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2010 Hale Aina Awards

Our readers named the best restaurants in the Islands.


(page 2 of 4)

The inviting entrance of Pineapple Grill at the Kapalua.

Photo: Courtesy of The Pineapple Grill

Like his fellow regional chefs, Luckey relishes local, fresh ingredients. “Close communities need to support each other. My duty is to give back to the mom-and-pop farms, the guys who deliver in their own trucks. We live in a climate and area thaproduces such beautiful food. It’s a treat to get to create with those ingredients.”

He sources from Surfing Goat Dairy, Fresh Island Herbs, Maui Cattle Co., Olowalu Farms and Kapalua Farms, an agricultural project developed by Maui Land & Pineapple. “We get eggs from maybe 500 yards away. They are right across the golf course,” explains Luckey.

If you’ve never been to the restaurant, the chef suggests the short ribs or wasabi-pea-crusted ahi. He also notes that the Pineapple Grill has just introduced some new bar-menu items, such as an Olowalu Tomato Margherita Flatbread, with fresh mozzarella and local basil; and a Mezze Plate, with local vegetables, pita bread and edamame hummus.

The restaurant has a Grille Menu, which includes some items off the lunch menu and some off the dinner menu and is served from 2:30 to 5 p.m.; if you’re looking for a late lunch, you’re in luck. Or should we say, Luckey?

Best New Restaurant, Gold Award

Hale Aina Award winner Azure took home the gold for Best New Restaurant.

Photo: Olivier Koning

Chef de cuisine Jon Matsubara calls Azure’s Hale Aina wins “a symbol of dedication and hard work. At the same time, I told the staff, ‘We are only as good as the last dinner we served.’ Consistency is just as important—we can’t rest on our laurels, we have to push ourselves.”

Chef Jon Matsubara sends some dishes out under domes, which, when lifted, release a little puff of kiawe "smoke."

Photo: Monte Costa

Azure also was a finalist in the Best Seafood category. “We are primarily a fresh-fish specialty restaurant. We are the only nighttime dinner option for our guests at the hotel and have to keep that in mind. We have popular selections, as well as the more modern tasting menu, so you can have the Hawaiian fresh-fish experience or go for something a bit more exciting and different.” 

Matsubara has created quite a buzz around town with his culinary curveballs, from his work at his previous restaurant, Stage, to the dishes he features at Azure, such as a mid-meal palate cleanser featuring Pop Rocks candy, or Wagyu beef served under a dome that dramatically releases keawe “smoke.”

“I have some regulars that have followed me over from Stage,” he says. “I know they are coming in and I’ll send out something more off-the-wall.”

What’s next for this kitchen magician? The antigriddle, which instantly freezes liquids, and can be used to create intriguing desserts, and carbonated fruit, another “exploding” intermezzo.

“You have to know your audience. It’s been an incredible year for Azure with the restaurant and the renovation of the hotel. I feel very lucky to be able to showcase my cooking there and maximize the opportunity.”

Related Link: See the full list of Hale Aina Award winners.


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