Eating Your Way Through Maui, HI

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Since coming back from Maui, all I ever get asked is what I did while there.

“Did you hike Haleakala?” “Did you venture through the Kahanu Garden?” “Did you walk on Oneuli Beach?”

No. No, I did not. I didn’t because I was eating. Yes, eating. A lot.

Most of my time there was spent meeting chefs, serving as a judge at a food festival, and trying out restaurants. This experience not only exposed me to some really great food in Maui, but also to the passion behind the movement of sustainability happening all throughout Hawai’i. From farmers to chefs to purveyors, the message I kept hearing over and over again was about the desire to find ways to empower farmers, connect farmers with chefs, and get consumers excited about buying local as well as being proud of what is offered and grown here. Not only is it a matter of pride for the land and traditions, but also a matter of cost and finding creative ways to reduce expenses as well as the carbon footprints related to transportation of food, especially to the islands of Hawai’i from the mainland.

I ate in very many places, but I want to highlight my absolute favorites here and encourage you to check them out and support the sustainability movement in Maui when visiting.

Market Fresh Bistro – Executive Chef Justin Pardo, formerly of Union Square Cafe in NYC (and a Bronx native)
3620 Baldwin Ave., Makawao, HI
(808) 572-4877
 

You will find this bistro is small and casual in looks, but in service and food it is very high-end. Guests have a full access view of the kitchen which works well because one of the best qualities of this eatery is Chef Pardo’s personality.

On the evening of our visit Chef Pardo treated us with a tasting menu that was so well done, my mouth still waters over the thought it of. What is most divine about the dishes here is that they are created with ingredients all locally sourced. Meaning, if it’s not growing there it’s not being served, something which can be a huge challenge for many chefs but which Chef Pardo manages to make look seamless and easy.

Chef Justin Pardo’s attention to detail and passion for the local flair made this my favorite eatery in Maui.

Kupa’a Farms lemon thyme marinated baby beets, herb goat cheese and garlic naan.

Upcountry vegetable salad, Coca Farms green beans, DMOC Farms roasted rainbow carrots, Kupa’a Farms watermelon and black radish, Kupa’a Farms mixed greens, DMOC Farms pesto vinaigrette. Tamimi Farms heirloom tomato salad, Kula herb goat cheese fritter, Evonuk Farms parsley and Kalamata olive vinaigrette

Greenlef Farms kalo crusted ono Kupa’a Farms curried cauliflower and tomato chutney, saffron braised leeks

Braised Maui Cattle Co. short rib (meat just fell off the bone). Kupa’a Farms elephant garlic, sauteed piracicaba, pumba onion jam.


Pulehu (at The Westin Maui Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas) – Executive Chef François Millet
6 Kai Ala Drive  Lahaina, HI
(808) 667-3200

But it did. It worked incredibly well actually. The dishes were so rich in flavor and beautifully presented, I had no remorse for how much I enjoyed every bite. We were celebrating a birthday of a dear friend that day and as with any special celebration you want things to be just right.Pulehu was for me, what held the largest element of surprise. It had, on the surface, so much going against it: a hotel restaurant – an Italian restaurant, in Maui, to boot. How could this possibly work?

I didn’t try their wood stone thin crust pizzas, but I could tell that even this New Yorker would have been left impressed.

The restaurant site is airy and open, but still provides a sense of intimacy. The decor is bright and fun, while leaving room for a glimpse of spectacular Hawai’ian sunset.

Bread sticks with herb butter and pesto dip

Cheese platter with flat iron grilled garlic bread

Prosciutto platter

Crispy clam with Parmesan chips

Pollo piccata, chicken, capers, lemon butter, fettuccine

Prawn risotto Italian herb crusted prawn, chive oils, mushroom risotto

Roy’s Kana’apaliExecutive Chef Joey Macadangdang & Sous Chef J.B. Balisco
Address: 2290 Kaanapali Parkway, Lahaina, HI
(808) 669-6999

My first impression of this Roy’s location (it is one of several in Hawai’i) is that it is big. Aside from the view of the golf course seen from the very large windows on one side of the restaurant, there isn’t very much to the decor of this place. But it was clear within less than an hour of arriving for our 6:30PM dinner, that nobody cares and that what brings people back to Roy’s is the food. Within an hour the place was packed with guests of all kinds – families, couples, even those hanging out by the bar. Most of them tourists, but not all. It seems locals really love coming here too (a sign of something worth trying).

