Jan. 19th, 2010

Top Ten Best Restaurants in Maui

OK. Say you’ve dined at the Hula Grill already and you’ve had your fill of macadamia nut-crusted fish. You want, perhaps, to add a little oo-la-la to your travels. Well, what could be more perfect than a dinner of contemporary island and French cuisine? Gerard’s restaurant located at the Plantation Inn, is owned by Chef Gerard Reversade, and he is known for his ability to combine the classic French culinary arts with Maui’s freshest island products, and he’s won awards too numerous to mention. We sat out on the verandah of what seemed like an old plantation house, where the fine china and starched white tablecloths added to the candlelit ambience. We started with appetizer of Hamakua and Makawao mushrooms in puff pastry, which was overwhelmingly delicious, and then we ordered the shrimp sautéed in hazelnut oil, accompanied by pasta in truffle butter. In a word, “magnifique.” We ate half the shrimp and then had them bagged to be enjoyed later. (Two days later, they were just as delicious, when we ate them for dinner in our hotel room.) Gerard’s salad with fresh hearts of palm is another crowd-pleaser, featuring Hamakua tomatoes, fresh herbs, beets, olives and truffle-oil vinaigrette. For our entrees, we both ordered the $38.50, locally caught Hawaiian snapper that was oven-roasted in olive oil served with an emulsion of orange and ginger. It was perfectly prepared and a treat for the tastebuds, although what Deb really wanted was the rich scallops and New Caledonia shrimp au gratin in a rich, decadent, cheesy mushroom Mornay sauce – but it just sounds too wonderful ( translation: fattening) and we had bathing suits to fit into the next day. There’s definitely a French flair to Gerard’s – you can order goose rillettes (pommes frites fried in goose fat); frog legs Provencale; and for dessert, the classic millefeuille. Other desserts, which all sounded mesmerizing, were the Tahitian vanilla crème brulee; mousse au chocolat, and tarte tatin. We discovered that dinner at Gerard’s gave new meaning to the words, “Bon Appetit.”, (808) 661-8939.

Before we even left Boston, we were salivating for Roy’s famous Guittard chocolate soufflé. We ate it two years ago, and its taste left an indelible impression on our tastebuds. So we went back. Just about everything we dined on, at our dinner this time, was incredible, and we can’t recommend Roy’s any more enthusiastically. It all started with warm rolls as well as spiced edamame, which are blanched and drizzled with sesame oil, kosher salt, sugar, and the Japanese five spice known as “shichimi.” You can’t stop eating this edamame, it is that scrumptious – and isn’t it nice to know that these soybeans are also nutritious. From there, each course was better than the one that preceded it. For a great selection, choose the Dim Sum Canoe for two, offering shrimp sticks, potstickers, Szechuan ribs, lumpia, and panko-crisped sushi rolls – it will give you numerous tastes of what makes Roy’s so great. The warm onion and tomato salad in balsamic vinaigrette was wonderful, but just a prelude to the $36.50 Misoyaki butterfish. This is black cod (sable) that’s cured for 72 hours in miso and sweet sake, and you’ve never tasted anything so overwhelmingly delicious. This Hawaiian fusion classic dish is a must-have, the fish will just melt in your mouth, and you will proclaim that this is the best fish entree you have ever eaten. (In fact, visiting Hawaii without a trip to Roy’s is like being here and not getting any sun. It’s an absolute must-do.) Other entrees include a macadamia-nut-crusted shutome (Roy, after all, is know for having introduced macadamia-nut-crusted fish to the world), seared diver scallops, Szechuan barbecue-grilled opah, and shrimp in a sweet chili-lime sauce, as well as a meatloaf served with mashed potatoes, and honey-mustard-glazed beef short ribs. For dessert, you could opt for the yuzu honey panna cotta, but you know where our vote lies. The chocolate souffle was even more wonderful this time around – and we know you will feel the same way. In fact, just now, our combined hearts skipped a beat just thinking about it., (808) 669-6999.

After all our fine dining, we wanted to take a break from heavy meals, and eat something more casual. And nothing fills the bill in Hawaii more than a fish taco – it’s solid, nourishing comfort food, yet it has an exotic aloha flair. We’re delighted to say that the $18 fish tacos at Umalu, the new eatery at the Hyatt Regency Maui, were worth the trip. Everything was yummy, starting with the tortilla soup, which gave us a little bit of Mexico, and we could have easily downed two bowls of it, it was that divine. Deb highly recommends it. Next came a Caesar salad, followed by a healthy portion of two giant fish tacos which were everything a fish taco should be – savory, filled with grilled white fish, accompanied by salsa and cheese. They hit the proverbial spot. Umalu also offers other culinary adventures, including Korean barbecued beef salad, Pacific taro-crusted mahi, and Italian pizzas. You can sit by the pool, under the stars, listen to the live music, and have a wonderful meal without feeling that you have to get all dressed up. For dessert, there’s a delectable chocolate milkshake (made with malt, which makes it outstanding), as well as a macadamia-nut ice cream sandwich. Here’s our suggestion: make a night of it by first attending the Hyatt Regency’s 7PM Cirque Polynesia show on property (it is fabulous); followed by an 8:30 dinner at Umalu; followed by a 10 PM “Tour of the Stars” up on the roof. It will be one of the most wonderful, fun-filled nights you’ll ever have., (808) 661-1234.

We had a warm brownie sundae at Tommy Bahama two years ago, and the taste left an indelible impression on our collective tastebuds. (If you haven’t figured it out by now, we love chocolate!) So we went back to this island oasis known for its global gourmet food.

But first, we had to try Tommy’s World-Famous Coconut shrimp ($19.50) that come battered-and-fried with morsels of sweet coconut topping them. These are by far worth every calorie, and even though we never eat fried food, these are a must. We also opted for the South Seas Scallop sliders, two huge sandwiches made with dee-lish scallops in a chipotle aioli – these are a must-have as well – and a meal in itself. The Tortola Tortilla soup is also island-tastic, seasoned with Caribbean spices and containing grilled chicken. Now for the big kahuna: we both had the macadamia-nut encrusted fresh Pacific snapper ($39.50) served with seasonal vegetables. It was savory and superb – flaky, moist, and full of flavor. Here, the portions are huge, the service is great, and the fare is fantastic. Other entrees you should try include the Trinidad tuna that’s encrusted with lemongrass, and the Sanibel chicken stuffed with herb cheese and roasted red pepper. Because we knew we would be super-stuffed, we skipped dessert yet returned the following night to sample four desserts. The key lime pie, which seems to be ubiquitous in Florida and the Caribbean, was melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and believe it or not, we had never eaten it before. Now we understand what all the fuss is about. The pina colada cake was a moist vanilla layer cake with Myers Dark Rum, chopped pineapple, white chocolate mousse and toasted coconut. Yes, we had the Barbados brownie sundae, (which like all of the desserts, comes in two sizes – big and huge) but we have to say, we fell more in love with the $10 Jamaican chocolate cake – a moist flourless chocolate decadence cake that was like dense, heavy fudge. We savored every bite. (And just in case you’re interested, the only thing that enables Debbi to eat like this, every night, is that she goes to the gym for 1 ½ hours every day, and walks 3 miles day. On this trip, she actually lost weight.) In fact, our experience of dessert-the-next-day was such a good idea, we vowed to break up our dinner experiences for future trips, which will enable us, to actually sample even more. Gosh, maybe we’ll even get it all… a la mode.; (808) 875-9983.

By Debbi K. Kickham and William D. Kickham. Esq.
JustLuxe Contributors
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