Side Orders • January 31, 2019

Kihei Bar & Grill’s Assistant Manager Janay Brash Domion (left) and GM Dan Stock show off the restaurant’s bright new look. The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo

AROUND THE TOWN . . . With hints of Rainbow Drive-In and Fuddruckers rolled into one, the new Kihei Bar & Grill is drawing in local crowds in the old Ruby Tuesday location in Kihei.

“The last day of Ruby’s was Dec. 31,” says owner Rick Nakashima, who also ran that incarnation. “We have live music five nights a week from 6 to 8 p.m. It’s fast casual, with a menu board. You order at the counter, we give you a number and bring you the dish.”

Musician Merv Oana keeps it lively Thursdays. Familiar faces include Bartender Shy Bowman and Hostess Morissa Mo Ohashi. There are build-your-own poke and burger bars. You can hold the pickles, hold the lettuce — as special orders don’t upset us, er, them.

It’s looking like the Year of the Boar will be anything but boring. While the official Chinese New Year holiday is Tuesday, Mike’s Hong Kong Bistro in Wailuku will wok fry and steam up a storm of authentic food specials Friday through Feb. 15. For good luck, order gau, the sweet, sticky rice pudding. Or vegetarian jai, aka monk’s food. Cooked by owner Mike Xiao, specials are served by his lovely wife, Tina Xiao.

Many Chinese foods are fortuitous. For instance, greens such as baby bok choy at Mike’s ensure a lucrative new year. The whole steamed fish at A Saigon Cafe brings you abundance. A Saigon’s Cafe’s Vietnamese owner Jennifer Nguyen will also bring in lion dancers at 5 p.m. Tuesday. The longer the noodles one eats at Wei Wei Cafe & Noodle House in Wailuku, the longer one is said to live.

One of Maui’s favorite restaurants to dine for sushi and other cutting-edge Asian fare, Japengo at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa in Kaanapali recently introduced some new menu items.

Chef de Cuisine Gevin Utrillo is wowing with grilled chicken satay in citrus-soy glaze and hanbun rice with ahi, lobster, ogo (seaweed), Maui onion and avocado drizzled in tamari and gochu-jang aioli. Sushi Chef Jin Hosono is rolling out chirashi don with a dozen pieces of assorted fresh and hand-selected fish.

Also launching a new dinner menu is Cane & Canoe at Montage Kapalua Bay resort. Its steak program is sizzling with tomahawk ribeyes and wagyu beef, and seafood lovers may dive into Ora king salmon and jumbo lump crab served on toast points. Cane & Canoe’s Chef de Cuisine Robert Barrera says it’s a “modern interpretation of a premier American steak and seafood restaurant” and that he serves “classic dishes with a progressive twist.”

Hotel Lanai has reopened and its Lanai City Bar & Grill is once again jumping under the towering Cook Pine trees with its rustic charm. Sip handcrafted cocktails, listen to live local musicians and savor “global cuisine with an island fork” by Executive Chef Joel Harrington, who worked in Manhattan as sous chef of world-famous Aquavit. He says he serves up American barbecue, Asian fare, New England home cooking and Southern soul food, using Lanai venison, fresh ahi and other island ingredients. Mixologist is Lanai native Jacob Baltero.

Spotted dining with his family at Sarento’s on the Beach in Kihei was hockey legend Wayne Gretsky, while its sister restaurant, Nick’s Fish Market at Fairmont Kea Lani in Wailea, dazzled film superstar Sir Anthony Hopkins with its gourmet menu.

* Got restaurant/dining-event scoop? Call Dining Editor Carla Tracy at 242-6342; or email carlatracy@mauinews.com.