Hali’imaile General Store – Head Upcountry When in Maui

 

When you claim to be “Maui’s Original Farm-to-Table Restaurant” you have pretty big shoes to keep filling. Chef Beverly Gannon has been doing so since 1988, and on our recent visit to Hali’imaile General Store we learned why folks beat a path on the long and winding road to this eclectic restaurant.

It isn’t really a long and winding road, but it is over the hills and far away from the oft-beaten path of most tourist destinations.

Providing a refreshing take on traditional Hawaiian flavors, local Asian influences and modern preparations, the menu is fresh and vibrant.


Our friendly waiter pointed us to Sashimi Napoleon as a starter. Comprised of generous layers of ahi sashimi, ahi tartare, smoked salmon and a crispy wonton stack the concoction was gently drizzled with wasabi vinaigrette. The crispness counterpointed with the smoothness of the cool fish, for a full flavor profile. We also sampled Popcorn Shrimp, comprised of Chinese “to go” tempura shrimp and a trio of dipping sauces (truffle honey, spicy miso, and sweet soy tobiko aioli). Again, the dichotomy of crispness and flavor was delightful.

The clear choice for the next course was the Upcountry Farm Salad. We split the larger size and savored waipoli greens, roasted beets, hearts of palm, tomato, cucumber, toasted walnuts, white balsamic vinaigrette and blue cheese crumble. The beets were especially flavorful, perhaps because they were and perhaps because we knew they were recently close to the ground.

For our mains, we were in a quandary, but finally settled on Coconut Seafood Curry and Tandoori Rubbed Salmon. The former was a veritable bounty of flavors: that day’s local catch supplemented with shrimp, day boat scallop, carrots, snap peas, onions, shiitake mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, floating in a lemongrass green coconut curry, over aromatic jasmine rice. The salmon blended Israeli couscous with dried fruit, toasted cashew, diced zucchini, and fresh mint. Momma liked the chutney vinaigrette, and we all grazed on the crisp maui onion strings.

The restaurant is tucked among the pineapple fields in upcountry; whence its name. The original building was the plantation store and served as a butcher shop, fish market, post office, and had departments for clothing and household appliances. The rustic wooden design provides a somewhat timeless experience.

The food was delicious, the service was gracious and the evening was worth the trek.


Brad Auerbach has been covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.

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