Dining on Maui

DINING

Dani's Catering & Takamiya Market

By BONNIE FRIEDMAN, For The Maui News
POSTED: March 13, 2008

Article Photos

Michele Hondo is one of four Takamiya siblings who work in the family businesses. Here she displays a combination maki and cone sushi platter.

BONNIE FRIEDMAN photo

First, let's dispel a rumor you may have heard circulating around via the coconut wireless. Dani's Catering hall in Wailuku Industrial Area is not closing.

"We will definitely be open at least through the end of the summer so that we can accommodate all the graduation parties,, says Michele Hondo, one of the four Takamiya siblings who work in the family businesses. So if you need a place to have a party with up to 200 guests, Dani's hall could just be it. At some point in the future"that's in the future €”plans are to remodel the hall into a sort of Takamiya Market II. The big kitchen, where everything for both catering and the market is cooked, will remain right where it is.

Dani's, of course, does off-site catering, too. When I asked about the ability to handle really large parties"weddings, baby lu`au, and the like"Michele told me they had a party for 800 coming up soon. Really big parties are, apparently, no problem. And in typical Takamiya family fashion, Michele gives much of the credit to catering manager Anthony Perry.

Big portions of great-tasting local food at reasonable prices are the ingredients in the Takamiya family's recipe for success. Three of Dani's most popular dishes tell the story. Sushi platters come with maki sushi, cone sushi or a combination of both. The cone sushi looked to me like the biggest I'd ever seen and a friend who instantly made the same observation confirmed it for me. Not just big, though, absolutely delicious"hearty, vinegary, almost juicy. Dani's offers five different chicken preparations; the fried chicken is the most popular with moist meat under crispy skin. And then there's the mac salad"to many, the true test of any place that specializes in local food. "People tell me it's the best,, Michele said very humbly. It's pretty darned great"again, not just my opinion but that of the friends with whom I shared.

At the market, the variety of cooked and prepared foods is staggering""There could be a total of about 100 varieties,, Michele told me. (You could get away with not having to cook for MONTHS"think about it!). Most popular, of course, are the bentos"get there early, definitely before lunchtime"shoyu chicken, chicken katsu, pork tofu, laulau and, of all things, spaghetti, disappear quickly. And the prices can't be beat €“ from $3.25 for minibentos to $6 for the deluxe. Poke"lots of different kinds"salads and marinated meats like teriyaki and Korean ribs are also big sellers. In addition to these essentials, there are some creative culinary surprises thanks to new cook Michael Ham who joined the Dani's/Takamiya ranks a couple of months ago. He's putting out dishes like salmon with citrus butter sauce, mahimahi with seafood stuffing and poi mochi.

The last time I'd sat down with Michele Hondo was more than 20 years ago (when I wrote regularly for this very section) so I looked forward to this visit with warm anticipation. In these days of rapidly disappearing mom-and-pops, I have tremendous respect for her family which, in addition to running Takamiya Market for more than 30 years and Dani's Catering as it approaches a quarter-century in business, does so much for our community. I was very interested to hear how her parents Jimmy and Susanne are doing. I assumed they were retired; I was half right. Jimmy, now 77 years old"or I should say 77 years young""still works every day. His idea of retirement is to go home one hour earlier,, Michele told me laughing. Her mother, on the other hand, "is HAPPILY retired. Even in an emergency, you have to BEG her to help,, said Michele. Still laughing.



AT A GLANCE

Dani's Catering, 880 Kolu St., In the Wailuku Industrial Area, www.daniscatering.com

- Cuisine: Local-style American, Hawaiian, Japanese, Filipino food. Most popular items: fried chicken, roll and cone sushi, mac salad. Catering hall capacity: 200 people

Hours: 5:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday to Saturday (for placing and picking up orders)

How much: Individual items from $.65 per piece for crispy won ton to $3.10 per person for Korean short ribs; complete catering menus from $9.25 per person to $13.75 per person for a full-on Hawaiian menu

Parking: Plenty of free parking

Phone: 242-6652

Retail location: Takamiya Market, 359 N. Market St., Wailuku (Happy Valley)

All the regular grocery items; minibentos, bentos, deluxe bentos, more than 50 different prepared hot and cold foods plus a variety of poke, salads, and marinated meats

- Hours: 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday to Saturday

- Parking: free on the street and designated areas in front of the store and across the street

- Phone: 244-3404