It seems everyone is looking for dining deals these days.
The good news is, even The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua has deals up its sleeve at Kai Sushi in the slow tourist month of September and beyond.
The word, Kai, in Hawaiian translates to "ocean." And, just like the deep-blue sea, Kai is full of fresh-as-it-gets seafood from sashimi to hamachi.
Kai Sushi: Rainbow Roll
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
“We continue to make Kai Sushi appealing to the locals,” says the Ritz’s Food & Beverage Manager Michel Roy
"Right now, Kai offers kamaaina a 50 percent savings on sushi from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.," says Michel Roy, the resort's food and beverage manager.
"You may choose from over 20 of the most popular varieties of sushi and sashimi. It's the best in town, very traditional, with all of the flavors and textures and colors to take it over the top."
Take, for instance, the popular tuna tataki, expertly prepared with fresh daikon, Maui onion, wakame and ogo seaweed and kaiware sprouts, topped with tobiko and ponzu. Or the hot-and-crunchy Kai tempura with crisp-on-the-outside and tender-inside shrimp and asparagus.
Kai Sushi at a glance:
* Hours: Open for dinner from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday to Monday (closed Tuesday and Wednesday).
* Kamaaina special: Those with a Hawaii driver's license get 50 percent off food from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
* Kai Sushi Combo: For $39 per person, you get edamame and miso soup for starters; and choice of two bigger tastes, such as assorted sushi, shrimp and vegetable tempura, and teriyaki filet mignon skewers. Dessert combines vanilla bean and green tea ice creams served atop mochi crunch cookies.
* Regular prices: Starters from $4 to $18; two pieces sushi, from $6 to $12; specialty and other rolls, $7 to $17; sushi combos, from $16 to $45; desserts, $10.
* Industry Night: Alaloa Lounge sets the stage from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Saturdays for drink and pupu specials and live music by Crazy Fingers.
* Parking: Valet parking is free for diners. Just tip the staff.
* For reservations: Call 665-7089 or visit ritzcarlton.com/kapalua.
But locals love to be adventurous when it comes to sushi, and you can find it here at Kai. Head Sushi Chef Tadashi Yoshino is a Tokyo native who has spent more than 20 years on Maui, honing his skills at Kincha and Sakura restaurants.
"The most adventurous sushi here would definitely be the uni (sea urchin) or natto (fermented soy beans). It's one of those things that you either love it or you won't," says Yoshino, a former test driver for Nissan Motor Corporation. "I usually eat natto every morning for breakfast."
"We just added a new roll called the Kai Special Roll which is spicy hamachi and spicy tuna. It's fast becoming a favorite among locals and visitors."
Of course, the open-air setting is reason enough to dine there. Last year, the Ritz did a $195 million face-lift and all six of its food outlets are island inspired and even better than before.
That's when Kai Sushi moved into its new location off the lobby. It's got hand-carved beams that resemble outrigger canoes, a sea of hand-woven grasses and back walls that glow warm yellow.
Lots of cushy tables and a contemporary sushi bar with comfortable seats all offer sweeping views of the ocean. Those who wish to kick back and relax a while will find lots to fun things to sip between bites of ahi poke and California roll.
"We have all manner of wines by the glass and the bottle," says Roy. "We've also got a great selection of imported and domestic beers in the bottle and on draft and both hot and cold premium sakes."
Make sure to save a little room for the desserts, freshly baked in house by the Ritz's pastry department. Favorites include ginger pineapple financier with blackberry and sour cream ice cream, and warm chocolate cake with chocolate-malt ice cream.