story by Deborah Gushman
photos by Dana Edmunds
When I lived in Tokyo years ago, I would have sworn that the idea of sushi with a view was a contradiction in terms. None of the sushi shops I patronized in Ryogokyu and Yurakucho and Fukuzawa had a single window, much less a view. They were, in essence, exquisitely appointed wooden boxes, and the eye-feasts they offered were composed of decor (handwoven indigo cotton cushions, beautifully calligraphed scrolls, blue-and-white-patterned ceramics) and food (glass cases filled with fishy still lifes, jars of translucent pink ginger slices and, of course, the work-of-art sushi itself). Even in Honolulu, most of the sushi restaurants I’d visited over the years had, at best, a window or two looking out onto a busy street scene, a parking lot or a minimal rock garden.
The Diamond Resort's
Le Gunji restaurant.
It doesn’t take much to send me off on a quixotic quest, and when a sushi-fanatic colleague in Honolulu mentioned that there were several exceptional sushi restaurants on Maui with dazzling views, I was suddenly filled with the desire to see this phenomenon for myself. So on a recent whirlwind trip to the Valley Isle, I took several scenic detours to visit the sushi spots my friend had raved about.
First stop: the astonishing, off-the-beaten track Diamond Resort, tucked away in the hills overlooking the Wailea coastline. Who knew that being so far from the beach could be so beguiling? The resort, which has the ambience of a high-class mountain lodge, was originally built by a Japanese corporation for Japanese guests. It is now open to everyone, but it retains a uniquely Japanese feel, from the luxurious ocean-view ofuro (traditional baths) to the straw tatami floor mats in some rooms."It’s very artsy," said the hotel’s director of food and beverage, Doug De Cambra, pointing at the gigantic Miro tapestry that adorns an equally monumental stone wall in the Le Gunji restaurant. This tapestry is a copy; the original, valued at $3 million, is at the corporation’s headquarters in Japan.