When we go to Maui, there are two places we must, must, must visit: Star Noodle in Lahaina and Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop in Olowalu. Both are part of the Hoaloha Nā ‘Ehā  (“The Four Friends”) family of restaurants, and executive chef Sheldon Simeon is absolutely phenomenal. His particular passion — and he excels at it — is adapting “old school” dishes into more modern fare, and uses as many locally sourced ingredients as possible.

Chef Sheldon was nominated in Food & Wine’s The People’s Best New Chef competition, Pacific & Northwest Region, earlier this year, and just two weeks ago, Bravo TV announced that he is one of the Top Chef Season 10 competitors! We’ve never watched Top Chef before, but you can be we’ll be watching this season, rooting for Sheldon!

Shake snuck over to Star Noodle for dinner before I came over, but he graciously agreed to eat there again (hah!) and we stopped in for lunch on our last day on Maui. (I know, I’m doing this post backwards.) I’ve posted before about Star Noodle, but I like these photos better, and we tried a few things we hadn’t had before.

The kitchen sent out a starter of namul (pickled vegetables), which included kimchee, watercress, takuan (radish), ogo (seaweed), and shiitake mushrooms.

Star Noodle’s Namul – Kimchee, Watercress, Takuan, Ogo (seaweed), Shiitake Mushrooms. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

We always have to order the Pohole Salad — Hana fiddle head fern, ebi (dried shrimp), kombu (seaweed) and Maui onion — for Shake.

Star Noodle’s Pohole Salad – Hana Fiddle Head Fern, Maui Onion, Ebi (dried shrimp), Kombu (seaweed). One of Shake’s absolute favorites. © 2012 Sugar + Shake Star Noodle’s “Scallop Shots” with Wafu Dashi, Ginger, Scallion, Lemon EVOO. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

I’ve always eyed the “Scallop Shots” with wafu dashi, ginger, scallion, and lemon EVOO, so this time I finally ordered it. I don’t know why, but I had thought it would be a cold dish. It turned out to be served warm — tender scallops in a light broth. I could have eaten ten of these.

On the night he came without me, Shake tried a new item, Chef Sheldon’s Filipino “Bacon & Eggs” creation – crispy pork belly, 62º poached egg, tomato and onion. It was so good he ordered it again. So I could try it. Right. This is a riff on the Filipino dish lechon kawali, and the pork belly has a tangy, vinegary flavor. It’s served piping hot in a cast iron dish.

Star Noodle’s Filipino “Bacon & Eggs” – Crispy Pork Belly, 62º Poached Egg, Tomato, Onion. An instant favorite. Shake had it twice in three days. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Star Noodle’s Hapa Ramen – Pork Broth, Roast Pork, Poached Egg, Bamboo Shoots (missing from this photo because Sugar is not a bamboo shoot fan and orders without), Kamaboko, Baby Bok Choy, Mayu (burnt garlic oil), Spicy Aka Miso. © 2012 Sugar + ShakeI ordered the Hapa Ramen for my main dish. One day I’ll get something different, but we don’t get to come often, so I can’t resist. Star Noodle’s ramen broth is sooooo good (thanks to the pork bones they get from sister company Old Lahaina Lū‘au). The ramen comes with roast pork, poached egg, bamboo shoots (missing from this photo because I am not a bamboo shoot fan and I order the ramen without), kamaboko (fish cake), baby bok choy, mayu (burnt garlic oil) and spicy aka (red) miso.

And for dessert, of course, Star Noodle’s house-made “Star Screams” Trio. The flavors vary, depending on what the chefs have come up with. We can’t remember what these were, but they were delicious! The left had frozen raspberry bits in it; the middle was chocolate with some kind of cake bits; and the right was a tart fruit flavor, possibly strawberry guava.

Star Noodle’s housemade “Star Screams” Trio. The flavors vary. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

A couple days earlier, on my first full day on Maui, we went to Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop in Olowalu for lunch. The Star Noodle/Leoda’s team very generously hosted our lunch, insisting we let them know when we were coming in.

Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop serves sandwiches, comfort food and amazing desserts. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

It’s a pie shop. This fully justifies selecting your dessert first. © 2012 Sugar + ShakeAs with Star Noodle, I’ve blogged about Leoda’s before, but I vastly prefer these photos and we tried some different things this time, too. The vibe at Leoda’s is less modern than at Star Noodle; it’s all about the homey touches, like the white washed sideboard where you collect your silverware and napkins. And there’s the dessert case. Mmmm…pies and pastries…I’ll get back to those. But with the case out front like this, it begs for you to pick your dessert before you decide on your meal. Like I need any encouragement for that.

There are lots of sandwich selections at Leoda’s, and they all come on their freshly baked bread. Shake chose “Pork, Pork…Mmm, Pork.” Because why wouldn’t you? As promised, it arrived chock full of porky goodness: ham, prosciutto, bacon and salami. I got the slightly more demure Club Sandwich. It is equally as stuffed, just with fewer pork products. (Of course, if this worldwide pork-tastrophe turns out to be true, then I may regret not having porked out.)

Lots of sandwich selections at Leoda’s. Shake chose “Pork, Pork…Mmm, Pork.” Because why wouldn’t you? © 2012 Sugar + Shake

And here is the Leoda’s ode to pork. © 2012 Sugar + Shake Leoda’s Hand-Cut Fries with Garlic Aioli. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Sugar got the slightly more demure Leoda’s Club Sandwich. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Leoda’s famous Fried Salad. Chef Sheldon is a Brussels sprout genius. We are indebted to the poor cook in back who has to de-leaf all these sprouts. © 2012 Sugar + ShakeOf course, we couldn’t go to Leoda’s without getting the Fried Salad. The salad is primarily composed of individual Brussels sprouts leaves which have been fried into crunchy, caramelized deliciousness, and topped with a fantastic burnt orange vinaigrette. Shake thinks it needs a better name/description on the board because what’s listed doesn’t convey how awesome this salad is. He’s right, but I’m kinda OK with the low-key description because it just means there’s more for those of us who are clued in to the awesomeness. And it’s astonishing I say that because I do not eat Brussels sprouts. This just goes to show you what a genius Chef Sheldon is — he can get me to eat Brussels sprouts. While we were there, I mentioned my outright hatred of root vegetables, and he said he could get me to eat — and like — them. Challenge on, Chef!

The other thing to know about this salad is that it’s seasonal. Luckily for us, the season started about three days we before we arrived. Whee! (Never thought I’d say that about miniature cabbage-y vegetables.)

Dessert time! Choices, choices…we could have these Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes…

But you didn’t think we’d go to Leoda’s and skip dessert, did you? Choices, choices... We could have these Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes... © 2012 Sugar + Shake

…Or these Pineapple Lemon Tarts…

...Or these Pineapple Lemon Tarts... © 2012 Sugar + Shake

...Or these Olowalu Lime Pies (made with local limes)... © 2012 Sugar + Shake…Or these Olowalu Lime Pies (made with local limes)…

Let me stop the drool for a moment and say that I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the talents of Leoda’s pastry chef, Shelly Taylor, who is responsible for creating all of these delightful desserts. (In addition to being super tasty, they’re just so darn cute!) The food at Leoda’s is great, but half the appeal of the place comes from the pies and pastries. They’re sweet enough to satisfy any dessert fiend (like me!) but there are plenty of grown-up sweet-tart items, too.

That type of flavor is more to Shake’s liking so — no surprise — he selected the lime pie.

I, on the other hand, am a chocolate kind of girl. So I picked this adorable chocolate-coffee coconut “snowball.” Coffee marshmallow fluff (springy like marshmallows, but without that tooth-aching sweetness) with coconut sprinklings on the outside…

While Sugar went for a Chocolate Coconut Snowball. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

…chocolate-y goodness on the inside! Yum!

Soooo delicious! © 2012 Sugar + Shake

If you’re not staying in West Maui (Kā‘anapali/Lahaina), it’s a bit of a haul to visit either of these restaurants. But trust me: it’s worth it. Just don’t eat all my Brussels sprouts.