Say aloha to Funn noodles, poke bowls and more!
It’s certainly no secret that sun seekers flock to Maui for the unbeatable weather, grainy golden beaches and a myriad of outdoor adventure activities. While the valley isle has never been touted as a foodie destination, a new crop of bold chefs and ambitious restaurateurs is set to change all that.
With a culinary scene becoming as hot as all of those bronzed beauties lounging poolside, you’ll want to pack a one-piece and a pair of forgiving pants, and forget about your beach body this winter. Yes, you’ll likely add a few pounds during your holiday. Here’s a look at some ‘must sample’ spots. A noodle joint in an industrial complex well away from the tourist zone may sound a bit random, but when you’re able to pack in six memorable courses within 35 minutes, you understand why locals and a steady stream of foodies are flocking to Star Noodle. This noodle joint on the outskirts of Lahaina is hopping pretty much anytime of day, and night-time reservations book out a week in advance (fortunately, takeaway is available).
While much of the menu is meant for family style dining, it’s unlikely you’ll want to share. Especially if you’re slurping back Star Udon: fat slices of roast pork swimming amid scallions in a rich pork broth. And if you’ve got kids, set them up with an order of Garlic Noodles, savoury ramen noodles that are simple, yet surprisingly delicious.
Another great lunch joint is Leodas Kitchen and Pie Shop along Olowalu Village Road. Getting to Leodas is half the fun. The curvy Honoapiilani Highway hugs the coastline, while Dr. Seuss-like trees canopy overtop it. Head here for glorified grandma food, such as savoury pies and a wide selection of ribbon-worthy sweet pies. Tempting as it is to start off with dessert first, begin with quite possibly the best tuna sandwich of your life. Sushi grade ahi is lightly seared before being layered with caramelized kula onion, local pesto, avocado and aioli. From there it’s a toss up between their infamous Banana Cream Pie (the owners farm their own bananas, plus other fruits and veg) or a sinful Lavender Creme Brule.
Part of the appeal of Maui is its abundance of condo-style accommodation, many of which are clustered around Kehei. If you’re in this neck of the woods, you’ll want to swing by Eskimo Candy for fresh, locally caught fish. Intimate and unpretentious, meals are served up on paper plates with plastic utensils. Poke bowls are what they’re most famous for and there are several kinds to choose from – all thick chunks of ahi tuna marinated in a variety of different sauces such as furikake or shoyu served on a bed of rice. It’s savoury, filling fare, as is their chowder – chock full of local scallops, clams, shrimp and nary a potato. Theonly downside is that it’s closed on weekends, so plan accordingly.
With fusion cuisine seeing a major resurgence in our country’s dining scene, Canadians will really appreciate MiGRANT, celebrity chef Sheldon Simeon’s latest venture. As its name suggests, the restaurant is influenced by almost every nationality that’s settled along the archipelago. It’s local food, but modernized, like the street corn pimped up with lime crema, queso fresco, gochugaru and bacon. For a more substantial bite, opt for the Tonkatsu Duroc Pork Chop, cooked sous-vide before being flash fried with a panko crust. And how fun are the hand cut Fat Chow Funn Noodles? Thick and cut like fries, these glistening morsels are tossed with slivers of pork belly, fruity tomato, and fresh greens in a brown butter sauce.
But you didn’t come to Maui just to eat, now did you? Getting the right resort can make or break your holiday. For those who like their freedom, Napili Kai Beach Resorts is a laid back property with fully equipped condo-suites sporting stunning beach views. Here, you won’t get dinged with additional resort charges and because it’s family-run, you’re often able to negotiate great rates by calling directly to their reservations department.
For those who don’t want to lift a finger, The Ritz Carlton Kapalua is the way to go. This swish property was almost built upon an ancient Hawaiian burial ground. Instead, they chose to protect the site and continue to serve as a model of cultural sustainability. Forget daycare-esque kid’s clubs, Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment offers families one-of-a-kind naturalist programs that are truly meaningful and memorable.
Foodies will appreciate their on-site two-acre organic garden, especially when imbibing their fresh garden-to-glass cocktails. For a splurge-worthy dinner, Banyan Tree offers creative riffs on traditional French and American cuisine, such as Bouillabaisse in a delightful lemongrass broth. And those potbellied pigs roaming around the property? They’re ambassadors, not lunch. But given the nature of the farm to fork movement in Maui, you’d be forgiven if you thought otherwise!