I’ve been MIA for a while because I’ve been away during winter break! My travels took me to Seattle, Maui and Honolulu. I had tons of incredible dining experiences out west, and will thus be playing catch up for a while.
The first of these reviews will be of a dinner I had at Ka’ana Kitchen, which is located at the hotel I stayed at in Maui, the Andaz. The hotel just opened a few months ago, and this was its first busy season, so I had heard that the breakfast service was a bit of a mess. I was still excited to check it out for dinner.
A rumor had been floating around that Adam Sandler was staying at the hotel and that he had just eaten at Ka’ana Kitchen! If it was good enough for Adam Sandler, it was good enough for us. Our waitress confirmed this rumor, and told us that he was really nice and ordered the Watermelon Salad, Grilled Octopus (appetizers) and the Abalone Risotto, which I actually had as my entree!
The restaurant has an indoor seating area, as well as tables along one of the hotel’s terraces. I sat outside and had the opportunity to do some good people watching. I was in for a surprise when during the meal, Robert Irvine, the buff host of the Food Network’s Restaurant Impossible walked by us. So cool!
The menu was a bit kooky. It was split into 5 interestingly titled sections: Surfing Goat Diary, Festive Eats, 50th State, Hamakua Mushroom, and Free Range. Each column featured three dishes. The dishes with a little wingding next to them were full-sized entrees, whereas the rest of the dishes were small plates and/or appetizers. Below that were desserts split into two sections: Maui Citrus and Wailaua Estate Chocolate.
I went with the Abalone Risotto ($31) for my meal. It was described as consisting of Kampachi bacon, onsen egg and saikyo miso. I didn’t know what half of these things were, and I didn’t know until after my meal that Abalone was a type of seafood. Embarrassingly enough, I think I ended up forgoing the thin slice of abalone and ate everything else.
The dish was quite tiny, which you can tell from the picture. It was really good, but for $31, they could’ve given me a bit more. The risotto was topped with a slice of abalone and the Kampachi bacon, which basically tasted like prosciutto. The risotto was salty, but not overdone. The mushrooms were really chewy. I really liked the over easy egg on it, because the runniness of the yolk created a sauce that brought the dish together.
My BF got the Vanilla Kona Lobster ($34/$56), which was served with Kula pumpkin, soubise (onion sauce), persimmon and Portuguese sausage (basically chorizo). This serving was also tiny and came with like two bites of lobster. He said it basically tasted like vanilla ice cream. He says it tasted great and was the most unique lobster he’s had.
I got to sample the Makawao Farms Chicken ($36), which was basically a very clever and classy rendition of the Southern classic, fried chicken and waffles. The fried chicken was garnished with lavender. Unlike KFC, this chicken was not greasy, but it was perfectly crunchy and flavorful. The chicken was served with malasadas, which are basically Portuguese beignets, or doughnuts. Malasadas are a popular snack in Hawaii and were brought to the islands by Portuguese immigrants who came to work on plantations. The malasadas were sprinkled with powdered sugar. Accompanying this was a slaw made of julienned carrots and radishes. I was not a fan. It honestly tasted like the smell of rotting produce. However, the rest of the meal was quite tasty and conceptually genius.
The Kobe Rib Eye ($54) came with potato confit, bacon, pommery champagne and Abalone mushrooms. I did not try it myself, but I was told that it was good and well seasoned.
For dessert, my table shared the Sticky Toffee Pudding ($12). It was baked with macadamia nuts and a honey orange toffee sauce, and topped with mascarpone mousse. It seemed like a pretty generous portion, only compared to the tiny sizes of the entrees. The macadamia nuts gave the dish a nice crunch and the neutral flavor of the mascarpone mousse gave my taste buds a nice break from the very saccharine dish. It was a good ending to a unique meal.
I had heard that this restaurant was so new and not ready for the holiday rush that it didn’t even know how to make omelets at breakfast. While our waitress was missing in action most of the night, another waitress was available and friendly during our meal. While pricy for the tiny portions, the food was delicious and really creative. This was definitely one of the most unique meals I’ve ever had.