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Hitting it out of the ballpark

One of Maui’s brightest chefs up and running new eatery

One of Maui’s brightests chefs, Jojo Vasquez, right, and his wife and deejay, Eliza Escano, are now up and running with their Fond, A Neighborhood Eatery in Napili Plaza that serves brunch, dinner and Ohana Pau Hana happy hour. Photo courtesy Fond

At Napili Plaza in the former Beach Bums spot, the new Fond, A Neighborhood Eatery is hitting it out of the ballpark with local brunch fare from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. The three top sellers are the longsilog bowl with the tastiest housemade longanisa sausage, the Fond Benedict topped with mojo pork, and toast topped with babaganoush. All I can say is, “Move over, avocado toast.”

Fond Chef-owner Jojo Vasquez received his liquor license earlier this month, and he’s now rolling out dinner service including the Chef’s Counter with 10 seats from 5 to 7 p.m. and Ohana Pau Hana from 3 to 5 p.m. with happy-hour prices on drinks and such.

“Beats & Eats will continue to be last Fridays of the month,” says Joey’s wife, Eliza Escano, who is talking about a super-fun music night. “At least once a month, we also plan to host Remedy Sunday, which is when I will DJ during our brunch service.”

For more details, call 856-0225.

By the way, one of Vasquez’s former chef digs, Plantation House in Kapalua, will be closed for renovation starting Aug. 15 for breakfast and Aug. 31 for dinner. The target date to reopen is in the late fall.

While most people think of The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua for its fine dining, the Maui Ono mushroom burger served at the Burger Shack is worth noting.

The outdoor restaurant situated on Fleming’s Beach lets you walk up in shorts, T-shirts and slippers and grindz the grass-fed Maui beef with kiawe-smoked Hamakua Alii mushrooms in a patty served with Upcountry watercress, pickled hon shimeji mushrooms, red onion and carrot salad, Bel Paese cheese and kim chee ketchup — all on toasted brioche bun.

Ritz’s Restaurant Chef, April Matsumoto, is drawing in the summer crowds with this burger, created for a James Beard contest. Order one and sip a milkshake, such as the Nutty Cocomel and other creamy wonders.

“Our shake of the month is Caramel Apple Pie!” says Chef Matsumoto. “It comes with a huge piece of pie sticking out of the top of the milkshake — and it’s so, so cool!”

Alii Nui Sailing Charters is now running with its new nightly Royal Sunset Sail, complete with a buffet dinner menu and open bar for your enjoyment in the vessel’s open-air cabin or topside at one of the deck tables.

“Guests onboard are encouraged to move about the vessel and enjoy the evening sail’s Maui vistas and sunset,” says Director of Sales & Marketing Carol Contreras, who works for Maui Dive Shop, owner of the vessel.

The buffet includes prime rib roast, kiawe-smoked baby-back ribs, veggie tortellini with pesto sauce, Cajun-seared ahi sashimi, crab cakes, Caesar salad, cheeses and crackers, pineapple-coconut cake and MauiWine’s raspberry dessert varietal. The cruise departs from Maalaea Harbor. Call Alii Nui at 875-0333.

Market at The Shops is held in the center court of The Shops at Wailea from 4 to 6 p.m. on the second and the fourth Wednesday of each month.

“We’re bringing in more artisan vendors, food innovators and produce suppliers,” says the mall’s Director of Marketing Candace Shaw. “The vendors rotate, but we have Justin Orr from HI Spice hot sauces, as well as Anthony Labua-Keiser and Jason Smith of Maui Bee Farm and we have Maui Preserved. We’re revitalizing our market with many value-added products.”

We do have entertainers, and on July 24 we have Larry Endrina and July 31, Anuhea performs. It’s usually a singer songwriter. Every month we partner with a nonprofit and give a portion of the parking proceeds to them. In July, Habitat for Humanity is the beneficiary.”