Gourmet fusion food truck opens on Maui

Ahi reubens, crispy chicken bento and haute desserts from a truck in Kihei

It’s tough enough to start your own business, but during a pandemic? For Cole Hinueber, furloughed from his job as executive pastry chef at Spago Maui, the timing proved just right. After years of dreaming of opening his own bakery, Hinueber launched Kitoko, a new Japanese fusion food truck in Kihei that has Maui foodies buzzing.

Ahi pastrami with kim chee, crispy chicken bentos, banana bread with salted caramel: Kitoko’s menu features familiar Japanese and local fare, only reimagined. With his friend Alice Nualnart Nualyong, another pastry chef at Spago, as co-chef and business partner, desserts are way beyond what you’d expect from a food truck. Each dish is balanced and artfully prepared. Ingredients are sourced as local and organic as possible.

“I want to make beautiful food and to make people happy,” says Hinueber, who has cooked and made desserts in Australia, Wisconsin and 10 years in France. “This was more realistic and affordable than a bakery, and this was the time to do it. I had my business plan and was already making bread, like seaweed focaccia, for example, that could easily be used for sandwiches.”

The name Kitoko is personal. It means beautiful in Congo, where Hinueber’s fiancé is from, and drives the intention of the menu.

Keep scrolling for highlights, and make sure to leave room for dessert!

See also: Does ‘lechon sushi burrito’ speak to your soul? Head to Maui

Ahi Reuben from Kitoko Maui
Ahi Reuben, $16.50: Hinueber’s seaweed foccacia frames this light, pastrami-like sandwich with seaweed and kim chee


Braised Beef Loco Moco from Kitoko Maui
Braised Beef Loco Moco, $15: Hinueber’s recommended must-try is an explosion of unexpected, bold flavors like guava barbecue and kim chee
Crispy Chicken Bento from Kitoko Maui
Crispy Chicken Bento, $15: A twist on a plate lunch, with a seaweed sesame salad. Sides vary based on available ingredients
Swordfish Bento from Kitoko Maui
Swordfish Bento, $16.50: Another winner. Delicious and more filling than expected with a mildly spicy kick, like the rest of Kitoko’s entrees


Lilikoi Brown Butter Almond Financier from Kitoko Maui
Lilikoi Brown Butter Almond Financier, $7.50: They had me at lilikoi. An artful presentation you’d expect at a five-star restaurant, not a food truck
Banana Bread from Kitoko Maui
Auntie Jennifer’s Banana Bread with Salted Caramel, $7.50: Maui and anything banana bread always makes sense. Kitoko offers a delightful, delicate version

Look for ceviche and poke to be added to the menu soon. Just another reason to visit this surprising new hidden gem.

See also: These Maui restaurants are open for dine-in and takeout

Kitoko Maui
1 Piikea Ave.
Open daily except Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. or until sold out
Instagram @kitokomaui