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The Sizzling Shaking Beef dish, $32, with Asian greens, pickled radish and fried garlic

FEATURES

Rock Steady

By Eliza Escano

Photography by Mieko Horikoshi

10.25.18

ROCKsalt Restaurant Spices Up West Maui.

ROCKsalt restaurant’s namesake lends homage to Hawai‘i’s bounty of volcanic sea salts and the mythical Pu‘u Keka‘a or Black Rock that anchors the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa in Ka‘anapali.

Executive chef Lyndon Honda dares diners to be more adventurous, with offerings like the smoky and unctuous rillettes of char siu duck confit topped with pickled pineapple and served with green-tea baguette. Or huevos a la flamenca, an egg dish baked in a sofrito with olives, blood chorizo and melty ribbons of manchego. “There’s a real sense of discovery for the guest, and of honor for the chef, when you get to create new, memorable experiences for people,” says Honda.

When Honda joined the Sheraton team in May 2017, the O‘ahu-raised toque reimagined what was previously Black Rock Kitchen into a concept that reflects his philosophy, style and 28 years of honest hustle. Having led kitchens at Maui Brewing Company, restaurants for Cohn Restaurant Group and the culinary teams of Na Hoaloha Ekolu group, Honda and his team rolled out an exciting cultural shape-shifting menu last summer. Any chef that leaves a healthy stick of cinnamon butter to sinfully melt in the center of a cast-iron-baked, Chipotle-spiced cornbread is aiming for greatness.

Thrive with beautiful plant-based inspirations like harissa-roasted root vegetables tempered with drizzles of saffron yogurt. Or swipe breaded tofu across a bright mojo verde sauce, but only after a few squeezes of calamansi. The house char siu also marinades the mesquite-smoked tako, or octopus, sous-vide to tenderness, resting atop a golden fried bao. And slivers of beef sizzle on a skillet with the umami trifecta of sweet soy, vinegar and garlic, laden with greens and blushing circles of pickled radish.

Stellar views and breezy outdoor seating

While Honda naturally tends to all of the hotel’s food outlets as well as the resort’s on-site Maui Nui Luau, and banquet and catering functions, sous-chef Zachary Coltes leads dinner service at ROCKsalt most evenings. The rising talent has roots in Seattle and O‘ahu, and hones his craft with soulful influence from his grandma’s Puerto Rican and Filipino cooking.

Local spirits and fresh ingredients make for ROCKsalt’s intriguing libations: A riff on dirty martini shakes Hawaiian chili-pepper water with Maui’s Ocean Organic Vodka; Thyme to Let Go is calamansi muddled with a sprig of thyme, a few dashes of grapefruit bitters and Kikori Japanese whiskey; the London Gentleman is an icy floral mix of creme de violette, muddled cucumber and mint, strawberry puree, and rose-infused Hendrick’s Gin.

The well-crafted bar program and restaurant’s airy interior make for a perfect hang. On the weekends, a lounge DJ spins an eclectic set where it’s not uncommon to hear Nohelani Cypriano seamlessly blend with Alina Baraz, or the late great Aretha Franklin lead into Yasiin Bey.

For the sweet kine tings, a bouquet of malasadas are made with poi, dusted with powdered sugar tableside and dipped in salted liliko‘i caramel. And the electric green mound of silky pandan panna cotta is a textural play laced with fresh mangoes, honey milk balls and strips of coconut chips. Shared plates $14-$48, 2605 Ka‘anapali Parkway, Lahaina, 921.4600  

The London Gentleman cocktail ($14) with Hendrick’s gin and creme de violette