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Finding a little bit of humor and good food on Maui in these trying times

  • COURTESY DOWN THE HATCH
                                A kitchen worker ladles tropical fruit salsa onto crisp coconut-crusted shrimp at Down the Hatch in Lahaina, which offers free hot meals to first responders and health care workers.

    COURTESY DOWN THE HATCH

    A kitchen worker ladles tropical fruit salsa onto crisp coconut-crusted shrimp at Down the Hatch in Lahaina, which offers free hot meals to first responders and health care workers.

  • COURTESY UMI SUSHI
                                Umi Sushi has switched from dinner service to takeout lunches that include hefty spicy tuna poke bowls ($10). The Wailuku restaurant also is offering prime ahi blocks for as little as $12 per pound.

    COURTESY UMI SUSHI

    Umi Sushi has switched from dinner service to takeout lunches that include hefty spicy tuna poke bowls ($10). The Wailuku restaurant also is offering prime ahi blocks for as little as $12 per pound.

A Maui chef and known party animal just texted me: “Today marks three weeks of isolation. I’m walking five miles a day. Eating no meat, dairy or flour, only fresh veggies and home-cooked meals — all gluten and caffeine free. The change has been fantastic. I feel great. Zero alcohol! I also do one-hour, home-gym workouts every morning. I’ve lost 20 pounds and gained muscle mass.”

He followed that text with another divulging, “I have no idea who wrote this, but I’m so proud of them, I decided to copy and paste.”

Ha! It’s so refreshing to find some humor in these dire times.

RESPITE FOR RESPONDERS

Down the Hatch in Lahaina continues to provide Maui police officers, firefighters, EMTs and health care workers who stop by with a free hot meal. The three partners of the Front Street restaurant on the ground floor of the Wharf Cinema Center say they are determined to do this for as long as they can.

“We’re committed to taking care of those on the front lines,” said co-owner Javier Barberi. “We know how difficult their jobs are, and we want to be able to support them with a hot meal to ease the burden just a little bit, either during their shifts or when their shifts are over.”

Down the Hatch is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily for takeout; delivery is available through DoorDash. For menu and more details, visit dthmaui.com or call 661-4900.

Napili FLO Farm in West Maui is a winner in the 2020 Good Food Awards, which recognize artisanal food producers in 16 categories, including coffee, chocolate, charcuterie, cheese, snacks and spirits. Known for its kim chee and fermented foods, it is the only Maui winner out of 200 from around the country, taking first place in two categories for its Pineapple-Ginger-Turmeric Sauerkraut and its Gut Shots, a probiotic elixir made from kim chee brine.

These immune-boosting favorites are available for online purchase and shipping on the Napili FLO Farm website as well as Mana Foods in Paia, Hawaiian Moons in Kihei, Down to Earth in Kahului and A‘a Roots and Honokowai Farmers Market in West Maui.

NORTH SHORE OPTIONS

While Paia might resemble a ghost town these days with numerous shops boarded up, there are a few tasty dining options. Choice Health Bar offers takeout from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Visit choicehealthbar.com or call 793-2244. … Paia Fishmarket is luring customers hook, line and fresh catch from noon to 8 p.m. daily. Fish might include mahimahi, ono, snapper, ahi, salmon and opah, either grilled, sauteed, blackened or prepared Cajun style. Call 579-8030. … Mana Foods has a guard outside, allowing about a dozen people to shop at a time. The store is open from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily. The collard-green veggie wraps, the hot Thai food and the Molokai steaks are stellar. Call 579-8078. … Flatbread Co. entices with wood-fired pizzas baked in Hobbit-like clay ovens and topped with organic ingredients and free-range meats. Opens at 11 a.m. Call 579-8989.

In Wailuku town, Umi Sushi on Vineyard Street is up and running for takeout lunch business. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays. In addition to ono plate lunches and sushi, owner-chef Jayse Sato has been offering sashimi-quality ahi blocks to customers when available — and they’ve been selling out fast.

“It’s hard for regular people to get a nice grade of fish at this time. I was at the store the other day and trying to look for fish to cut up and realized there was only frozen and ugly-looking fish,” Sato said. So he turned to his suppliers for fresh 2+ tuna — the second-highest grade, which usually costs him $15 to $17 per pound wholesale — and has been selling blocks for as cheap as $12 per pound.

“That’s unheard of; you never can buy high-grade fish for that price. I’m just trying to take care of local people and give them good-quality fish for a reasonable price,” he said.

Call 633-2502 or follow @umisushimaui on Instagram.

HEALTH CARE HEROES

Eli-Mac and Napua Greig are among the musicians scheduled to perform on “Hale to Hale: A Concert for Hawaii’s Healthcare Heroes,” which will stream on Pacific Media Group’s Maui stations and Hawaii News Now. Other participants — performing from their homes while observing social distancing guidelines, of course — include Jake Shimabukuro, John Cruz, Makana, Sean Na‘auao, Kapena, Kuana Torres Kahele and Taimane.

The 90-minute program, hosted by on-air personalities from Pacific Media Group and HNN, shows at 9:30 p.m. Monday on KFVE, May 3 at noon on KGMB and May 10 at 3 p.m. on KHNL, or listen on kpoa.com, dajam983.com, espnmaui.com, hi92maui.com and kissfmmaui.com.

Also on the airwaves, Akaku Community Media just launched “Maui Daily” live broadcasts, airing after Mayor Mike Victorino’s news conferences at 4 p.m. weekdays on Channel 55. It replays at 7 and 9 p.m. and midnight. Akaku CEO Jay April suggests you send in videos.

“Share a new-found inspiration, a talent, your pets, or how you and your ohana are handling the quarantine — we wanna see them,” says April. “Just remember to turn your phone horizontally, shoot up to 2 to 3 minutes and then upload it to akaku.org/submit. Simple! You never know, your video may be on our next ‘Maui Daily’ broadcast … so keep them comin’!”

One of Maui’s shining stars, Kaulike Pescaia, was inadvertently omitted from mention of 2020 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards nominees in last week’s column. He earned nods in not just one, but four categories, including male vocalist of the year, most promising artist and Hawaiian album of the year — all for “Ku‘u Huaka‘i.” Pescaia won the 2018 Richard Hoopi‘i Leo Ki‘eki‘e Falsetto Contest held on Maui.


Veteran journalist Carla Tracy pops the cork on Maui’s dining and entertainment scene in her weekly column. Email her at carlatracy808@gmail.com.


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