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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Ka'ana Kitchen Brunch

Prior to going to Maui, I was looking for a place to have Easter Brunch.  I found a few places that still had openings. I stumbled across Ka'ana Kitchen in my searches.  This would be the first Easter brunch they have ever had.  I was a little uncertain of this, but decided this looked to be the best offering.

Ka'ana Kitchen is located Andaz Maui in Wailea.  Luckily this was just down from where we were staying.  I also learned this hotel had newly renovated, and just recently opening.  If you don't stay atthe Andez or eat there, at least stop by and take a visit.  There is no public parking.  The hotel provides complimentary valet.  I can support this.  The hotel has a little beach/zen setup including sand right in the lobby.  The kitchen is downstairs below the lobby.  We were automatically greeted by a very cheery host.  She first walked us through the open concept kitchen (if you were watching House Hunters you would be taking a drink now) to explain what all the dishes that were available for brunch.  This is like no other brunch i had been too.  You will not be locating a waffle or omelette station, or any watery eggs, this is the modern foodie brunch.  Even the chefs are walking around the kitchen chatting you up and telling you about their dishes.

We then get seated out on the patio which has an amazing views of the what looks like a 3 tier infinity pool, and the ocean.  The waitress as really nice, and laughed all my dad's jokes.  I did I mention the cost of the brunch included unlimited mimosa's.  There was regular mimosa, guava, and, passion and guava.  Oh yes please!!

Easter Brunch Menu
Whole Tropical Fruit Cut to Order
Chicken Sausage |Spinach |Feta
Paniolo Potatoes | Smashed | Maui Onions Puree | Garlic | Fresh Thyme
Applewood Smoked Bacon
Herb | Maui Cattle | Lamb
Roti |Pork Belly| Pickled Vegatables
Ahi| Tataki| Fried Rice| Tempura Kim Chee
Charred Baby Peppers| Roasted Tomatoes| Green Beans
Seared| Local Fish| Grilled Lemons

Everything we had was delicious.  If you get a chance to eat here, do it.  You will not be disappointed.

Ka‘Ana Kitchen at Andaz Maui on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 12, 2014

O'o Farm

O'o farm is located in the upcountry of Maui. The farm is located not too far from the lavender farms and Ocean Vodka.  From Kehi is take about 40 -45 minutes to drive to the farm.  The farm has an expansive views of the island.   The farm grows coffee, and variety of fruits and veggies. The farm supplies their bounty to Pacific'O restaurant.  However, the lunch that is held at the farm receives the first choice of the ingredients. The tour begins at 10:30 where you are greeted by your tour guide, provided some history and information of the farm.  As we make our way up to the outdoor kitchen, you pass the coffee bean and fruit trees.  You are encouraged to pick from the tree to smell and taste.

You work your way up to the outside kitchen where Chef JJ is waiting to greet you.  He has a large basket of greens and veggies that were picked that morning.  Along with the some miscellaneous spices.  All of these ingredients will be used in the preparation of the lunch.  The Chef will talk you the menu and pints out the ingredients that will be used for that dish.  You are more than welcome to bring a bottle of wine to have with your lunch (or for some people they bring an ice chest of adult beverages).  At this time, you can leave your wine behind, and they will keep it chilled if necessary.

The rest of the tour takes you around to the rest of the farm where you learn more about composting, visit the vegetable garden and pick lettuce and veggies for the salad that will be served during lunch. The farm also has a coffee roaster on site as well.  They are currently building a structure where it will house a bigger  roaster and seating with a nice view to sip and enjoy your coffee.  In the meantime, there is a smaller roaster in the tool shed.  During the demo of the roasting process, the lunch bell rings.  I wanted to just start moving at that point at time.  I was ready for lunch.

Finally we made our way back to the kitchen.  it is time to eat.
 Chef JJ has everything ready to be served up.  The dining room is long wooden tables with benches.  The view isn't too bad either.
 The menu for lunch was:

Tofu with oven roasted vegetables and herbs from the garden
Kaffir lime mahi, sizzling lemongrass oil and O'o farm vegetables
O'o farm greens with lemon vinaigrette
Hawaiian sea salt and herbed focaccia
Espresso chocolate truffles
O'o fresh roasted coffee

The tour is interesting, but really I went for the lunch.  The lunch was well worth walking around for a couple of hours, especially when there is enough for seconds.

O'o Farm on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Merriman's Maui

I became familiar with Merriman's because of Top Chef.  The final elimination challenge was done at the restaurant.  The first thing i noticed was the stunning views Merriman's offered up.  They are stunning.  They have a great deck that looks out towards the ocean, and serves as their outside bar.  So if you can't dinner this is a possible option.  However, the bar get very full around sunset.

Da Pine
However there is more to Merriman's than just their views and some delicious cocktails.  It is about the food, and that 90% of the food and ingredients are locally sourced.   You know everything you will eat, if it came from the land or the sea, it did not have to travel very far to get your table.

