Mama’s Fish House
Voted 2015 ‘Aipono Restaurant of the Year, Mama’s Fish House has been dishing up great fish since 1973. It’s hard to believe that before Floyd and Doris Christenson purchased the property, all that sat here was a rundown shack above a pristine white-sand bay. The couple transformed that shack into the quintessential South Seas setting, an open-air venue overlooking the ocean. From our table, we have a front-row seat for watching stand-up paddleboarders race past, whitewater nipping at their ankles.
Our server arrives, dressed in a bright floral mu‘umu‘u, and presents us with the first tastes of the day:‘ahi (yellow-fin tuna) wrapped in crunchy feuilles de brick (thin, crepelike pastry) on a Hamakua mushroom sauce with a touch of sweet poha (gooseberry) jam; meaty ali‘i mushrooms sauteed in a grassy, rich olive oil and garlic, and sprinkled with Surfing Goat Dairy cheese; and Papa’s Three Fish Sashimi. Papa’s dish features ono, mildly flavored, thinly sliced and topped with a “caviar” of finger limes, lemongrass, green chili, papaya and Moloka‘i sea salt; ‘ahi, a fattier fish capped with white daikon and pink Chioggia beets paired with citrusy ponzu sauce, red shiso leaf and roasted kukui(candlenut) salt; and ‘opakapaka (snapper) garnished with lip-puckering liliko‘i (passion fruit), chili pepper and balanced with black sea salt.
I could stop right there . . . but instead dive into my fish du jour entree of onaga, a red snapper that resides at a depth of 700-plus feet and feeds on a steady diet of shrimp. Slow cooked in Fustini’s blood-orange-infused olive oil, the fish sits atop wokked julienne of Kula cabbage, and red and yellow tomato. Save room for the light, fresh coconut cake and Mama’s exclusive Hawai‘i estate coffees.
799 Poho Place, Ku‘au
808-579-8488 | MamasFishHouse.com