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“My favorite, but seems to be slipping...” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Ma'la - An Ocean Tavern

Ma'la - An Ocean Tavern
1307 Front St, Lahaina, Maui, HI 96761-1725
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Ranked #37 of 239 Restaurants in Lahaina
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Price range: $31 - $50
Cuisines: American, Seafood
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Restaurant details
Good for: Local cuisine, Romantic
Dining options: Breakfast, Dessert, Dinner, Lunch, Delivery, Late Night, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Dining
Cross street: Kapunakea
san diego
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“My favorite, but seems to be slipping...”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 10, 2008

This restaurant, when it opened, was my instant favorite. I eat out plenty and this spot had everything I dreamed of in a restaurant: awesome view of the ocean (it's true--you can see turtles popping their heads up in the surf), organic items on the menu, interesting appetizers, affordable, smaller portions worth sharing, nice waitstaff...

Lately, however, the prices seem to have outgrown the portions. I know Maui is expensive but sheesh! The servers are busy and interested in turning tables. I hate it when a restaurant's success goes to its head.

I'm willing to give them 100 more chances though--their edamame guacomole is sooo ono (That's Hawaiian for delicious.)

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,024 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
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English first
Los Angeles
Top Contributor
200 reviews 200 reviews
129 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 103 cities Reviews in 103 cities
124 helpful votes 124 helpful votes
“Go for view-!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 27, 2008

Saturday night in Lahaina can be busy, but we got in and got a table on the water right after sunset. Not many tables right on the water for the view. Pricey- cost us more than sushi...Innovative, we ordered the whole fish with the rice,, a signature dish..good.

Service was very pleasant and attentive. Oh and don't mind the resident duck that wanders about .. guess the duck has been hanging there for over a year now... GO for the view, sitting on the deck or the 3 tables inside near the window to watch the boats, sunset and hear the ocean. If you want to get a sunset table call ahead.

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Austin, Texas
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
“The WORST dining experience of my life”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed May 22, 2008

I have never been so mad at a restaurant in all my life. I avoided writing a review for a few weeks hoping I'd calm dowm, but now just thinking about it gets me all riled up again!!

I made a reservation a few weeks in advance for 8 people. Well at the last minute we wound up with 20, so I called to see if they could accomodate. They said yes of course, but they had a party coming in at 8 so if we could not linger it would be great. Ok, fine. Fair enough, I've waited tables before I get it. We ALL arrive on time at 6pm. The waiter didn't come to take our drink order until 6:30. Drinks come, but doesn't ask to take our dinner order until 7. We were all there waiting, hungry, and ready to order entrees by 6:30. Food arrives at 7:30, not too bad, but we had JUST finished eating at 8. The manager comes over and FLIPS OUT and says "we had an agreement, you said you'd be out by 8, you all have to leave RIGHT NOW". Um, we finished eating like 30 seconds ago lady and you HAVE'NT GIVEN US THE CHECK. Perhaps if your waiters had taken our order in a timely manner we would be done.

20 people takes a few minutes to sort out a bill, everyone was throwing in money. The manager comes back, lectures us AGAIN and tells us to just pay on one credit card and sort it out later. Um, we're trying to pay you. The party pulls up in a bus and comes in and the manager has the nerve to tell the party "they won't leave", so the party ring leader comes over and starts screaming at our table to leave. He had booked this party 3 months ago blah blah... um... it's 8:07, you can wait FIVE MINUTES while we pay. What kind of establishment allows customers to come over and tell other customers to leave. CUSTOMERS WHO JUST RACKED UP A $2000 bill in 2 hrs!!! HOW DARE YOU!!!

So in summary, AWFUL AWFUL hellacious, rude, disrespectful, obnoxious, slow, miserable service. There are no stars low enough for the horrible way our party was treated for no reason. Boycott this place on basic principle that they don't know how to treat a customer!

Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Top Contributor
138 reviews 138 reviews
103 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 52 cities Reviews in 52 cities
275 helpful votes 275 helpful votes
“Great view, inovative food and the "aloha spirit"!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 14, 2008

After a tiring day on the Molokai muleride and tour of Father Damien's leper colony (see my review), we stopped by Mala's at 7 pm. We've eaten here before, so we knew there would be crowds. The small parking area next to Mala's was packed, so I pulled in and let my wife off to get on the waiting list. I told her to find out how long a wait, and was planning on parking on a side street. Surprisingly, my wife came out following Lisa, the General Manager, and I was told we could be seated now, and Lisa directed me to park behind her vehicle in the lot. What aloha spirit, like it says on the back of their Mala shirts!!

We had our hearts set on an outside table right by the ocean, but there were others that were waiting for those, as well. No problem. But we were seated in the bar area right by an open window overlooking the ocean. NICE!

To start off with, I can't say enough about the service here. Even though the place was PACKED, the waiter was constantly coming back, filling up the water glasses, asking how our food was, and asking if we wanted another drink. It felt like we were the only ones in the restaurant!


Beet and Surfing Goat cheese salad with fennel vinaigrette. The chevre goat cheese was fried and placed on fresh beet chunks on top of very fresh mixed greens from Kula....oh YES!

I picked a main course from the evening's menu (changes each night, but you can order from their standard menu, as well). I chose the Opakapaka. Had a Japanese style curry sauce with capers nestled on top of pureed potatos. It came accompanied by a sauteed spinach, egglant and pinenut medley. Quite tasty and unusual flavor combinations!

The wife had a mahi mahi sandwich accompanied by a green Kula salad with dijon vinaigrette dressing.

Both fish dishes were cooked perfectly. I am always fearful the chef will overcook the fish. Overcooked fish is nasty. Hard, dried out and aweful consistency. These were great!

Mai-Tai was wondeful, as was the IPA draft.

Nice finish to a perfect day.

Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
67 reviews 67 reviews
40 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 39 cities Reviews in 39 cities
137 helpful votes 137 helpful votes
“Nice food but overpriced and stressful atmosphere”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 6, 2008

We went to Mala Tavern during our recent stay in Maui. We had reserved in advance but were informed that a table by the sea could not be guaranteed despite having a reservation. We were seated as close to the water as possible which was nice since there was a cool breeze.

The restaurant was very busy which made dining a stressful affair, since there was too much going on around you all the time. It was impossible to have a conversation. There were people waiting at the bar for a table and lines by the door. The meal was over in about an hour since the check is presented to you while you are still eating the dessert, so adds to the rushed feeling and pressure to finish since someone else wants your table.

The menu was interesting and the food was quite nice, but after a while you realise that alot of Maui restaurants seem to like serving mash potatoes and grilled fish so there was nothing very original in the menu. The signature dessert dish which was about $20 was various grilled fruits/baby coconuts/dried figs around a plate drizzled with a chocolate/caramel sauce and ice cream in the middle. It was nice enough but there is not much skill or imagination needed to create this dessert .

Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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