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Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai Restaurants

by Walter & Cherie Glaser


Visitors to Hawaii usually come in two groups - those who love the glitter of Honolulu and others who prefer the tranquility and ambiance of Maui, Kauai and the Big Island (called Hawaii just to confuse the newcomer). If it's the latter you prefer, be sure to check out a Luau in Kauai and also read on for some great dining experiences that are sure to enhance your appreciation of the Islands of Hulas and Mai Tais.


505 Front Street, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii, USA.
Tel: + 1 808 661 8422
When America's 'Travel & Leisure' magazine rates I'O as Maui's 'Table of Choice', it convinced me that this was a restaurant worth investigating. And it was! Executive Chef James McDonald has taken the premises of the Old Lahaina Luau Café, and made it into one of the most interesting, nautically-themed dining venues on Maui. The décor is spectacular, modern and innovative, and the food is memorable - combining American, Hawaiian and Pacific Rim tastes. The I'O Crab Cake contains Crabmeat and Puna goat cheese with Maui onion miso dressing, roasted red peppers and sweet garlic cloves on frisee lettuce. Foie Gras Crusted Catch is Fresh fish pan-roasted with foie gras crust, wilted Hana vegetable salad, tropical fruit coulis and balsamic reduction. Every one of their dishes is equally unusual and well-thought-out. And they all taste great.

Their Martini menu, printed on the back of the food section contains 18 martinis each of which is a blockbuster. Try at least one when you dine at I'O.

505 Front Street, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii, USA.
Tel: + 1 808 667 4341
Right next door to I'O is Pacific'O, under the same executive chef, and also with outstanding flavors that contain incredible, multi-national combinations. The Lobster 'Wili' is Spiny lobster served over Israeli couscous with Chinese long beans and roasted Japanese eggplant and Saffron sauce and a sun-dried tomato aioli accent. Even the humble pasta gets enhanced by serendipitous flavors. Order Pesto Pasta, but don't expect 'Spaghetti with tomato sauce'. Instead, you will get Spaghetti tossed with Thai pesto, shiitake mushrooms, tomatoes and cucumbers and served with medallions of fresh fish, saffron sauce, avocado puree and feta cheese crumbles. Wow!!!

33 Lono Avenue, Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, USA.
Tel: 1 808 873 0220
For those who opted for Hawaii when their partners wanted to go to Mexico, dining at Manana Garage will heal any potential rift.

Manana Garage is like no other restaurant. The New York Times described it as 'Industrial chic' - from its gas pump door handles to its green safety-glass bar top. Light fixtures are made from Murano glass and footrests are truck bumper-bars. From the moment you walk in, look around and hear Maui's best Latin entertainers, you know that you've come to a place that's different - and right.

Executive Chef Tom Lelli takes Mexican and Latin flavors, adds French, Caribbean, South-Western, Pacific Rim and Asian influences and comes up with Nuevo Latino choices that will please even the most demanding diners. You will have options like Chile Adobo Pulled Pork (tomatillo salsa, plantains, drunken beans and fresh corn tortillas) or Fresh Fish Chimichanga (roasted tomatillo sauce, wasabi sour cream and guacamole served with Kula greens and coconut-lime vinaigrette). And don't expect Grilled New York Strip to be just that! When ordered here, the dish consists of black pepper cumin rubbed steak with roasted red pepper mojo and it is served with creamed corn and garlic mashed potatoes.


Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows, 64-1400 Mauna Lani Drive, Kohala Coast, Hawaii, USA.
Tel: + 1 808 885 6622
The Mauna Lani Resort has been a favorite in the Hawaiian Islands from the day it opened - elegant and stylish. The CanoeHouse, the resort's signature restaurant is themed around a Hawaiian Canoe, has great views of the Kohala Coast, and features a vast back-wall depicting an ancient petroglyphs field, once a form of communication for Hawaiians. Here Chef Edwin Goto creates dishes like Hamachi and Scallop Ceviche with Green Papaya Salad and Fried Plantains, Chilled Crab Salad on Crispy Wan Ton Chips with Sweet Curry Aioli, Jicama, and Hirabara Micro Greens. For mains, you might try Papa's Rib Eye Steak with Island Sweet Potatoes, Pea shoots and Tamari Glaze, or, if you prefer fish, Pan Seared Opakapaka with Pohole Fern Shoots and Fresh Hearts of Palm with Tomato Limu Sauce. Finish with a dish like 'Reconstructed' Mauna Lani Mud Flow which turns out to be Kona Coffee Ice Cream, with an Oreo Macadamia Nut and Coconut Cookie Crust, and you will go home with a smile on your face.

