Forget what you know about the convenience store, because that’s all about to change. Rodeo General Stores pretty much dominate the corner store concept here on Maui with their Makawao, South Maui and Haiku stores. But they’ve decided that their Kihei location is ready for a redo, and are transforming it into the Ulu Market.
The ulu is a powerful ingredient. This native plant can go a long way in sustainability, nutrition and taste. Don’t underestimate the ulu. Resident Chef Jess “Cross Bones” Chabot rocks at using the ulu; she seems to know innately how to manipulate the different textures and ripeness of this fruit/vegetable.
“I get the ulu in all forms–I bake it, steam it, puree it,” says Chabot. “With really overripe ulu, it’s already naturally sweet. It gets made into the custard I put in the papaya. The ulu I put in today’s ulu poke is boiled, and then chunked.”
While the the Ulu Market will have plenty of ulu on the menu (in curry, salad, poke, papaya and desserts), you’ll find many other healthy grab-and-go dishes that Chabot has concocted. They’re basically home-cooked or prepared meals to go: carrot cashew pate wraps, BLT avo wraps, chicken salad, fresh poke and her insane lobster claw salad. There are also several soups to choose from every day, including chili, vegetable, squash, ulu curry and chicken.
The new feature from the kitchen is a chopped salad bar. It wasn’t quite ready when I was there, but this is how it will work: They will fill the bar with prepared local veggies, proteins, dressing and toppings, then you pick and choose which you want in the bowl. After that a salad artist takes it to the cutting board and chops it up bite-size, dresses it and tosses it into a custom chopped salad.
“With chopped salad things are kept more whole, full and fresher,” says store manager Dean Sturman. “So it’s not ‘chopped’ till its ordered. It’s fresher, and you can taste the difference. There will be list on the menu board of the fresh seasonal ingredients that will be available, like pohole fern. We are planning on some crispy ulu chips–they will be like a crouton. Chef Chabot makes the most amazing dressings from scratch, so that will really make the salads.”
Ulu Market’s deli has a beverage team, too. The store makes made-to-order smoothies, coffees and fresh organic fruit and vegetable juices. They also have a great selection of micro-brewed beer, wines and kombucha on tap.
The Ulu Market will be celebrating its new look and menu this Saturday, Feb. 21 from 11am to 3pm with give-aways, free samples and live entertainment.
1847 S. Kihei Rd.