Venture to Lower Main Street in Wailuku, Maui and you’ll notice industrial businesses, rundown retail spaces for rent and a lot of bars. If I were by myself I’d probably avoid the area altogether. But luckily for me, a Maui friend convinced me and a girlfriend to go, and I was thrilled to discover that this neighborhood hides a hidden gem.
Not far from Baldwin High School and Sam Sato’s, Tiffany’s Bar & Grill is a humble dive bar named after the owner’s daughter. Fiery Korean ladies run the front of the house and talented gents run the kitchen. The dining room has booths, tables and a cozy bar with blue cushy chairs. In all honesty, it’s not the nicest place in the world. It has the feel of a karaoke/sports bar that’s seen better days. But believe me, the food is fantastic.
The menu is massive with Korean and Chinese dishes, Japanese fusion and local must-haves like loco moco, oxtail soup, miso butterfish and more. Prices are affordable and servings are large, plus they have happy hour pupus for $2 to $3.50 — seriously, what a deal!
I had never heard of Tiffany’s. But every Maui local I mentioned it to loved the place, went there for dinner or takeout, or had heard about it and really wants to go. Tiffany’s is so known for its food, in fact, that it’s popular not just with the thirsty pau hana crowd, but with families as well.
Here’s a look at what we got to try:
“Side dish” — Pickled onion, kim chee & pickled daikon and carrot, $3.50. Now this says hello to me when you sit at a bar. Mmmm. I hate onions and won’t eat them unless they are caramelized, but these were my friends’ favorite for their gentle bite and pickled flavor. The kim chee is crunchy, tangy and spicy without being overpowering.
Saimin — for only $6.50 this buggah is full of vegetables in a simple chicken broth. Nothing fancy but a comforting staple. (When I am sick I like to eat saimin and a grilled cheese sandwich, I don’t know why, it’s become tradition.) Another customer told me that she orders this regularly because it’s always consistent. This could have used more protein and a bit more flavor.
Hello mama — The kalbi is $18.95 and comes on a sizzling skillet with white onions. The flavor is a nice balance of salty and sweet. I loved these ribs as they were tender, caramelized and cooked perfectly. Use your fingers, chopsticks, it doesn’t matter — this place is super casual.
“Crispy pork” — Perfect with a cold beer, this is similar to lechon with the fried pork accompanied by tomato, onion and vinegar sauce on the side. The pork is fried perfectly though a bit dry, but the sauce and tomato make it better and the vinegar gets you salivating. $12.95
Kim chee fried rice — Comes with an egg on top. Look at that color, you know the flavor is good: Spice meets moist rice and loads of kim chee add crunch! I like a lot of flavor in my fried rice and this is one of my top two kim chee fried rices. Well done! $8.50
Honey walnut shrimp — One of the best I’ve ever had. The shrimps are deep fried to a crisp perfection that holds up even under a slather of deliciously sweet, tangy sauce. Served with romaine lettuce and crunchy walnuts. I was really impressed with the size of the shrimp and how crunchy they were. $16.45
So when in Wailuku’s industrial area, don’t judge a book by its cover. Tiffany’s has me craving the cold drinks, delicious food and late night karaoke for sure. Happy eating!
Tiffany’s Bar & Grill
1424 Lower Main St., Wailuku, HI 96793
Daily 10:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sundays until 12:30 a.m.