Last week I explained that certain culinary experiences on vacation are so memorable that they are reason enough to get on a plane for a return trip. Here are a couple more spots that would draw me back.
Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar, Kihei, Maui With 750 miles of coastline surrounding it, Hawaii’s obviously a good place to get seafood. My goal was to eat as much of it as possible while we were there, and I did, every day. Topping the list was Sansei.
Living in Chicago with a seafood-averse spouse who grimly bears the occasional stink of fish in our house with stoic bravery, my opportunities for good sushi are rare. So I went a little nuts. Seriously, when Travel & Leisure calls it “one of America’s eight best sushi restaurants,” you run with it.
With the server’s guiding hand, I downed eighteen pieces of deliciousness, including the Takah Sushi Special Roll Named in Honor of Takah Sama, Aspen, Colorado: an inside-out roll with shrimp, ahi, crab, avodado, and cucumber, crusted with masago.
Turns out, I love masago, which is the bright-orange roe of the capelin, as my smartphone informed me. Next came a rainbow roll (California roll and wrapped it in slices of ahi, salmon, and avocado), which tasted as pretty as it looked. And though I can’t be sure, because by this point I wasn’t exactly seeing straight, I think the finale was a caterpillar roll, mainly because it also was rolled in masago.
The best thing about Sansei, though, is that John also had his favorite meal there. Sansei is also a steakhouse that cooks up a fine pork chop. It was a perfect match.
Lou La’s, Whitefish, Montana Whitefish is a small mountain town that caters to skiers in the winter and outdoor enthusiasts in the summer. It’s growing like crazy and is still getting used to its new identity as a tourist hub. Which is why you can go get treated like a local at Lou La’s and order a gut-busting portion of eggs Benedict with truffle oil for just $9.99. And it will be the best eggs Benedict you’ve ever had. And, if you’re like us, you will return the following morning to split another order and share but not quite finish the single pancake, with its 16-inch circumference. (I’d like to see the spatula that flips that flapjack.) Then you and your dining companion will laugh, completely stuffed, when your bill comes and it’s under $15.
The funny thing is, Lou La’s isn’t even known for their eggs Benedict or their freakishly large pancakes. They’re known for their award-winning pie. In a town with a population of about five or six thousand, Lou La’s makes three or four thousand pies each year, all from scratch with fresh ingredients. They offer about a dozen varieties of pie every day (which is not uncommon in Montana restaurants—turns out this state is big on pie, and I did my best to sample as many as I could). I chose an enormous (of course) and perfect slice of peach and huckleberry, to go.
Lou La’s looks like any small-town diner. It’s located in the basement of an old Masonic temple that served as a ballet school before it was a restaurant. We know this because our forty-something-year-old server took classes there as a little girl. But this mountain diner knows what a difference fresh and locally raised food makes.