1 North Kaniku Drive, Kohala Coast, Hawaii, USA.
Tel: 1 808 885 2000
With a wine list that received the 2002 Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator Magazine (and needs a bottomless credit card for many vintages) one would expect outstanding cuisine at this restaurant in one of Hawaii's finest resorts. And The Grill, The Orchid's signature restaurant will certainly live up to expectations. Chef James Babian is a classicist whose dishes attain their excellence through freshest ingredients, perfectly prepared. Babian avoids drowning his produce in 20 conflicting flavors, preferring simplicity and quality. Here you will find favorites like Prime Tomahawk Bone in Rib Eye Steak, Black Angus Filet Mignon, NorthWest Pacific Salmon or the ever-popular Veal Chop, served topped with a fresh sage and brie cheese crust, arugula salad and a smoked tomato sauce. We recommend The Grill selection of specialty Souffleés but remember that they take 20 minutes to prepare.

62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Dr., Kohala Coast, Hawaii, USA.
Tel: + 1 808 882 7222
Chef Thomas L Woods worked in famous Californian Restaurants before coming to the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel to take over the Batik Restaurant. The dishes here are based on Californian cuisine with a heavy overlay of Pacific Rim flavors. Try starters like Jumbo Prawn and Asparagus Tempura with Hot Mustard Guava Sauce, or perhaps Potato Pancake with Batik Smoked Salmon and Scallop Tian Mache and Fresh Dill. For mains there are Batik Specialty Curries - East Indian or Spicey Thai in options of Shrimp, Lobster, Chicken or Vegetable dishes like Medallions of Beef Tenderloin with Oyster Mushroom, Shallot, Matchstick Potatoes and Merlot Sauce, or Sauteed Breast of Chicken topped with Alaskan King Crab Legs and Fresh Asparagus and Tarragon Sauce. You can do a lot worse that completing your meal with the delicious Kona Coffee Mud Torte with Orange Compote and Chocolate Sauce.

425 Waikoloa Beach Drive, Waikoloa, Hawaii, USA
Tel: + 1 808 886 1234
In many Hawaiian-Japanese restaurants, the flavors of Japan are greatly modified by those of Hawaii. Not so at Imari, where Chef Nobuyuki Atsumi sticks to the Japanese tradition but offers a range that is second to none. Ebi Tempura (Jumbo Shrimp deep fried in Tempura Batter) has always been one of my favorites, but many diners prefer the pre-selected Imari Specialty Dinners like a Shabu Shabu six course selection consisting of Otoshi, Sashimi or Tempura, Shabu Shabu, Rice, Tsukemono and Ice Cream. Other Specialty Dinners are a Sukiyaki Course, a Chef's Assorted Course (Appetizer, Sashimi, Grilled Dish, Steamed Dish, Deep Fried Dish, Soup and Dessert) or a Teppan Yaki selection that is cooked on the hot-plate and runs from New York Steak, to Fish, Lobster, Chicken or Shrimp with all the traditional Teppan Yaki trimmings added.



2440 Ho'onani Rd, Poipu Beach, Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii, USA
Tel: + 1 808 742 1661
If you are heading for Kauai island, the Sheraton Kauai Resort has cleverly built four restaurants that are the equivalent of a culinary supermarket - just pick the taste you want and go to the appropriate shelf…oops! I mean restaurant. All are under the guidance of executive chef Steven Falsetti who has worked from Cancun to Las Vegas, Korea to Bermuda and New York to the Philippines. Like Italian food? Drop into the Amore Ristorante for pasta, lasagne, or Italian port and veal dishes, accompanied by a stunning view of the ocean. Prefer seafood or steak? Then Shell's Steak and Seafood Restaurant, set in the resort's tropical oceanfront gardens will bring you the juiciest cuts of Prime Rib, Black Angus Filet Mignon, Rib Eye, T-bone or New York Strip, or all kinds of local seafood, perfectly and simply prepared. Should Japanese cuisine be 'your thing', then Naniwa Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar serves all the Japanese favorites, with some ingredients flown in daily from Japan. Tempura, Sashimi, Soft Shell Crab Salad and the Otsukuri Dinner with Seven Varieties of Seafood are favorites here. And if you just want a light snack and drinks, The Point is the place to enjoy these while watching the sun go down.

Mark Twain, quoted in the New York Sun in 1889 about Hawaii said, 'No alien land in all the world has any deep, strong charm for me, but that one.' Had he dined at restaurants like the ones above, he may never have gone back to the mainland!



Walter & Cherie Glaser are an international travel-writing team based down under in Melbourne, Australia.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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