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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Maui's mom-and-pop stores carry variety of affordable food choices

By Joan Namkoong
Advertiser Food Editor

Old-time mom-and-pop stores are still a vital part of the Maui landscape, now in the hands of third- and fourth-generation members of founding families. But their essential character has changed: Supermarkets and big box retailers now supply everyday needs, leaving these stores to fill the take-out niche, from bentos to ready-to-heat dinners.

Here's a look:


Honolua Store, Kapalua
502 Office Road, Kapalua
(808) 669-6128
Daily 6 a.m.-8 p.m.

Plate lunches in a fancy, schmancy resort? You bet.

Spam and cabbage, sweet chili chicken, pork adobo, kalua pig and cabbage, chicken long rice, fried rice, with the usual rice and macaroni salad are among daily specials at Honolua Store; there's a deli menu, too.

The store dates back to 1923, a relic of the plantation era. "This was where people came for their job duties, their paychecks and where they paid their bills. It was the center of Maui Pine," said store manager Ginger Prince.

"There's not a lot of local plate places out this way," Prince said. "This is like the last stand. Lots of folks who grew up on Maui and have come back to visit stop here."

Plates are $3.75 for a hobo, $4.95 for a regular and $5.50 for a combo plate.

Nagasako Okazu-ya/Deli
Old Lahaina Shopping Center
(808) 661-0985
Daily 6:30 a.m-6 p.m.

Nagasako store was the heart of the original Lahaina Shopping Center. It's long gone, but Nagasako Deli keeps Richard Nagasako, his brother Wally and other members of the family busy, cooking local specialties in the tradition of an okazu-ya.

I stopped there on a Wednesday, when beef stew is the special of the day. Tender, tasty chunks of beef brisket in a thick, tomatoey sauce are the secret of Wally Nagasako's stew, and it's a popular dish.

Count on Hawaiian plates on Monday, roast pork on Fridays. Spam musubi done in the family's teriyaki sauce is popular, and the hundred or so they make every day sell out by 8:30 a.m. There are lots more.

Olowalu General Store
820 Olowalu
(808 ) 661-3774

Olowalu Store is about the only place to satisfy the munchies between Lahaina and Ma'alaea Harbor (Chez Paul restaurant is next door). Andrea Covic serves hot dogs and simple egg and tuna salad sandwiches. "People say it's like their mom used to make," explained Covic, who adds a little relish to her tuna sandwiches.

Another specialty is fried chicken. "It's our secret seasonings," said Covic with a laugh. "We marinate and bake chicken thighs. They're really good."


Ma'alaea Store
232 Ma'alaea Road
(808) 244-9888

Kathy Uno and her mom, Grace, tend the store at Ma'alaea Harbor. "This used to be the general store with the plantation camp behind. We used to sell material, clothing, fishing supplies. My grandmother had a little restaurant that served saimin," said Uno pointing.

There used to be bar, too. "I guess patrons used to throw their labels up to see if they would stick, and eventually they came down," said Uno.

Uno's dad, who met Ma'alaea-born-and-raised Grace, came from California to take over the store started by Kathy's great uncle in the 1920s.

The inventory of the store is much diminished now; beverage, snacks and marine supplies. Miyako sushi is sold here: "They have the best-tasting sushi," Uno said, "and it's fresh daily."

But mostly, Ma'alaea Store is known for its hot dogs: "We keep the hot dogs really hot, and the bun is soft and moist in this steamer," Uno said. They sell 200-300 hot dogs a day at 95 cents apiece.

"It's the best; it has that old TK Market style that TK Market doesn't have anymore," said Sarah Nakihei as she paid for her hot dog. "It's the best," she repeated.


1870 Main St., Wailuku
(808) 244-3931
Ah Fook's
Kahului Shopping Center
(808) 877-3308

These two stores are Maui institutions, stocking a variety of island produce and local-style foods.

Ooka's began as a grocery and fishing supply store in Kahului in 1941 and moved to its present location in 1958. Bryon Ooka, grandson of the founders, is in charge now. Ooka's is known for its selection of poke, plate lunches and laulaus.

Ah Fook's has been around since 1917, started by Tam Ah Fook and his wife, Margaret. The store has been in its present location since 1954, when the Kahului Shopping Center opened. Miriam Fong, a grand-niece, says the store has been selling prepared foods, mostly Chinese specialties, for more than 30 years. Available here: goods from Homemade Bakery, also Shishido and S&J Manju.

