Kung Hee Fat Choy! Celebrate Chinese New Year from 6 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday at A Taste of Asian Blend, an annual food and music gala in the panoramic ballroom at King Kamehameha Golf Club in Waikapu. A quartet of top Maui chefs will offer some signature favorites.
Tom Muromoto of Ka‘anapali Beach Hotel will make his award-winning Ko‘ala lamb chops with tropical fruit relish, as well as slow-braised short ribs in steamed Chinese bao buns. Jennifer Nguyen of A Saigon Cafe will be represented, and Roy Stillwell of Stillwell’s Bakery also will participate, along with host chef Eddie Munoz of King Kamehameha.
The best part is you can dance away the calories to former Waikiki headliners Asian Blend with lead vocalist Little Albert Maligmat, former member of Society of Seven. Emcee is popular Maui attorney Tony Takitani, which just goes to show that lawyers can be loved.
Founded in 1972 by keyboardist Mitch Hazama, Asian Blend will feature smokin’-hot singers Jeanette Trevias on keyboards, Desiree Echalas, Jay Molina on bass, Dave Ray Toma on guitar, Alan Pascua and Earl Apo Jr. I can attest that they always pack a super-lively dance floor. I even threw out my back dancing to these guys a couple of years ago.
“We are raising funds for fellow band member Jeff Bio,” says Hazama. “Diagnosed with Stage 4 angio carcoma, or cancer of the blood vessels, he’s in Houston Cancer Center right now. We will be releasing a song that I wrote and will dedicate to he and his wife that night.”
“Give My Heart to You” will wind it down as a heartfelt slow-jam sung by Echalas. The rest of the night will feature ’70s and ’80s covers and songs from Asian Blend’s latest CD. Cost is $85 per person. For tickets, email email@example.com or call 385-6006.
By the way, A Saigon Cafe in Wailuku will present its Lunar New Year celebration at 5:15 p.m. Saturday with lion dancers snaking through the dining room, mouths snapping and cymbals crashing. For good luck, feed the lion red envelopes filled with money.
“Like every year, I will do a Chinese special of roast pork tenderloin with hard-boiled eggs simmered in coconut water and served with pickled vegetables,” says Nguyen. For reservations, call 243-9560.
Natives of Guangzhou, China, Mike and Tina Xiao will ring in the new lunar year from Thursday through Jan. 31 at their Mike’s Hong Kong Bistro on the corner of Main Street and Central Avenue in Wailuku.
“We will make the popular Chinese New Year’s cake, roast duck and crispy roast pork,” says Tina. “Our other specials are sea bass with baby bok choy; jai, or monk’s food; steamed chicken with dried mushrooms; and jian dui and gau, both very important.”
Eating green foods such as baby bok choy is fortuitous and ensures a lucrative new year. Steamed fish offers abundance, and the longer the noodles one eats, the longer one is supposed to live. Call Mike’s at 244-7888.
FOR WINE AND ITALIAN FOOD LOVERS
Grand Wailea will present La Spinetta Wine Dinner from 5 to 8 p.m. Jan. 28 in the open-air Humuhumunukunukuapua‘a restaurant located oceanfront on property. Diners will embark on a journey through Italy with six varietals from Piedmont and Tuscany paired with six courses of Italian-inspired culinary creations such as crudo, or raw fish, with ahi, kampachi, uni, radishes, poha berries and lilikoi juice paired with a Brut Millesimato Contratto Pas Dose.
“In order to make great wines, a fervent philosophy regarding work in both the vineyards and winery is essential, but most of all … one must be willing to work hard,” says La Spinetta winemaker Giorgio Rivetti, who will be on hand at the dinner to chat up guests. Rivetti comes from a multigenerational Italian winemaking family. His grandfather excelled in Argentina when he left his homeland in the 1890s. The sons and grandsons remained in Italy, and the Rivetti family now has a winemaking empire that includes several regions.
Humuhumu chef de cuisine Alvin Savella will serve foie gras panzanella salad with Kula tomatoes and taro toast tossed in sherry brown butter; lobster risotto with black truffles, peas and parmesan; fresh catch with Molokai sweet potato gnocchi, prosecco butter, caviar and lemon foam; dry-aged prime beef with wild mushrooms and bone marrow; and dessert of grand tiramisu with mango mascarpone cream and mac nut tuille.
Cost of the dinner is $195 per person. Seating is limited. Call 875-1234, ext. 2500.
NEW AND UPCOMING
Ekolu Kitchen 1279 is targeted for a soft opening Wednesday pending a final walk-through in the former Shearwater Tavern at Azeka Mauka in Kihei. Chef partner is Geno Sarmiento and managing partner is Donnie Abernathy, both veterans in Maui’s restaurant industry.
“We both left the Tri-Star group in June and have been working at Nalu’s South Shore Grill in the interim. Nalu’s owner Ron Panzo is our partner in Ekolu. We will be open for happy hour and dinner seven days a week with a bistro menu. Our theme is a ‘culinary voyage,’ so we’re not stuck serving just one cuisine. We’ll have Hawaiian, Mediterranean and Filipino foods, and for happy hour we’ll even have some Middle Eastern dishes.” For more details, call 793-3333.
Fried chicken lovers are licking their fingers over news of potentially two famed franchises opening in Kahului.
Jollibee opens its first Maui location Friday at Maui Marketplace on Dairy Road. Regular hours are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Opening-day swag includes a year’s supply of Chickenjoy to the first 50 people with a food purchase of $25 or more and coveted Jollibee Funko Pop figures in special barong tagalog to the first 50 customers carrying the most unique banners or posters with the hashtag #ItsOurTurn.
Additionally, drawstring bags will be handed out to the first 300 customers on opening day and the first 100 customers on the second and third days of business with a $25 purchase. And check Jollibee USA’s Facebook for details on how to score an advance menu tasting on Thursday before the official opening.
Chick-fil-A, meanwhile, filed a building permit for a potential site at the Pu‘unene Shopping Center but has not confirmed it would be opening an outlet.