If you’re one of those folks who adhere to the Been-There, Done-That philosophy, I hope you don’t live here. Maui is one of those places with few people and limited choices, which means your “experience” may not actually come until your second time around.
One of my recent re-experiences was taking visiting friends, Maui ex-pat Sam Campos, AKA Holoholo Girl, and her significant other Andrew DeAngelo, Harborside Health Center (star of the new Discovery Channel series Weed Wars), to see Willie K at Mulligan’s on the Blue.
Sure, I’ve seen Willie K before (many times, actually) and it sounds cheesy to say that each time was special, but it’s true. Each show was also different. His range is far reaching, and he plays so many different genres that it’s hard to box him in. At his Mulligan’s show, Willie shares the stage with bass player Jerry Byers. Willie started with some mellow stuff, playing Gershwin’s “Summertime” and reminiscing about the music he listened to with his dad.
“Maui has gone on without me,” Holoholo Girl said as we chatted over Ketel One and soda.
“Hardly,” I said. “I still field whiners who tell me how great your column was.”
We perused the fantastic three-course menu. The menu at Mulligan’s is always good, partly because the chef changes it weekly. You have your choice of appetizer, main and dessert. We sat outside under the mellow Wailea climate, deciding between braised short ribs, fresh catch and chicken cannelloni.
While DeAngelo and my husband went deep into conversation about the politics of medicinal marijuana, social media connotations and the upcoming show while Sam filled me in on their stay at the controversial Modern Honolulu, formerly known as the Waikiki Edition–the recent victim of a corporate tussle. Over mouthfuls of our Irish taquitos and caprese, Willie K charmed us with his stories of growing up, working in restaurants and just surviving as one of 13 kids.
When Willie brought up his youngest daughter to sing Marley’s “Don’t Worry,” I got to see the proud papa come out in him. “This female version of me is a great payback,” he said as he explained that she is a natural performer who loves to be onstage. Later, his older daughter came out and danced the hula. As he (a huge fan of The Wizard of Oz) started in on the Kamakawiwo’ole version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” my daughter lost it, since it’s her favorite song.
Meanwhile we dug into perfectly braised short ribs and a fantastic, fresh mahi. As we devoured the last of the house-made tiramasu, the crowd was totally into his Hawaiian ukulele rendition of Pavarotti. Willie seemed at his best in front of this crowd, and we were completely enamored.
We have even impressed our big city visitors. As I snuck off to the back of the kitchen to give my regards to the crew, I thought that we would totally do this again.
Reservations are highly recommended, and seating starts at 5:30pm. Willie K’s Wailea Nights are Wednesdays, but this month he has added special Thursday shows on the 15th and 29th. Call 808-874-1131 for your spot.
For more foodie news, visit MauiTime’s food blog at: mauidish.com