star noodle… brightens up the westside

In early February, I was excited to hear that the much-anticipated Star Noodle in Lahaina was now open. After the owners and ‘ohana of Old Lahaina Luau had tirelessly spent five years searching the globe for inspiration for the concept, menu, décor and vibe for this hip 60-seat eatery, the doors were finally open to the public on February 4.

To find this hidden gem you head up the hill on Keawe Street across from Lahaina Cannery Mall, make a right turn on Kupuohi and drive through the Lahaina Business Park, pass Emerald Plaza and keep on going, don’t give up. At the very top you will see a brand new building with ample parking. Some may wonder how this location will do hidden in the industrial area, but wait until you get inside and taste the incredible food. This is an absolute destination!
With an ocean view, a great vantage point for sunsets and a zen aesthetic Star Noodle is a unique addition to Lahaina’s dining scene. The interior is awash in nature with greys, warm mushroom brown tones, natural stone, reclaimed teak, bamboo and clean, modern lines.

Let’s start with cocktails… Star Noodle’s mixologists have come up with some fun things to try. The featured beverages are creative, modern and fresh. Sake Cocktails are a-plenty, I tried the Soho Berry Sparkler, a perfectly sweet combination of Sparkling Sake, lychee liqueur for sweetness and lemon juice to round out the flavors. Other tempting titles on the cocktail menu: The Asian Pear combines Fresh Asian Pear muddled in Pear Vodka, Sake and Lime sour; Nigori Cosmo features Citron vodka, Nigori Sake and cranberry juice; Sweet Tea Cooler with Sweet Tea Vodka, Shochu (a Japanese distilled beverage), muddled lemon and sprite for a little bubble!  The Agave Rose is a tequila concoction with fresh strawberries muddled in Hornitos tequila, Aperol (an Italian apertif) and lime sour. The Sake list features options by the glass, carafe, and bottle. Try the Gekkeikan Zipang Sparkling Sake for an interesting alternative to bubbly. The Yuri Masamune Honjozo was a smooth, clean sake for sipping with our food. They also feature a nice list of wines by the glass or bottle and beer selections include a hard to find Hitachino Nest Rice Ale, which is perfect for beer connoisseurs who have not had a chance to try rice beer.

On to the main event, the food! Share Plates are the best way to get started. We tried the Pickle Jar ($9), a combination of seasonal vegetables (carrots, daikon, cucumbers) served with amazingly fresh ogo, all perfectly pickled in a subtle vinegar. This is a very healthy dish we enjoyed nibbling on throughout the evening (ogo is very high in potassium and studies show that this seaweed helps increase resistance to stress and fatigue – perfect for most of us in the visitor industry!)

Other vegetable based Share Plates are: Spicy Namasu ($4); Pohole Salad with Hana Fiddle Head fern, Maui Onion, Ebi and Kombu, a sea vegetable ($8); Roasted Mushrooms featuring locally grown mushrooms ($12); and a fresh Waipoli Mixed Greens with Shiso Ranch Dressing ($5).

Heartier options we tried on the Share Plates Menu were: Ahi Avo (market price), fresh from the ocean Ahi served poke style with Lemon Pressed Olive Oil, Sambal (chile flake) and Usukuchi (a light soy sauce); Steamed Pork Buns, with pressed pork, hoisin, Shiitake mushrooms and cucumber ($9). These buns were so light and fresh, the bun portion was not thick and overly-doughy like so many. The Brussel Sprouts ($9) are an amazing surprise, these are NOT your mother’s Brussel Sprouts. A twist on “kalua pork and cabbage” the sprouts are pan roasted for a perfect texture and served with crispy bacon, and a house made Napa Cabbage Kim Chee Puree. Chef Sheldon Simeon makes this puree from scratch and it takes weeks to perfect.

The Nori Chicken ($7) really needs it’s own section, it’s that good… This dish has five pieces of delicate and rich Mochiko Chicken rolled and wrapped in Nori, all lightly fried and served with Ko Chu Jang Mayo (Korean chili pepper paste mayo). So crispy on the outside and moist inside, please try this dish, it should not be missed!

Other highlights I’d like to try next time: The Rib Eye ($25) looked wonderful at our neighboring table, served sizzling with Makawao Mushrooms and Negi (Japanese green onion). Side note: A friend of mine said it was “the best steak I’ve had in a very long time!” and I know he loves a good steak.

On to the namesake Noodles…

All of the noodles at Star are made in-house. They have sourced the best ingredients and tested again and again to come up with an amazing line-up. Featuring eleven different noodle dishes everything from Ramen, Udon, Saimin, to Soba, Look Funn and Fried Soup. The standouts are Ramen and Udon in a rich pork broth (reduced from all of the pork bones from the imu pit at Old Lahaina Luau – good repurposing!) Also the Lahaina Fried Soup features Fat Chow Funn, Ground Pork and Bean sprouts ($8/$12). The Look Funn Rolls ($13) are so beautiful and delicious, the housemade Look Funn noodles are hand rolled up and served with Black Bean sauce, shrimp and scallops. Several of the noodle dishes can be prepared without meat for vegetarians so just ask your server. There are many healthy options on this menu for those watching their calories, but the comfort food is there too!

Desserts ($5 each) are House-made Malasadas with chocolate and butterscotch caramel sauces and peanuts; Mango Pudding with Senbei (Japanese rice cracker), Lumpia crisp; Anin Tofu, fresh Almond Tofu with fresh fruit; Star Made Ice Creams, with chef selected trio daily (we tasted Lychee, Yuzu and Coconut, mmmmm!)

Owner Michael Moore shared with us that the Star Noodle team; Executive Chef Craig Masuda, Chef Sheldon Simeon, and manager Nicky Boskoff scouted noodle shops in New York City for inspiration. They have done an impressive job of creating a place of their own, a special spot for Maui visitors and locals to enjoy. I know we’ll be back soon!

286 kupuohi street, lahaina

— allyson freeland


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