Thursday, January 21, 2016
Rua Catering pops up at Vineyard Food Co.
Friends Jayse Sato, left, and Grant Oura of Rua Catering team up to bring weekend pop-ups to the site of Vineyard Food Co., in Wailuku, Maui.
BY NADINE KAM
When faced with a surplus of seafood last summer, the friends behind Rua Catering did what they know best. They threw a party.
Grant Oura and Jayse Sato’s backyard parties in Wailuku, Maui, drew friends family and neighbors to sample nigiri sushi at $1 a piece, which made them the most popular guys in town.
Those popular impromptu bashes soon turned into an occasional pop-up at Vineyard Food Co., in Wailuku town, a space that serves as a commercial kitchen for a handful of small catering companies and food preparers.
With an eye toward testing restaurant feasibility in that space, the friends are now bringing their pop-up to the site from 5 to 10 p.m. every Friday and Saturday. I was able to check it out Jan. 16.
Sato, who worked in Seattle before returning home to work as a sushi chef at Nuka, still provides the sushi on the menu, while Oura tends to the hot entrées.
Trained in the kitchens of Sam Choy, Bev Gannon and Alan Wong’s Amasia, Oura, who also worked at Nuka, prepares some dishes I have yet to see on Oahu, including an oxtail katsu and miso-Buffalo wings.
The two also combine their efforts in putting their own spin on local favorites, such as a dish of pastele stew over a gandule rice and crab roll ($12), and lechón roll ($10), made better by adding a few drops of the spicy ponzu from an oyster shooter ($5).
Their focus is on fresh ingredients, with as much as possible made from scratch, including soy sauce, azuki bean paste and kinako ice cream.
For as much work put into the food, a la carte prices are reasonable, starting with that $5 shooter, $6 to $8 for two pieces of nigiri sushi, $10 to $17 for sushi rolls, and $10 to $16 for entrées. Menus will change with availability of seasonal ingredients.
Dishes were accompanied by a light show as a combination of LED ice cubes and sparklers lighted up eyes during the presentation of several courses, as seen in the video below.
Vineyard Food Co. is at 1951 E. Vineyard St., Wailuku, Maui. No reservations are taken.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.