Pulehu Restaurant, Ka’anapali
Recently we were invited to reacquaint ourselves with the menu at Pulehu with compliments of the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas. We often use the restaurant for wedding rehearsals and receptions but for some of us it has been a while since we sat down to enjoy a meal there!
The atmosphere is relaxed and the view over the koi ponds is amazing as the sun sets!
Named after the Hawaiian word for “to broil over a fire,” Pulehu is an Italian Grill using fresh local ingredients to prepare some mouth watering treats.
Unfortunately, we were very hungry when we first arrived so there wasn’t much chance to get pictures of our appetizers. Sorry! We ordered the Crispy Calamari, Tomato and Garlic Bruschetta and the Prawn & Mushroom Risotto. With all of us growing up next to the sea and mostly in rural areas we are used to fresh ingredients (think same day no supermarket involved) cooked simply but well.
Calamari is a dish I order often and I have no idea why, I am usually disappointed with obviously frozen rubbery calamari, not so today. Tender, beautifully textured calamari was paired with a garlic aioli and a warm marinara sauce served in a trendy, faux newsprint cone. It went so quickly I didn’t manage to get a picture.
The garlic and tomato bruschetta had a great balance of flavours and was perfect alongside the waiters recommendation of a Pinot Grigio. Even the pickiest among us enjoyed it although she thought it was messy.
Our final appetizer was the risotto which was cooked perfectly, just the right amount of cheese and mushrooms and topped with some crisp fresh shrimp. You will just have to trust me that it was beautifully presented!
For our entrées we ordered the Veal Parmesan, Frutti di Mare and the Fettuccine Alfredo. This time it was the wine to blame for the lack of pictures but I promise I have pictures of all the desserts! I went for the veal. It often gets bad press but basically veal is a byproduct of the milk industry and standards of care have improved massively. There is no reason not to choose veal these days. I am used to chicken parmesan so when I saw the veal version I figured I just had to try it. The reward was an extremely tender steak coated in an amazingly rich sauce and smooth cheese. After wrestling the other dishes away from my colleagues I can also report the Frutti di Mare lived up to the standards set by the calamari and the fettuccine was every bit as fresh and tasty as we had in Rome a few years ago.
Finally, my favourite section, dessert! I did manage to get pictures of all the desserts we ordered. The first dessert pictured is the Warm Chocolate Cake, served with a vanilla gelato and strawberries. Be sure to order this early if you want it as it takes about ten minutes to prepare, ensuring a fresh, rich cake. Its a tough job to describe the cake, it was obviously fresh but little concession was made for those that like milk chocolate. This was made with really high quality cocoa and whilst it wasn’t bitter there was such a depth to the flavour it was best eaten in small bites. The gelato complimented the cake perfectly and left us fighting over who had the last piece!
Having spent a few holidays in France I am a sucker for a Crème Brûlée and a pineapple flavoured once just had to be tried! I only got to try a bit of this as my daughter commandeered this dish as hers and ate pretty much all of it including the sprig on top. The flavour was subtle and sweet, a great combination.
Finally, and by no means least, some fresh locally made gelato. After a lot of rich food a refreshing gelato was perfect, just what we all needed. Served in an attractive sugar cone.
Having seen a few episodes of Gordon Ramsay’s F word and Kitchen Nightmares a common theme is that the best restaurants use fresh, local, in season ingredients and don’t over complicate the menu or the dishes. When you have quality fresh ingredients the chef should not feel the need to swamp the flavour and Pulehu and its kitchen is a perfect example of taking the best local ingredients and making them shine. Pricing is moderate, excellent considering the quality and quantity of the food. Menu’s and pricing are available on http://www.pulehurestaurant.com/ .
Thankfully, there is a great keiki menu and our experience was that the kitchen was willing to substitute sauces for kids if they preferred a different one. The wait staff were attentive, knowledgeable, quick and polite, well worth a tip. The wine menu covers all bases without being the size of a telephone directory and the prices are sensible which is always welcome.
I’ve been let down by hotel restaurant food in the past but I knew Pulehu was at the least competent and a pleasant experience, what we experienced was a few steps beyond this. I can’t think of any better endorsement then that we will be using Pulehu for some staff meals in the near future!