I was most looking forward to checking out Star Noodle during our visit to Maui. Many good reviews, the promise of house-made noodles, and of course, I'm a big Top Chef fan. Unfortunately, I and the rest of our party were less than impressed with the food.
Relative to other restaurants on Maui, Star Noodle is good value for money. However, the portion sizes were a bit on the small side (and I'm Canadian!) and overall tastiness of the food was average.
- Pork buns: best dish we had and certainly lives up the hype. Pillowy soft buns with tender pork and just the right amount of hoisin.
- Pohole salad: the fiddlehead ferns were undercooked and the seasoning for this salad was standard Chinese. Nothing special.
- Namul: everyone has their own recipe/version of kim chee but this one was a bit anemic. The garlic flavour was good but that was about it. Not enough spiciness and I don't think they fermented the kim chee long enough. The menu description also notes ogonori as a component but I think they actually used kombu instead (which should have been in the pohole salad), which was pretty fishy.
- Chicken karage: a miniscule portion of fried chicken (palm sized, sliced into 5-6 strips). Definitely overpriced for what you get. I would not order this again.
- Singapore noodles: a bit on the bland side and one note. Also seemed overmixed (or the noodles were overcooked) as many of the rice vermicelli noodles were broken/extremely short.
- Garlic noodles: too salty and nothing spectacular about the flavours. If you've eaten fried noodles at a Chinese restaurant before, you've already tried (perhaps a better version) of this dish.
- Pad Thai: the other highlight of this meal. Well seasoned with a good balance of saltiness, sweetness, and acidity. Again, it seemed like this dish was overmixed or the noodles overcooked because many of the rice noodles were broken/very short.
Saw several customers with large take-out orders and no logo bag included. If this is no longer offered, they should remove the offer from their website.
I would consider giving Star Noodle another shot the next time I'm in town. There must be good reasons for all the praise pre-Top Chef the restaurant received as well as why Sheldon was voted one of the top rising chefs by Food & Wine magazine. However, if the food we had is indicative of the direction of Star Noodle post-Top Chef, he may need to get back in the kitchen fix whatever has gone wrong.