Craving Maui

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Bartender showdowns and an epic wine festival are on the isle agenda. 

By Carla Tracy, Dining Editor

CHINESE AND THEN SOME… Situated in the Shops at Wailea, Lineage is on the route to be serving the tastiest Chinese cuisine on Maui. Founded by Top Chef fan favorite Sheldon Simeon of Filipino heritage, it has segued with subsequent chefs and now has a decidedly Cantonese and Szechuan slant to the menu.

“I would call it Asian fusion with a heavy emphasis on traditional Chinese flavors,” said Chef Emmanuel “Emman” Eng, who moved here in 2020 from San Francisco where he was chef at the well-known institution Bix Bier.

“I feature Chinese flavors with nods to Korea, Japan and Indonesia. I’m Chinese ethnically,” he said. “I pull inspiration from my childhood. It’s a big place and a lot of distinct cuisines. Right now, most of the style of food is Cantonese.”

Seafood lovers rave about the crispy shrimp and scallop croquettes made with taro, Facing Heaven chili sauce and XO lemon aioli, Cantonese lobster noodles with leeks, ginger and XO butter; and the honey-garlic shrimp and sugar-snap peas. Vegetarians will fly right with the Lapa‘au Oyster Mushroom and Vegetable “Birds Nest” with local mushrooms, baby bok choy, carrot, daikon, and charred eggplant all served on a bed of taro.

Lineage

“We run specials from Taiwan to Shanghai to Xi’an to the northwest,” said Eng. “It’s a lot of fun to explore these cuisines – very unique to the island. Sets us apart from what is typical here.” Handcrafted cocktails include the Buddha Belly and Thyme to Burn.

“We don’t have a great ambiance or a great view, but we make up for it in great service and great craft cocktails,” said GM Melanie Wicker. “Our lead mixologist April Leslie has a farm up in Olinda and what she grows is a big influence in our cocktails. We’ve been getting a lot of amazing acknowledgments from customers about our service, too.”

Wolfgang’s Steakhouse is going to be Lineage’s neighbor in the Shops at Wailea in the coming months in the former Longhi’s location. Exciting news, indeed.

PICTURE PERFECT… Named after acclaimed Columbian sculptor Fernando Botero, Grand Wailea’s impressive Botero Lounge boasts nine bronze statues restored to their original luster. It’s the largest private collection of Botero in the world, and now the voluptuous figures are even more picture-worthy, more Rubenesque, than before. Click away!

Botero Lounge is drawing in diners with live nightly music, fresh sushi by Chef Mooney and occasional workshops such as “The Art of Sushi Making, “The Art of Whiskey,” and “The Art of Cocktail Mixing,” all taught by expert chefs or bartenders.

Sink your teeth into the ultimate bar food of miso black cod wrapped in local butter lettuce and seasoned with kizami, yuba and chive; and Rainbow Roll sushi with crab meat, avocado and assorted fresh fish. Pair your pupu with Paolina’s Daisy craft cocktail with Casa Noble Reposado, pomelo juice and smoked shishito pepper – and meet new pals at the bar.

“We are thrilled to update the classic charm of Grand Wailea, while enhancing the luxury and heritage for which it is known, and to commemorate this new chapter with so many exciting activations and partnerships,” said JP Oliver, managing director. “We look forward to finalizing all redesigned spaces and ultimately offering guests an enriched product with authentic Hawaiian experiences in our idyllic Maui setting.”

Lineage

MORE LIQUID LIBATIONS… Wanna witness an oceanfront cocktail showcase? Mala Ocean Tavern set right on the water in Lāhainā invites you to its hugely popular series, Tavern Shakedown, on the last Saturday of each month. No cover. Doors open at 10 p.m.

“Each month two of Maui’s best mixologists and bartenders go head-to-head to find out who is the master of their craft, hosted by Mala Mixologist Dennis Day. Each bartender is given a mystery ingredient box and faces off to craft a cocktail that highlights the ingredients in the box, in partnership with Heaven Hill,” said Mala co-owner Ashley “Bad Ash” Davis.

FYI: Heaven Hill is the largest independent, family-owned and operated distilled spirits supplier in the country, making from whiskey to rum. “Each Shakedown, guests will have the opportunity to cheer on participants and sample the culinary delights. Drink tickets are available for purchase,” Davis said.

Mala Ocean Tavern also hosts daily Happy Hour from 2 to 4 p.m., with food and drink specials and live music by Max Angel on Tuesdays and Amber Fiedler on Fridays; Ladies Night on the first Saturday of every month with $7 rose champagne drinks; and Three Pounds of Kalo, one of Maui’s hottest bands, performing the second Saturday of each month.

Of course, the granddaddy of ’em all, the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival, aka the oldest event of its kind in the country, wines and dines oenophiles and regular old wine lovers June 8-10 at Kapalua Resort. “Enthusiasts of all things of the good life join to sip, savor and share premium wines from around the globe and culinary specialties of Kapalua Resort chefs and friends,” said Event Director Karin Sagar, who knows if those champagne glasses could talk, they would tell some exciting tales from the many decades of the festival.

Sponsor wineries are Justin Vineyards and Champagne Louis Roederer, and dozens of other top vintners will be on hand. Handcrafted cocktails will be made by House of Suntory along with Makers Mark whiskey and OTR. Wine dinners flow around Kapalua. The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua sets the elegant stage for wine seminars and the Grand Tasting, the latter lively with entertainment by local favorite Nuff Sedd and food by “Top Chef” guests Edward Lee and Kelsey Barnard Clark, along with top Kapalua restaurant chefs.

The Ritz’s General Manager Andrew Rogers sure knows how to throw a party, as evidenced by the successful Celebration of the Arts he presented there in April. Speaking of the Ritz, its Alaloa Lounge just completed a huge renovation. Come check out the new all-weather deck, mesmerizing firepits, new sushi and cocktail menu and nightly entertainment. Tap your feet to Liz Morales and other performers in the lounge such as Jordan Soon and Joshua Kahula.

Voted “Best Lobby Lounge” each year in MNKO’s ‘Aipono Awards, it entices with grilled shishito peppers with charred lemon; specialty sushi rolls such as Rainbow and the Spicy Tuna; and the best Smash Wagyu Burger this side of Tokyo. The Alaloa Lounge is also the perfect place to schmooze famous chefs, winemakers and the charming Ritz GM during the wine festival.

Speaking of the ‘Aipono Awards, this magazine’s 2023 event is deep in the planning stages and will be held in late October in Wailea. Want to attend this hugely popular and much-anticipated event? Rest assured that MNKO is gearing up to reveal the date and the location soon. Bon appétit, everyone!

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