With six HDTVs displayed throughout the restaurant and a satellite signal by DirecTV, Kumu Bar & Grill is a South Maui sports lover's dream come true.
But the poolside restaurant at the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa also appeals to beachgoers who stop by when strolling the Wailea beach walk.
"Yes, it's a sports bar. But we also have seatings where you can just enjoy the views of Maui's coastline," says the hotel's sous chef, Jason Carpio.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
“I have a great deal of gratitude for Maui Culinary Academy,” says Sous Chef Jason Carpio, “for all that they taught me when I was a student there.”
So whether you're an armchair quarterback or a standup paddleboarder, you'll find Kumu a fun and casual restaurant with plenty of crowd-pleasing food all served with aloha at reasonable prices.
"We can do split orders or just do one item served on two smaller plates," says Carpio. "Our nachos are big enough for two or three people."
The South Swell Mondo Nachos are piled high with your choice of Hawaiian kalua pork or chipotle beef along with queso, salsa, guacamole and sour cream.
Perfect for sharing, other popular starters are ginger-duck won tons, coconut shrimp, chicken pot stickers and sweet and spicy Korean wings.
But the signature Maui Onion rings are a must try for you and your pals. They are deep fried to a golden doneness and are hot, crunchy and satisfying.
"You have to pick the right-shaped onion, and look for an almost perfect round bulb, which has round rings," Carpio says. "You cut the slices thick with a sharp knife. The batter must be thick, too. And the oil must be clean and at least 350 degrees."
But try to crunch just one. You'll find yourself wanting to order another basket after the first bite.
"Other popular menu items are the chicken-ciabatta club, the spinach salad with sour-apple vinaigrette, and the mahi tacos marinated in Corona and lime," says Carpio. "We also run weekly specials to keep things going."
This week, Carpio will take your taste buds south of the border with all-Kobe Beef hot dog with queso, salsa and guacamole."
"It's served with warm, crispy tortilla chips," he says. "The other special is a grilled Chinese chicken salad with crispy won ton strips and Mandarin-orange segments served with soy-sesame vinaigrette."
Carpio knows how to please island tastes as he's a "Maui boy" who was born and raised in Happy Valley. He's a graduate of Baldwin High School and the Maui Culinary Academy, where he teaches classes, talks story and engages students with lectures and demos.
"I do this to keep them informed of the ever-changing world of culinary," says Carpio. "I volunteer on my own time because I believe I should give back for all I've taken from the program."
Chef Carpio formerly worked at the Hyatt in Kaanapali, and he excels at other light and fresh lunch dishes such as the Vietnamese lettuce boats. You choose from chicken or tofu as the protein, and it includes cucumber, carrot, mint, Thai basil and lime-dipping sauce.
Other healthful options include the Hawaiian tropical fruit harvest, comprising fresh-fruit skewers served with honey and mango yogurt; and flat breads such as an aromatic one topped with braised Hamakua mushrooms, gruyere cheese and white-truffle oil.
Desserts range from Marilyn's famous coconut-cream pie to Kula-berry cheesecake to island-way sorbets, served in a real fruit cup. Daily hours are lunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and pupu from 4 to 7:30 p.m.
For more details, call Kumu at 879-1922.