A few weeks ago I got a tip that a new restaurant called 808 Deli opened up by Moose’s across from Kam Two in Kihei. My source said they had the best chicken pesto sandwiches on the island. Now this is a bold statement. I’ve had my fair share of delectable pesto sandwiches, so I had to investigate.
It’s unfair to call 808 Deli a “hole in the wall,” but it’s also no Gian Don’s or Tommy Bahamas. It’s pretty small and tucked away right off South Kihei Road. My first impression was that it was super clean and that the two men behind the counter were friendly and approachable.
My second thought occurred as I glanced up at the overhead menu–there was no way in hell I was going to be able to decide what to eat. Sure, I had come for the chicken pesto sandwich, but they so many other sandwiches–paninis, wraps, you name it –and hotdogs listed that I felt obligated to my taste buds to try something else.
The hubby and I decided that we would order two paninis and swap halves. Then owners Josh and Jim Richardson had an even better idea—they’d make us a bunch of half sandwiches so we could try out a lot of things.
While we waited (five short minutes) for our food, we checked out the great view from the deli. I love people-watching on South Kihei. Not to mention, the ocean was a gorgeous, glassy and deep blue.
The Richardson brothers brought us our first tray of food–potato chips, a mini pickle and halves of the chicken pesto and the special of the day, which was a turkey panini with cranberry aioli.
When I asked the brothers how do they came up with such an interesting, gourmet, diverse menu, they said that they had both worked for many years at the Four Seasons in Wailea.
“That level of service is kind of instilled in us,” Jim said. “We want to treat all of our customers like they are dining at a place like [the Four Seasons]. If someone comes in and wants something special, I always tell them that I will make whatever they want with whatever I have available.”
I tried the chicken first, and it was delicious. They sliced the chicken breast thin, allowing the flavors of sun-dried tomato, toasted pine nuts and smoked mozzarella to blend perfectly on the grilled Shepherd’s bread.
The turkey with avocado and a cranberry aioli was also delicious, striking a great balance of richness between the avo and the fresh tang of the aioli.
Next they brought out their special house chicken salad in a herb wrap and–thank you culinary gods–their kalua pork panini. The chicken salad was refreshing and totally satisfying and perfect food for or after the beach. It was filled with the usual suspects of chicken salad, but made special with the occasional chunks of cranberry and walnuts.
But my favorite was the kalua pork. I’m a sucker for the stuff and always get frustrated when a restaurant offers a kalua pork sandwich covered in BBQ sauce. Most of the time it’s so overpowering that you can’t even taste the meat.
Not so at 808 Deli. When I bit into the rye bread and my teeth touched tender, shredded pork, smoked mozzarella and mango salsa, I knew that I would be braving the Mokulele traffic a lot more often. MTW