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Dine in an authentic Hawaiian atmosphere at Duke’s Beach House

By Staff | Mar 25, 2010

Executive Chef Todd Carlos presents his exquisite cuisine (clockwise from top right): Hawaiian Fruit, Ono Omelet, Banana and Macnut Pancakes, Seafood Risotto, Banana Leaf-Steamed Opakapaka and Shrimp, Mango Barbecued Ribs, Blackened Sashimi, Beachboy Burrito, Launiupoko Farm Fresh Eggs, and, going down from top and center, Bikini Benedict, Maui-Grown Fruit Platter and Arugula and Farro Salad. Photo by Rob Reed.

HONOKOWAI — Location, Location, Location — when a waterfront eatery is surrounded by lush greenery in a sculptured postcard setting, it’s already destined for success. Add the name of legendary Hawaiian swimmer and surfer Duke Kahanamoku, and it’s for sure a winner!

Located on the beach at West Maui’s own Honua Kai Resort and Spa just north of Kaanapali Beach Resort, Duke’s Beach House reflects charm, aloha and goodwill — the very qualities that Duke possessed.

The mere mention of the name Duke Paoa Kahanamoku brings back a special kind of memory, especially here in old Lahaina.

It was on the island of Oahu decades ago that Lahaina business mogul Joanie McKelvey and Maui’s own Sugar Cane Train founder Mac McKelvey were united in holy matrimony with Duke Kahanamoku — their longtime friend and advocate — standing by their side and officiating as Mac’s best man!

How appropriate to have that moniker, Duke’s, already established on the beaches of Waikiki, Oahu; Kalapaki Beach, Kauai; Malibu and Huntington Beach, California; and now firmly etched in the sands of Kaanapali (North Beach), Maui!

At the culinary helm of this stunning beach house, Executive Chef Todd Carlos presides, creating flawless cuisine for Maui residents and visitors to enjoy.

A most inventive and accomplished chef, Todd graduated from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York many years ago and has climbed the Culinary Ladder of Fame working with Celebrity Chefs well-known on television’s Food Channel — Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse, Roy Yamaguchi and Sam Choy, to name just a very few.

“My grandfather owned many restaurants in Ohio, and that background certainly influenced my decision to become a chef,” said Executive Chef Carlos. “I had years of training with great chefs.”

His longest tenure, for nearly ten years, was at the esteemed Lodge at Koele on Lanai.

“I loved the aloha lifestyle and the warm climate,” he laughed.

With a prevailing authentic Hawaiian atmosphere, Duke’s Beach House’s decor commemorates the fine athlete with memorabilia, overhead swirling fans, a huge handmade outrigger (hanging from the dining room ceiling) built in 1890, the year Duke was born, and with every booth and table offering an ocean view.

We were escorted into a beautiful wooden room called Duke’s Den, filled with photographs from his lifetime and one of Duke’s favorite surfboards! This room, which can be reserved for meetings and private parties, also boasts an ocean view!

Since we were scheduled for an early morning interview, we were presented with five savory breakfast selections, starting with the Maui-Grown Fruit Platter of fresh and organic ruby red strawberries, bright luscious mango slices, pineapple and watermelon wedges and royal purple star apple.

The huge Banana and Macnut Pancakes — using local bananas and chopped Molokai macadamia nuts — was sensational, as was the huge Beach Boy Burrito — a flour tortilla filled with eggs, sausage, bacon, cheddar cheese blend chipotle cream, avocado, tomato and chipotle salsa served with either rice or potatoes. That is one Big Burrito!

We thoroughly enjoyed the Wahine selection under the Ono Omelets Breakfast Menu. This vegetarian three-egg dish is stuffed with mushrooms, spinach, avocado, tomato salsa and colby jack cheese. It’s served with roasted fingerling potatoes or jasmine rice.

A slimming egg dish to assure you’ll fit into your bikini is called the Bikini Benedict. It is outstanding with fresh spinach, vine-ripened tomatoes and a marvelous macadamia nut pesto hollandaise.

All the veggies served in omelets or other dishes are Maui-grown on our own local farms, and the fresh eggs with the golden yolks come from Theo Morrison’s Launiupoko Farm.

“Our commitment to “Farm to Fork” dining allows our guests to experience a locally sourced meal while supporting our local farmers and their families,” said Chef Carlos.

From the Luncheon Menu, we were served a crisp Arugula and Farro Salad with fire roasted vegetables, cucumbers, red and yellow tomato wedges, tangy seedless olives and smooth Surfing Goat feta cheese with a basil lemon vinaigrette.

Chilled Blackened Sashimi was served from the Dinner Pupu Menu, and it was just excellent with edamame and cucumber salad and a Yuzu Ponzu dipping sauce — always a refreshing starter for an elegant meal.

Succulent fresh opakapaka was the locally caught fish in the Banana-leaf Steamed Island Fish and Shrimp Dinner entree with a sake ginger sauce and sizzling sesame oil — a spectacular dish. And the Seafood Risotto was one of the best we’ve ever tasted — just satiated with lobster, huge shrimp, scallops and the freshest of fish ensconced in a creamy chardonnay herb risotto.

To finish off Duke’s fine feast, we were served succulent Mango BBQ Ribs — slow-roasted, island-style baby back ribs with an original mango barbecue sauce. It’s a finger-lickin’ favorite!

When you visit Duke’s Beach House, besides its exquisite cuisine, you will experience the friendliness that was Duke Kahanamoku’s creed: “In Hawaii, we greet friends, loved ones or strangers with aloha, which means with love. Aloha is the key word to the universal spirit of real hospitality, which makes Hawaii renowned as the world’s center of understanding and fellowship. Try meeting or leaving people with aloha. You’ll be surprised by their reaction. I believe it, and it is my creed. Aloha to you!” —  Duke Paoa Kahanamoku.

Duke’s is open from 7 a.m. to 9:15 p.m., with a casual menu offered until 10:30 p.m. For reservations, call 662-2900.