Sea House’s Happy Hour: Decisions, Decisions

September 13, 2013, 1:00 PM HST · Updated September 13, 1:44 PM
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Vanessa Wolf is a former head chef. She offers her frank assessments in the interests of honesty and improving Maui’s culinary scene.

By Vanessa Wolf

The Polynesian Salad is a veritable smorgasbord. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The Polynesian Salad is a veritable smorgasbord. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

Can you name all the items associated with the “12 Days of Christmas” song?

Neither can we.

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But supposing we could, surely some of those gifts were real stinkers.

Lords a-leaping?

Can you even return those guys?

And even if you can, thanks for the chore, True Love. Maybe a gift card next year?

Such is the case with Napili’s Sea House happy hour menu: there are many, many days of Christmas, but not all of them are delights.

Lucky for you, we’ve sorted some of that out.

The Polynesian Salad ($5) makes the naughty list.

Obviously they make it this way on purpose, but there’s so much stuff in there you feel like you’ve emptied a stranger’s fridge of its “IBS diet” leftovers. (IBS: Irritable Bowl Syndrome)

This kitchen sink of a salad features cabbage, molokai sweet potatoes, chicken, green papaya, edamame and a dollop of edamame hummus.

It’s kind of like someone said “Hey! Let’s round up every bland foodstuff we can find and mix them all together with a vinegar-based dressing!”

It’s forgettable, but for $5 it’s good value anyway.

This is not a cinnamon bun, but it plays one on TV. Also, it's the chowder. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

This is not a cinnamon bun, but it plays one on TV. Also, it’s the chowder. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

If you are a fan of the ahi nachos at a well-regarded strip-mall based restaurant in Kihei, you will also love Sea House’s happy hour offering.
The Poke Nachos ($7) see three fried wontons arrive with a generous portion of Limu ahi poke on each. Each is then topped with (what tastes like) spicy ahi sauce (mayo and sriracha) and a sweet pepper on top.

It’s different and it works. The flavors come together and make sweet, sweet music.

The Seafood Chowder ($6) arrives in a bread bowl. No kidding.

We thought the white man’s answer to the edible taco salad vessel had disappeared a decade ago, but we were clearly wrong.

For $5 it’s one helluva portion.

The thyme-rich cream-based soup is billed as “New England style” and there were lots of potatoes, but only two clams.

There was, however, a preponderance of gargantuan ahi chunks, so who’s complaining?

If you can’t resist the bread bowl – and if you can, you’re clearly some kind of cyborg – it’s a carb bomb. Hello, Muffin Top. We meet again.

The Fried Artichokes. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The Fried Artichokes. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

Since we already opened the door, let’s just go inside: the Fried Artichokes ($5) are pure tempura genius.

If you like fried stuff then scream “dibs!” when these arrive and commence hoarding. There’s Parmesan cheese on top and aioli sauce to dip it in.

What’s not to love?

Growl at your dining companions so they know you mean business.

Did you know there are Manhattan-sized pigeons on Maui?

Gigantic sky rats are all over Sea House, clawing over your feet and flaunting a distinctly urban swagger.

City pigeon don’t care.
City pigeon walks where it wants.
Truth be told, like many outdoor restaurants, there is an overall bird infestation.
Solve that problem cheaply and ethically and you’ll be a rich wo/man.

The Maui Beach Balls. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The questionably named Maui Beach Balls. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

The Maui Beach Balls ($5) are questionably named.

Taste-wise, they’re like a hush puppy married a sushi roll and the assembled crowd threw corn kernels at them when they left for the honeymoon. We couldn’t discern any of the alleged pepper jack cheese which is too bad: it might have balanced the predominant rice flavor. All told they’re pretty weird, but maybe that’s what you’re into.

Servers are cheerful and strive to help, but don’t assume you share the same palate. We were talked out of (what later turned out to be) a favorite and into a clunker. In addition, plan to be there a while: there’s an overall “island time” pace.

The Chicken Wings. Photo by Vanessa Wolf

The Chicken Wings. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

The Crispy Chicken Wings ($5) are rock solid.

You can choose between traditional Buffalo or sweet chili sauce and the former is on the money. For five bucks you get six wings.

This isn’t health food. You’re in a bar setting, and it’s bar food. Deal with it.

The menu is vast. We hardly got through it all, yet what we sampled had some hits and misses. We can assume that’s a trend throughout.

Still, what does work is worth putting in your mouth.

We welcome your feedback. Please let us know if you hear of any new restaurants opening or reopening, total menu overhauls, or simply know of a hidden treasure you want to share. Have a restaurant you want reviewed (or re-reviewed)? Drop us a line – Vanessa(@mauinow.com)

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