By Nadine Kam
On Oahu, it's easy to develop a myopic view of the Hawaii dining scene, putting Honolulu at the center of the universe in terms of progressive ideas.
But on Maui, where resort restaurants have received the most attention in mainstream media, the food scene is being transformed by a new generation of chefs and collaborators.
Earlier, I popped into a Wailuku popup presented by Rua Catering.
A followup visit found "Top Chef Seattle" fan favorite Sheldon Simeon putting the finishing touches on his new Tin Roof restaurant in Kahului, which opened Monday.
In the spot that was formerly home to Ko Ko Ichiban Ya, Simeon said he hated to see another mom-and-pop close, "so this is the next generation mom-and-pop," he said. "I hope it'll be a hang-out spot for everyone."
Much more casual than what he had been offering at Migrant, a sample menu included rice bowls, poke bowls, ramen and "kau kau tins" of such local favorites as mochiko chicken, garlic shrimp and chop steak.
Customers will be able to dine in at communal tables or pick up food to go. He also plans to create Chef's Table events that will seat 12.
Next up, a peek at the new Mill House restaurant on the grounds of Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapu, on the day of its grand opening celebration, March 17.
Housed in the plantation's former banquet hall, the restaurant and surrounding grounds and farm are envisioned as the hub of an ambitious development plan that will include several residences.
On the lunch menu there were small plates of root vegetables sourced from the plantation's own farmland, gnocchi ragu, and a range of burgers and sandwiches.
But what I loved most were desserts of "Milk and Honey" olive oil cake and chili-spiced doughnuts with thick chocolate cremeaux.
But the main attraction on that day was a drive to Paia to visit Hana Ranch Provisions, a sustainable restaurant started by Hana Ranch as an experimental key to survival in the 21st century as the ranch moves beyond the commodity business into value-added pursuits.
You can read all about it in our new Crave food section that launches today. Here are the links:
Forget all that you imagine a sustainable restaurant is. The vibe is more sophisticated than rustic, but it's nevertheless a place that embraces a philosophy of honoring the work of farmers and food producers, respecting nature, and eating food that is certified organic, sustainable and nurturing for body and soul. If successful, the venture could serve as a template for other farmers across the globe.
Hana Ranch Provisions is at 71 Baldwin Ave., Paia, Maui. Daily hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch, and 5 to 9 p.m. for dinner. Its to-go shop offers coffee and pastries from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. daily. Call (808) 868-3688.
Here's a look: