It's no secret that I love to eat. I would say, and have said in the past, that I live to eat, not eat to live. I am often looking for a place that serves up delicious, mind-blowingly good, diverse, tasty and satisfying dishes -- so much so I believe that I have become a food critic who may be hard to please now. With that, I still love staples like Zippy's, Liliha Bakery, and frozen pizza... so I am not that much of a food snob, but I definitely think my palate is well trained and experienced when it comes to elevated levels of cuisine.
Now, I have to share a few of my favorites when I travel to Maui because the food scene there is literally on fire! The Valley Isle is bursting at the seams with gourmet culinary experiences, grand tastings and delicacies that are mouth watering, memorable and a personal favorite when it comes to eating. Noted as one of the best chefs in the state, and also in the country for that matter, Sheldon Simeon has found a home in Wailea after placing as a finalist in Top Chef Seattle. The Hilo native and his beautiful family reside on Maui and we are all so very lucky because of this. Sheldon is one of my favorite chefs in the world because of his island/Filipino influences, combination of flavors, textures and unique takes on traditional dishes with a new and innovative presentation.
I gotta be honest, I am NOT fan girling, as I didn't really watch Top Chef that season, I did see a couple of episodes, but I wasn't glued to the TV enamored with his progress or the show. I actually met him after the show was done and experienced his cooking after he left Star Noodle and ventured off to find a new venue to showcase his ability to blend the old world with the new world. After visiting his restaurant a handful of times and tasting his dishes at numerous special events statewide, I am proud to showcase some of the items available at my friend's fabulous restaurant. Here some of the dishes he prepared (on and off menu) currently at Migrant, located in the Wailea Beach Marriott.
AHI AVO: Sashimi Grade Big Eye Ahi, Argumato Lemon Olive Oil, Usukuchi Soy Sauce, Ground Chili Paste, Ulu Chips $24.Talking about flavors and textures this is a great representation of that combination - the sashimi texture with the buttery avocado then crunch from the ulu chips, perfectly seasoned to highlight the tuna.
Beets & Goat Cheese: Roasted, Pickled & Shaved organic and local beets, Maui Oma Coffee sprinkled "soil" with whipped goat cheese and aged balsamic (salad). $12. I have never been a huge beet lover, until recently and I love how Sheldon likes to pickle things to make them more acidic and easier to eat, plus that crunch! The sweet beets, creaminess of the goat cheese, crunch from the crumbs and pickled beets and toast, overall a standout dish.
Sorry for the blurry pic, I was reaching across the table and thought it came out ok. LOL MIGRANT DYNAMITE BOMB! Fresh Fish Changes Daily, Bay Scallops, White Shrimp, Shiitake & Zuchini, Chili Masago Mayo, Faux Nagi Sauce All on Bed of White Rice $38 This was no doubt the best seafood dynamite bowl ever. The chunks of seafood, the creaminess of the mayo and the rice in the bowl all very hearty and delicious.
Off Menu: pork with fried paiai, onions and guava jelly. Oh this dish was a bit of a preview for a catered event the next night so you may not be able to order it. They looked like chicken nuggets but served with the crisp paiai was divine! Add in the guava jelly, like when you make smoked meat and it was a really fun dish.
HAND CUT FAT CHOW FUNN Steamed Tapioca Fat Chow Funn Noodles, Chopped Lechon Pork, Pipinola Shoot Salad, Brown Butter Achuete Jus, Grated Parmigiano Reggiano $16 This is a chow fun, noodle unlike any other you have ever tasted. That almost gum-like texture with the cheese and fresh veggies was so unique. I loved every bite and the small chopped noodles are fun to eat too!
Now after sampling all these dishes the other night I am dreaming about the time I can return and eat there again. The menu is whimsical, yet robust with flavor, an abundance of textures and pairings of sweet, savory, chili, tangy, fishy, meaty, all in one adventure. Some of the items I have yet to try include: Bottom of the Plate Lunch, Mean Kine Ramen, Eh! Caprese! and a few others. I am super honored that I have had the chance to taste what I have so far and am foaming at the mouth for the chance to return.
THE WAILEA BEACH MARRIOTT RESORT & SPA
3700 Wailea Alanui Dr
Kihei, HI — 96753
I remember being a princess every year for Halloween when I was in elementary school. One notable year my mom took a long flowing skirt and made it into a cape, she then sewed a rhinestone clip to a makeshift headband so I could feel like I was wearing a crown. I looked more like a mini-superhero than a princess but at least I felt like one on the inside, if only for a night or two. Not every little girl wants to be a princess, but I sure did and I know I am not alone. As I watch my nieces grow they are just like me very energetic, free spirited, love to dance, sing and act. I am so touched to see these little girls grow into lovely young ladies.
You're probably wondering where I am going with this... But I wanted to share something that has impressed me and grabbed my attention. A handful of former Miss Hawaii's have relaunched a program that is aimed at helping young girls find their inner princess.
