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.

Geste Shrimp food truck

meter-ha-A friend recommended this Maui hotspot to me more than two years ago, and it’s taken me all this time to finally try it for myself. Frequent readers of my blog (my thanks and condolences to you all) know that I have a thing for sketchy food served on the side of the highway, so I’m sure you can imagine my excitement to visit this truck. In spite of nearly 800 days of anticipation, I was not disappointed in the slightest to experience Geste Shrimp for myself.

Food court, Maui style

Food court, Maui style

” Our rental car was never going to smell the same again”

Within 45 minutes of touching down on the tarmac at Kahului Airport, my wife and I were on the backroads of Maui, headed straight towards Geste Shrimp. After a couple of wrong turns in the industrial part of town, we finally spotted a cluster of cars stopped on the side of the highway. We parked amidst half a dozen food trucks and trailers and looked for the one with all the people hanging around it. Yep, there was Geste. It sure wasn’t much to look at – nothing more than a drab white box with a window cut in the side of it – but that didn’t have much effect on our appetites. We headed over to that side of the dirt lot and got in line.

The menu at Geste Shrimp is short and mostly devoid of useful information. We decided on spicy pineapple shrimp and placed our order. The soft-spoken and patient cashier explained that we would need to wait for about twenty minutes, and we were ok with that. Everybody else seemed fine hanging around waiting and besides, we were on island time. Nobody gives a crap how long anything takes when they’re in Hawaii.

This is my kind of tourist attraction.

This is my kind of tourist attraction.

The wait was slightly annoying but bearable, and before long our order was called. The cashier handed me a Styrofoam container, two forks, and a HUGE stack of napkins through the dingy, cramped window. Shawn and I went back to the car, bemused at the enormous pile of dead trees we’d been given, and opened up the container.

Three things were immediately apparent: 1) This was no typical food truck meal, 2) our rental car was never going to smell the same again, and 3) we were going to need a lot more napkins.

The generous helping of shrimp and pineapple chunks were absolutely swimming in an even more generous lake of wickedly seasoned butter. We plastered the car and our clothes with napkins, precariously perched the brimming food container on the center console, and started peeling shrimp.

There is no way mere words can explain how good this tastes.

There is no way mere words can explain how good this tastes.

Oh. My. Goodness. That flavor.

Those were the most incredible peel-and-eat shrimp I have ever experienced in my life. I didn’t even bother complaining about my burnt fingers, I just kept peeling shrimp and stuffing them in my face. I looked up at Shawn and she was in the same boat as me – loving the amazing flavor of those shrimp but making a total mess of everything. The conversation over the next ten minutes went something like this:

“I got some butter on my clothes. Crap! Twice.”
“Here take another napk… Damn it, I dropped some in my lap.”
“We should have brought a Tide pen.”
“Yeah, we.. Ack! Don’t move. There goes a shrimp tail.”
“I’ll get it before it falls between the seats.”
“Too late.”
“I’m glad this isn’t our car.”
“No kidding.”
“I dropped some shell down there too.”

Fortunately for us, week-old garlicky seafood odor is not explicitly called out in Hertz rental contracts, otherwise we’d be purchasing a brand new interior for a Kia Optima. And that, boys and girls, is reason number 783 for not ever buying a used rental car. Randomly Edible, bringing you restaurant reviews, recipes, and automobile buying advice.

Just like that, Geste Shrimp made the number one spot on our tastiest-meals-of-the-trip list. It might be the very best shrimp dish of any kind I’ve ever had, and it was certainly the messiest. Everything was amazing about the meal, even the crab macaroni salad and the sticky rice. Twenty minutes was no time at all to wait – we would have been fine with twice that. Geste Shrimp earns a nearly perfect rating of 89 out of 90 lost shrimp tails, darn near worth the price of a plane ticket to Maui just to try their food. You will never experience shrimp like this anywhere else, and neither will the upholstery of your car.

