The beautiful simplicity of Japanese cuisine shines bright at Nuka. This Maui gem was originally founded with the intention of bringing a greater appreciation for traditional Japanese dishes to the Hawaiian islands while also supporting local producers. Hence, the prevalence of fresh, seasonal, and locally-grown ingredients, which make even the simplest meals taste amazing.
Nuka’s attention to detail should be evident in both its name and how this plays into the restaurant’s everyday operations. The nukazuke for which the restaurant is named is a tangy pickle named for the byproduct of the rice that the restaurant mills.
Rice also plays into the restaurant’s fried food, as this is dependent on the high smoke point of rice bran oil. This unique approach produces a variety of enticing small plates, all of which you’ll be eager to try as you gather with loved ones at this charming establishment.
While the small plate menu is particularly notable, several excellent soups, salads, and bowls are also available. The restaurant also boasts an excellent sushi selection. No matter which approach you take, you’ll want to enjoy your meal with sake, although several exquisite wines are also offered. End a lovely dining experience with a scoop (or two) of homemade black sesame or green tea ice cream.
Lunch, dinner, or dessert, you’ll feel the simultaneous draw to multiple cultures. Where better to get a taste of Japanese tradition and local Hawaiian ingredients? Take your time so you can appreciate the beautiful plating, the friendly environment, and, of course, the unforgettable flavors.
A few of our favorite menu items include the following:
This versatile meal is a perennial favorite at Nuka, and for good reason: it’s fresh, flavorful, and easy to adapt. Its base includes rice, shaved cabbage, bean sprouts, carrots, and onions, plus mint and basil. A sesame lime dressing ties it all together. Although the main version contains fish sauce and can also include chicken, salmon, or pork, a vegetarian option is available with tofu (and without the fish sauce).
Cooked slightly past seared to retain as much flavor and moisture as possible, this delectable dish is a great option for gluten-free visitors who aren’t willing to compromise. Vegan diners are similarly complimentary of the nasu miso eggplant.
Sesame Chicken Wings
Picky eaters may struggle when navigating Nuka’s menu, which can feel intimidating to anyone with a limited palate. Thankfully, the sesame chicken wings should produce smiles all around. Sake, mirin, and black pepper give these wings abundant flavor, but they remain an accessible order for all types of guests.
Garlic Shrimp Tempura Salad
Garlic lovers will fall head over heels for this delightful salad, which features a creamy garlic dressing. It’s also chock full of organic greens, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and, of course, satisfying shrimp tempura.
Consisting of nine pieces plus a tekka maki roll, this wonderful platter includes Nuka sushi favorites such as hamachi and snapper. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, however, you’ll definitely want to give the specialty rolls a try.
Treat yourself to the ultimate feast of sushi, soup, or small plates at Nuka. Discover why simple, local fare is the key to an exquisite dining experience — and why Nuka evokes so much excitement from local patrons and tourists alike.
-Nuka does not take reservations. This can prompt long waits, for, as arguably the most acclaimed restaurant in Haiku, the intimate establishment quickly fills its tables. To improve your chances of scoring a spot, visit right as lunch begins (10:30 am) or prior to peak dinner hours.
-Parking can be a bit of a challenge at times, as Nuka offers very few spaces for patrons. Avoid occupying the parking spaces dedicated to other local businesses. Parking in front of the post office is also off-limits. Be prepared to park a few blocks away and walk.
-Keep an eye on Nuka’s official Instagram page. There, you may find details on bar or kitchen specials.