Treetop Dining at Hotel Wailea

The Restaurant at Hotel Wailea takes fine fare to new heights . . . and our dining editor goes ape.

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Hotel Wailea Chef Zach Sato
Seasoned at award-winning restaurants Hāli‘imaile General Store and Merriman’s, and now mentored by Chris Kajioka and Anthony Rush, Chef de Cuisine Zach Sato is The Restaurant at Hotel Wailea’s rising star.

As I share this comment with Tarzan, our next course arrives: foie gras under a thin layer of mango-riesling gelée with crispy Serrano ham, diced mango from the hotel’s harvest and candied macadamia nuts. A baton of toasted brioche accompanies the smooth-as-silk foie gras, along with a Château la Grave Sauternes singing notes of honeysuckle and stone fruit. Tarzan and I beam with affection for this dish as we cut, spread, eat and sip and repeat.

Following the rich foie gras, Zach brings us a refreshing, palate-cleansing tomato gazpacho with hints of smoky and fruity piment d’Espelette. He slowly decants the chilled soup around diced, charred watermelon and crisp cucumbers. Almost too beautiful to eat, the soup is balanced to enhance the delicate flavors of the fruit and vegetables without overwhelming them. A glass of 2014 Château d’Esclans Rock Angel rosé perfectly compliments the gazpacho and accompanies the next tasting: kale Caesar salad with baby radish, blanched almonds and blackened grapes. A thin slice of heaven arrives in the form of a crisp crostini with dollops of sensuous black garlic purée, as dark as the starlit sky we are now sitting under. The warm glow of candlelight surrounds us in the open-air tree house.

Tarzan and I inhale deeply and trade loving glances as Zach announces the next course, gently placing before us two bowls of steaming “hand-cut pappardelle with a butter-poached lobster ragù topped with wine foam.” The tender al dente ribbons of pasta are napped with fresh tomatoes and sweet lobster; it’s so good! A 2013 Remy chardonnay with citrus and apple notes and a lusciously long finish compliments the seafood selections perfectly. Next: seared onaga with a single, tiny branch of tempura sea asparagus, cauliflower, and sauce vierge — a purée of capers, sea asparagus and grass-green olive oil.

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