Ahi (yellowfin tuna), aku (skipjack tuna), and mahimahi are just a few of the fresh fish caught daily in these beautiful blue waters. So, while in Hawaii, why not enjoy some locally caught fish? Here’s a hand-picked list of restaurants that are rolling up the finest sushi in north and central Maui — perfect stops if you’re driving the road to Hana or about to catch a plane in Kahului.
But wait, there’s more. We’re here to help demystify some of the unusual words you might see on menus like furikake, laulau and lilikoi — and explain which meat is being served and why. And possibly most importantly of all, provide the fun facts on the origins of local dishes.
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Feature Image: Vana Paia
This little sushi spot has a big reputation. They have the basics covered, but you’ll want to try the wonderfully named specialty rolls like the “Superman Burrito Hand Roll” and the “Marilyn Mon Roll.” Chopsticks up, there’s sushi to eat! Open Tuesday through Sunday 5pm to 11pm. Closed Monday. facebook.com/M-Sushi-Maui
It’s BYOB here at Umi, a relaxed sushi joint on Maui’s north shore. Some of our favorite rolls includes the Special Opaka with fried calamari steak topped with opakaka and a lemon caper aioli, the Shiso Dragon, a spicy tuna roll topped with tuna, avo, truffle oil and potato chips, and the Garlic Tiger, a shrimp tempura roll topped with spicy tuna and tempura flakes. Open Tuesday through Saturday 5pm to 9pm. Closed Sunday. umisushimaui.com
Born from a love of entertaining and the feeling of sharing warm hospitality with family and friends, Chef Jeff Scheer and his wife Kaili opened this Upcountry gem in August 2021. Specializing in Neapolitan-style sourdough pizza, you’ll find delightful modern takes on traditional Italian dishes such as wood-fired octopus and cioppino with fresh Kauai prawns. Open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday 7am to 2pm and Sunday from 8am to 2pm. Open daily for dinner from 4:30pm to 9pm. restaurantmarlow.com
Paia Fish Market
Paia Fish Market has brought fish lovers, surfers, windsurfers, sugar mill workers, and visitors together since 1989. Family-style seating and kind service welcome all to “talk story” over a good meal. Enjoy their local menu sporting dishes of daily fresh catch, dinner plates, fajitas, and seafood pasta. paiafishmarket.com
Mama's Fish House
Though there is only a brief time of year that the sunset is visible over Kuau Cove, when you get the chance to see it, it’s a sunset that’s been described as out of the movies or even better. Even when the sun isn’t in clear view, the colors on the water and mountains are beautiful. An elevated yet warm service makes this restaurant one of the best places to end of fun in the sea and sun. The signature Polynesian Black Pearl dessert (lilikoi chocolate mousse in a pastry seashell) doesn’t hurt either. Open daily 11am to 8:30pm. mamasfishhouse.com
The bartenders at this hipster restaurant in downtown Paia are stirring up delicious cocktails to go with the artistically rolled sushi. The lights are dim here, so you may just want to go for the cocktails and ambiance — but a few fresh sushi bites are always a good idea. Open Tuesday through Saturday 5pm to 10pm. vanapaia.com
This 50-seat contemporary Japanese izakaya and sushi bar is tucked away on Maui’s north shore. Their menu offers a wide array of small plates, hand rolls, specialty rolls, noodles, and salads. No reservations required. Open Monday through Friday for lunch 10:30am to 2:30pm and for dinner daily 4:30pm to 10pm. nukamaui.com