Venturing to the west side of Maui, on our last night on the Valley Isle, we had dinner with the Maui, Kauai and Vegas ohana at ‘Umalu in the Hyatt Regency Resort Hotel and Spa in Ka’anapali.
According to their menu, ‘Umalu is described as “a unique, upscale venue showcasing modern, contemporary Hawaiian cuisine. Escape under the Umalu shade to a chic 24-seat Poolside Bar or a beach-front perch.”
Speaking of pools, while the Grand Wailea may have the grandest pool of all, the Ka’anapali Hyatt’s pool ain’t nothing to sneeze at either, with similar rock-formed slides, waterfalls, and also just like the GW, a Grotto Bar.
Back to ‘Umalu, as their description suggests, you can dine barside, or have a more intimate moment under the umbrellas…
This place reminds me a lot of Duke’s Waikiki, where you can walk right in off the beach or pool in your swimwear, or dress up if that’s more appropriate for the occasion you’re there for. A musician plays nightly from 4pm to 6pm and 7pm to 9pm. On the evening of our visit it was Kawika Lum Ho, strumming and singing away soothing contemporary tunes.
Fitting in with the elegant-meets-casual ambiance is the menu (<–see them there), with selections ranging from what could be considered “upscaled pub grub” such as the Kobe Sliders and Ahi Poke Nachos, to more extravagant dishes such as the Volcano-Spiced Prime Rib and Pan-Seared Scallops, Prawns and Mahimahi.
Getting right to it, our order this evening included the Hawaiian Ahi Poke “Nachos”…
The Snake River Farms Kobe Sliders…
Although ‘Umalu doesn’t normally serve a house dinner bread, one of the grandmas on our table requested some, which our server was so kind to fulfill that request by getting it from another restaurant on the property. Nice!…
Umalu’s Chop Chop Salad…
‘Umalu – ‘Umalu’s Chop Chop Salad: chopped iceberg and chinese cabbage served in a crisp rice paper bowl grilled chicken, snow peas, red pepper, scallions, orange, radish sprouts toasted almonds and soy-ginger vinaigrette
The Sesame-Orange Chicken Stir-Fry…
‘Umalu – Sesame-Orange Chicken Stir-Fry: crispy chicken breast stir-fried with fresh upcountry “vegetables of the moment” sweet and spicy sesame-orange shoyu, bamboo sticky rice with pickled ginger and cilantro, $28
The Italian Pie…
For dessert, the Big Chocolate Cake…
How was it? EVERYTHING was absolutely delicious!
Just the Kobe Sliders alone were filling enough, where we had to take a “breather” before moving on to the next dishes…
There’s no question these are genuine American-raised Kobe Beef patties, as it was packed with flavor and juiciness. Whatever’s in that “Harissa” Aioli sauce worked for me. Adding to that powerhouse of flavor in a tiny package was the Gorgonzola Cheese and caramelized onion topping, along with the slightly sweet, supple taro roll encasing it, these Kobe Sliders were gems.
The Ahi Poke, along with the guac, caviar and goat cheese was a wonderful combination, and it worked quite well with the taro and sweet potato chips. Although, like I mentioned with a similar poke dish we had at Tommy Bahama, I think crispy wontons would make a better chip for the ahi poke, ala Alan Wong. It would have been more interesting if they had made their own taro and sweet potato chips versus the store-bought stuff they’re apparently using. Still, this dish is ono just as it is. Thumbs up.
Here I have a serving of everything else…
Save for Dim Sum, I’m not particularly a fan of Chinese food nor chicken, but this was a stellar example of the dish. The tender, moist pieces of battered deep-fried chicken, then stir-fried in that wonderfully sweet and savory sesame-orange sauce was just delicious.
The Soy-Ginger Vinaigrette flavoring the Chop Chop Salad was also delicious. My only complaint was that the rice paper bowl wasn’t fried crispy enough, having a softy, chewy texture to it, tasting kind of like a bland, stale shrimp chip if you’ve ever had that before. I wanted to be able to break up pieces from the rice paper bowl to use as “croutons” on my salad, but couldn’t in the state it was served. Next to the Soy-Ginger Vinaigrette, the chopped almonds and oranges were the highlight of the dish for me. Overall, a delicious salad, just fry the rice bowl until it’s crispy next time, please.
Then there’s the Italian Pie, which had a tasty, nicely-baked and browned risen crust. It wasn’t quite a thin crust nor a pan crust, but somewhere in between. The sauce flavor and toppings were all fairly typical pizzeria fare. While I can’t say this is the best Pizza you’ll find this side of Lahaina (and believe me, there’s A LOT of competition for Pizza in that area!), it’s up to par considering the type of restaurant ‘Umalu is.
With all that food, I was too stuffed for dessert so passed on the Big Chocolate Cake, but those who dug into it said it was very moist and decadently delicious, giving it a big shaka seal of approval.
Here’s some dishes that my girlfriend and gang enjoyed when they dined at ‘Umalu back in December of last year…
‘Umalu – Mac Nut Ice Cream Sandwich: house made chocolate cookies filled with macadamia nut ice cream
smothered with hot fudge, caramel sauce and whipped cream, $9 (special order family portion shown at a higher price)
Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa in Ka’anapali
200 Nohea Kai Drive
Lahaina, Hawaii, USA 96761-1985
Tel. (808) 661-1234
Business hours (daily):
Breakfast 6am to 11am
Lunch 11am to 4:30pm
Light lunch 4:30pm to 5:30pm
Dinner: 5:30 to 9:30pm
Cocktails served until midnight
The Tasty Island SPAM Musubi rating:
(4) Excellent. Worth another visit or purchase. (Winnahz!)