+ Best shrimp you may ever eat
+ You’re in Hawaii!
All other shrimp will seem terrible after this
Nowhere to sit and eat

Geste Shrimp
Kahului Beach Road
Kahului, HI
(808) 298-7109

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Best meal I've had in Hawaii by a long shot

Best meal I’ve had in Hawaii by a long shot

Random revisit: The Gazebo

meter-great-haIt’s no secret that I love The Gazebo‘s crazy breakfasts, so I was a little hesitant to go there for lunch. I wasn’t worried that it would let me down or anything like that – I just didn’t want to miss out on any epic breakfast win. Still, any visit to this place is bound to be a good visit, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The Gazebo is only open until 2pm, so the only late lunch you’ll have there is no lunch at all. My wife and I showed up at 1pm to try and avoid whatever crowd may have been present, and we were rewarded with an immediate seating. There were only one or two empty tables in the whole place though, so they weren’t exactly lacking for patrons.

” What’s that rice thing they’re eating over there? “

I’m a big Monte Cristo fan, which figures because it’s probably the least healthy “sandwich” imaginable. For the uninitiated, a Monte Cristo is simply a ham and cheese sandwich dipped in egg batter and pan fried. It’s typically served with powdered sugar and some sort of fruit preserves, so it has the whole sweet-and-savory thing going for it. I scanned the menu in the hopes I’d find one… Bingo! Monte Cristo, front and center. I’m having that.

The Gazebo's version of the Monte Cristo has two kinds of cheese and both ham and turkey.

The Gazebo’s version of the Monte Cristo has two kinds of cheese and both ham and turkey.

My counterpart liked the sound of the BBQ Kahlua pork sandwich, but she had also spotted another dish that got her attention as we were walking in. “What’s that rice thing they’re eating over there?” she asked our waitress, pointing to another table. The waitress told us it was their breakfast fried rice, and that it was still available if we wanted some. It was just too tempting to pass up, so we went ahead and ordered a side of it. There’s nothing wrong with having some leftover Gazebo food in the fridge back at the condo.

Everything but (probably and) the kitchen sink.

Everything but (probably and) the kitchen sink.

Our food arrived and we were just impressed as we have always been with The Gazebo. The Monte Cristo ranked as one of the best examples of the breed that I have ever encountered; it had the perfect amount of batter and wasn’t the slightest bit greasy. The Kahlua pork sandwich was relatively standard but also very delicious, and there wasn’t a trace of any disgusting fatty pork bits that so often plague such dishes. The real star of the show turned out to be the breakfast fried rice – we liked it so much we’re inspired to try making it at home one of these times. It was jam packed with bits of ham, sausage, egg, and who knows what else. We loved it.

The Gazebo’s excellent standing in my list of favorites remains unchanged. They are quite obviously just as adept at mid-day meals as they are at breakfast, and I can’t recommend enough that you pay them a visit.

The Gazebo
5315 Lower Honoapiilani Road
Lahaina, HI 96761
(808) 669-5621

Kahlua Pork. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Kahlua Pork. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop

meter-ha-Everybody likes pie, and everybody likes Hawaii. So what’s a person to do when they want both at the same time? They go to Leoda’s of course. Simple.

"You got your pie shop on my island!" "You got your island under my pie shop!"

“You got your pie shop on my island!” “You got your island under my pie shop!”

” It was as though angels had trained a thousand tiny unicorns to poop apples instead of candy corn “

During one of our many drives around Maui, my wife and I decided that we could use an afternoon snack. We’d have been fine making a meal of it, but we had dinner plans for later so an hors d’ oeuvre would have to do. A friend had recommended to us that we check out this pie place in Lahaina, and since we were in the area we headed into town and started looking around …and we found absolutely nothing. Huh? Oh, alright fine, what does Google Maps say? Seven miles away. In Hawaii that’s 90 minutes of driving. As it turns out, you see, Lahaina is an entire district and not just a town. Heavy sigh.