As a matter of fact, when a couple dining next to us saw us photographing our food (food blogger standard before eating anything) and found out what we do, they felt inclined to tell us what the best dishes were, what their particular favorites were, and how much they just absolutely loved dining here.

Then we got a chance to experience it ourselves.

Chef Joey opened up our culinary journey with a Roy’s favorite, the Roy’s Style Dim Sum Canoe for Two, which is deserving of accolades both for its presentation, variation, and flavors. That it could serve as its own meal is an understatement, but once you start here it’s pretty hard not to want to try a little of something else, which we happily did. A dish not photographed here, but tried by my friend, fellow food blogger Ayngelina Brogan of Bacon is Magic, was the Black Tiger Shrimp Ceviche – please note it because it is an absolute must.

Roy’s Style Dim Sum Canoe for Two Gyoza, Baby Back Ribs, Lumpia, Shrimp Sticks Ahi Poke, Kampachi Sashimi

Szechuan Charred Tiger Shrimp, grilled kula corn cream sauce, asparagus spears

Chinese Jade Pesto Steamed Kona Kampachi, Chinese style sizzling soy sauce

Upside down pineapple cake with vanilla ice cream (to die for)

David Paul’s Island Grill – Chef David Paul
900 Front St.
Lahaina, HI
(808) 662-3000
 

By far, one of the most entertaining ways to experience Chef David Paul’s restaurant is to personally dine with him as we did. Charismatic and a bit eccentric, I found his stories fascinating to listen to and pretty insightful as well. This ambitiously creative, award-winning chef has worked hard to build his career bringing to life his passion for cuisine and presenting it to guests of either his restaurant, or his frequently hosted cooking courses, in a way that is beautiful and quite enjoyable.

If you’d like the experience to dine in near proximity to the chef, he hosts a chef’s table in the kitchen for two at about $425 a pop. But if that’s not within budget fear not, you can still enjoy his creative dishes and his beautiful restaurant ambiance while people watching or sunset admiring, if you wish.

Chef David Paul took the time to share with us his burrata cheese recipe and give us a tour of his kitchen.

Fresh Burrata Cheese, olive-rosemary loaf, Olowalu tomato jam, Hawaiian sea salt

Idaho Trout Salad-Keawe Smoked Trout, Kapalua Farm, Arugula, pickled Maui Onions, toasted pine nuts, white Balsamic reduction and smoked olive oil

Maui raised Bershire Pork belly, slow roasted with pomegranate glaze, cannelli bean salad, ricotta salata cheese and parsley oil

Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop 
820 Olowalu Village Road, Honoapi’ilani Highway, Lahaina, HI
(808) 662-3600
 

This casual eatery is owned by the same group that owns Star Noodle, another favorite among our group of food bloggers – but one I didn’t get to try. However, you can read about it on Jennifer Heigl’s write up on DailyBlender.com and Ayngelina Brogan’s write up on write up on BaconisMagic.ca

Leoda’s doesn’t stay behind as a visitor’s and local’s favorite. Their quick service and good food, not to mention their awesome pies (yum, pie…) make it must visit when in Maui.

My favorite were by far the pies – the banana cream and coconut cream, especially. And though the pot pies are their specialty, I personally enjoyed the seared ahi sandwich a lot more.

Fried Mac n’ cheese

Reuben Lumpia

Seared ahi – grilled rye bread, seared fresh sashimi grade tuna, avocado, caramelized Kula onion, jarlsberg cheese, local basil pesto, garlic aioli, watercress

chicken pot pie – tender chicken breast, veloute, peas ‘n carrots, kale

Piiiiies…
 

Last but not least, check out Longhi’s (Longhi’s Wailea In the Shops at Wailea – 808-891-8883), where we happened to have a low key brunch, just as girls. Mimosas and pastries as big as my head is what I most remember, well that and the great service and lovely ambiance.

Happy Eating!

Disclosure: I was a guest of the Maui Tourism Board and their hotel and restaurant partners, for which I am most grateful. All opinions expressed are strictly my own.

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Carol Cain

Carol is her happiest when on an adventure, either close to home or farther away. She's the mom to three fun boys and wife to a handsome Irish/Scot. She lives in New Jersey with her happy crew, but will always be a girl from Brooklyn. You can read her full profile here.

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2 Responses to Eating Your Way Through Maui, HI

  1. Ayngelina says:

    Such delicious food and well worth a few extra pounds.

  2. Carol Cain says:

    @ Ayngelina:

    Haha! I soooo agree!

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