Tasty Crust is the the locals’ choice for breakfast on Maui. Busy booths in unimproved 70s diner digs are a good sign of credibility. The prices are another clue. A meal here runs less than half of what the same dishes are priced at in tourist areas. The menu includes Hawaiian and mainland breakfast favorites, Asian noodles, fresh fish and Hawaiian plate lunches. As any worthy diner should, it offers something for everyone but aristocrats.
The vintage Coca-Cola roadside sign boasts “world famous pancakes,” but the menu refers to them, as most do on Maui, as hotcakes. At a couple bucks a cake, they are among the least expensive flapjacks we’ve ever ordered (this is especially remarkable on pricey Maui). The cakes are classic, golden pancakes with a good rise and a nice fluffy texture. They approach a nice crust, as promised, but they were probably taken off the grill just premature of achieving crisp. We found them to be only just above-average. Getting them with banana helps. Unfortunately, they don’t get much help from condiments as they come slathered in margarine (a Hawaiian staple), and with only “pancake syrup” on the table. The drizzle pitcher sits next to the usual diner condiment, ketchup, and the less usual bottle of shoyu (soy sauce).
The soy sauce is vital for adding flavor to the basic chow fun and Hawaiian breakfast fried rice. These both come very much unseasoned, like old-school diner food. At Tasty Crust, soy and siracha act as an Asian-influenced salt and pepper. The chow fun is just doughy rice noodles with some shreds of salty pulled pork. It is basic, but tasty once dressed. The fried rice is crunched up with some scallions and bacon and topped with an over-easy egg to give it some familiar breakfast flavors.
The best thing here is the loco moco, a traditional rib-sticking breakfast of a hamburger patty over rice covered in gravy and a sunny-side up egg. The rice cookery, a juicy patty, and unctuous gravy all help make it an above average version of this breakfast favorite. Surfers swear that it cures hangovers.
The friendly service, local vibes and simple flavors found at Tasty Crust all point to a diner that’s good for everyday fill-ups and morning-after soak ups. If nothing else, this is the truest old-school Hawaiian comfort food on Maui, and the prices are unbeatable.