We’ve all had snack attacks, but have you ever had a mac attack? It’s the feeling you get when you dip into a cold macaroni salad, pour soy sauce and spicy Sriracha into the mayonnaise with a voracious frenzy. The macaroni salad mixes with the clean scoops of white rice, creating the perfect side dish for your gigantic heap of sweet barbecued meat.
Many of us experience this feeling of helplessness when we eat Hawaiian food. It is simply irresistible.
And there’s a new place in Tempe that will satisfy your mac attack. It’s called Maui Hawaiian Grill and it opened in May in a space formerly occupied by Caribbean Spiceon Baseline Road near Mill Avenue. Co-owner Yan Lin learned to cook Hawaiian food at another restaurant in Phoenix, the Kahu Hawaiian BBQ.
The new restaurant is emerging as a solid take-out spot for the college district as the portions are large and the prices are affordable. If you’re looking for more traditional Hawaiian dishes like poi or lomi lomi, you won’t find them here. This is more of a staple lunch plate, but what they do, they do well.
Order a combination plate for more options
Maui’s combo plates make it easy to try a variety of meats, including teriyaki chicken, katsu chicken, kalbi beef short ribs and more. You can get an Aloha plate, which includes one or two meats, steamed rice, and a green salad. Or you can get a Maui plate, which has all of these things in it, but replaces the green salad with a creamy pimp salad.
On the meat side, the first favorites were the kalbi beef ribs and the kalua pork, which was extremely moist to be so finely grated. The pork had an acidity which was accentuated by the low, slow cooking in the oven. The juices would flow into the rice and make a perfect bite.
Although they didn’t have a lot of char, the short ribs were cooked to a perfect point, which made them bone-grabbing exciting. You can order them as a plate, but I chose to enjoy them in the Hawaiian BBQ combo, which also came with barbecue chicken and beef. With two scoops of rice and enough meat to feed a family, the plate reminded me of an old Hawaiian barbecue on the L&L Hawaiian Barbecue fast food standby.
You might not feel better after eating everything, but you still finish your plate. It doesn’t matter how hard you try not to.
Maui Hawaiian Grill
Or: 219 E. Baseline Road, Tempe.
Hours: Sunday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Price: Entrees $ 3.99-$ 6.99; plates $ 9.99 – $ 12.99