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The Best Dinner in Kihei, HI

Cuatro, plain and simple.

This gem of a restaurant is located at 1881 S. Kihei Rd., Suite 111, in the Kihei Town Center shopping plaza. Chef/Owner Eric Arbogast has done a superb job creating a casual dining experience in a space that is welcoming and feels like home. The tiny, intimate restaurant seats no more than 48. What a lovely respite from the crowded, noisy, touristy restaurants that line S. Kihei Road! Reservations, as you might guess, are strongly recommended. Also, Cuatro is BYOB so you can bring whatever beverage you feel would pair best with the food.

Chef Arbogast was previously the executive chef of next door’s Sansei, a seafood restaurant and sushi bar. Opened in 2009, Cuatro was voted “Best New Restaurant” by Maui News. The wait staff is friendly and knowledgeable about the delicious menu.

There are several “musts” on the menu. The Spicy Tuna Nachos are un-be-lievable! This appetizer won the Taste of Lahaina in 2005. The dish is concocted from crispy wontons, spicy tuna, truffle aioli, Latino kochujang cilantro pesto and avocado relish.

Spicy Tuna Nachos
Spicy Tuna Nachos

 

If you don’t share it, this can be your “taste buds are singing an aria” dinner. But, share. Then you can try the Togarashi Seared Ahi appetizer too!

Togarashi Seared Ahi
Togarashi Seared Ahi

Maybe it’s just because I live on the East Coast and really good ahi is hard to come by (my opinion, granted). The sashimi grade ahi sits atop a pile of upcountry greens is surrounded by grilled vegetables with a tomato-caper salsa, basil buerre blanc, and balsamic syrup. The ahi is butter-tender and melds beautifully with the sauces.

One more appetizer to try: The Asian Style Pupu Steak – again enough for a main course if you pair it with some of Chef Arbogast’s tremendous homemade rice pilaf. The steak is marinated then served with sauteed local mushrooms in a spicy, homemade truffled teriyaki sauce. Mmmmmmmm.

When I’m on island, I do try my best to eat my own body weight in fish – ahi, ono, opaka, etc. Of the two nights that we ate at Cuatro, one evening my husband and I shared the tacos, the seared tuna and then moved on to sharing Mauiterranean Grilled Ahi. The ahi was perfectly seared and served with grilled vegetables, rice pilaf (which we substituted for the garlic mashed potatoes), and that Holy Trinity of amazing sauces: the tomato-caper relish, basil buerre blanc, and balsamic syrup.

That evening we had no room for dessert. However, the second time we dined, we shared the above two appetizers plus the Asian Style Pupu Steak and, oh yeah, we had room for the bowl of delicious Lappert’s ice cream (coconut and vanilla) surrounded by fresh berries and doused in a lovely quantity of chocolate syrup. A perfect ending to a luscious meal.

Ready to go?

shaka

 

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