The Miss Hawaii's Princess Program is headed by former Miss Hawaii's Billie Takaki Lueder (MH 2000), Candes Meijide Gentry (MH 1999) and Jennifer Hera Pimentel (MH 1998), to provide a mentoring, character building, positive and engaging platform/experience for young Hawaii girls. The non-competitive program allows participants (5-12 years-old) to meet the current contestants vying for the title of Miss Hawaii, they also get to hang out and chat with the current Miss Hawaii (Miss Hawaii represents our state in the Miss America Program) along with lunch and an intimate hair and nail beauty session... Then a beautiful crowning moment, where each girl is given a mini-Miss Hawaii crown, a rose and a gift bag, in addition to the memories that will last a lifetime.
The program is tied to the Miss Hawaii and Miss Hawaii Outstanding Teen organization. Each year the experience will be held during May/June when the annual Miss Hawaii Pageant is held. The next Miss Hawaii's Princess Program is slated for 2016 and for more information feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org. As a former Miss Hawaii, I am just in awe and amazed by the ladies who have put this program together, it's a great opportunity for our local young ladies to connect with great role models, inspiring community leaders and feel comfortable being who they really are -- Princesses.
Yum yum in my tum tum, yup the hype is well deserved! Bread + Butter, located next to Shokudo and where Angelo Pietro used to be is just what the doctor ordered. Great food, casual yet friendly atmosphere, eager staff, innovative dishes, memorable tastes and free parking - hallelujah!
I know Melissa Chang was initially hesitant to blog about this gem because of fear it would be too popular and develop into a crowded eatery with no place to sit, long lines and a hefty wait, but even with the crowd and the recent popularity (with no advertising whatsoever), this place is still being called the new "it" place to be for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The interesting story about the chef is he is from Argentina he is Japanese, but he doesn't really identify with Japanese cuisine so much as he does pasta, pizza, flavors like mac n cheese and arugula salad. You can tell he has an eclectic palate and I love it! Lets dive in!!!
The place reads like a cafeteria, meets cafe, meets charcuterie/wine bar. This dish is one of the most popular - its the Lobster Mac n Cheese $9.95. This sounds super rich and heavy, but its more like a chowder topped with cheese and filled with a creamy base and lots of lobster chunks. Really good!
I've had squid ink pasta before and it's usually smothered in marinara sauce and you don't get to taste the fresh pasta. This Shrimp Pepperoncino and squid ink pasta was phenomenal and I loved that the shrimp was perfectly cooked. It wasn't hard, gummy or mushy, it was moist, tender and simple seasoned. You could taste every bite and every sprinkle on the pasta, so nice and delicious. $16.95
Peach and Beet salad with arugula and bleu cheese. Nicely done, I never thought to put pear and beet together. It was refreshing and tasty. May have been slightly overdressed, but I love lots of dressing. If you don't perhaps ask for the dressing on the side. Nice, fresh, light salad, large portion too! $12.00
They also have a carefully selected Tapas menu after 3pm, each dish is about $7.00 and they have a fine wine list with some great wines to pair with the unique flavor profiles. Lets GO! Great job Chef Masa and also props to Justin Mizufuka the menu is brilliant and the flavor profiles leave me wanting more!
I can honestly say that I have only had the pleasure of enjoying a Hawaiian Airlines first class meal twice, in recent years. Thankfully, I was on a flight that allowed me to upgrade my seat and enjoy the benefits of extra comfort, bottomless beverages, complimentary entertainment and specially crafted meals by Executive Chef Chai Chaowasaree. Well as you can imagine after 5 years of cooking-up meals for one of the only airline carrier's in the world that still offers free in-flight food, Chai was anxious to let someone else bring their culinary skills to the table. For the next couple of years the designer dishes can be found in the first class cabin, while the rest of the guests still get to enjoy a nice, hearty and flavorful treat the culinary experience is headed in a new direction with guest chefs taking the menu forward for all flights from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland. Up first, Jon Mastubara from Japengo, Hyatt Regency Waikiki.
Jon and I used to work together long ago while he was still at Alan Wong's and I was working there too. I have since always admired his genuine personality, his vigor for life and his super smart lawyer wife who was always the life of the party and a pleasure to hang out with. Together they are a lot of fun and he is still so kind and patient always taking the time to catch up while he is busy cooking and being a star chef featured on the Travel Channel, TODAY show and Food Network. Jonny created a new take on the tried and true local comfort foods, with familiar flavors and bright fresh colors. You will see things like fried rice, loco moco, french onion soup, and ramen (somen-like) salad with an innovative twist. Nice to see they are also incorporating more vegetarian friendly options like portabello mushroom with lentils instead of steak.
Here is the line-up of guest chefs over the next two years:
June 1, 2015- November 30, 2015 - Jon Matsubara
December 1, 2015 - June 1, 2016 - Lee Anne Wong
Summer 2016 - Wade Ueoka
Early 2017 - Andrew Le
Mid 2017 - Sheldon Simeon
For more info on the Hawaiian Airlines Featured Chef Series click here:http://hawaiianairlines.com/featuredchefseries