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Local flavors, quick service found in Kahului at Sheldon Simeon’s Tin Roof

Wok fried pork belly with a kimchi glaze is served in a compostable to-go container at Tin Roof. Extras, like garlic noodles, may be added for an additional charge. AYA GANZ photo

I was kind of scrambling to figure out where to eat in-between the holidays. I was in town, tired and badly in need of food. Fast and good. Sound familiar? Well, have I got the spot for you! Tucked away in the industrial part of Kahului is a culinary treasure created by Sheldon Simeon.

Simeon competed in season 10 of “Top Chef: Seattle,” where he finished as a finalist and won the coveted “Fan Favorite” title. From Hilo High on the Big Island to the Culinary Institute of the Pacific, to an internship at Walt Disney World, to Maui Culinary Academy to Top Chef, Sheldon has followed his passion, and made great things happen.

The restaurant’s down-home vibe and quick service make it an easy choice for a dynamite pit stop. And it is a great place to people-watch. From the adorable kitchen and counter, staff speedily whip food together as a young, hip crowd stands in the window at the counter or sits on outdoor benches. Everyone is on an adventure. They know about Sheldon and they want his great food.

Tin Roof is a perfect place to grab lunch while heading to the airport, or for a picnic to Kanaha Beach or Iao Valley, all nearby. I’m all about food, so I could barely make it to the car before removing the lids. The food never made it far.

The food at Tin Roof is a great representation of our tiny island home; local Hawaiian, a little Filipino, a little Japanese. Can you say yum? I ordered enough for two . . . I told myself I wanted to have leftovers, who was I kidding? Honestly, I just couldn’t choose! Everything looked so good. I decided on one of the Kau Kau Tins. Kau kau means “eat” and was the name of the aluminum lunch tin sugar cane plantation workers carried their lunch in to work. I had the pork belly with garlic noodles, salted cabbage and a six-minute egg. If you like pork, this “lunch plate” is unbelievable. Wok fried pork belly with a kimchi glaze, beautifully plated in a compostable to-go container.

My baby laughed at me slurping down the garlic noodles. I also had the mochiko chicken as a side: chicken thighs marinated overnight in a ginger sake shoyu, covered in a sweet mochiko batter, then fried twice and topped with a homemade miso aoli and mochi crunch dime bag mix. This local favorite was sweet and crunchy and great to dip in into chili sauce or water. Completely satisfying. The poke bowl (I had that too!) was perfectly seasoned, the ahi fresh and well proportioned to the rice. White and green onion, ginger and furikake crumble. On point classic.

Tin Roof also serves a cold case full of local drinks and treats: local Valley Isle Kombucha, island flavored sodas and Maui’s famous Pono Pies.

The staff is all smiles and provides fast service. Hopefully, next time I’ll get to meet Sheldon!

* Tin Roof, 360 Papa Place, Suite 116, Kahului.

Looking for great local produce on the south side? This market is a local’s treasure.

“535 Farmer’s Markets & Counting . . . 52 straight Saturday’s this year! A lot of folk tell us it’s South Maui’s best kept secret,” says Steve Rose, producer of the Lipoa Street Farmer’s Market, in post on the market’s Facebook page. He is a 20-year Maui resident, lover of organic produce and the made-on-Maui food scene.

Rose, along with Jordan Longman, market manager, have been setting up the market each week now for the past 10 1/2 years and it is seldom closed on a Saturday. “We really only closed for hurricanes that never come, as the weather pocket here on Lipoa Street is seldom affected by rain enough to shut things down,” explains Rose.

Those who attend on Saturdays, find this small, but well-stocked, fresh produce and tropical fruit market in Kihei at 95 Lipoa St., in the rear parking lot of South Maui Center. The produce is 100 percent organic and 100 percent locally-grown. There’s also fresh Maui coconuts opened by Longman, made to order.

The market opens each Saturday at 8:30 sharp (no early entry) and can often sell out in the first hour, so regulars know to get there at the opening.

It’s currently citrus (grapefruit, oranges, tangelos, tangerines, lemons, limes) and avocado season on Maui (four different kind this past week), so the market has had an abundance of these with some late Upcountry mangoes.

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