State of Hawaii: 1
Clueless tourists: 0

Feeling better educated and also somewhat silly, we got back in the car and drove down the road while quietly starving to death. Eventually the Terse Navigation Lady that lives inside Hertz GPS units alerted us to make a left turn RIGHT NOW into oncoming traffic, which we did, and hey! There was a big sign with “Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop” written on it right in front of us. Totally worth the risk to life and property.

Just look at all those pies! piespiespiespiespiespiespiespiespiespiespies

Just look at all those pies! piespiespiespiespiespiespiespiespiespiespies

A funny thing occurs when you’re hungry enough to eat your own cargo shorts and are suddenly faced with several hundred delicious pies. Your jaw begins to flap around on its own while your brain attempts to work out the quickest way to absorb as many calories as possible, making comprehensible speech quite a challenge. Luckily my wife was there to translate my slurred caveman mumbles into “One apple hand pie and one banana cream mini pie please.” We walked to a nearby table (I shuffled), sat down, and got to work on our noms.

A flaky, sugary pouch of pure apple goodness.

A flaky, sugary pouch of pure apple goodness.

It’s possible that our harrowing navigation experience made me appreciate life more or maybe I was just that hungry, but the apple hand pie was damn near the finest dessert food I have ever experienced. I don’t know why they call it a “hand pie” though. Despite the fact that it appeared to be travel friendly and pick-uppable, even so much as a sideways glance was enough to make it disintegrate into a flaky pile of pureed pie bits. This weakness was also the crust’s strength, however, because it was amazingly delicate and light while at the same time being flavorful, buttery, crispy… It was perfection, really. The apple filling, believe it or not, was slightly better than that. It was as though angels had trained a thousand tiny unicorns to poop apples instead of candy corn, and then made a pie out it. It was unreal.

What a cute little pie. I could just eat it all up! (Actually, I did.)

What a cute little pie. I could just eat it all up! (Actually, I did.)

We were so impressed with the pies (the banana cream was crazy good too) that we came back a couple days later for lunch. Of course we got another apple hand pie and also a rather tasty burger. I decided to make a late breakfast out of the meal and ordered a savory biscuit (herbs and cheese) as well as a bacon and egg hand pie. This turned out to be about five times more food than we needed, but we were very keen to try as much of the menu as possible. I’m happy to report that everything we ate at Leoda’s was amazing, but nothing quite matched the magic of that first apple pie.

Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop qualifies as a must-visit whenever you find yourself on Maui and earns 999 out of 1,000 tiny, angel-trained unicorns. Bring your appetite, a pair of elastic pants, and a shop vac for cleaning up pie crust crumbs.

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

The bacon and egg handheld isn't exactly a typical Hawaiian breakfast, but it sure is tasty.

The bacon and egg handheld isn’t exactly a typical Hawaiian breakfast, but it sure is tasty.

Maui Shave Ice Extravaganza

As if Hawaii wasn’t fabulous enough with its tropical climate, breathtaking views, and go-with-the-flow mentality, it’s also home to the mother of all hot weather refreshments: Shave ice. My wife and I make it a point to consume as many of these icy, sugary heaps of wonderful as we possibly can whenever we find ourselves on the islands.

Before we get started, let’s talk about the name. It’s “shave ice”, not “shaved ice”. There is no D after “shave”. Yes, technically “shaved” is the grammatically correct approach, but anyone who says it that way is probably from the mainland and thinks that Magnum, P.I. was a reality show. So why is the wrong way to say it the right way? Because that’s how they say it in Hawaii. Why is a “po’ boy” sandwich not called a “poor boy”, and why does Mr. T say “I pity da fool!” instead of “Verily, I feel sympathy for individuals in predicaments such as that one”? Same answer. Local dialect + awesome food = stop complaining. On a related subject, if you’re high strung enough to let the name “shave ice” get on your nerves, you could probably use a Hawaiian vacation. Just hang loose.


