Dining at Mama’s Fish House, Maui Hawaii

Welcome to the 508th Tablescape Thursday!

When I announced I was visiting Maui, one restaurant that was recommended to me over and over again was Mama’s Fish House. Even after I got to Hawaii and started asking the locals for recommendations, Mama’s Fish House was always one of the first places mentioned.

During the helicopter tour I took over Maui last week, our pilot, Mike, who was continually pointing our various land features throughout the tour, pointed to a building with a green roof and said, “That’s Mama’s Fish House.” When I realized the heliport was pretty close to Paia where the restaurant was located, I decided right then and there that I would Google for directions and head there once we landed.

You know how sometimes you get these preconceived ideas about a place before you actually have the opportunity to visit? I’m not sure why but the name “Mama’s Fish House” had me imagining a small, hang-out sorta spot where the locals might go regularly for a good fish dinner.

I was very surprised when I arrived. I was greeted by a hostess on the upper level near the parking lot who immediately asked if I had reservations. I told her I didn’t but that it was just me and hopefully they could squeeze me in. She said she was sure they could, and ushered me past her with directions on how to find the restaurant.

It’s a little walk down to the restaurant and I thought the walkways were so pretty. If you’re having a poured concrete walkway installed, this is certainly a nice way to dress it up.

As I rounded the corner following the signs to the front door, I saw the restaurant. It was so much larger than I had expected! Definitely not the hole-in-the-wall, local hangout I had envisioned.

Directly across from the restaurant and just a few feet away, this was the view.

Sooo beautiful! Mama’s Fish House has an outdoor seating area, so if you ever visit Maui and want to eat there, when you make your reservations ask for the outdoor area. It’s sheltered so you’re not in direct sunlight, but you’ll have those nice ocean breezes since you’re only a few feet away from this gorgeous view!

I had arrived pretty early for dinner, so though they were busy they still had a few open tables. I was offered a small table in the front part of the restaurant, or a table in the bar. I chose the bar area when I saw where I’d be sitting.

I loved the low lighting here, and the tables in the bar had the stunning views of the ocean. The light coming in through the window freaked out my camera, so it’s hard to see the ocean view in the photo below, but it was beautiful!

If I looked through the shelves that were on my left, I could see another section of the restaurant. I loved how it was decorated—the blues combined with the rich wood tones. Really a pretty place!

The bar area was also pretty with more of those rich wood tones and bamboo accents.

I really liked the ceiling…felt very Ernest Hemmingway, island-like.

One thing I noticed during my week in Maui is how unafraid the birds are of people. So many of the buildings and restaurants have windows or areas that are completely open–as in a whole wall missing! So the birds just come and go as they wish, which I loved! The lobby of the Kaanapali Beach Club where I was staying was like that, birds were always flying around inside the lobbies and common areas.

I enjoyed watching the birds coming into the bar area, searching for any wayward crumbs they could scout out on the floor. Do you see the little bird there on the floor? When someone would walk by, he would fly back toward the open area, then return again once the coast was clear.

I had gotten a bit queasy on my helicopter ride earlier in the day. I never felt really sick, just a bit queasy due to the heat and movement. I decided to treat myself to a cocktail since I wasn’t in any rush. I asked my server for recommendations and went with the Pau Hana which the menu stated contained “Bombay Gin, guava and lime-scented with ginger.”

Another server from the bar brought my drink over in a shaker, shook it well, then poured it into a glass.

So pretty!

Next I checked out the regular menu. I had been eating pretty frugally up to this point, but when I saw the menu I decided to just throw caution to the wind and enjoy myself.

I started with “Mama’s Salad” described as Waipoli Farm’s greens, heart of palm, strawberries, honey macadamia nuts and goat cheese with Tahitian vanilla vinaigrette.”

For the main course, I chose, “Ono caught by Adam Wong trolling off the backside of Lanai, Skillet-seared, caramelized Maui onion and spicy coconut.” That’s literally how it was listed on the menu.

Bread was brought out and it was sooo good! It was all I could do to not eat it all while I waited for my main course. I didn’t want to fill up on bread and have no room for dinner.

A ginger bisque was brought out complimentary, which was really nice. It was delicious! I can’t remember its actual name, but I think it had the words ginger and bisque in the name.

Next, I enjoyed, “Mama’s Salad” and it was excellent. Again, it was described on the menu as: Waipoli Farm’s greens, heart of palm, strawberries, honey macadamia nuts and goat cheese with Tahitian vanilla vinaigrette.

Not long after I finished my salad, my fish arrived. The menu states the fish they prepare each day has been caught by the local fisherman in the last 24 hours. It’s then listed on the menu along with the name of the fisherman.

The fish I selected was listed on the menu as: Ono, caught by Adam Wong trolling off the backside of Lanai, skillet-seared, caramelized Maui onion and spicy coconut. I’ve never seen a menu like this one!

When eating out, I’m usually never able to finish a meal, but I ate every single bite of my salad and fish, including the little gourmet-cooked broccoli/carrots that were on the plate but hidden in this view. Everything tasted wonderful and the service was excellent. My server was attentive, but never intrusive. She was perfect!

The desserts all sounded amazing, so it was a struggle to choose just one. I finally made my selection and while I waited for it to arrive, coffee was served. I’m not a “real” coffee drinker, I never drink it in the morning–just occasionally have an iced coffee as a treat once or twice during the week. But I do love coffee with dessert when eating out. They just seem to go together.

The coffee was served in a cute, little container, you can see it there in the background. You real coffee drinkers will know what that little device is called. Is it called a press? My son has something like it at his house, but I’ve forgotten what he calls it.

Then–out came the most amazing looking dessert! Wow!

This little work of art was called a “Polynesian Black Pearl.” It was described on the menu as: Lilikoi chocolate mousse in a pastry seashell.


I was so full by this point, I only ate about half of my dessert. I never even tried the shell…was just way too full. I did dip my spoon in the yellow stuff around the outside and it was tart and lemony. Yum! This dessert was insanely good, can highly recommend it if you ever visit Mama’s Fish House.

After dessert, my server brought out this adorable little thing. I can’t remember now what she called it, but I think she said it was something to cleanse the palate, or something like that. It wasn’t on the menu or anything I had ordered. I was so full by this point, I wasn’t able to even eat it, but it looked delicious!

I was just googling trying to remember what she called it. It reminds me of something I found online called an “amuse-bouche” but it was served at the end of the meal, not at the start…so not sure if that’s it or not.

After I had finished my dessert and waddled out, I stopped by the bathroom before I began the hour-long trek back to Kaanapali. I had to take a picture of this…now that’s attention to detail! 🙂 I’m pretty sure this is the only Tablescape Thursday post that will ever include a photo of toilet paper. 😉

After leaving Mama’s, I sat for a while admiring this gorgeous view.

If you ever visit Maui, be sure to get reservations at Mama’s Fish House. It’s just a little hole-in-the-wall place 😉 but I know you’ll love it!

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