When Tom and I were dining at the Maalaea Waterfront, we asked our server where she would go if she had a night out. She told us about a new restaurant, The Banyan Tree at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua. We had never heard of it, and I didn’t find it in any of the free tourist magazines. I looked it up on the web and found out that it had been named “best restaurant on Maui” for the second year in a row by readers of Maui No Ka Oi magazine. I have never heard of this magazine, but their readers seem to be very discernible critics.
Kapalu is just minutes from our condo, so it was great to find a place so close. The grounds and pool area of the Ritz are breath taking. It is on a sea cliff, with no beach, but what a view. It overlooks Moloka’i and the Pailolo Channel. This would be an amazing spot for a wedding. The Ritz is actually known for it’s golf courses, and draws many golfers to this area.
But I digress… let’s talk about the food. The menu is very Asian influenced and the Chef, Jojo Vasquez is inspired by the fresh Hawaiian ingredients and wonderful fish of the islands. It would have been very hard to decide between the many incredible sounding dishes, so we let the chef pick. We had the Chef’s tasting experience, the four course pineapple menu, “Showcasing the Hawaiian Gold Kapalua Pinneapple.”
Four courses sounds like a lot of pineapple, but it was like Iron Chef America with pineapple as the secret ingredient. The fruit was used and infused so perfectly into every dish, as not to overpower it, but to enhance it.
The first course was Pineapple Scallops. The scallops were perfectly done, seared to a golden brown and served on saffron cous cous with asparagus and a pineapple curry. The curry was not spicy, but sweet and savory with the pineapple. I wanted to lick the plate! This was a good sign of things to come. We had the scallops paired with a crisp and dry California Grgich Hills Fume Blanc. Fume Blanc is the same as a Sauvignon Blanc, just a sexier sounding name to sell more wine.
The Steamed Onaga with Spiced Essence was next. The Onaga, a thick white fish, is steamed with a potion of spices: cinnamon, gingar, lemon, lime, anise fruit, grapefruit, garlic… it smelled like a wonderful tea. The fish was served with Julienne vegetables and a Chinese black bean sauce. It was topped with a pineapple emulision. We were instructed to dip the fish into the black bean sauce to bring out the other flavors. It was a perfect blend. This was paired with a Grgich Hills Chardonay. It was buttery and fruity, a great California Chardonay.
Crispy Duck Confit and Foie Gras
The Crispy Duck Confit and Foie Gras was the third offering. The chef took the French dish and made it his own. Un repas magnifique! It was served with a white bean cassoulet, duck sausage, and,of course, pineapple. Tom loved the Foie Gras, as it was done to perfection. We enjoyed a glass of Au Bount Climat Pinot Noir from Santa Clara.
Our dessert was a delightful Pineapple Tiramisu with a Carmel Sauce and Pineapple Sorbet. Yummy! As I told our very informative and engaging server, the only thing wrong with this meal was that it was three courses too short. I am so happy to say that we have found another stellar restaurant to dine at when we visit. I can’t wait to take Barbie and Keelan here on their next trip with us!