David: Sleek and chic as an upscale Manhattan restaurant, warm and friendly as a Hawaiian home—that’s fusion… Maui style! Chef David Paul Johnson’s food is sometimes unique, sometimes classic and always incredibly delicious.
David Paul’s Island Grill is located on Front Street, directly opposite the sea wall. A David Paul theory, “I’m going to price things to value. I’m sourcing locally and charging what local people can afford. For example, a 9-item tasting menu that will give people a luxurious dining experience will start at $45. I’ll serve 50 wines by the glass; every bottle will be priced under $40. I built a killer walk-in wine cellar, which will be open to the public and allow patrons to walk in, peruse and then pick their selection right off the rack.”
Maui’s celebrated, world-famous Chef is the recipient of more awards than there is room to print. Wolfgang Puck calls him “the kid.” Now the kid is in the stratosphere occupied by the stars of great cooking—Paul Bocuse, Jacques Pepin, Roger Verge and André Soltner.
Someone’s in the Kitchen with David
Jackie: Sitting at the simple Chef’s Table in John Paul’s beautifully-organized, expertly-staffed kitchen (just the two of us!), we gawked at his team preparing gorgeous dishes for the patrons, and for us, all with a spirit of fun camaraderie. It was our most amazing dining experience. Not just the combination of entertainment (watching the muscular ballet of preparation in a friendly atmosphere), it was the food—the creative and dazzling tastes. And freshness. The morning catch decided the menu. The garlic avocado butter elevated the bread, which was whisked away just in time by Chef John Paul, “Don’t fill up on bread!” A good thing. We filled up on Prosecco, calamari and good wines while we learned about the restaurant from congenial General Manager Greg Shepherd. On to (astonishing) watermelon jalapeño gazpacho, first some slices of Mahi Mahi sashimi. Between perfecting dishes and having a beer, our youngish, handsome chef (whom I have fallen in love with) chatted with us about his life, children, grand children and love of cooking. We leave here thinking of giant butternut ravioli, pea cake, transporting short rib, many berry pie, lavender ice cream and, an unforgettable, knowing how lucky Maui is to have David Paul.
Humuhumunukunukuapua’a (Not Another Spelling of Hanukkah)
David Hums: Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, the state fish of Hawaii, and for everybody’s sake, it’s referred to as Humu. It’s also the name of a most romantic restaurant located in Maui’s Grand Wailea Resort. After an eye-opening tour of the gorgeous rooms and spectacular suites of the very upper class hotel, as well as the adjoining privately-owned villas, by PR Director Christina Yumil, we were seated oceanside at Humuhumunukunukuapua’a just in time for a sunset made in heaven (literally!). Humu floats peacefully on a saltwater, fish-filled lagoon. This is the most Hawaiian feeling restaurant with local décor and the best view possible. We shared a pupu platter with Ahi Traps (sashimi shaped like an all-day sucker), scallops the size of baseballs (!), coconut Tiger Prawns and melt-in-our-mouth Indonesian-style baby back pork ribs. Wow!
Jackie Wraps: The very nice salad of Kula butter lettuce, white cheddar cheese, Asian pears and candied Macadamia nuts, and drizzled with whole grain mustard vinaigrette, led to the entrées of David’s filet mignon and my Malaysian-style marinated rack of lamb beautiful and unmatched. David’s dessert, a Maui mud pie the size of a small building. Humuhumunukunukuapua’a—we pronounce it a desta, desta, nay-tion.
Happy New Year! We’ll travel…