Tom's Mini Mart
372 Waiehu Beach Road
(808) 244-2323
Monday-Saturday 6 a.m.-7 p.m., closed Sun.

Shave ice is the specialty here, said owner Jean Nakayama, who is here whenever the store is open. Lots of flavors and always a welcome treat on a hot day for $1.50.

But there's more here: dry boiled peanuts and local plate lunches. Nakayama makes Spam musubi too: "We fry the Spam plain; Maui folks like it that way."

Kaohu Store
1833 Kaohu St., Wailuku
(808) 244-0943

The abacus, slide rule and mechanical adding machine are still tucked away in Misao Tengan's back-room office of Kaohu Store, a 52-year-old institution in Wailuku. She started the store with her husband and continues to provide snacks and munchies for many of the kids who attend Wailuku Elementary School, 'Iao School and workers in the state and county offices nearby.

Hot dogs and Spam musubi are popular here. "The flavors are our own," said Tengan, now 80-plus years of age. "People can't eat expensive lunches every day. We charge 48 cents for a can of soda, $1.25 for a musubi; for less than $2, you can have something good for lunch."

Takamiya Market
359 Market St., Wailuku
(808) 244-3404
Monday-Saturday 5:30 a.m.-6 p.m.

This pre-World War II store - the little giant of Happy Valley - was opened by the parents of present owner James Takamiya.

Takamiya's nephew Lance Takamiya, a former food salesman, oversees the operations that include Dani's Catering, which supplies a wide selection of ready-to-go food for the market.

Expect to find a good assortment of pokes, pork pigs feet, roast pork, laulau, turkey tails, kalua pork, teriyaki, pork tofu, oyster sauce and shoyu chickens, chow fun, beef liver, stir-fry pork, meat loaf, macaroni salad, namasu, cottage cheese and jello, haupia - in other words, just about anything your stomach desires.

"We're busiest around 5:30 a.m. when we open," said Lance Takamiya. "All the construction workers and school kids stop by."

TK Market
399 N. Market, Wailuku
(808) 244-4524

Just a two-minute walk from Takamiya Market is TK Market where folks go to buy laulaus and other prepared foods. A shadow of its former self, TK Market is another reminder of the changing retail scene in the Happy Valley area.


Pukalani Superette
(808) 572-7616
Monday-Friday 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Saturday 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday 6:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

Pukalani Superette began in 1927 as Tanizaki Store, where gasoline, groceries, saimin and sushi were sold, typical of plantation stores of the time. Sumiko Nakashima, daughter of the founders, and her husband, Moriaki, still own the store, now managed by their son Aric.

This old-time supermarket seems to have survived the changing face of retail on Maui. The store is well-stocked with groceries, Maui-grown produce and take-out foods from sushi to meatloaf.

The tako poke is especially different: "We improved on a recipe and technique from a UE (University Extension) or 4H cookbook," said Aric Nakashima.

But he wouldn't reveal the secret of the soft, well-seasoned poke. Recommended: the potato-macaroni salad and picked mango.

Morihara Store
Lower Kula Road
(808) 878-2578

David Morihara owns this store, which has been here since 1932. There used to be a barber shop, a post office and butcher within the walls; today, the community grocery store has changed to a convenience store. Maui folks recommend this place for locally grown produce.

K.S. Ching Store
Kula Highway
(808) 878-1556

Harley and Florence Ching run this little store, which was started in 1939 by Harley's parents. The general store used to serve the KÇokea community along Kula Highway on the way to 'Ulupalakua. Today it provides the usual snacks but the real find here is the boiled peanuts that Harley makes - well-seasoned and perfectly cooked. $2 for a bagful.

Henry Fong General Store
Kula Highway
(808) 878-1525

Kevin Kihara mans this store, which has been here since the late 1920s. His wife's grandparents started it with gas pumps and general merchandise for the Upcountry community. Today, groceries, snacks and beverages are stocked, and people stop by for hot dogs.

'Ulupalakua Ranch Store
Tedeschi Winery Tasting Room

Tasty sandwiches are provided here by Hali'imaile General Store. You'll find Old Town Products such as Teriyaki Marinade and Upcountry Farm Specialities Liliko'i Starfruit Syrup and 'Ulupalakua strawberries brought down daily from the farm on the ranch.

Across the street is the Tedeschi Winery Tasting Room.