You begin with homemade honey bread that comes in a woven basket and served with a fresh tomato dip with veggies. We started with the Kalu Pig and sweet onion quesadilla with house made kim chee and mango chili sauce.  When in Maui I tend to eat alot of fish, because you are in Hawaii, and it is always good.  So it was nice to have a little piece of meat to start.  They were very tasty with with onions.  The kim chee was ok, but I don't think it was really needed or went with the quesadilla.

Now looking at the menu there are alot of great options, and I hard time deciding.  I am assuming this might be the case with other people, because Merriman's offers Merriman's Mix Plate.  The Mix Plate provides you with a mini tasting menu of items from the land and the sea.  It includes:

  • Sauteed Mahi Mahi with Beet Ponzu - the mahi was cooked perfect.  I'm not a fan of beets, and was a little worried this might overpower the fish, but i was wrong.  It was light, yet a little creamy and did not have that dirty beet taste.
  • Filet of Beef with brown butter sauce - this was the best part of the plate.  The meat was so tender it cut like melted butter.  The meat sat on top of creamy cheddar potatoes(similar to scalloped potatoes) and topped with savory onions.  All so food, and would get the big plate of this dish.
  • Hawaiian Wok Charred Ahi with a wasabi cilantro vinaigrette - this was my least favorite dish.  I did not like the preparation of the ahi, and made it a little rubbery, and lacked flavor.  The rest of the dish had a nice flavor
My boyfriend had the special salad and entree.  The salad was strawberries, tomatoes, maui onions, and goat cheese.  It was such a nice fresh salad, and full of wonderful flavors.  The entree, was cajun style prawns, mahi mahi on top of mashed taro.  The boyfriend seemed to like both dishes.

I love lilikoi (passion fruit), so when I saw lilikoi tart was on the dessert menu, I had to have one even though I barely had enough room.  The tart has coconut molasses crust, and house whipped cream. It had the right amount of passion fruit and so good I somehow manged to eat the entire dessert.

Merriman's on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Maui Food Trucks

Things that are not too hard to locate on Maui are Ford Mustangs and Food Trucks.  Since this is a food blog, I will focus on the food trucks.  In my 7 days in Maui, I visited 3 food trucks.

Kinaole Grill Food Truck - Kihei HI

Kinaole Grill Food Truck is located at 77 Alanui Kealili Dr next to the WoodMark.  This truck is more like is more like a restaurant on wheels.  It offers, mahi mahi, shrimp, calamari, chicken katsu, and pulled pork. All meals come with rice, macaroni salad, and Asian coleslaw (or greens). Most of the dishes are $14.

I chose the grilled Mahi-Mahi with a wasabi cream sauce.  My boyfriend got the panko crusted Mahi-Mahi.  This was like their version of Fish and chips (minus the chips).  The panko crust gave the fish a nice crispy texture.  It had a nice crunch. My mahi was a nice thick piece of fish and was cooked perfectly.  It was moist and the wasabi sauce just gave it a little flavor, but did not overpower the fish.  The macaroni was also good..not too much mayonnaise, and had a good flavor.   I didn't think I was very hungry, but ended up eating the entire dish it was that good.

This is definitely a place you want to stop and have lunch or dinner.  They also have banana bread (which was a nice for breakfast or snacks) and lilikoi cheesecake.  They were out of the cheesecake when I visited, and did not get back to buy one.  I was really bummed, because I really wanted to try one.

The next two trucks were taco trucks, catering more towards fish tacos.  The first truck was Horihitos Mobile Taqueria on S Kihei Rd next to the 76 station.  The second truck was Jawz Fish Tacos, which also on Kihei Rd right next to Makena Beach entrance.

Horhitos Mobile Taqueria

This truck is hidden under a big shady tree in a parking lot next to the 76 station.  They offer shrimp and mahi mahi tacos, along with pork tacos and a variety of wraps.  They had a steady flow of customers while I was there.  I had the mahi mahi tacos, and the boyfriend had shrimp tacos.  The tacos are standard tacos, flour tortilla, chunks of fish, tomatoes, lettuce.  They were $4 each and they were good tacos for what you paid.  If you are looking for a quick lunch or snack, this is a good place to visit.

Jawz Fish Tacos

We drove by this truck on Easter Sunday and the place was packed.  People either walk from the beach or just park along the side of the road.  The same goes with eating your tacos.  There are no tables and chair, so you eat in or next to your car or take your taco back to the beach.

JAWZ offers a little more variety in their fish tacos (ahi, mahi-mahi, ono, and snapper)  They also offer steak, chicken and pork tacos.  This time I had the Snapper, and the boyfriend had the mahi-mahi tacos.  These tacos cost a little more that previous tacos truck.  We ordered 2 tacos each so a total of 4.  When we did that the guy taking our order, says you want 4 total?  Didn't think much of that question until we received the tacos.  The tacos are HUGE!  1 taco is the size of 2 tacos.  One taco should be sufficient for a normal person.  If you do eat 2 tacos, you probably will not need to eat for the rest of the day.  Not only are they huge, they are a bit messy.  So grab alot of napkins.  The tacos have chunks of fish, rice cabbage, cheese and creamy salsa.  If you are hanging out at the beach, this is the Jawz you want to run into and take a bite of.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

WAI'OLU Ocean View Lounge at Trump Wakiki

It was Friday night in Honolulu, and the question was where to eat.  Since i was looking for a place late on Friday afternoon, it was a little difficult to find a place that any openings.  In doing my search, I stumbled across WAI'OLU Ocean View Lounge.  The reviews said they had great views, drinks, and food was not bad.  And I could get a reservation at 8pm.

