If soup is good for the soul, you’ll be righteously uplifted by broth, which opened over the summer in the family-owned Alive & Well health food store in Kahului.
Broth — with a lower-case “b” — is the latest collaboration between owner Darren Jones and chef Noah Schuster, who blends his experiences as a former horticulturalist, wholesaler and practitioner of fine and rustic culinary arts.
“It’s all about recognizing the hard work of the people who work in the fields and work in nature to bring us these products. We value them and also hope to break the disconnect between the world of agriculture and food preparation,” Schuster said.
With 17 years “off and on” in the agriculture industry, Schuster says broth’s focus is to bring people together to celebrate beautiful, nutritious yet delicious food. “I have always viewed food as the place where you can influence humanity at its best, and the way we value land and water if we have a congruence where we express our food,” he said.
Located to one side of the health food store, broth has a fresh, rustic yet contemporary feel. Together Schuster and Jones transformed the previous deli into a grab-and-go or dine-in space with counter service by day that offers a casual BYOB dinner service by night. (Delivery also is available via Bite Squad.)
The menu highlights local farmers and organic ingredients when available. During a recent daytime visit, a bright, hearty frittata rested atop the counter while a refrigerated display showcased freshly made salads, sandwiches, colorful wraps, breadfruit Pono Pies and more.
The menu posted on the walls lists ample selections in various categories. Breakfast includes burritos ($8) and a savory conjee mushroom rice porridge ($6) mixed with shiitake mushroom, fried shallot, chili oil and microgreens. Add a six-minute egg for $2 more.
We sampled the Maui Mountain Bowl ($9) of strawberry, papaya, banana and purple sweet potato topped with puffed rice. A lime agrodolce drizzle ensured the bowl wasn’t too sweet.
Other menu items include variations of avocado toast ($7-$9); Vietnamese-style bahn mi sandwiches with either lemongrass chicken, char sui or taro ($9-$10); salads/sides; and smoothies.
All of the dishes are expertly crafted and amazingly beautiful, vibrant and almost too pretty to eat. And although Alive & Well caters to those who eat vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free, omnivores will be satisfied, too.
Schuster was born and raised on Oahu, then spent some time in Colorado, working alongside some of the best chefs in the region. He also put in a good amount of time as a forest caretaker, which included trail maintenance, logging and, at times, fighting forest fires. He said it was during that time when he would cook his meals over an open flame and used the resources found in nature to provide sustenance and a wholesome lifestyle.
Now living in Kula for the past eight years, Schuster pays homage to his upbringing by crafting dishes that remind him of home. “These are a lot of the foods that I ate growing up on Oahu,” he said.
Broth or juice are foundational in his menu. “Broth is a big component to a juice cleanse, or you can supplement your diet with juice,” Schuster said.
I also tried the Mushroom Lentil Bowl ($11), a generous dish enhanced with kale slaw, tofu and a “mac crack” nut crumble in a mushroom broth that was piping hot, filling and full of comforting nutrients.
The Asian influences carry over to Schuster’s hearty ramen bowls ($12). Customers have their choice of flavor (miso mushroom or spicy tan tan), broth (mushroom vegetable or chicken and pork), noodles (wheat ramen, buckwheat soba or gluten-free Konjac ramen) and, last, protein (tofu or queen beet pork char siu).
Recent selections for the new dinner service, offered 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, included Kimchee Grilled Cheese of pressed sourdough with Gruyere cheese, kim chee and a pho dipping sauce ($9); short ribs in a beef broth of carrots, tomatos, onions, bell pepper, seasonal veggies and green onion ($18); stuffed eggplant panzanela with cashew cream, gluten-free croutons, roasted pepper and red wine vinaigrette on a chopped salad ($16); and Aqua Pazzo, featuring scallops, clams, white fish and Kauai prawns in a seafood broth with edible coral and crostini ($19).
Schuster describes himself as a culinary artist who utilizes Maui’s beautiful landscape and draws upon island resources for inspiration.
“We are featuring the highest-quality products while offering elevated dining in a casual setting,” he said.
A visit to this culinary gem in the heart of Kahului is worth a try, as the venue is welcoming and the food is insanely fresh and expertly crafted with tender love and care — and that’s good for the soul.