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Rest assured, there will be no shortage of great dining options when visiting the Kapalua region of Maui. The problem for many tourists is picking a restaurant because so many of them are enticing.

Below are three personal favorites while staying at Kapalua Resort in November 2015.

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Kai Sushi restaurant: Are you a sushi lover? If so, this is an exquisite restaurant that will leave your taste buds salivating for more and contemplating your next visit as soon as you depart the spacious dining location in the The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua.

The Kai Sushi doesn’t skimp on quality, offering very fresh and fine grade sushi and sashimi. The kitchen uses authentic ingredients and highlights it on your plate with an appealing presentation.

The rolls are always among the favorites of diners, and include: Shrimp Tempura (snow crab, avocado, cucumber, sprouts), Veggie Roll (avocado, cucumber, daikon, oba), Kai Special Roll
(spicy tuna, yellowtail, green onion).

The Braised short rib potstickers were so good we had to get an extra order. Three Sushi combinations were delicious as well.

The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua has been around for 22 years, features 463 rooms (132 suites), resides on 54 acres, and is a short walking distance to a beautiful stretch of beach.

The Kai Sushi location, just off the main lobby, has an interesting history and also an interesting chef with a unique background.

The restaurant was previously a huge library with an appealing fireplace that was quite the place to hang out before being converted to the Kai Sushi in 2008.

Chef Tadashi Yoshino certainly experienced life in the fast lane prior to employment at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. For 11 years he was test-driver at Nissan Motor Corp. in Japan. Prior to coming to the Ritz-Carlton six years ago, Yoshino spent three years at Sakura Restaurant in Wailea and 11 years as the chef at Kincha at The Grand Wailea. 

The Kai Sushi seats 66 people and features hand-carved ceiling beams that mirror the shapes of the outrigger canoes while the glowing back of the sushi bar and carved wood columns are inspired by traditional Hawaiian art forms in print.

Location: 1 Ritz-Carlton Drive, Kapalua, Maui

Alii-Nui Maui Royal Feast Dinner Sail: For couples of any age who are seeking a romantic evening, this is it. This cool-looking catamaran and its engaging crew members set the sail and chase the sun as it gradually sinks into the distant horizon off the gorgeous blue waters of the South Pacific.

Climb aboard the sizable catamaran and the shoes come off (keep them on if you want) and a glass of champagne is quickly made available. The champagne continues to flow as guests mingle around the deck and check out the magnificent views of Maui’s dramatic shoreline. There’s even an opportunity to get behind the wheel and steer the vessel.

The Alii Nui Maui cruise is aptly named the Royal Feast for a reason – the variety of food is enormous. The offerings begin with an array of tempting appetizers, followed by a huge buffet dinner of seafood, sushi, prime rib, salads, numerous side dishes, and desserts. There’s also an open bar with some great island cocktails, traditional drinks, and both beer and wine selections.

The cruise is limited to a maximum of 36 guests. Table seating in the custom-designed cabin can feel a little cramped, but it’s also a great opportunity to mingle and get to know other guests. It’s a good idea to bring a light jacket; it can get a little chilly once the sun sets.

One very cool aspect about the experience is the option to leave the driving to one of the friendly crew members, who are extremely accommodating. A van will pick up guests at their hotel for the drive to the pier and will also provide return transportation at no extra cost.

Check-in time is at 4:45 p.m. and the Alii-Nui sail starts at 5:15 p.m. and lasts for 21/2 hours. The cost is a bit steep at $179 per person, but the guess here is that most people won’t regret the experience. It’s an enchanting evening sail where you can leave the kids behind – this trip is for adults only.

Location: Check in at Slip #56 at Ma’alaea Harbor, Maui

Roy’s Ka’anapali restaurant: Roy’s is one of those iconic places in Maui that everyone seems to know. Perhaps it’s because Roy’s is a chain restaurant with more than 30 locations worldwide. Other Hawaiian locations include Waikiki, Kai, Waikoloa and Ka Olina.

Chef Roy Yamaguchi is familiar to many. Besides being the founder of more than two dozen restaurants, he is also a cookbook author and television personality. He was a featured chef on the acclaimed Food Network program, My Country, My Kitchen, which took viewers back to his roots in Japan. Yamaguchi has also appeared on Bravo, Top Chef Masters as one of the 12 notable chefs nationwide competing for the title of Top Chef Master. And for six years he hosted the PBS-TV show – Hawaii Cooks with Roy Yamaguchi.

At Roy’s Ka’anapali, the seafood, like much of the selection in Hawaii, is very fresh and tasty. Among the choices are salmon, Mahi Mahi and seas scallops. Meat items include Filet Mignon, a delicious ribeye, ribs, and there’s also Thai Chicken. For a variety, try Roy’s Trio (hibachi-grilled salmon, Misoyaki “butterfish,” roasted macadamia nut-crusted Mahi Mahi) or a dish that includes lobster tail, crab cakes and teppanyaki shrimp.

A couple of items on the appetizer menu are a big hit: the lobster bisque and lobster potstickers. The Canoe Appetizer for Two (Thai peanut chicken satay, vegetable spring rolls, Szechuan ribs) is a great choice as well.

Yamaguchi was born in Tokyo, but recalls that one of his earliest culinary memories was visiting his grandparents in Maui and tasting fresh seafood from the pier. He attended a New York cooking school, spent some time in Los Angeles restaurants, then opened a Honolulu restaurant in 1988 that sparked a new wave of Hawaiian fusion cuisine.

Yamaguchi says he is “blending classic European cooking techniques with unique influences of Asia and the Pacific.” The creations at Roy’s are no secret. Visit the website and one can view a number of recipes.

Location: 2290 Ka’anapali Parkway, Lahaina, Maui

Kapalua (Maui) Dining Guide

  • Kai Sushi restaurant, at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua: 808 669-620
  • Roy’s Ka’anapali restaurant: 808 396-7697
  • Alii-Nui Maui Royal Feast Dinner Sail: 808 875-0333
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