In our new series “Dining Destinations”, we take you to some of the best and most unique dining experiences you’ll find around the world.
We start in Hawai’i, on the island of Maui, where over the pandemic an inspired new restaurant popped up at one of the region’s most iconic hotels, fusing Hawaiian flavours with a “modern twist”. Come and say Aloha to Huihui Restaurant.
Where it is
Opening in June 2021, Huihui is a beachfront restaurant that sits on site at the Kā’anapali Beach Hotel, on the West Coast of the island of Maui. It sits about 28 miles (45 kms), and 50 minutes from Kahului Airport (OGG).
Why it’s worth the trip
For a hotel that calls itself “Hawai’i’s Most Hawaiian Hotel” (and with good reason), it’s no surprise that its on site restaurant promises a menu with a “modern twist on Hawaiian cooking methods”.
Executive Chef Tom Muromoto takes inspiration from Polynesian and Hawaiian culture, alongside various ethnicities that immigrated to the region, and the result is nothing short of extraordinary. You’ll find dishes blending flavours in a way you’ve never experienced, all against the backdrop of one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. It makes it a must try dining experience, in a destination that everyone deserves to visit at least once in their lives.
The only problem is you may find it hard not to return…
When you should eat here
The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner – and while all menus (each presented with a different proverb) offer something special (including a unique take on Avocado Toast as part of their breakfast menu), it’s the dinner menu and experience that proves unforgettable.
Firstly, its dinner menu features the restaurant’s most renowned dishes (which we’ll get to in a moment), but perhaps most importantly, it’s at this time you can sit on the beachfront, and listen to live music and watch hula dancers as the sun sets.
Live music is scattered between 530 and 830pm, with a duo or a trio usually performing, and they are joined by hula dancers from 630 to 730pm. So make sure to book yourself in during this window.
And in between music, you’ll hear the sound of the ocean’s waves crashing on Kā’anapali Beach, as the salt lingers in the air. With the scenery sinking into the darkness of night in the above photo, here’s how the incredible beach sits in the bright Hawaiian sunshine.
The dish(es) you have to try
The quality of everything we ate at Huihui was phenomenal, and everything they can source locally, they do. For one, the venison in their venison poke – a take on the classic dish, served as a shareable app – is sourced from the nearby island of Molokai, home to the world’s highest sea cliffs. They take pride in being the only restaurant in Maui to source from there – and the menu is littered with similar stories.
The most popular dish on the menu, selling three times better than its nearest competitor, are another appetizer – the Steamed Lobster Dumplings. And they are spectacular – with Ula (lobster), konbu (kelp) lemon grass cream reduction, chili oil, sweet soy and micro greens.
It’s recommended to ask for their house made Hawaiian Chili Pepper (nīoi) Water to go alongside this dish, and it’ll be well accompanied for many of the dishes on the menu. For my main, I had the Fish Lāwalu, served with steamed rice, which proved to offer a divine mix of familiar flavours, beautifully presented and portioned. And yes, the chili went well with this too.
Inspired by the traditional lāwalu (wrapped in ti leaf and grilled) cooking method, the dish is presented in a grilled banana leaf wrapped daily i‘a (fish), with creamy abalone sauce, cilantro, pohole (fiddle fern) & limu (seaweed) relish.
This is but a taste of everything they have to offer. You can have a look at the full dinner menu HERE.
And we haven’t even gotten to the drinks yet!
Their cocktail menu is spectacular, from the Lāhainā Smokestack – Smoked Casamigos Tequila, lime juice, Hāmākua calamansi sour, li hing mui, Maui Gold Pineapple – which is set on fire on delivery, to their take on a classic, the Māmaki Old Fashioned – Māmaki tea, Redemption Whiskey, fresh, fresh orange, Maui Sugarcane Dane Falernum, bitters – you’re going to want to wash every bite down with one of their excellent signature mock & cocktails.
And then here’s hoping you save room for dessert, as the Banana Bread Ice Cream Sandwich (Mai‘a (banana) bread, macadamia nut ice cream & caramel) would be worth the visit alone.
Huihui: A Dining Destination
All in all, the menu at Huihui is unlike any experience I’ve had in Hawaii or anywhere else in the world. The unique blend of flavours in their dishes, the incredible cocktails, live music and dancers and the unbeatable sound and smell of the ocean at your fingertips, makes Huihui a Dining Destination you need to add to your bucket list.
How to get there
Direct flights are available from Jetstar (read my review of their Dreamliner service HERE), Qantas, and Hawaiian Airlines, between the East Coast of Australia and Honolulu.
From there, it’s a short 30 minute (or so) flight from Honolulu to Maui. Island hopper flights are available with Hawaiian Airlines and Southwest. The hotel and restaurant sit about 28 miles (45 kms), and 50 minutes from Maui’s Kahului Airport (OGG).
Address: 2525 Kaanapali Pkwy, Lahaina, HI 96761, United States
The author dined as a guest of the hotel. All photos by the author, unless otherwise listed.