We Rank Three’s Happy Hour Pupus
Vanessa Wolf is a former head chef, previously working in Portland, Oregon. She offers her frank assessments in the interests of honesty and improving Maui’s culinary scene.
By Vanessa Wolf
If you’ve lived on this island for any length of time or even just visit regularly, you know that there are a few select happy hours that rock. Hard.
Three’s Bar and Grill in Kihei is no doubt one of them.
Statistics indicate that three in five restaurants close or change owners in the first three years.
Three’s turns three this week, and since we have eaten our way through the entire happy hour menu more than once, we thought we’d run down the list of appetizers in order of deliciousness and discuss what works and what maybe could help an item or two rank a little higher on the list.
“Order of deliciousness” is an opinion.
Food reviews are inherently opinions.
However, quite arguably – perhaps even provably by some science of some sort – some palates are better than others, so if you lack a sense of smell/taste or burned your taste buds off in a horrible chicken soup accident as a child, at least we know we’ve provided a service to someone.
Bear in mind, Three’s happy hour entitles one to half-off pupus between the hours of 3 to 6 p.m. and 9 to 10 p.m. daily, so listed prices are actually twice as much as you’ll pay. Although arguably, portion size is on a diet when compared with the regular menu.
1. Fresh shucked Penn Cove oysters. ($1.50 each: these are not discounted)
So they win simply because they’re oysters.
That are freshly shucked.
And served on a bed of ice.
And of the Penn Cove variety.
2. Crab Cakes ($15.95)
The Three’s crab cakes are the kind of thing that have friends who visited from Montreal and are now living in Bali grumbling in angry jealousy when they see a photo of them on your Facebook wall.
They’re just plain old delish.
You get three crab cakes that occasionally taste like they may also contain fish… but who cares? The vaguely curry-ish flavors and pineapple relish all but guarantee transportation to a happier place and happy places are good.
3. Coconut Crusted Shrimp ($12.95)
It’s hard to mess up coconut-crusted shrimp, and to our great pleasure, Three’s doesn’t.
Served atop an outstanding Asian slaw with the same chipotle fruit relish that accompanies the crab cakes, the only problem is that there are only five of them.
4. Chicken Satays ($13.95)
Sometimes you get three, sometimes you get four. Four is better because four is more and because it doesn’t lead to that “you already ate more than your fair share of the coconut-crusted shrimp and now you’re seriously eating that third satay as well???” moment with your dinner partner.
Regardless of how many you get, however, you’ll find that they are lightly coated in a slightly sweet sauce. The same Asian slaw from several of the other dishes makes another appearance; so if you find yourself on the short end of the satay stick, make up for it here.
5. Mediterranean Whole Wheat Flatbread ($11.95)
(Psssst, Three’s. It’s spelled ‘Mediterranean’ with two “R”s and two “N”s. Check your menu, and you’ll catch our drift.)
In other news, this is a solid option, and the only option if you’re a vegetarian.
It’s kind of like a Greek salad on top of a big pita coated in red bell pepper hummus and crazy messy if you try to pick it up and eat it like nachos. So maybe don’t pick it up and try to eat it like nachos even though it all but begs to be eaten that way.
6. Sweet and Spicy Lettuce Wraps ($11.95)
(Psssst #2. You’ve got lettuce spelled wrong two different ways. Points for creativity, but…)
It’s a mish-mash of ground turkey, water chestnuts, ginger, sesame seeds, and tomatoes. It looks a bit like something that might have been manufactured by the fine folks at Alpo, but once it’s tucked away inside the lettuce and placed into your mouth, all such thoughts disappear. The water chestnuts make the dish.
In addition to a near head of romaine lettuce, it comes with a tremendous portion of mint and Thai basil, so you can pick and choose which of those you wish to include… if any.
7. Panko Crusted Ahi, Avocado, and Cucumber Roll ($15)
It’s OK. It’s maybe overpriced for what it is. The spider web sauce technique screams “dessert” and is arguably distracting to the plating.
Maybe dial back the pool of sauce and do something to kick up the flavor in the roll: a sliver of kaffir lime leaf? Some preserved Meyer lemon? A slice of jalapeno? A little wasabi in the rice? Obviously it’s up to you, Three’s, but we hope you’ll consider it.
Meanwhile, Fair Diner, rather than this, you might want to go for one of the sushis at the bottom of the menu instead. They’re all pretty interchangeable, with the salmon avocado and spicy tuna being our favorites.
8. Kalua Pork Quesadilla (12.95)
Pork and cheese in a tortilla with a side of barbecue sauce?
If that’s what you’re into.
9. Kalua Pork Nachos ($13.95)
The tortilla chips are a mix of potato, taro, and sweet potato chips. Pork is placed on that and then some pepper jack cheese is melted over it.
Let’s just say some people don’t particularly enjoy this, and that person’s name is Vanessa Wolf.
Still, not everyone vibes with the same things.
Regardless, we’re pretty sure you’ll find some items you do like at the daily happy hour at Three’s Bar and Grill.
See you there.
We welcome your feedback. Please let us know if you hear of any new restaurants opening or reopening, total menu overhauls, or simply know of a hidden treasure you want to share. Have a restaurant you want reviewed (or re-reviewed)? Drop us a line – Vanessa(@mauinow.com)