Taking my spot in the snaking, coiled line awaiting service at the Paia Fish Market (paiafishmarket.com) in Paia, Hawaii, I knew I had selected the right lunch destination.
The joint boasts an utterly relaxed and laid back vibe, which results in it being absolutely beloved by all the locals and visitors of Paia. The Fish Market dishes out fresh fish (like most other restaurants in Hawaii), but the way the fish is prepared and the beautiful environment in which you devour your sea-found feasts, is just perfect at Paia Fish Market.
In Hawaii, there is endless competition to be found between restaurants; so to truly succeed in impressing your customers you really need to bring something different and special to the table. You could go virtually anywhere in Hawaii and obtain a semi-decent slab of fish, but to go from semi-decent to delectable, look no further than Paia Fish Market. The restaurant is always packed to the gills (get it?!) with people from all walks of life, and I guarantee that after one meal amongst the family-style eating of PFM and you’ll be hooked (get it?!).
When we finally made it up to the front of the line my mouth started to water and nostrils opened wide.
I think the smell alone was enough to sedate a large bull, let alone convince me I had made the right choice eating there. As I rifled through the numerous fish-related items on the vast menu board of PFM, my eyes landed on the Cajun Charbroiled Opakapaka Fish (which resembled Red Snapper in both taste and appearance). In addition to the Opakapaka Fish, my family ordered Shrimp and Chips, Calamari and Chips, and their famed Mahi and Ono Burgers.
The Opakapaka was fairly dense and heavy in appearance, but when you bite into the flakey fish you are engulfed by a wave (I’m on a roll here) of different flavors and consistencies.
The fish was crisped on the outside with an abundance of southern spices, and because it was Charbroiled the flavors of the rub seeped into the delicate, buttery inside of the fish slab.
Both the Shrimp and Chips and the Calamari and Chips were heavily coated in a generous layer of crunchy, oily breading.
Although it was thick, the breading was in perfect proportion to the hulking, plump, juicy seafood that lay beneath it. The breaded seafood was served on a bed of slightly, moist and soggy french fries (not the best side to an already oily dish).
The Mahi and Ono Burgers were off the charts good. The fish was firm and moist, the perfect consistency to develop a burger from.
The patties presented beautiful grill marks and allowed for a much needed crunch to develop on the otherwise tender, soft burger. The juicy, succulent burger patties were served amongst small, neatly bound bunches of cold, chilled coleslaw, a delicate blend of mexican cheeses, a thick slice of tomato, and a generous smear of tartar sauce on each side of the bun. The burgers are the Paia Fish Market’s specialty and they definitely lived up to the potential and hype surrounding the dish.
After the wonderful meal at the Paia Fish Market, we ventured out into the town of Paia to cleanse our palates with some delicious shave ice. One of the most famous shave ice joint on all of Maui is Tobi’s Shave Ice (137 Hana Hwy, Paia, Hawaii), just a minutes walk away — so of course we had to go!
Shave Ice is typically thought to be small chunks of smashed ice filled with various flavorings, but the Shave Ice at Tobi’s was soft, fine, and almost the consistency of butter. The ice was able to take in all the liquid flavoring that was poured in, as a result of how delicate and light it was.
We obtained Pink Lemonade/Lemon-Lime/Wild Cherry, Blue Raspberry/Grape, Orange, Pina Colada (Pineapple and Coconut), and Li Hing Mui.
The Pink Lemonade/Lemon-Lime/Wild Cherry, Blue Raspberry/Grape and Orange Shave Ices were fairly genetic and normal,
but the Pina Colada and Li Hing Mui truly stood out as unique and delicious.
The Pina Colada was quite sweet, utterly creamy, and the Shave Ice consistency was almost like velvet.
A typical Pina Cola is sometimes overly sweet, but the Pina Colada flavored Shave Ice offered the perfect balance between tooth-rotingly sweet and mouth-puckeringly tart — Wonderful!
Li Hing Mui is a Japanese Sweet and Salty Plum. As odd as that sounds the Li Hing Mui developed a superb clash of flavors with its unique taste profile.
The Shave Ice is served with a light drizzling of thick, chunky plum sauce, and a dusting of the sweet and salty plum powder. Usually something like this would cause me to turn my nose away, but this strange concoction was utterly tantalizing. I would recommend it to any first time shave ice consumers.
Overall the trip to the town of Paia was a success, and I would recommend taking a trip to both establishments if you make your way down to Hawaii. I would give the trip it ZZZZ- 4 Z’s- Awesome!