabcakes, Chicago has deep dish pizza, and San Francisco has IT’S-ITs. If you’ve spent a reasonable amount of time in the San Francisco Bay Area, there’s a good chance you’ve already heard of these delicious little ice cream pucks; if you are a native, you probably grew up on them.

This one is mine, you can't have it.

This one’s mine, you can’t have it.

What is an IT’S-IT? It’s two oatmeal cookies made into an ice cream sandwich and dipped in chocolate. That’s it. This tasty treat is extremely simple, but it’s an all-time classic. It’s essentially San Francisco’s version of a Klondike Bar.

For a lot of people, myself included, biting into an IT’S-IT is like taking a time machine back to the good ol’ days. It makes me think of sitting in the bleachers on a hot day for an A’s game, or maybe hanging out with friends after school and absolutely positively NOT causing trouble of any kind. Well, not getting caught anyway. Even if you haven’t grown up with melted IT’S-ITs running through your veins, there’s still something very comforting, even wholesome, about them.

Stop licking the screen. That's disgusting.

Stop licking the screen. That’s disgusting.

It’s not quite worth your while to buy a plane ticket to SFO just to try an IT’S-IT, but if you’re not from the San Francisco Bay Area and you happen to find yourself in the general vicinity, stop by a convenience store, pick one up, and savor the inevitable ice cream headache. Oh, and absolutely do not eat it in your car. These things are messy.

Nonstandard Disclaimer of Randomness
The author does not apologize in any way for waxing nostalgic or making you hungry for an IT’S-IT. The author also recommends that you do not read the calorie count on the packaging for the aforementioned delectable treat, because it will make you sad and guild you into running on the treadmill for three days straight. The author is also not responsible for any traffic accidents caused by ice cream headaches or melty chocolate bits dropped into your lap. I told you not to eat it in your car.

Epic Roasthouse

meter-great+Any restaurant named “Epic Roasthouse” is either incredibly good or a total disappointment. As luck would have it, I had the opportunity to find out for myself recently, and I am happy to report that I had a very non-disappointing experience. The service is great, the food is even better, and the view isn’t bad either. Epic Roasthouse isn’t exactly cheap, but if you’re looking to save a few bucks, Taco Bell is right down the street.

We were banished to the 'outdoor area' which was still quite cozy.

We were banished to the ‘outdoor area’ which was still quite cozy.

” Oh dear. This was going to hurt. “

After a trafficky but otherwise uneventful drive into San Francisco, my wife Shawn and I left the car with the valet and walked inside Epic to claim our reservation. The place is oozing with a “reclaimed industrial” vibe, complete with exposed pipes and other excitingly chunky rusted things. It’s trendy and dangerously close to being too hip, but it works. We were led to our table on the patio, where we met up with the remaining 33% of our dinner party and sat down to enjoy the view.

The view here does not suck.

The view here does not suck.

The menu was what I call “typical steakhouse length”, meaning that it fit on exactly two pages. This is either good or bad, depending on your particular tastes, but in this case it was a very good thing. Epic seemed to be reading my mind with every single menu item.

The offerings were refreshingly simple without being boring. Each featured some slight twist to show that they cared enough to make it unique, but not gourmet’d-to-death like so many restaurants love to do by adding of cheetah larnyx extract, hyper rare panda dung mushrooms, and tree frog kidneys. Nope, Epic forgoes the gastric silliness and instead offers good, old fashioned kick-ass steaks with kick-ass sauces, honest but delicious-sounding sides like “Julia Child” potatoes and bacon roasted Brussels sprouts, and desserts so wickedly decadent that you are tempted to skip dinner altogether.



We ordered a couple steaks, a build-your-own salad, and a healthy assortment of sides. The steaks were… well, they were epic. Ok fine, Epic Roasthouse gets to keep its name – they do indeed live up to the hype. They both talk the talk and walk the walk. Confirmed.

To be honest, I expected the steak to be amazing, so it was hardly a surprise. To me, the true character of Epic would be revealed in the side dishes, and I am happy to report that these were even better than the steaks. The clear star of the show was the späetzle gratin – it was a succulent and deliciously cheesy interpretation of classic baked mac that absolutely exploded with flavor. The fries were slightly above average, and the asparagus was tasty and fresh. We all kept going back to the späetzle though, it was simply incredible.

'Späetzle' is German for 'straight to my waistline'.

‘Späetzle’ is German for ‘straight to my waistline’.

At this point in the meal I was already uncomfortably full, and there was no way I was going to have dessert. No chance, none. The waitperson dropped off a dessert menu anyway, a useless gesture, and then my eyes fell on the s’mores brownie cake with peanut brittle.

