Lahaina Grill


Will Zhang, Reviewer

     This summer, my family finally decided to relax a little post covid and went to Hawaii. We hadn’t taken a vacation since last summer, so we decided to spend a little extra money on this trip. We did as many fun activities as possible, stayed in the best hotels/airbnbs, and ate at all the good restaurants we could (that weren’t already booked out). One of these was named Lahaina Grill, located at 127 Lahainaluna Rd, Lahaina, in Maui Hawaii. Lahaina Grill usually has a long wait time, and you can expect to wait anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to get inside. This is justified, as it has been one of the top ten restaurants in the entire United States from 1994 to now, taking the title of Best Restaurant in the US by Trip advisor this year. You don’t have to wait this long for food if you booked a reservation. Lahaina Grill does serve alcohol but does not allow smoking. We had booked a reservation about two hours before it opened and barely squeezed in at a 6:00 to 7:00 time frame. There is a small parking lot about a block away, with space for about 3 dozen cars. From there you walk towards the seaside until you see the sign for Lahaina Grill, which is the door on the right side of the building. When you walk in, a waiter/waitress will greet you and lead you to a table within a moment. People are calm and relaxed, with everyone with smiles on their faces. The aromas of the food drift through the air. Large windows line the walls that let in the warm afternoon sun while calm, lazy music drifts through the air. All of this is paired with the beautiful oil paintings adorning the walls, promoting a very airy and laid back atmosphere with enough formality to it so it doesn’t just seem like your normal happy hour at an average restaurant.

     When you sit down at the table, the first thing you are greeted by is some pieces of bread with whipped herb butter. Do not fill up on the bread though; it will be the worst decision you have ever made. My parents had a glass each of De Chanceny Crémant de Loire Rosé Brut N.V. They describe it as incredibly aromatic and velvety wine with a smooth tone which had kicks of acidity and various fruits. For our appetizer, we shared an Ahi Poke bowl with local ahi tuna, seaweed salad, cucumbers, avocado, watermelon radish, mild red jalapeño, arare (a type of Japanese Cracker), lime, organic tamari-ginger dressing, wasabi oil, and sesame oil. This is arguably one of Chef Gonzalez’s greatest masterpieces. The tuna lets its natural flavor shine through a deliciously executed marinade that complements each other. The texture of the Poke Bowl is a balance of soft, crunchy, chewy, light, and allows for every component to stand out while blending together seamlessly in a harmonic art piece. Next came the main courses. We had ordered the famous chef arnie’s home-made meatballs, the center cut certified angus beef 7 oz. filet mignon, and the sautéed local mahi-mahi. The meatballs have all of the quality traits of the Poke Bowl, being an excellent meld of flavor; except it is presented piping hot and drenched in a savory and rich tomato sauce combined with huge meatballs made out of veal, angus beef, and pork bursting with flavor . At the bottom, there is some very chewy penne pasta that compliments the entire meal. This is when you regret filling up on bread, which was a lesson I learned the hard way. The mahi mahi is of a tender, flaky yet smooth texture to where it still retains its original shape but will melt in your mouth. The sauce is indescribable; the stuff is from a different culinary universe. Everything is cooked to perfection. The mashed potatoes, spinach, cheese, they are all made to please even the most demanding of critics. Last but not least is the Filet Mignon. The cut is a very tender and juicy piece of meat, cooked to a true medium rare. The seasoning is savory and includes enough herbs and spices to give it a nice sharp edge to a great steak. The mushroom cream sauce adds an earthy, calm background to the sharp and flavorful steak.

     If you have ever wondered what the meaning of Culinary Arts is, once you eat at this mecca of Culinary Gems you will never have to wonder anymore.