I wasted some time on Facebook yesterday, and I’m really glad I did, because I saw this announcement from Grand Wailea show up in my feed:
I didn’t even consult with James; I just picked up the phone and made a reservation. We’ve been waiting for this day ever since we heard rumors about the opening of Amasia, Alan Wong’s new restaurant at Grand Wailea Resort.
This wasn’t a review visit, of course. We adhere to the ethics guidelines established by the Association of Food Journalists, and one of the most important things we can do is refrain from officially writing about a restaurant until they’ve had at least a couple of months to get their bearings. We also don’t write about a restaurant until we’ve visited at least twice, and usually more than that. (We also don’t take comps or announce ourselves).
So this visit was purely for the fun of it. Just to see one of the most beautiful restaurants on Maui — the old Kincha, which features a koi pond that wanders through the restaurant, bridges, and stones from Mt. Fuji. And to taste just a couple of dishes from Chef Wong, the James Beard Award Winner and the humble, dedicated chef owner of two Oahu restaurants. If you’ve ever eaten at his eponymous King St. restaurant in Honolulu or The Pineapple Room, you know why we fairly flew out the door.
I just finished putting our full response to the evening into our Update Email for readers of Top Maui Restaurants (see the last page of the book for instructions on how to get your update email after you get your copy). But here’s my First Impression in a nutshell:
- The $2 Million renovation kept the most important and beautiful features but changed the most irritating: you no longer enter this space via a crowded elevator off the hotel’s lobby. Instead, you walk through the Grand’s art-filled space, descend to the garden, and wend back to a gigantic koi pond. Bridges take you to the restaurant, which is, in a word, stunning.
- The food is as delicious as we hoped, with a few minor exceptions. Keep in mind that this was the FIRST NIGHT the restaurant opened, so saying much more than “thumbs up” would be plain mean. But we will offer deep praise for one of the best desserts we’ve had in a long time: the Maui Gold “Pineapple Shave Ice” (see photo)
- The menu consists of many small plates, each one tempting. A short “entree” section features family-sized (and -priced) entrees. The drink list is extensive, with both creative cocktails and a good wine list; we had a beer to go with our few dishes. We didn’t go overboard, on this first night — especially since they were already sold out of three we really wanted to try.
We’re looking forward to going back sometime far in the future, when the restaurant is well underway. For now, we say E Komo Mai, Chef Wong, and mahalo for a nice meal.