Sansei Seafood Restaurant | Lahaina, Maui, HI
If you’re in the Lahaina area of Maui, this is a nice restaurant to try. The vibe of the restaurant is fun, the service is good, and if you stop by on the right day, they’re known to hold an awesome Karaoke night!
Just a few observations. If you’re booking a reso at the Sansei closest to the Montage Kapalua Bay, be sure that you call the restaurant to make sure it’s the correct one! We made a reservation online, walked into the restaurant and then found out that I had made the reservation at the incorrect location. Thank God that were able to seat us within seconds of our arrival. There’s a reason why there were seats available though…
When you arrive, you’ll notice that the vibe is nice. It’s active and a little louder than expected for a nice romantic date night. My wife and I visited while we were on our Honeymoon. :) I noticed that we were significantly closer to the other tables. It even reached the point where there were moments where our server was speaking to group of tables at the same time. It was that cozy lol.
It’s great because the guy knew how to put on a good show… but the kind of interaction he was fostering pretty much made us feel obligated to speak to one another. It was definitely kind of awkward because we weren’t really looking to speak to the other couples around us… but kind of had to because he was essentially facilitating a group discussion… with three tables. #awkward
The food was okay…. Here’s what we had:
PANKO-CRUSTED FRESH AHI SASHIMI | Island fresh ahi tuna wrapped with arugula and spinach, panko crusted and flash fried, served with a soy wasabi butter sauce
On a normal day, this dish would have been delicious. After having eaten some of the most flavorful dishes we’ve ever had during the earlier days of our Honeymoon, this one fell flat for us. I finished it because heck, I was hungry, and on a normal day, I would have loved it all… but it’s rough when the server starts off by expressing that the main star of the dish was the Soy Wasabi Butter Sauce. What?!?!?!?
We’re at a sushi place. The main star of the dish better be the fish. Especially while in Hawaii!!
The dish was oddly plated, kind of just thrown into a pool of sauce. The color of the sauce was a little murky at some spots and translucent at the other spots… but over all the sauce was tasty. Check out the picture… kind of weird right? Almost like the ingredients in the sauce were separating from itself.
It was tough for me to try what the roll tasted like without I any hints of the sauce, but the parts I did try without the sauce were okay. Just okay.
The breading was somewhat coming off of the sushi roll, but no big deal. The Ahi was nice and most certainly fresh. This was definitely more brawn than braieeen. It’s a dish that’ll make you full but maybe not fulfilled.
DK’S CRAB RAMEN with ASIAN TRUFFLE BROTH | with crab, cilantro, Thai basil and mild jalapenos
I like my ramen HOT. I need the broth to burn me on first slurp. Secondly? And for many this is the most important: the noodles better be fresh.
This dish had so much potential. I mean read the description!! I already knew off the bat that it wasn’t going to be our standard bowl of comforting ramen. The fact that they’re adding truffle oil to all o this already tells me that it was going to be lacking that wonderful layer of flavor that is provided by pork belly or by a mother broth that has been used and reused for weeks if not months.
This was kind of a bust.
The broth was lukewarm. LUKEWARM. Like as if it had been sitting in a pot after being cooked, without a small flame under to allow the reduction processs to continue and enhance flavor. It definitely wasn’t the kind of Ramen I would have imagined to have… but then again, this wasn’t a Ramen shop at all.
The truffle was nice, but only if this was a simple soup and not… A bowl of Ramen.
The crab? It was nice, especially because I like fake crab.
Okay, saddest moment of the day.
They… were… packaged noodles. For sure.
Nothing fresh about that at all. They could have gone out and found preprepared fresh ramen noodles like my wife and I used to do in college, but they didn’t even do that. :(
How is it that my wife, who at the time was a junior in college, could make ramen from a package (not your normal top ramen package… A fresh ramen noodle package from our local Japanese store) and make and provide a heightened experience that this sit down restaurant could not?
If you’re going to list ramen on your menu and you’re a Japanese restaurant, make sure it’s the best bowl you could possibly serve. If this was that bowl, for Sansei? That’s too bad.
Scallop Nigiri Sushi
Gloriously fresh. In fact, it was so delicious and perfect that we ordered it three or four times. Scroll down, you’ll see more pics! Scallops were lightly coated in a japanese mayo. Some roe mixed in there too. Did we already say that it was super fresh? Yep. #perfection
It was good… the fish was fresh. I don’t know if I’d order it again though.
SANSEI’S SHRIMP DYNAMITE | Crispy tempura shrimp
Tasty. Needed a bowl of rice to come along with it! Not enough shrimp though!! But that’s okay. It may seem like there’s a lot on the plate, but don’t be fooled by the tempura coating. As incredible as the coating was, and mark my words, it was crispy perfection for sure, I wish there was more of everything.
This is kind of a standard dish to order and for Japanese restaurants to have on their menu, I think. So many restaurants have attempted to achieve a similar kind of dish. Shrimp tempura is fantastic but what sets this dish apart from the rest is the perfect amount of mayo/toppings you see in the picture.
For sure, it’s the most beautiful shrimp tempura dish I’ve ever had brought to my table.
Flavors were there, for sure.
Scallop Nigiri Sushi
Here it is again! Freshness on a little plate. It was so wonderful and melt-in-your-mouth delicious that I could have eaten literally six to ten more plates of these wonderful scallops.
Yes!! They’re raw scallops!
Tempura Fried Ice Cream | Vanilla ice cream wrapped with buttery pound cake, rolled in roasted macadamia nuts, flash-fried and served with chocolate sauce — Add Baileys, Kahlúa or Chambord Liqueur $6
My mind was blown when I saw this on Yelp. I was so excited to give this a try, I made sure to let our sever know, off the bat, that this is what we’d be having for dessert.
No lie? It’s exactly what it looks like. It’s a damn roll of ice cream rolled up in pound cake and a layer of crumbled macadamia nuts!
The fact that it was deep fried was rough for me because a lot of oil was soaked up straight into the pound cake. I could taste it, flash fried or not. The texture of the macadamias didn’t really help the situation but you know what did?
The Caramel and Chocolate Sauce
The sauces that were drizzled on the bottom of the main star of this show were wonderful and masked the oily taste that came along with the pound cake.
If I was smart, I would have done what my wife did and peel it all off, but I wanted to get he full experience. To make it work, I ordered for the sauces on the side…. To layer everything with it in order to mask the oiliness.
Not a good idea.
Bottom line is: if you want ice cream? Then great. If you’re in the mood for something light? This is not the dish for you!
Would I do it again? No.
At the end of the day, I’m glad we tried this place out. The service was good but not necessarily on point. There’s a lot of fine tuning needed to get this restaurant to seek a lot less like fast food and a lot more like a date night spot.