Edible Maui

Article excerpt

Noodle soup, pineapple turnovers, sweet strawberries, and sushi you'll never forget-this drive has more great food per mile than any other in Hawaii.

you're not imagining it: Island food tastes better. Maybe it's partly that you're in paradise, with blissful beaches and a 10,000-foot volcano. But ultimately, Maui's food stands on its own: warming saimirí, fresh shrimp, strawberries grown high on the slopes of Haleakala. Our food lover's road trip concentrates on the spots where Maui locals love to eat. (And, because even the most ambitious diner can't eat all the time, we've added some places to savor island scenery.) The drive, which begins in Wailuku, then heads to Upcountry and back, totals only 50 miles. But with its tantalizing food, it may be the tastiest vacation day of your life.

1 MEET THE MALASADA

Start with a happily multicultural breakfast: Maui's best hot maiasadas and Japan-meets-U.S. teriyaki Spam musubi at Home Maid Bakery, a half-century-old institution. Cheerful tutus (Hawaiian for "grandmas") in colorful floral aprons work the registers, and if the array of manju and mochi seems confusing, they'll happily help you figure it out. $; joos Lower Main St., Wailuku; home mmabakery.com.

2 NOODLING AROUND

Each Hawaiian island has favorite noodle palace. Sam Sato's, in business since 1933, is Maui's. The noodle-minded can order saìmìn or chow fun. But it would be criminal to overlook pineapple turnovers. $; 1750 Wili Pa Loop, Wailuku; 808/244-7124.

3 BEST OF THE FOOD TRUCKS

Hawaii had lunch wagons long before today's Mainland food truck craze. Two of the tastiest park at this harborside spot: Geste Shrimp ($$; gesteshrimp. com) cooks fresh shrimp four ways - Lemon Pepper is the star. Kalama's Local Grinds ($; 808/264-4462) serves chicken katsu that locals consider the best on Maui. On Kahului Beach Rd. near Wah'mepio Ave., Kahului.

4 FRESH FROM THE FIELD

Teena and Chauncy Monden of Kula Country Farms are the fourth generation farming these Haleakala slopes. While they're renowned for strawberries (and shakes and desserts made from them), don't pass up the fresh citrus and produce grown by Kula and other area farms. The mountainside view is a bonus. }; on Kula Hwy., past milepost 13 and across from Rice Park, Kula; kulacountryfarmsmaui.com

5 TIME TO CAFFEINATE

Mountain bikers and local cowboys have been clinking coffee mugs at Grandma's Coffee House for 25 years. The Franco family grows their own beans and loads them in the ioo-yearold roaster you'll see. Accompany your latte with some of Grandma's stellar baked goods - the sweet, chewy pineapple-coconut bars are worth the ride all by themselves. $; 9232 Kuia Hwy., Keokea; grandmascoffee.com

6 NO ORDINARY BURGER

Open the car windows: Those are elk burgers you smell, cooking on a kiawe wood-smoked grill. The only elk herd in Hawaii is raised here on i8,ooo-acre 'Ulupalakua Ranch (on Kuia Hwy., 5.2 miles past Grandma's; ulupala kuaranch. …