Kai Sushi at the Ritz Carlton
1 Ritz Carlton Drive, Kapalua, 665-7089
Open Thurs.-Mon. (closed Tues.-Wed.), 5:30-9:30pm
Don’t let Kai Sushi’s elegant demeanor in the lobby of the Ritz Carlton intimidate you, once inside this is a great place to let your hair down, relax and enjoy the world class Japanese Cuisine, and even bring the kids. Their big woven grass chairs and warm wood tones inside the restaurant set a neutral backdrop for the beautiful and invigorating fish and sushi rolls, its very zen. Come at sunset time when you can still see the ocean vista views while you dine on their covered lana’i. Another good reason to come is their half off of food deal (with Hawaii ID), everyday from 5:30 to 6:30pm.
Chef Tadashi Yoshino and his team have been together for 7 years developing their sushi prowess for 15 to 20 years, they are pros and it is all about the sushi. The style and pace is very Japanese, each plate takes on its own art fleeting art form, and then vanishes before your eyes. Chef Tadashi says, “Start with the Tuna Tataki salad. Then the Kai Roll and the Shrim tempura rolls. Those are our best sellers. But don’t forget the poke, we have the best Ahi poke.”
The Ahi Tataki is so gorgeous when it arrives, i had an inner struggle with attacking it. The daikon and sweet maui onion form a mountain, and the expertly sliced ahi pieces lay against it embellished with tobiko and aioli and the Kaiware sprouts form a peak at the top, its a sashimi volcano. But it doesn’t last long enough to be admired.
For cocktails you have to try the Kai Kumo. The drink is milky and cloudy and the color of wasabi, but that is how drinks look in Japan so don’t be alarmed. The blissful sweet flavors of honeydew connect with sake to give you a new experience martini. For sake purists the sake flight is a delicious way to soar through their sake treats.
Sushi can be one of the most aesthetically pleasing foods to look at, a kaleidoscope of color and texture, but if it isn’t delicious its a waste. Every morsel of sushi here was divine. The California roll, the iconic fusion starter roll for sushi inept, the gateway drug to sushi adventure, is made with real crab here and elevated to hollywood status. The fresh fish is phenomenal, all superb.
If you sit at the sushi bar you get the full treatment by the chefs. Eating omakase is letting the sushi chefs design your meal, in essence creating your dining experience. Chef Tadashi says the secret to amazing sushi is, “Fresh fish, good rice, and strong wasabi with good looking sushi chefs.” I am not sure which one to eat first, or is it in that order? From the view at the sushi bar they have nailed it.
Kai has a small menu but it has more than the essentials for a great sushi dinner. The appetizers are a rich add on to the sushi menu. The braised shortrib potsticker is beefy inside and out. The citrus soy glaze and the pastry on their potsticker create a salty shell to be cracked open in your mouth exposing the soft shortrib meat. The mu shu chicken is a make your own manapua slash taco, little white puffed up steamed breads with a shiitake chicken filling you scoop onto them. The only way to keep your filling in is to fold and eat like a Japanese fusion taco.
If you find yourself even remotely near their Kapalua location you must drop in. Self parking is free, but even better, valet is free if you are dining at the Ritz. It is a 2 second walk from the valet to the restaurant, where you will find yourself surrounded and satiated by stunning sushi in mere moments.
KAI SUSHI: MENU / SPECIALS
Soybean, Sea Salt
Shrimp, Asparagus, Maui Onion , Tempura Sauce
Fresh Seaweed, Sesame Vinaigrette
Fresh Raw Tuna, Maui Onion, Soy Sauce
Daikon, Maui Onion, Wakame Seaweed, Tobiko,
Sushi and Sashimi Combo
Six Pieces Sushi, Nine Pieces of Sashimi,
Tuna Roll, Miso Soup
Sushi Deluxe Combo
Eight Pieces Sushi, One Tuna Roll, Miso Soup
Six Pieces Sushi, One Tuna Roll, Miso Soup
Nine Pieces Assorted Sashimi
Small Sushi Combo
Tuna, Salmon, Shrimp, Half California Roll
California Roll, Tuna, Yellowtail, Shrimp, Salmon
Special Eel Roll
California Roll, Unagi, Tobiko
Shrimp Tempura Roll
Shrimp Tempura, Snow Crab, Avocado,
Salmon Skin Roll
Shizo, Cucumber, Radish, Sprouts
Spicy Tuna Roll
Snow Crab Meat, Avocado
Tekka Maki (Tuna Roll)
Avocado, Cucumber, Daikon, Oba
Kappa Maki (Cucumber Roll)
Kai Special Roll
Spicy Tuna, Yellowtail, Green Onion
Negi Hamachi Roll
Yellowtail, Green Onions
Add to Rolls
Hamakua Mushrooms & Roasted Artichoke Dip
Swiss Chard, Herb Cheese, Grilled Flat Bread
Braised Shortrib Potsticker
Citrus Soy Glaze
Teriyaki Filet Skewers
Miso Ponzu Sauce
Mu Shu Chicken
Shiitake Mushroom, Chinese BBQ Sauce, Mushu Buns
About Jen Russo
I write lifestyle and culinary columns for MauiTime. I love being a Maui girl and adore my big family. Dedicated food taster, blogger, internet fanatic, and Maui and Hawaii specialist.