RITZY new pop-up

Kapalua luxury resort launches Hook + Knife at Ulana for dinner during renovation of its signature Banyan Tree

New Executive Sous Chef Meredith Manee showcases Hook + Knife’s 32-ounce grilled tomahawk steak for two. The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photos

The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua just keeps on getting ritzier. Its signature restaurant, The Banyan Tree, and adjoining ‘Ai ‘Ono tacos and tequila bar are being renovated — with reopenings targeted for before the December festive season.

For now, the ‘Ai ‘Ono Mexican food and drink menu is still served, but at the Pool Cafe in another spot. For dinner service, the resort has opened a seasonal dinner pop-up called Hook + Knife.

“We are a busy hotel with renovations happening, so we challenged new Executive Sous Chef Meredith Manee to come up with a dinner pop-up concept — and it is very, very cool,” says Ritz Director of Food & Beverage Daniel Schmidt.

Hook + Knife popped-up about two weeks ago in the newly reimagined Ulana Terrace breakfast restaurant. The look is fantastic and the fish and meat options are over the top in taste and presentation.

Two items that are highly recommended are the Ulana seafood tower packed with fresh lobster tail, shrimp, Alaskan king crab, oysters, ahi poke, and salmon and ahi sashimi all with gourmet sauces; and the tomahawk ribeye for two. But I’m getting ahead of the entire concept here.

Seafood tower entices

“The former Terrace has really been transformed. It’s a chic restaurant with a great face-lift. There’s a new attractive waiting area. We can now open the floor-to-ceiling windows for fresh air,” continues Schmidt. “It turned out so well.”

Come for breakfast and check out the new marble buffet tables with shiny copper chafing dishes filled with temptations. Dine from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. and get 20 percent off your food bill.

Getting back to Hook + Knife at dinner, the farm-fresh showcase of delights that is displayed beautifully on the new credenza was designed for families with kids who want a taste of many options. It’s a buffet of sides, salads, soups, cheeses and desserts — with your choice of organic half chicken in mango-barbecue sauce or daily fresh catch with poha-berry chutney.

“The farm-fresh showcase is a must,” says Manee. “It’s got fun, chef-driven tapas with salads and desserts. The Hawaiian seafood chowder I could eat every day and not get tired of it.”

While the chicken and the fish entrees appeal to families, there are other upgraded entrees that you may choose to accompany the farm-fresh showcase or perhaps enjoy as a la carte options.

So does seared salmon roll with garlic aioli

“My recommendation is to take advantage of the discounted price on the upgraded entrees,” says Manee.

The chef is talking about kiawe-smoked New York strip steak and chimichurri with herbs from the Ritz garden, filet mignon with tamarind red-wine demi; half Kona lobster dynamite; Upcountry lavender and rosemary lamb rack; and crispy Bubu-arare ahi with a jus of local mushroom and soy, which has umami to the max.

Or bring a date and enjoy the Ohana-style feast for two. Options are grilled tomahawk steak, whole charred branzino fish or whole barbecue chicken.

Hook + Knife also boasts a brand new sushi service bar with appealing rolls along with appetizers from ahi poke to charred shishito peppers to North Pacific oysters with mignonette.

Those ordering a la carte will want to jump on side enhancements of asparagus, broccolini, local watercress salad and truffle potato puree.

For breakfast, the acai bowl is as fresh as it gets.

“When we created this menu, we wanted there to be so many eye-catching items that you could not possibly try everything you wanted in one night,” says Manee.

My advice is to come back — time and again — while Hook + Knife is open. Do dive into the Mon Cheri chocolate lava cake with ice cream and don’t deny yourself the Pele Goddess forbidden fruit.


Hook + Knife at a glance:

• Where: Located garden level in the Ulana Terrace restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua.

Longtime Ritz-Carlton server and France native Robert Mora presents Domaine Serene pinot noir to a guest.

• Hours: Dinner is served nightly from 5 to 9 p.m. As Ulana Terrace, its breakfast is served from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. weekdays and until 11 a.m. weekends.

• H+K highlights: Ulana seafood tower; farm-fresh showcase with two entree choices; enhancements such as side vegetables; sushi and sashimi; and desserts.

• Discounts: Kamaaina get 20 percent off food bill nightly.

• Breakfast: Enjoy buffet or a la carte offerings and Bloody Mary bar.

• For more details: Call 669-6200 or visit www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/kapalua-maui/dining.