The “Burger”!

“PRACTICE ALOHA”: We want to Talk about the spirit of Hawaiian dinin’. Casual, uniquely delicious, and something to know about if you are heading to Maui. Just sharing our experience is Practicing Aloha….

Let’s start with Mala and Honu and unexpected connections.


THE ELLMAN FAMILY, daughters Tina, Ariana, and Michelle.

BARRY MOSS, the well respected Broadway Casting Director and uncle of Mark.

ROMI, Hanu’s official welcome wagon.

DINERS, Lawrence & Lawrence.

THE STORY. Their mission statement is “Practice Aloha.” It’s on all employees’ shirts, stickers, and a wonderful book, Practice Aloha. “Practicing Aloha is something I have to remind myself to do every day,” states Mark Ellman who, with his wife Judy, owns and operates Mala and Honu. “It is healthier for one’s mind, spirit, attitude, and physical being; there is a little bit of Aloha in all our recipes….”

Last year’s trip to Maui brought us to Mala, An Ocean Tavern. What we thought was a beachfront shack turned out to be a major event. I was meant to find their Burger (officially called “Snake River Farms Kobe Beef Cheeseburger”). It was like taking LSD (never tried it, but from what I saw on Mad Men it was, as they say, a trip!) When my delirious passion subsided, I declared it the best Hamburger ever, period.

Beautiful bones at HANU, on the ocean in Lahaina, Maui.

So, a few months go by and Barry Moss, our special New York friend, heard us boast about this Maui burger. He says, “I have a nephew who has a restaurant called Mala, in Lahaina.” Turns out he is the uncle of Mark Ellman.

We naturally returned on this trip and declared a forever relationship. I’m so into the spirit, David can get to essentials….

DAVID: On this trip, we had a light, luscious lunch at the Ellman’s newest, Honu, right next door to Mala. The two share in common: 1.) their beach front location – so close you can almost touch the visiting sea turtles near the shore, 2.) gorgeous food and drink (both have a classy bar), 3) the Aloha spirit discovered by Mark and Judy when they moved to the island from their Sherman Oaks restaurant (Cuisine Cuisine) in 1985.

We lapped up seared sashimi, steamed clams, and we shared a brick oven pizza with Ali’I mushrooms (they’re famed for their indescribable pizza). You can’t have too much of a good thing, so … dinner at Honu was a feast for all the senses. I had nine assorted oysters on the shell, and Jackie adored the Kale Salad, Molokai Prawns, Lamb ringlets, and the fragrant Butternut Coconut Squash Soup.

JACKIE AGAIN: Beyond delicious! You know the saying, “The meat was so tender it fell off the bone”; well the bone fell of the bone — perfect for a bone baby like me…. Both restaurants share the gifted pastry chef, who created a Passion Fruit Tart (and I really mean tart) and a Carrot Cake cupcake for us. And yes, we shared. And yes, as a friend of Uncle Barry, we were treated majestically.

At Mala, we met Judy Ellman and she gifted us with their heartening books Mala Ocean Tavern Cookbook and Practice Aloha. We devoured the Burger, dangerous and delectable that is served at both restaurants.

At Hanu (with charming art), we were greeted by the bubbling Romi, and had the good fortune to chat with Chef and nephew of Barry Moss, Mark Ellman. Brilliant and beneficent, outflow to the community is an important part of their Aloha Practice.

We talked about their love of family, of Italy and Yoga, which they practice daily at their home facing the sea on Front Street in Lahaina and of their newest restaurant, with long time partner Shep Gordon, called Mala Wailea at the Wailea Marriott (every seat has an ocean view). The ownership includes Clint Eastwood, Alice Cooper, Don Nelson, and Jim Wiatt, and has helped to make it Maui’s place to see the stars. It’s a casually glittery crowd, with many A-list celebs.

DAVID WRAPS: As they say, “When the sun goes down, the stars come out.” The internet brings you an essence of all the locations, the Aloha, and the food. Browse, and browse.

We can’t emphasize how good the cooking is; hopefully you can try it yourself. We’ll Travel….

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