Oh dear. This was going to hurt.

Have you ever seen peanut brittle at a restaurant before? Me either.

Have you ever seen peanut brittle at a restaurant before? Me either.

Mercifully, Epic’s dessert portion sizes were decidedly un-American (i.e., they were smaller than an aircraft carrier). The smores cake looked exactly as decadent as it sounded, and it tasted even better. The addition of scratch-made peanut brittle to the standard chocolate-graham-marshmallow combination really worked and helped to bring the whole dish together.

One of this things is not like the others.

One of this things is not like the others.

A trio of sorbets also made an appearance at our table. The flavors were cala orange, blackberry, and banana. Those same flavors represented in intensity by font size were cara cara orange, blackberry, and BANANA. The orange was light, the blackberry was light and refreshing, and the banana was IN YOUR FACE and was at least ten times more potent than the other two. The orange and blackberry seemed downright watery after tasting the banana, but they actually worked quite well as a trio.

I have to say that I was rather impressed with my meal at Epic Roasthouse. It’s not a cheap place to eat, but in a strange twist I felt like I actually got my money’s worth out of the meal. Well, mostly anyway. The food is honest, well-made, and just creative enough to justify the lofty prices; think of it as an upscale restaurant that offers real food instead of typical “fine dining” fare. I give Epic 37 out of 40 feet of rusty industrial pipe, a solid rating for a solid establishment.

 +  Straightforward, good food
 +  Killer views
++ Best späetzle outside of Germany
It stings the wallet a bit
The dessert menu will hurt you
+ I guess that’s a good thing though

Epic Roasthouse
369 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 369-9955

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This is the gateway to an extremely full belly.

This is the gateway to an extremely full belly.

P.S. Whew, I made it through the whole writeup without saying “epic win” once!

P.P.S. Damnit, I just did.

808 Plates food truck

meter-greatI had not actually planned on visiting 808 Plates. In all honesty, we (Shawn and I, the usual dynamic food duo) simply got bored while waiting for our order at Geste Shrimp, so we decided to try one of the other trucks parked in the area. This one looked good, so why not? Might as well squeeze in a quick review while we’re hanging around.

” The delicious aroma of fried fish and fancy-schmancy sauces “

Unlike all of the other trucks clustered around the dirt lot, 808 Plates was clean, shiny, and new. These guys clearly take pride in their wheels, and it shows. The overall presence and presentation of this mobile eatery is excellent – they come across as very professional.

Yeah, it's a short menu, but every single thing on it is prepared perfectly.

Yeah, it’s a short menu, but every single thing on it is prepared perfectly.

My better half and I browsed the short-but-sweet menu and stepped up to order. Following what I call “The Shawn Method”, we asked the cashier what his favorite item on the menu was. “The Katsu Yummy” he said immediately. “It’s the same as the Ono Katsu, but dipped in teriyaki sauce.” Sounds delicious. One of those please.

Within just a few minutes, our order was up. We opened the lid to the food container and were greeted with the delicious aroma of fried fish and fancy-schmancy sauces. The presentation of the dish was also very neatly done and looked great. I don’t know why I always expect food truck meals to be jumbled messes, but that was certainly not the case here.

Looks almost too good to eat. Almost.

Looks almost too good to eat. Almost.

The fish was firm, fresh as can be, and exceedingly tasty. The light and crispy, uh.. I’ll call it a “katsu exterior”, because I don’t know what the correct term is.. was not too thick or overly fried. I was skeptical about the coating of teriyaki sauce, but it really worked. It added a subtle sweetness that went wonderfully with the fish and the savory cream sauce. This dish is one of those things that you absolutely must eat immediately when served; wait more than a few minutes and it will turn into a disappointing, soggy shadow of its former self.

We were very happy with our experience at this food truck and would love to eat here again sometime. We probably would never have visited this truck if we weren’t already in the area, but I’ll chalk it up as one of those happy accidents. I rate 808 Plates a satisfying 481 out of 563 teriyaki-coated Panko particles, a very worthy score. Pull off the side of the road and give this place a try the next time you’re in the area. It’s an excellent way to pass the time when you’re waiting for your order at Geste Shrimp.

+ Some of the freshest fish on the island
+ Great presentation
+ It’s often near Geste Shrimp
 –  No place to sit and eat
+/- It’s a food truck, so stop whining

808 Plates
Kahului Beach Road
Lahaina, HI 96732
(808) 870-2841

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My arms ache just thinking about washing this thing every day.

My arms ache just thinking about washing this thing every day.