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Dining in Maui Week of Nov. 8th 2009


Restaurants & Bars 12

Dining in Maui Week of Nov. 8th 2009

ciesel | Nov 9, 2009 10:34 PM

Just arrived and thought I'd update some postings. Have had three meals so far, and will add comments to this post going forward.

1. !st night ate at Sensei. Girlfriend and I enjoyed, but some dishes much better than others. Service was very good. Reservation promptly honored. Focused 100% on "sushi" options. For the food: Had the Sansho-Crusted Ahi Tataki. I'm a big fan of Tuna Tataki, but this one missed the boat. Tuna was overcooked, and tuna didn't seem fresh. Good concept that was poorly executed. Also had the Panko Crusted Ahi Sashimi Sushi Roll and this was a home run. Ahi was great, and the blend of flavors left you wanting more.; Caterpillar Roll
Unagi rolled inside-out, wrapped with avocado and topped with Masago and unagi glaze was also very good. Had the Otoro sashimi, which as Otoro usually is, was quite expensive. Flavor and mouth feel were excellent, but two of the pieces had slight discoloration toward one end, which we avoided, no mention was made of our neglect of these pieces. Also had the Fresh Hawaiian Ahi Carpaccio Sashimi flattened thin and served with cilantro, roasted peanuts, lime zest and sweet Thai vinaigrette. This was also excellent and had us wanting more. Overall slightly above average food, and the price considering it was sushi was fair. Would most likely go back.

Second night went to David Paul's Island Grill. Let me start off by saying i wanted to love this place. Unfortunately the overall experience, especially given the price was severly lacking. We had the tasting menu, with matching wines. I don't think a single wine matched a single dish we had. The worst insult, and i'm getting ahead of myself was the sparkling wine, dry, served with the desert course of creme brulee, and pumpkin cheesecake (both absolutely to die for, especitally the cheesecake, OMG). But sparking wine? Blech. Not a single wine was memorable, and worse, they did nothing to compliment the meal, and actually worked against it. The amuse bouche was outstanding a crab bruchette that lingered for minutes. We both then chose the black been soup, again a solid winner, that had us very excited at that point in the evening. Then the vegetable course, Brussels Sprout Caesar Salad which was Caesar dressing and loose Brussels sprout leaves served with warm polenta croutons, anchovy filet and shaved Reggiano Parmigiano cheese, nice but not overwhelming. Also had some sort of box tomatoe salad. The only thing memorable was the tartness of the vinegar with the dish, and I'm not saying that in a positive way. But come on it was the veggie course, the seafood and meat would bring us home. The seafood started off very promising with Sautéed Opakapaka with Sweet Maui onion soft polenta, pickled Maui onions and Maui onion jus. Fish was cooked perfectly and the sweetness of the onios was great with this dish. The wine, blech. However, the second part of the seafood tasting was a squash ravioli with a bit of poached lobster. Basically a pasta course with a smidgen of lobster, while the pasta was very good, don't think this really qualifies as seafood. Finally the meat courses. A duck confit was so so, but very dry. Also had a Barolo braised short rib. I didn't think it was possible to have a braised short rib that was so tender that it fell aprat in your mouth, but at the same time was so dry that you could barely swallow. The overall impression of the meat was they were prepared will ahead of time and then heated up before being plated. Boring and not acceptable. I've mentioned the deserts, wow. Overall given the total uneveness of the dishes, along with what I consider indifferent service, no personality, no description of the food, no understanding of the wine and why chosen, won't go back.

Evening three - just got back from Bev Gannon's Hali'imaile General Store on the way back from Haleakala National Park and the Surfing Goat farm. Both must stops by the way. This was a meal!! Service, food, atmosphere, the whole nine yards. We had been planning on going to Mama's on the way to the airport for our 10PM flight, but I think we might go back here. Started with the daily soup. A coconut curry chicken soup that was absolutely stunning. Smelled it on the way back to our seats to be seated and had to get it. Was amazing. We then shared the Sashimi Napoleon - Layers of smoked salmon, Ahi tartare, sashimi Ahi, and crispy wontons with wasabi vinaigrette on top of a bed of greens. We each took a bite, stared at each other, and then dug in. Stunning flavor combinations, absolutely extremely fresh fish, couldn't get enough. Didn't say a word to each other except Hmmmm as we ate our way through it. I had the Coconut Seafood Curry with fish, shrimp and diver scallop, steamed in coconut milk mixed with home made green curry paste, Jasmine rice. Coldn't pass it up as I'm a sucker for coconut curries and this one did not dissapoint. Loved every bite. My GF had the catch of the day, mahi mahi, macadamia nut crusted with tropical fruit salsa, mashed purple sweet potatoes, mango lilikoi butter sauce. Fish was cooked beautiffully and the flavors were out of this world. Waiter had recommended a 2006 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir to go with these, and I had my doubts, but went fabously with both dishes, still not sure how. Service was attentive without being intrusive. Would go back in a heart beat.

Tomorrow going to Lahaina Grill and will post again. Not sure on next couple of nights.

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