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COMING ATTRACTIONS: Honu by Mark Ellman, Lahaina, Maui


The logo for Mark Ellman's new Lahaina Restaurant, Honu Seafood and Pizza, right on the water in Lahaina.

Courtesy Mark Ellman

Mark Ellman was a pioneer of Hawaii regional cuisine even before it had a name. 

In 1987, he and his wife Judy opened the multicultural eatery Avalon on Front Street in Lahaina. Like Peter Merriman in Waimea, he was a Neighbor Island guy showing Oahu the way to the culinary future.

In 1998, he sold Avalon to focus on his fast-food eatery, Maui Tacos. But he couldn't stop cooking. He opened an Italian eatery, so he'd have some place to make pasta. Called Penne Pasta, it's since been sold.

He then found what many think is the perfect Maui location, an old cannery building that was literally right on the water, and opened Mala Ocean Tavern. If you haven't eaten on the terrace of Mala, you've never really eaten in Lahaina. 

In conjunction with Alice Cooper, Clint Eastwood and Shep Gordon, he opened a second, bigger location of Mala in the Wailea Beach Marriott.

You'd think he'd stop. But one more perfect location came to him. Right next door to Mala Lahaina is an old Local Motion Surf Shop (before that, the wood shop for Lahaina Cannery).

"Believe it or not, it's even closer to the water than Mala," says Ellman. Hard to believe, because the waves crash just before Mala's lanai. Ellman sent along the construction photo at right. He's opening the restaurant all along the water with garage doors.

Ellman is turning the location into a restaurant he's always wanted to see in Hawaii. "It's going to be a quintessential seafood shack like you'd see on the East or West Coast," he says.

Called Honu Seafood and Pizza, there will be every night East Coast fish, West Coast fish and, of course, Hawaii-caught fish, plus a crab tank, fresh shucked East Coast oysters, Ipswich clams, fresh squid, lobster rolls, shrimp cocktail and crab Louie.

For all the seafood in Japanese and Hawaii regional restaurants, there's nothing quite like it in Hawaii. We're salivating already. We want everything. Even the Neapolitan thin-crust pizza with Maui ingredients.

Opening by August 1, and Biting Commentary will do his best to be there.

Honu Seafood and Pizza, 1295 Front St., Lahaina, Maui, (808) 667-9390.

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