With most of the culinary attention in the Hawaiian islands drawn to “Hawaii Regional Cuisine,” we were fascinated to learn that Kō, the newly renovated signature restaurant at The Fairmont Kea Lani derives its flavorful dishes from humble beginnings–the food of the various ethnic groups that came to work Maui’s sugar cane plantations.
The Hawaiian word Kō means sugar cane, a large un-branched grass brought to the islands by the early Polynesian settlers, later hybridized to increase variety and yield and forming at one time Hawaii’s largest industry. Native Hawaiians for the most part did not work the cane fields. So the Portuguese were sent from the Azores, the Chinese, Japanese and later Filipinos, Puerto Ricans and Koreans came.
Everyday in the midday sun they’d break for lunch, sometimes sharing a dish and teaching the other nationality about a new vegetable or method of preparation.
These simple “kaukau” (plantation slang for food) flavors are the inspiration for Oahu-born executive chef Tylun Pang’s menu. He uses the island’s fresh produce, meat and seafood in upscale preparations of authentic family recipes that have been passed down for generations in Hawaii.
Sugar cane is still being grown on Maui, but it is rather extraordinary to think that now you can dine poolside at Kō under the stars at this fine restaurant enjoying the flavors of meals prepared by those who tended the land not very far from here, over a hundred years ago?
The all-suite and villa property rates without a package run from Best Available Mountainside One Bedroom $579 to a Deluxe Ocean View at $809 or a Kilohana Suite a bit far from the ocean but with superb panoramic views for $909. The Ocean Villas start at $1,750 and are steps from the sand and include a car rental. All packages and rooms rates are plus taxes. Extras vary greatly and are numerous so please see website for details.
And here is a little HC secret: You can enjoy Kō’s 3-course menu for only $49 between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. daily. That’s ono (delicious)!