Kai Wailea’s sister restaurant, Kaiwa in Waikiki, is well-known for unique, creative sushi and Japanese dishes served in an elegant, comfortable restaurant with excellent, traditional service. The service is not always up to par, but the food usually is here in the Shops at Wailea.
They’ve narrowed the menu down a bit since they first opened, which was a good choice. The more extravagant sushi platters are still here, but not as many of them — we don’t risk the heart attack that threatened the first time we saw the prices.
The food is good to great, with fresh sushi, including some creative combinations, and some really excellent cooked dishes. They now offer a $60 tasting menu in the evening, which is a good way to go. The five course meal features a hearty miso soup, which comes studded with local vegetables, a tasting of the day’s freshest sashimi, a tempura (a little soggy) and robata-yaki (teriyaki chicken and beef) course, and a choice of three entrées: a generous and delicious sushi platter, a super-tender rib eye loaded up with grilled veggies, or a lobster tail on our last visit. The sushi platter has enough for two to split with ease, but you won’t want to skip that steak, either. Dessert is also included, but we’re too full for it. (This is fine, because desserts are not their strength.)
Lunches feature several meal combinations, including a $16 version that includes that incredible rib eye, a sushi roll (your choice), salad, and miso soup. The beer and sake list are very good, and service is good, too — until they get busy.
This is still an expensive restaurant, especially if you focus just on the sushi … but the value they offer has climbed considerably since their opening, especially if you take advantage of their fixed price meal.
Address: 3750 Wailea Alanui Dr., Wailea, South Maui
Location: The Shops at Wailea
Hours: Nightly 5pm-10pm; Late Night Happy-Hour F-Sa 9:30pm-12:30am