The Holiday Season Means It’s Time to Eat!

The Holiday Season Means It’s Time to Eat!

Alfredo G. Evangelista | Assistant Editor | Photos: Alfredo G. Evangelista

I know. I know. We just stuffed ourselves during Thanksgiving (even though it rained hard, we still had a feast) and you’re still talking about eating?

Lechon from Paradise Supermart in Kahului.
Photo: Basilia Evangelista

Well, yeah. With Christmas in a few days and New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day following, we gotta eat, right? And there’s all those football games in between and following thereafter.

For Filipinos throughout the world, what’s a celebration without a lechon? But hold on. With the recent closing of Plantation Grindz and Pinoy Food Mart, it appears our lechon options this holiday season will be severely limited. Paradise Supermart is still a popular lechon place but you should hurry to place your order.

Ethan Evangelista and Edward Evangelista dressing a pig for a lechon in the backyard.
Lechon by Tante Urban and Victor Campos at the Annual Barrio Fiesta.

Another option may be the finally opened Paukūkalo Mini Mart owned by Randy Cruz of Randy’s Catering. It seems, however, his Mini Mart is transitioning to a bakery called Paukūkalo Sweets and Treats but will continue his street food grilling (his bbq paltat is so ono!) Randy still has his catering business so he might do a lechon for you for the holidays.

Of course, you can try and do your own back yard lechon. My nephew Ed with the help of his son Ethan agreed to help baptize my new rotisserie during the labor day weekend. The lechon was so ono—the only problem was we misjudged how long it would take to dress the pig (it was really hard without the butcher’s needle) and how long it would take to cook. Now we know that you can’t expect to have the lechon ready for lunch if you place it over the fire at 10 a.m.; it will be ready by dinner, however.

(Remember at the Barrio Fiesta how the lechon demonstration also took longer than expected? Tante Urban who sponsored the lechon demonstration and Victor Campos who oversaw the lechon cooking worked hard to get it ready to taste by late afternoon but it wasn’t quite ready until later that evening.)

Sisig salmon at Tante’s Island Cuisine.
Kalbi at Tiffany’s in Wailuku.
Sashimi at Tiffany’s.

With all the changes in the Filipino-owned restaurants/fast food chains, perhaps it’s a good time to check in with some of the recent changes.

In Wailuku, Top Chef Sheldon Simeon and wife Janice purchased Tiffany’s from the Orite family. (Howard Orite is my high school classmate.) Although it’s not yet open for lunch during the weekdays, when you go there, you can still have the lychee Margaritas as well as old favorites such as the kal bi, chow fun and butterfish.

If you’re just looking for Filipino fast food in Wailuku, you can check out the hot food items at Asian Mart, Golden Coin, and CAA Market Place.

In Kahului, Tante’s Island Cuisine remains open under the ownership of Tante and Tellie Urban. The new owners of Maui Seaside Hotel where the restaurant is located have plans to renovate and make the hotel as part of the Hilton chain. Meanwhile the local and Filipino food is still ono. My favorites are the off the menu specials such as sisig salmon with lettuce wraps, sizzling New York steak, and sizzling liver. Masarap! (Oh yeah, the Mā‘alaea restaurant is no longer owned by Tante and Tellie.)

Sizzling NY steak at Tante’s Island Cuisine.
Lau-lau at Kō.
Salmon with brussel sprouts at Fond.
Photo courtesy Eliza Vasquez

(Unfortunately, Dana Santanibez Pastula’s new Café O’Lei at the old Hideaways spot is not scheduled to open until sometime in 2023; after eight months, they’re still waiting for the permits to issue.)

If you’re looking for Filipino fast food in Kahului, you can check out the hot food items at Paradise Supermart, owned by Roger and Tina Santos.

Tin Roof in Kahului, owned by Sheldon and Janice Simeon also has some Filipino offerings.

Chicken Joy from Jollibee.
Philip Sabado samples the sisig at Tante’s Island Cuisine.

Although Cupie’s in Kahului does not feature a Filipino menu (except for the ube shakes which is delicious), it’s owned by Ron Daniels and his wife Emma Escopete Mennel. It’s a real Drive-In; you drive and park in one of the stalls and order your food while you’re in your vehicle; your food is then brought to your vehicle.

And yes, for you fried chicken aficionados, there’s always Jollibee in Kahului.

If you venture out to Wailea, you don’t want to miss Kō’s where Chef Jonathan Pasion is now its Executive Chef.

Malungay Pancit at Joey’s Kitchen Napili.
Roast duck at Duck Kine.

On the west side, three-time Master P-Noy Chef Joey Macadangdang has three restaurants which serve Filipino food: Joey’s Kitchen in Whaler’s Village, Joey’s Kitchen in Nāpili and Macadangdang in Lahaina. At Joey’s Kitchen Nāpili, you have to try his crispy pata and if available, his malungay pansit. At Macadangdang, which opened a year ago, my favorite dishes are the banga banga sampler, the bisstek, and the laing. Of course the sashimi is also very fresh. (Chef Macadangdang has also been teasing with some Facebook posts about his upcoming new restaurant in Kahului called Balay Pata so stay tuned.)

A new restaurant in Lahaina which recently opened is Duck Kine, owned by Chef Alvin Savella also known as the Kitchen Assassin. Many of his dishes feature duck-roast duck, duck in a bun, and duck soup, to name a few.

Seafood Sinigang at Joey’s Kitchen Napili.
The crispy pata at Joeys Kitchen Napili.
The Kau Kau Tin special at Macadangdang.

Fond owned by Chef Jojo Vasquez in Nāpili features an Asian fusion cuisine.

Of course, there’s a variety of food trucks featuring Filipino foods such as Vidad’s in Kīhei, Kusina Ni Jayboy Lahaina, and Dolish in Wailuku. I’m sure there’s more.
And yes, the L&L franchise chain owned by Filipino entrepreneur Eddie Flores, Jr. is still going strong. My favorite L&L franchise is the one in Maui Marketplace—they give a generous helping of their deep fried shrimp.

So there you have it. While it may be a little late too get your lechon, you can still go out and eat at one of the many Filipino owned restaurants. Or you can probably order some take-out from them. If you’re going solo (or on a casual date), you can always try one of the many food trucks.

Alfredo G. Evangelista loves to eat but is on the keto diet. Earlier this year, he and his wife Basilia celebrated the 70th anniversary of L&L with Eddie Flores, Jr., the Chairman of the Board of L&L Franchises.