The lounge is on the 6th floor of the Trump hotel.  It is nice and open and has some great seats that I am sure have great views during the day.  The seating is a mix of tables and chairs and comfy looking couches and chairs.  We were stuck back in the corner and did not get much of view.  Not long after we sat down, a fireworks display started over the beach.  The fireworks display is 5 minutes and put on every Friday night by the Hilton Waikiki.
 When in Hawaii, you must have the best Mai Tai in Honolulu.  This is what the WAI'OLU Ocean View Lounge touts.  At $15 it better be the best Mai Tai I have ever had.  I have to say it was one of the better mai tai's I have had.  It had shaved ice ball, and was not too sweet.

The menu is more smaller plates (asian tapas), so we opted to get a couple of dishes.  We ordered the Ahi Poke, California rolls, and Shrimp Dynamite.

You can';t really mess up Ahi Poke. It was good, had a good flavor, and was by far my favorite dish of the evening.  The California roll was a bit of a disappointment.  It seemed to be lacking in the California, and mostly rice.  Personally, I think the sushi at Whole Foods is better.  The Shrimp Dynamite, which had shrimp, scallops, mushroom, zucchini, and "dynamite sauce".  The sauce was mostly a spicy mayonnaise, and there was a little too much for my taste.

WAI'OLU Ocean View Lounge is a nice restaurant to visit at least once for some drinks and the view at least.  I can't say it was one of my most favorite places to eat while in Hawaii, but I can say I have been there.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Royal Hawaian

I am visiting Oahu and Maui this week. First food stop brunch at The Royal Hawaiian.  If you have never visited The Royal Hawaiian, I highly recommend. Just to at least to walk the grounds and have a cocktail.  It takes you back in time.  Just sit at the bar have a Mai Tai or an old fashioned and  pretend for awhile it is 1960 and you are Don Draper taking a break from the NYC advertising world.

However, if it is before 11am do brunch. Well worth it. A mimosa, ocean view and Diamond Head hanging out in the background is not a bad way to enjoy your brunch.

We were first presented with a brunch amuse bouche, a shot glass of blueberry and banana smoothie. Nice, fresh, and tasty.

I had the kalau pork hash, poached eggs with champagne mustard hollandaise sauce, and my boyfriend had blueberry pancakes.

 Blueberry pancakes maybe a simple breakfast item, but the presentation of them made up for the simplicity. Pancakes stacked on a banana leaf, with a shot glass of fresh blueberries, and his own personal size bottle of real maple syrup.

The pork hash, seems to be the Hawaiian version of eggs benedict.   The pork was tender and a great smoky flavor, and the eggs were perfectly done.   In my experience, the hollandaise is either bad or really good.  8 times out of 10 it is not very good.  We'll this was on the 2 that was done perfectly. It had a nice flavor, and was not heavy and just overwhelmed and covered up the dish.  It was a very yummy breakfast, and would have this dish again when I go back.

We had another stop over in Honolulu, and decided to go back for dinner. Since our reservations were not until 8:45 we opted for a stop over at the Mai Tai bar (next to the restaurant) for appetizer and drinks with the parents.

We started with a Mai Tai and Seafood Platter.  Now note, the seafood platter is a tad expensive ($75..CHA-CHING), but it is designed to server 4 people as an appetizer or 2 people as a meal.  So take a someone who owes you dinner or your parents.  :)

We then moved into the restaurant for dinner, about 20 minutes after our scheduled reservations.  But after a couple of cocktails who is counting.  It is Hawaiian time...right?  Plus you get a good view outside and listen to the waves.

Because we have not had enough seafood on the trip so far we started with Ocean Cappucino which off of their tasting menu.  This is a Dungeness Crab and Blag Tiger Shrimp Bouillabaisse soup.  Chunks of crab and shrimp, with a nice flavorful broth.  We then had    for a seafood salad that was shrimp, crab, lobster, scallops, tobiko caviar and calamari.  It was kind of like the seafood platter with lettuce, taro root, and less expensive. Then we moved onto more shrimp, Hibachi Garlic Prawns with sea asparagus, tomato, fresh mozzarella, and local corn salad.  This was my favorite dish.  The shrimp was almost the size of lobsters. the corn salad and mozzarella, just made for a nice combination and really good flavors.  The platter comes with 3 shrimp, but since we were sharing, the waiter asked it we wanted to add another so we both had 2.  I appreciated that!