Slurp away in hugely popular local, yet urbane, Lahaina restaurant with Asian pastas, share plates, craft cocktails
The Vietnamese crepes are a delight with savory and exotic shrimp and pork bites inside. Slice it into pieces, wrap in lettuce leaves with mint and basil sprigs, and dip in nuac-cham sauce. The Hapa ramen is a rich and soul-satisfying pork broth brimming with fresh wheat-based Asian noodles made right in house with roasted pork, bok choy, soft-boiled egg, kamaboko, red miso and bamboo shoots.
Both the crepes and the ramen continue to be top sellers ever since they were featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” with Guy Fieri some time ago.
Yet you know that you are about as far away from a “dive” as it gets when you sip a craft dragon-fruit cocktail, munch a colossal tempura shrimp and check out the modern interior that boasts ocean views, repurposed teak and natural stone.
Part of the Na Hoaloha Ekolu family of famous Maui restaurants that also includes Old Lahaina Lu’au (voted No. 1 on Maui), Aloha Mixed Plate and Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop — Star Noodle has major backing — and its state-of-the-art kitchen is the main kitchen commissary for all.
Coming from it are share plates such as pohole “fiddlehead fern” salad with ebi, or dried shrimp, and ika, or squid; and Chinese broccoli with su-miso sauce, fried garlic and sesame seeds.
“The menu is designed for a more informal ‘family-style’ dining experience, allowing everyone to get a bite of this or that as the kitchen puts it up and the guests pass the dish around the table,” says new General Manager Cooper Guest, who has been a team leader in restaurants from Tucson, Ariz., to Wailea Resort.
“I enjoy our hot-and-sour soup because you can personally adjust the flavor of the dish yourself every time that you eat it — depending on how you utilize the Thai basil, garlic, calamansi and bean sprouts,” says Guest of his favorites. “I also really like our Lahaina fried soup and steamed pork buns, house hoisin and namasu.”
Executive Chef Abby Ferrer and her team of Sous Chefs, Cesar Perez and Rafael Rivera III, do an exemplary job on colossal shrimp tempura with faux-nagi sauce and garlic aioli; and adobo pork ribs with garlic, black pepper, vinegar and shoyu and other signature dishes.
A native of Queens, N.Y., Executive Chef Ferrer has taught at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, cooked for Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto in Miami and Wailea, and dazzled diners with her Italian cuisine for the MGM Grand in Vegas.
“We are featuring Abby’s Kula corn on the cob with a miso-lime butter as a summer dish,” says Guest. “Our Hoaloha Farm in Waikapu supplies us with fresh kalo, which we use to make the Hoaloha taro dumplings on our menu.”
The plump dumplings are filled with ele ele makoko (a variety of taro) with chili vin and sesame-tofu puree. “Crazy good,” they get rave reviews.
“We run special dishes on a regular basis but do not feature a happy hour or special discounts,” says Guest of the menu. “We price everything with the intention that it should be reasonable for everyone, whether they be kamaaina or visitors.”
For desserts, dive into the hot malasadas created by Hoaloha Executive Bake Shop Pastry Chef Ed Morita. Sugary Portuguese doughnuts, they are presented with dipping sauces such as chocolate, miso caramel and yuzu basil. Or indulge in mango pudding with lumpia crisps.
Reservations are taken but take note, it’s booked up a few days in advance.
“We still save some seats in the restaurant for walk-ins though. We want everyone to feel invited to join us whether they planned to eat out or not,” adds Guest.
Star Noodle at a glance:
• Where: Located at the very top of Lahaina Industrial Park at 286 Kupuohi St. in Lahaina.
• Hours: Open from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily for lunch and dinner services.
• The vibe: Casual and fun, local yet urbane. Communal table seats 18; bar seats 12 with more tables, too. Modern interior boasts ocean views, repurposed teak, stone and other natural materials.
• How much: Share plates from $4 to market price; noodles from $8 to $14; sweets from $6 to $8; craft cocktails, $12; wines by the glass, $11; beers, $5 to $10 and sake, $11 to $19.
• The back story: Part of the Na Hoaloha family of Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop, Aloha Mixed Plate and Old Lahaina Luau.
• For reservations: Call 667-5400 or visit www.starnoodle.com.