lineage: beloved chef sheldon simeon’s hot new restaurant now open at the shops at wailea

With what is arguably the most intriguing restaurant concept to hit the Maui dining scene in recent memory, beloved Chef Sheldon Simeon opened Lineage at The Shops at Wailea on October 15 to rave reviews. The highly anticipated restaurant draws on Sheldon’s experiences and memories of growing up on the Big Island, and the many cultures and cuisines that comprise the unique melting pot that is Hawai‘i. Featuring Simeon family recipes as the menu’s foundation, Lineage celebrates the food of Sheldon’s Filipino ancestors, as well as of a life growing up in the Islands. A handful of dishes also honor and acknowledge the family recipes from some of Sheldon’s kitchen staff. With the motto “Eat, Drink, Talk Story,” Lineage celebrates the importance of keeping tradition alive, and the passing down of recipes between generations of families.

I’m dining this evening with my concierge friend Linda. Being huge Chef Sheldon fans, both of us have been eagerly waiting for the opportunity to dine at Lineage. When we arrive at opening time (5pm), there are already about 20 people milling around out front. Currently, there are limited reservations being offered at 5 and 9pm; for all other diners, it’s first come, first served.

The initial thing we spy upon entering Lineage is server Ruth pushing a double-decker rolling dim sum-style cart loaded with an appealing variety of pupu: boiled peanuts, Atsara (a.k.a. Atchara, a Filipino pickled papaya relish), Pipikaula, Cone Sushi, and a few more. Sheldon’s father, who was a welder before he retired, created these gorgeous carts whose shelves are lined in black to enhance the visual presentation of the dishes. In addition to being able to instantly choose something to curb the appetite, diners are also presented right away with a palate-cleansing pot of ryokucha—toasted brown rice green tea blended with mocha powder and Hawaiian mamaki. The idea is that, much like when dining at your auntie’s house, or that of any other relative, you’re immediately offered something to eat and drink.

Developed by ADM Retail Planning and Architecture Inc., and designed by Pili Design + Build, LLC, the look and feel of Lineage are inspired by Sheldon’s nostalgia for his upbringing in Hilo. The space is filled with vibrant greenery and natural colors and materials, all representative of Hilo’s jungle-like landscapes, bright-green foliage, and rugged coastlines. The distressed concrete and wood materials are reminiscent of Hilo’s dark asphalt grounds and weathered buildings and bridges. An abstract map of the layout of Hilo is displayed on the restaurant’s rear wall, and tiles representing Hilo’s constant pattern of rain line the wall behind the bar.

Our servers this evening are the dynamic duo of Megan, and server-in-training Cassie. Both women have an impressive command of the menu items, as well as the stories and traditions behind them. To complement our cart selections of Atsara ($3) and Pipikaula ($5), Linda and I have made selections from the libations and mocktail menus. Linda has chosen the Daily Double (liliko‘i honey, lemon, cinnamon, and hibiscus tisane—$10), while the South Side Southside caught my attention (Broker’s Gin, shiso, calamansi, umeboshi, and soda water—$14). Both drinks are visually appealing and pleasing to the palate. My cocktail comes with a little bonus: wasabi peas, garnished with slices of white ginger, that are delightfully sweet and spicy at the same time. Behind Lineage’s cocktail and mocktail menus is mixologist Aaron Alcala-Mosley, previously of Cow Pig Bun and the Fairmont Kea Lani, and named “Best Mixologist on Maui” in 2017.

We find the Atsara (a generous mound of pickled green papaya and carrots) to be refreshing, and nicely balanced between sweet and sour. The Pipikaula is Sheldon’s version of surf and turf: tasty strips of dried beef (pipi) mixed with tender cuttlefish and spicy kochujang (hot red pepper paste).

Next Linda and I dig into a couple of items from the “Snacks” menu: Chicharon ($10) and Maui Flying Saucer ($6). You just gotta know there’s a story behind the latter, and there is! It’s two slices of toasted bread from Maui’s own Home Maid Bakery, cut into circles and filled with a savory mixture of beef goulash and Tillamook cheddar cheese, reminiscent of what Sheldon remembers as the most popular food item at the Maui Fair while he was growing up.

But let’s talk about the Chicharon (Filipino spelling). Beyond addictive, fried pork rinds are deftly spiced with adobo, and served with a brown glass flask containing some mighty dangerous chili pepper water. Megan and Cassie offer suggestions for consuming said chili pepper water (accompanying sips or shots). Linda bravely tries a sip, while I settle for simply dipping my chicharron gingerly into the spicy liquid. No matter how you choose to consume it, Chef Sheldon’s Chicharon is super crispy, well salted and, quite frankly, to die for. And the almost best part? You get to take home the leftover fire water!

Linda and I are ready to move on to our next course. From the “Pupu Line” we’ve chosen Cold Ginger Chicken ($18) and Pork n Peas ($16), and from “Rice & Noodles” we’ve decided to try Hoppin Juan’s ($15). The Ginger Chicken is tender, juicy, and smothered in a seductive green onion pesto. Salted black beans and chili oil bring it all together. Pork n Peas is a Simeon family recipe made with uber tender pork, a mild yet rich tomato gravy, and green peas. It’s garnished with delightfully fresh pea shoots. Server Megan tells us Sheldon created Hoppin Juan’s after he competed on Top Chef: Charleston, during which he hung out with several chefs from the South. It’s a fun play on the southern staple Hoppin’ John. Sheldon’s version is an incredible blend of flavors: creamy garlic rice reminiscent of risotto; unctuous braised oxtail; black-eyed peas (of course); and marungay leaves. The soul-satisfying dish is sprinkled with zingy jalapeño slices and crunchy sunflower sprouts.

For dessert, Linda and I decide to sample the Filipino Cereal ($10). This weirdly good concoction hearkens back to Sheldon’s childhood in Hilo where, at the time, boxed cereal was practically unheard of. According to Megan, Sheldon created his own “cereal” with avocado, crumbled Saloon Pilot Crackers, and milk. While the Lineage version is elevated from Sheldon’s humble small-kid days, you still feel like a keiki while savoring it.

Chef Sheldon competed in the 10th season of Bravo’s “Top Chef,” and again in Season 14, winning the “Fan Favorite” vote both times. Along with his wife Janice, Sheldon also owns and operates Tin Roof in Kahului, where he serves innovative, local, lunch-style dishes in take-out bowls. Partnering with the Lineage team is iconic, locally owned and operated ABC Stores. Founded in 1964 by the Kosasa family of first-generation Japanese immigrants, the ABC Stores’ story, just like Sheldon’s, underscores the meaning of “Hawaiian spirit” and the importance of family, or lineage, especially as it relates to food.

There’s no doubt in Linda’s and my minds, Sheldon has scored another win with Lineage. It’s one of those rare dining experiences you wish would never end.

–heidi pool

AT A GLANCE…

WHAT •
Lineage, celebrated Chef Sheldon Simeon’s new full-service restaurant celebrating the rich family history of traditional Hawaiian fare, and his Filipino upbringing.

WHERE •
The Shops at Wailea, 3750 Wailea Alanui Dr. Validated parking available.

WHEN •
Lineage is open nightly from 5 to 11pm. Tables are available on a first come, first served basis all night.
Limited reservations are available.

HOW •
Just show up! Or, limited reservations are available on Open Table for up to 6 guests: opentable.com. Restaurant phone number: 879-8800.

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