Still riding high as Maui's "Best New Restaurant" in our annual "Best of Maui" contest, Star Noodle in Lahaina will celebrate its first anniversary Feb. 4.
Tucked away at the top of Lahaina Business Park, this powerhouse of an Asian pub and noodle eatery is ultrachic and sophisticated for its location.
It boasts a 3,500-square-foot kitchen, ocean views, teak, stone and other natural materials, as well as a communal table for 20, a lively lounge and original artworks. Its rising- star chef, Sheldon Simeon, is also being praised as "Maui's Best Chef" in another publication.
“We continue to work directly with Maui farmers,” says Chef Sheldon Simeon. “As our menu evolves with the idea of seasonality and sustainability. I thank Maui for the continued support.” The bottom line? “Eat noodles!”
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
"We're enjoying great success," says Nicky Boskoff, the office manager for Hoaloha Na Eha Ltd., Star Noodle's parent company. "The first anniversary is just sneaking up on us so fast. It happens to coincide with Chinese New Year, so we'll celebrate both."
Star Noodle will bring in Chinese lion dancers and do a new take on Chinese classics. The special anniversary menu is a work in progress.
"Our concept is: We take something familiar and make it unique," says owner Michael Moore, who, with his partners, also runs the hugely successful Old Lahaina Lu'au and the Aloha Mixed Plate on Front Street.
Star Noodle is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 5:30 to 10 p.m. It's located at 286 Kupuohi St., in the Lahaina Business Park. Call 667-5400.
The noodles will win you over as most are made in house. Chinese lore says "the longer the noodle one eats on the new year, the longer one will live." So slurp Lahaina fried soup with ground pork and bean sprouts; and Singapore noodles with vermicelli, chicken, shrimp and vegetables. Or munch steamed pork buns with hoisin sauce, cucumber and fresh shiitake mushrooms.
The menu continues to improve because the staff is sent on travel assignments to check out what's new and exciting in the culinary world.
For instance, office manager Boskoff along with Chef Simeon, Sous Chef Jay Kulukulualani and Noodle Maker Lorilei Aguiar all just attended the 13th annual World of Flavors Conference at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa, Calif.
"Undoubtedly, the number one thing we learned attending the conference was the importance of both seasonality and sustainability," says Simeon.
"This year's theme was Japan: Taste of Culture," continues the chef. "We also learned about attention to detail, how items on a dish represented something, different ways to cut fish to extract more flavor and precise temperature to simmer konbu in to release the umami."
That's all good information for this team, as they serve many Japanese items such as ramen, udon and saimin along with miso salmon, karaage chicken and yakitori with scallion and sesame seeds. "We have incorporated a lot of ideas from the conference into our daily specials. We've added green apples to our famous pickle jar and our noodles have better texture, chew and flavor."
The team also just toured some Maui farms, including Waipoli Hydroponic Greens, Escobedo Farms, Evonuk Farms and Shishido Farms. "It was a great way to connect directly with the farmers themselves," says Simeon. "It was awesome to go to the farms and see for ourselves where our produce is grown."
Lastly, what are the exciting new plans from the parent company? "We just got our facade permit for the old Chez Paul location in Olowalu and we're starting the makeover next week," says Boskoff. "It will be called Leoda's, and it will look like an old plantation general store. We're hoping and pushing for a June opening."
Leoda's kitchen will actually be at Star Noodle, where the main commissary is located for all of the Hoaloha Na Eha outlets. "We'll serve great pies. Both savory and sweet along with a lot of vegetarian items. Stay tuned."