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Lineage showcases flavors of Hawaii

The kim chee dip is served with local rainbow radishes and Maebo Noodle Factory’s One Ton Chips. The chips are lightly sweet and super crunchy and are the perfect handler for the creamy, spicy kim chee blended dip. AYA GANZ photo

Reservations at award-winning chef Sheldon Simeon’s Lineage in The Shops at Wailea have been in high demand since the day it opened Oct. 15, 2018. Seven months ago, Mijin Kang Toride came to work side-by-side with Sheldon, learning from him and being a part of his vision. Confident that the legacy of Lineage was in great hands, Sheldon stepped down as head chef last month, passing the torch to Mijin.

I had the pleasure of eating at Lineage on one of Mijin’s first nights as chef de cuisine. She began her career in St. Helena, Calif., at Terra and then onto its famous sister restaurant, Ame, in San Francisco. Mijin continued on to help open Morimoto Napa with another famous celebrity chef, Masaharu Morimoto. Then Mijin made her big move to Maui.

Mijin says that the menu at Lineage is continually inspired by the staff of her kitchen and crew who all have their own background and personal palate to draw from.

There are “lots of flavor profiles coming through and it keeps the menu evolving through experimentation . . . showcasing a lot of the different agriculture in Hawaii,” says Mijin. “There is so much beautiful land and produce out here and we can really do so much with it.”

Diners from near and far are intrigued and inspired by what Sheldon has brought to the table, according to Mijin. As time goes by, the menu will evolve but right now keeping with the integrity that her predecessor created has been her most important task. Why mess with the best?

In Mijin’s words, “Its all about introducing our visitors to local agriculture in a way they can understand. The land really comes breathtakingly alive in the food at Lineage in a way I had not yet experienced. I was in for a real treat and I knew it.”

For starters, I was lucky to have Mijin put together a tasting menu for me with a handful of the kitchen’s best appetizers. I was dining alone, so I was sent out several miniature plates of pupus. The kim chee dip was first, served with local rainbow radishes and Maebo Noodle Factory’s One-Ton Chips. The chips are lightly sweet and super crunchy and are the perfect handler for the creamy, spicy kim chee blended dip.

Next, I tried the Lomi Kampachi. Mijin uses kampachi which is Big Island yellow tail, a type of tuna served raw with slivers of green onion and bright red tomato. The fish was fresh and delicate and served on a bed of puffed rice and a dollop of poi.

For the main course, I had the fish special which as pan seared local catch of the day, Kona kampachi, served in a broth with perfectly cooked bulgur wheat, roasted tomato, roasted okra and steamed bok choy. This was a phenomenal blend of rarely combined flavors. The broth in this dish is cooked in a rich pork stock made of garlic, ginger, onion and tamarind. I have never had anything like it. It was magnificent!

I always save room for desert, so as always I wasn’t planning to end without something sweet. I was urged to try the Filipino cereal. Apparently, Sheldon made this one up for his family. Glazed crunchy crackers float in a sweet creamed milk with slices of fresh avocado. Every spoonful was better than the one before. Their Iron Goddess of Mercy tea complemented everything. This roasted tea was the perfect pairing to the flavors in the the cereal with notes of caramel, shiitake mushroom and chicory.

I have to admit, I was disappointed I never got to meet Sheldon. I’m still a huge fan. After meeting Mijin, I know without a doubt that Lineage is in exquisite hands. If you are looking for a fabulous taste adventure and a evening filled with food that teaches you about what our real local food is all about, you have to try Lineage.

* Lineage, The Shops at Wailea. Call 879-8800.

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