How could I not go to Tripadvisor's #1 restaurant...I do believe in the entire U.S.??? On the way home from another great hole-in-the-wall in Kihei (Coconut's Fish Cafe), we stopped in Lahaina to try one of Ululani's famous Hawaiian Shave Ice's. Now, I have tried shave ice twice - from other highly rated places - and was not impressed. Every flavor tasted the same...sickeningly sweet. Just like the snow cones I choked down as a kid. This was the day when I would find out if it was them or me.
Ululani's is a tiny walk-up joint tucked inside a small open air building housing a few other vendors hawking to tourists. While I was standing in line, I started reading an article posted on the wall. Ululani's is the first shave ice maker they have ever felt was worthy enough to review. All of their syrups are made from scratch WITHOUT corn syrup (yeah for cane sugar!)...they even witnessed actual fruit pulp gracing the perfectly shaved ice. (I'm starting to get a little excited - and very hopeful - at this point.) When I finally got close enough to read the menu I became decision impaired...the Haleakala (coconut with cream & fresh shredded coconut), Sunset Beach (passion orange, guava & mango), or their new combo with the Hawaiian name that completely escapes me (passion fruit, pineapple & guava)??? I had one minute to make my final decision...the most stressful moment of my entire vacation!
When I got to the counter, I asked the guy if he knew that they were Tripadvisor's #1 rated restaurant in Lahaina. Mr. "U" proceeded to kindly put me in my place...did I know they were #1 in the ENTIRE U.S. (out of more than 293,000 restaurants)? Holy crap...little did I know that I was standing at an alter! (Life Lesson #1 - It doesn't matter what you do or where you do it, it just matters that you master what it is that you do.) Both Mr. "U" and his assistant chatted it up with everyone like they were all old friends...true aloha spirit.
Under pressure, I made my decision...it was to be the new nameless combo mostly because Mr. "U" said the passion fruit was tarter than the mango...I'm a tart-aholic. I'm glad I ordered the very large small size for $4.00...even though the large was only $1.00 more. A large would have put me over the edge. (Lesson #2 - Divine food does not have to be expensive.) Mr. "U" and assistant stopped what they were doing to watch me take my first bite. I was starting to sweat...what the heck was I going to do with my face if I didn't like it? They were way too nice to insult. The spoon entered my mouth...which broke into a huge smile. Oh yeah...Ululani's has created a masterpiece. It wasn't me after all...MAHALO ULULANI'S!