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Monsoon India

New Kïhei restaurant offers the sumptuous flavors of India.

November 12, 2009
Mary Lawrence

And judging from diners’ comments, Monsoon India, located in North Kīhei, is indeed a most welcome addition to Maui’s restaurant offerings.

“I eat here often,” said John Miller, president of the Kīhei Community Association. “The food is healthy and delicious and the service is outstanding.” He especially enjoys the lamb tandoori—lamb marinated in special spices and yogurt and cooked in a tandoor (clay) oven. “And the prices are so reasonable, too,” he added.

 “We saw the sign, and since we absolutely love Indian food, we thought we’d give it a try,” said Canadians Gary and Ruth Williams. There are a lot of excellent Indian restaurants in Toronto, and the Williams said they were delighted with their meal. “And this is the first Indian restaurant we’ve ever been in that has a printed explanation of the different curries (sauces),” said Ruth. “That is such a good idea and so helpful.”

Article Photos

Anuradha Reddy delights in serving authentic dishes at Monsoon India.

They both agreed that Monsoon India offers very generous portions: Many patrons left with doggie bags.

Dr. Prem and Beatrice Rangala from New Jersey have been yearly visitors to Maui for 20 years. Mrs. Rangala has a master’s degree in nutrition, and when asked how Monsoon India measures up, she said, “This is truly authentic Indian food—nutritious, healthy and delicious.” Dr. Rangala said, “You’re lucky to have this restaurant on Maui. The food is outstanding, the people friendly and the sunsets beautiful.”

Monsoon India’s owners are three men with wonderfully diverse backgrounds. Chef Bendeshor Kakshapati, 49, emigrated from Kathmandu, Nepal, 19 years ago. In his homeland, he owned a rum and whisky business, and in 1990, he settled in California where he worked at a vineyard and microbrewery until moving to Colorado.

“I was drawn back to the mountains,” Kakshapati said. “… I was the first to introduce Indian food to the ski resorts in Colorado.” He went on to open 14 restaurants in Colorado and New Mexico.

In 2006, some of his Colorado clientele convinced him to move to Maui and provided him with references. Prior to opening Monsoon India, Kakshapati was the chef at Shangri-La, the previous restaurant at this location that closed earlier this year.

Kakshapati met Promod Chandra Pradhan at an Indian restaurant on O‘ahu. Promod, 34, also emigrated from Kathmandu, where he ran an import-export business. “Every year, 50,000 people can earn a green card to the U.S. by lottery,” he said, “and I got one.” Promod didn’t speak any English before arriving on O‘ahu in 2003, so he enrolled in an English as a Second Language class. By 2006, he was proficient enough to get a job driving an airport shuttle.

At Monsoon India as a business partner, Promod is indispensable in the kitchen. “I absolutely love it,” he said.

And lastly, there’s Hari Reddy, 42, the essence of old world charm. Hari is the “front” man. You cannot enter Monsoon India without receiving his warm and gracious welcome. Ever aware of the goings-on in the dining room, Hari doesn’t miss a thing. Water glass needs refilling? Hari is already on his way. Questions about the cuisine? Hari happily explains the various Indian dishes. Unsure of what to order? Hari will make recommendations with great attention to your likes and dislikes.

A native of Madras, India, Hari immigrated to the U.S. in 2001. When I asked him how a man with a master’s in philosophy in environmental economics decided to open a restaurant, Hari just smiled and said, “My sister lives in California and kept asking me to move there. ‘You’re the only one left in India,’ she’d say, so I moved.”

He worked in his brother-in-law’s restaurant in California before moving to Maui with his wife, Anuradha (Anu), who also works at the restaurant. Hari also worked at Shangri-La before opening Monsoon India with Bendeshor and Promod.

Monsoon India’s pedigree couldn’t be more authentic. It is truly a labor of love steeped in the sumptuous flavors of India. With dozens of dishes to choose from, it’s impossible to walk away unsatisfied. It is likely your dining experience at Monsoon India will be so enjoyable, you will return again and again. (The restaurant does not have a liquor license, but patrons are welcome to bring their own beer or wine.)

Monsoon India is nestled in the Menehune Shores condominium complex at 760 South Kīhei Road, Unit 109. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, including a Sunday brunch buffet (vegetarian and meat) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

And you won’t have to look for Hari. He’ll know you’re there the second you arrive.



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