Coconut’s is convinced that a fish counter can still serve healthy food; they lighten up on fat by substituting coconut milk for mayonnaise in the homemade condiments, and using an extremely light batter on fried items. Our personal philosophy is that all food is healthy if enjoyed in the proper spirit and in the right portions, and we do not believe in giving up flavor, for any reason. (We live to eat; we don’t eat to live.)
In the case of Coconut’s coleslaw, we’re willing to concede that the substitution works; the coconut milk creams up into dense foam, and the cabbage and carrots hold their crunch better than in squashy mayonnaise versions.
We’re also pleased with the fish burger. The mahi mahi version is flaky and a little sweet, while the ono (our favorite) is firmer and more savory. They both arrive perfectly cooked with lovely grill marks, dressed sloppily (but sexily) in tomato, cheese, that decadent coleslaw, and tartar sauce. The fish can be rubbed with several flavors—blackened is a good choice—or the simplest butter-grilled version. You can choose a sesame or whole-wheat bun; or skip the bread altogether in favor of perfectly cooked, well-seasoned brown rice.
4 out of 5 stars
We’re warming up to the fish and chips, which are decidedly different. To cut the fat and lighten the calorie count, the kitchen batters the fish in Italian bread crumbs. This results in a very light, very seasoned batter that effectively seals in the juices, but also makes the dish taste a little like the fish sticks we ate as kids. If you like your fish in a thick batter and enjoy that crisp sound when you bite it, you would do well to stick with the grilled fish burgers. The shrimp and calamari are fried in the same breadcrumb batter and the same advice applies.
Coconut’s is one of the more thoughtful additions to the South Maui dining scene.
Coconut’s Fish Café, located at 1279 S. Kīhei Road in Kīhei’s Azeka Mauka Marketplace, serves lunch and dinner. Call 875-9979.