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Mark Ellman, originally from California, first opened Maui Tacos in the late 1990’s with great success. Describing his food as “just off the beaten path,” Ellman delights in “the pleasure of the customers. I love the industry and its characters.” Lisa Chappel, general manager at the restaurant, who has worked with Ellman for twenty years, tells me, “Mark was one of the forerunners of Pacific Rim cuisine, but what he does is mixes food from other countries. You’ll notice Mediterranean, French, and American influences.”
Chips and Dip
Such a simple starter, but very well executed. The salsa was just spicy enough without being overpowering, while the edamame puree on top cools the palette. The chips are fried every day, fresh.
Soup of the Day
Chef Ellman created this lovely silky vichyssoise, served in a tiny espresso cup. The veloute was perfectly creamy, with subtle hints of allium intensity from the chives. The brioche croutons added a touch of richness to the soup.
Seared Ahi Bruschetta
Flax Seed Toast, Olowalu Tomatoes & Edamame Puree. Absolutely perfectly cooked, (and supremely fresh) ahi. The olowaly tomatoes were so sweet, rounded out by aged balsamic vinegar. What a beauty.
1lb steamed manila clams
The utterly fresh, sweet clams, in an asian inspired broth of ginger garlic black bean was just the vehicle to use the pita to sop up all of this lovely sauce. Watching the calm ocean waves beside us while enjoying this was amazing.
Tagliatelle with seafood
This dish was lovely and spicy. Somewhere between a boullabaise and puttanesca sauce, with rich intense pronounced flavours. The tagliatelle was perfectly cooked, and is made fresh in house every day.
A signature dessert of Chef Ellman, the warm stewed fruit: pineapple, figs, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries, are served alongside rich buttery caramel and dark chocolate. The play of warm and cool is delightfully luxurious, as we watch the maui sunset.
Mala Ocean Tavern
1307 Front Street
Read more from CSL’s article on Maui, in the Summer 2010 issue of City Style and Living magazine.