Maui Eats Pt 1: Sam Sato’s

Maui Eats Pt 1: Sam Sato’s

Guess what? I’m in Maui! This is my first time in Hawaii and wow… this place is amazing

Maui is full of amazing eats. I could/should have planned a “Maui Restaurant Rush”. That didn’t happen >< I did some Googling 3 days before the trip and came up with a nice list… only to find out that most were 1) inconvenient 2) require reservation. So I won’t get to hit some of the most famous, nicer places (including Mama’s Fish house!!!). With that said, we are still going to some heavy hitting places. Starting with Sam Sato’s

Sam Sato’s

Sam Sato’s is a true local favourite- one of the few remaining family owned restaurants. Sam Sato’s mum Mite Sato started it as a general store in 1933 before converting to a restaurant in 1963. Two moves later, they’ve settled in the corner of an industrial park around the corner from a forensics centre. Locals and tourists line up for breakfast, plate lunches, noodles and manju. They would also definitely line up for dinner if it didn’t close at 2pm. We got in right before lunch rush and very excited to eat.

Food

The menu is short and sweet.

We were hungry so there was plenty of room to explore the menu.

I beelined for the BBQ (chicken and Beef) and yakitori.

All items are marinated in a teriyaki sauce and grilled to perfection over an open flame. I tend to find teriyaki offputtinly sweet, but this marinade had a good bit of salt to balance out the sugar. That was definitely some of the best BBQ chicken I’ve ever had. Every bite was tender, juicy and flavourful. Of course, I’m a sucker for a nice char. The beef had nice flavour, but was a bit tough.

Next for some plate lunches. Plate lunches are a Hawaiian staple. They consist of a meat (or three!) with sides of rice, macaroni salad and veggies. All of them looked tempting, but one dominated the rest: The Combination.

It comes with not 1 but 3 “meats”- spare ribs, egg foo young (more or less an omlette with pork belly and veggies) and char siu. All three really hit a sweet spot. The spare ribs were succulent with a light red braised taste. It had a broth rather than thick sauce. Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed this even though I’m usually not a fan of sweet meats. Like the teriyaki maridate, the sweetness enhanced the flavour of the meat without becoming cloying. Mum ordered a rib plate- definitely a good choice

The char Siu was pretty good, just not as good as the ribs. It had an incredible chewy mouthfeel but could have done with a bit more flavour. Finally, while we liked the spare ribs and char siu, the egg foo young ended up as the clear favourite. The combination of egg and pork belly had a magical fragrance. Did I mention that we got another order?

Sam Sato’s is also famous for its noodles. Three generously sized plate lunches were NOT going to stop us from trying handpulled noodles. We settled on the saimin, ramen style noodles in broth.

These noodles definitely deserve the fame. Perfectly springy texture in a light miso broth. Apparently the dry mein is even better. Next time I guess…

Finally, we couldn’t leave without trying one of the famous lima bean manju (flaky filled pastry). Yes, lima bean sounds weird, but don’t judge, it works. It is silky smooth and fragrant without being too sweet. Perfectly balanced.

Service and Atmosphere

The atmosphere is casual and homey, very reminiscent of the 农家乐 in the Chinese countryside. Guests wait on benches in a small courtyard and “sign in” on a notepad

Decour is hodge podge. The combination of old pictures and knick knacks gave a comforting homey feel. I was hoping we could sit inside at the counter, but we ended up getting something better- the “booth” outside. To cap off the experience. Check out the chicken.

Given the atmosphere, I wasn’t expecting too much from service. The service was surprisingly good! Our waitress was very cordial and food came out quick. Even the wait wasn’t too bad!

Overall Impressions

Overall, I really enjoyed Sam Sato’s. It’s definitely worth the drive and wait. If I ever come back, I definitely want to come early enough for brunch.

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