The Perfect Pair

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Nicks Fishmarket Wailea
Restaurant general manager and sommelier Doug Mossman decants a 2000 Romanée-Conti Burgundy, its neck illuminated by the candle below. (The light helps to reveal the wine sediment.) Aeration is generally reserved for red wines, but certain white wines may also benefit from aeration. Doug will happily advise.

Our second course is a happy surprise of two temptingly plated dishes. The first, braised adobo pork belly with seared diver scallops, rests on a bed of creamy risotto drizzled with adobo vinaigrette. The second dish, seared monchong with lemon, white wine and caper-butter sauce over ravioli filled with sweet potato and mascarpone, draws sighs from us before we’ve even tasted it. As Doug fills our glasses with a 2016 Lloyd Cellars chardonnay, I ask, “Are you from Maui?” (Mossman is a prominent and familiar name in the island’s judicial system.) His answer surprises us: Born in Honolulu, he’s the son of actor Doug Mossman Sr., who appeared in Magnum PI, and played the part of Detective Frank Kamana in the long-running television series Hawaii Five-0. Sleuthing must run in the family, I think, as Doug reveals what he knows about winemaker Robert Lloyd. “He was with [the notable] Rombauer Vineyards prior to opening his own winery. You’ll love this selection from the Carneros region. It’s a delicious find for us.” Lightly oaked, the wine shines with crispness and a long finish, and we cherish every sip. “Doug knows his wines and food pairings,” Chris deduces. “This is such a good match for these two very different dishes.”

Nicks Fishmarket Wailea
Chef de cuisine Kau Akina drizzles creamy, triple-blanched garlic sauce over rare ‘ahi on a bed of asparagus and roasted sweet potatoes and root vegetables.

Just then we see Aaron Plakourackis, whose Tri-Star Restaurant Group owns three other Maui restaurants as well as Nick’s: Son’z Steakhouse in Kā‘anapali, Sarento’s on the Beach in Kīhei, and Manoli’s Pizza Company in Wailea. (Combined, Tri-Star’s Maui venues have won twenty-nine ‘Aipono Restaurant Awards, an annual readers’ choice competition hosted by Maui Nō Ka ‘Oi.) Aaron is greeting diners tableside, and soon heads over to us. “I’m impressed,” I tell him. “Not many restaurant-group owners visit their properties every night.” With a warm smile, Aaron says, “I’m what they call old school. I feel it’s important to visit [all of my] restaurants, not only to meet the guests, but because of my employees. It conveys that we are in this together. That I care about my customers and how they perceive the service and food.” Then he asks, “How is the food? We have a new chef de cuisine in training.” He tells us that executive chef Geno Sarmiento’s protégé is twenty-six-year-old Kaulani Akina, a graduate of Kamehameha Schools Maui; she’s been a cook with Tri-Star for five years. “Kau has talent and you will enjoy her food.” We nod, extolling Chef Kau for the dishes we’ve already experienced. 

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