We've loved Mala Ocean Tavern at Lahaina for a several years now - in fact it serves one of our two favourite appetisers on the Island - their Ahi Bruschetta. That Mala is a cramped, very informal place with a few tables right by the water (with the real risk of getting splashed by waves sometimes) and the rest crammed into the small indoor seating area. Our very big reservation about it though is the noise levels inside - and particularly the strange fact that it seems to attract extremely noisy people, who think it perfectly acceptable to shout at the tops of their voices to communicate with people sitting a couple of feet away - making a sometimes barely tolerable cacaphony that is not conducive to enjoyable dining.
So - knowing that there was another Mala we thought we'd try it. We knew it was in a hotel - the Marriott - at Wailea, so suspected this might mean we'd enjoy the same excellent food in a more civilised context.
The restaurant is larger and quieter and has some tables inside and some on a lanai with nice views in the direction of the sunset. The staff greeted us very warmly - reminiscent of Mala at Lahaina - and the service was good.
However, we were left with two doubts that mean we probably won't again go to the effort to drive all the way to Wailea for this restaurant.
The first is the atmosphere. Much as we dislike the noise levels at the other Mala, we felt this one seemed soulless - just not enough people and too quiet. Some people are hard to satisfy, I know - but now I'm not sure which is worse: too noisy or too quiet!
The other - surprisingly - is the food. The menu is the same apart from a couple of very small details. However, some items were definitely not as good as at the other Mala. In particular, out favourite Ahi Bruschetta: here the flax-seed toast that forms the base for the bruschetta, was cold and limp, whereas it is normally (at the other Mala) crisp and warm.
So - it's quite good but not good enough and definitely not worth the long drive from the west side to get there. I guess we'll have to put up with the noise at the other Mala!
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