Food is medicine. Many of our shitty first-world ailments could be avoided or improved if we just ate better. Noah Schuster, chef at Alive and Well’s new concept called Broth, is living this philosophy with the menu he and owner Darren Jones created. A former horticulturist and world traveler, this Oʻahu boy has converted the former deli into a counter-service restaurant with a delicious collection of dishes and weekly specials, that has new sit-down service dinner hours as well.
“Food is really one of our most powerful medicines, alongside our other resources that help us cultivate them,” says Schuster. “This translates into the food, the broths, and the juices. It ties in our whole cleanse program. That’s the concept as a whole. It’s really based on health and well-being, in this positive lifestyle. Having an agricultural philosophy is definitely an aspect of it too. It’s sourcing from all these ranchers and farmers, and having those relationships.”
Before all this health talk makes you think youʻre only going to find tofu and green juice on the menu, think again. There are vegan options, but there’s a bone there for meat lovers too. They make a wonderful queen beet char siu, reddened by beets, with pork sourced from Malama Farms. Broth has fresh fish dishes, lemongrass chicken, short ribs, and seafood, alongside fresh produce. Broth’s concept may be healthy at its core, but they haven’t sacrificed gastronomy, epicurean flavors, or luxe presentations. The dining room is also a carefully thought out place. Broth features dark and rustic wood dining furniture and bench community seating along the wall, adorned with bright colorful flowers in jars on the tables.
“I met Darren Jones, and then he was ready to do a remodel,” says Schuster. “I got to work with the designer on the dining room design. There was this real opportunity to create the dining space and the kitchen. I have gotten to really involve myself in every aspect of creating the concept along with Darren.”
Schuster says his appreciation for food was honed on the streets of Oʻahu.
“I grew up on Oʻahu,” says Schuster. “I just grew up eating at all these great hole in the walls. You know, from spam musubi after school at the little corner shop, to Laotian and Thai food – lots of Vietnamese and Indian food. These are all the things I really grew up eating, unlike most American children. It was very familiar food for me. I have a great love and respect for ramen; I think all chefs do. It was a challenge that I was so happy to take on.”
You won’t find MSG in Broth’s ramen. You order it from a list of four choose-your-own options. First, style: miso mushroom or tan tan (a spicy sesame). Second is the broth options: mushroom vegetable, which is vegan, or a rich chicken and pork bone broth. Next, you have noodle choices: their own special wheat ramen, a vegan buckwheat soba, or a gluten-free konjac ramen noodle. Finally, you can do cubed tofu or the char siu for protein.
“I’ve used all these high quality ingredients and when you consume one of these bowls of ramen, the feeling you get after it’s euphoric – which is how ramen should be. It’s just so invigorating and it’s so clean. That was my amazement when I created the Tan Tan. It’s kind of a little more ʻhaole-ized,ʻ if you will. We use Austin Toohey, he’s a butcher in Haʻiku. That creates this amazingly rich broth from the whole hog and it’s super clean, local, antibiotic-free Malama pork. The enoki garnishes have become my signature twist on there with microgreens as well.”
In addition to great ramen, the menu has some incredible bahn-mi sandwiches, several avocado toasts, bowls with grains, and veg and protein combos, like the mac-crusted fish of the day or mushroom lentils. They serve a congee with chicken or mushroom which I am excited about, and their salads are diverse and filling. There are also plenty of fresh juices and smoothies. The kicker is that theyʻre open for dinner, and have sit-down dining room service and new entrees on the evening menu. With these offerings, Broth truly brings something unique to Kahului.
“This is one of the things that was pre-existing at Alive and Well when I started, even before we created the concept of Broth. They uphold a really high standard for sourcing their ingredients and the quality of what they use. Almost everyone in the Hawaiian Islands cuts corners around ingredients. But here, everything is organic. Our rice wine vinegar is organic. We use high grade grapeseed oil. Our cooking oil is high quality. We use organic alternative sweeteners, no use of cane sugar.”
The idea is organic and quality, but still theyʻre keeping it within a price point. The salads are $9-$10, and you can add chicken for $4. The sandwiches are $9-$11, the bowls are $11-$12, and ramen is $12. You can tell they want these meals to be approachable. On the dinner menu, elegant entrees like stuffed eggplant panzanella, ora king salmon and dashi, short ribs, and their signature aqua pazzo are in the $14 to $19 range.
“It’s incredible, what we’re doing and still making an affordable product,” says Schuster. “We are really flipping the industry on its head a little bit. We’re doing a lot more work to do all the sourcing, but for me that’s the beauty of being a chef. I kind of started saying, I don’t want to be a ʻchefʻ anymore. I think I’m going to start calling myself a ʻfood curator,ʻ where I get all these amazing products, assembled in the dining room, which is the art gallery.”
Their cheese and pickles platter available at dinner is certainly an example of this kind of edible art, as are the aqua pazzo and salads – really, everything coming out has a presentation detail. The platter has an assortment of house-made pickles and crostini, alongside fresh cheeses, adorned with pea shoot tendrils and flowers. The kim chee grilled cheese starter features their beef pho dipping broth. The aqua pazzo dish has a lacy coral reef-inspired edible garnish that sparkles with blue majik algae, served with melt-in-your-mouth scallops, prawns, clams, and white fish. For dessert at the evening hour, their goatlato sandwich is divine, with crisp lacy oat cookies perched on Haleakala dairy goatlato. They also serve a Maui mountain bowl day and night, a sweet chilled purple sweet potato mixture inspired by acai, topped with fruits and puffed rice.
“That’s what’s really amazing about what we do,” says Schuster. “It just blows my mind. Everything is sourced at a high quality. It was surprising for me to walk into that scenario. It was a real aha moment where I was in the right place and we could do something that was really special and unique, and that no one else is doing.”
Restaurant Broth at Alive and Well
340 Hana Hwy.
Kahului, HI 96732