Those dark specks are kiwi seeds. Why? Because Ululani's smashed up a bunch of kiwis and made their own syrup out of them, that's why.

Those dark specks are kiwi seeds. Why? Because Ululani’s smashed up a bunch of kiwis and made their own syrup out of them, that’s why.

Our very first visit, Ululani’s, turned out to be our favorite spot for the entire trip. There are several locations dotted around Maui, and we visited three of them over the course of the week. Ululani’s standout feature is the fact that they make most of their own syrups from scratch and sweeten them with cane sugar. Unlike the fake bottles of dye everyone else uses, these syrups actually need to be refrigerated to keep them from going bad. They’re actually made out of real fruit! *gasp* Their list of flavors is astronomical, from kiwi to wild cherry to mango to lychee and dozens more. It’s probably the best shave ice I’ve ever had, and that’s saying something.

Ululani’s Shave Ice
Flavor options: Mind-boggling
Snow cap: Yes
Ice cream: Yes
Ice texture: Fine, dense, almost powdery
Rating: Your head asplode


Given the choice between Maui Barista and no shave ice at all, I suppose I'd go with Maui Barista out of sheer desperation.

Given the choice between Maui Barista and no shave ice at all, I suppose I’d go with Maui Barista out of sheer desperation.

Maui is home to dozens of charming towns, lush tropical vegetation, and breathtaking coastal views. Whalers Village shopping center features none of these things. It was an unfortunate turn of luck, then, when my spouse and I found ourselves there due to a bit of devious GPS trickery. There’s nothing especially wrong with Whalers Village per se, but it’s just not special. And it’s certainly nothing like the tropical paradise we inexplicably left behind in order to trudge through retail hell.

To help make something worthwhile out of our journey (and to validate our parking stub), we paid a visit to Maui Barista Coffee & Smoothies. They make shave ice too, but apparently it wasn’t important enough to include in their business name along with everything else. Just like the mall in which it’s located, Maui Barista isn’t bad so much as it’s unremarkable. (In a remarkable place like Hawaii, however, I suppose that probably is bad.) The flavor selections are limited and very standard; banana is about as crazy as it gets. Further compounding the issue of mediocrity, additional options (e.g., snow cap) are nonexistent and prices are a bit on the high side. Service was prompt and friendly and there’s a nicely shaded seating area nearby, but that just about sums up all the good points. If you happen to find yourself trapped in Whaler’s Village and aren’t sure what to do with the extra $4.75 in your pocket, I guess you could consider stopping by.

Maui Barista Coffee & Smoothies
Flavor options: Meh
Snow cap: No
Ice cream: No
Ice texture: Loose and a bit grainy
Rating: zzZZzzzZzzzzZzZz


A shave ice shop owned by surfers. It just doesn't get any more Hawaiian than that.

A shave ice shop owned by surfers. It just doesn’t get any more Hawaiian than that.

Breakwall Shave Ice Co. is one of those places you wish you owned. It was founded by a bunch of surfer dudes from the Midwest who decided they were tired of living in the middle of corn fields and moved to Maui. Their first priority was to find some sweet waves, which they did. They then decided that making money probably wasn’t a bad idea, so they opened a shave ice shop. Now why didn’t *I* think of that?? The subtle genius of their simplistic approach is startling.

Personal jealousy aside, the guys at Breakwall sure do know how to make a mean shave ice. Although the flavors aren’t homemade, the selection is as deep as what you’d find at the venerable Ululani’s. Their snow caps are thick and seem to be nearly pure condensed milk. Although I like this particular style quite a bit, my wife wasn’t really a fan and prefers the thinner type snow caps. The texture of the ice at Breakwall is absolutely spot on, and there are seating areas both indoors and outdoors where you can chill and enjoy some surfing videos. Tubular!

Breakwall Shave Ice Co.
Flavor options: Extensive
Snow cap: Yes
Ice cream: Yes
Ice texture: Light and snowy
Rating: Highly recommended, dude