Ko Restaurant at Fairmont Kea Lani in Maui

After traveling half way across the world Toronto to Maui I found a second wind after taking a moment to enjoy a refreshing shower in my ocean view suite at the Fairmont Kea Lani. Wrapped in a plush robe I shook my hair out on the balcony and watched the sun set across the Pacific.

I had barely eaten all day as US Airlines are down right cheap when it comes to satiating their passengers. With nothing more than cheap coffee and a granola bar to eat all day I was ripe and ready to sit down for my first Hawaiian feast.

I spent my evening at the hotels celebrated Kō Restaurant which was recently named the 2013 Maui Restaurant of the Year by Maui No Ka Oi Magazine. Ko translates to “sugarcane” in Hawaiian and showcases the culinary history of the sugarcane plantation era. Chef Pang’s menu includes traditional Hawaiian, Chinese, Filipino, Portuguese and Japanese dishes. Pang has been praised for his support for local producers, and is proud to offer a menu where 90% of the food in his kitchen is sourced by Maui farmers.

The dining room was absolutely dreamy and a perfect launching point to begin my solo honeymoon in Paradise. Mixologists kept busy building cocktails from the restaurants circular bar while guests stared out into the dark of night as palms slowly swayed through the early evening breeze.

I felt entirely obligated (twist my arm please) to start the meal with a classic tropical cocktail. I opted for the bartenders favourite Lilikoi Margarita which was presented in an ice cold glass with a fresh flower as ornamental garnish. Lilikoi is the local Hawaiian term for passionfruit (one of my favourites) and quickly sipped my way through the tart tequila refresher being sure to lick my lips free of the sweet plum powder which clung to the glasses rim.

My goal that evening was to properly experience Kō’s menu by ordering a dish from each of the cultural groups that worked on the plantation. I started off with a Filipino spring roll stuffed with chicken and mushroom, followed by Japanese Oishi Sushi a crispy tempura fried roll filled with spicy tuna. I tackled two entrees the Ginger Hoisin BBQ Chop with chinese sausage fried rice inspired by China and Hawaii’s Lavender Honey Macadamia Nut Shrimp. After washing each savoury dish down with a pint of Maui Brewing Co’s blonde lager I finished my feast with Pao Doce Frito, a Portuguese sweet bread filled with coconut gelato and served with local kula black raspberry jam.

I waddled out in search for the elevator and blissfully floated towards my bed in search of the deepest sleep. A uniquely decadent Hawaiian culinary history can be explored at Kō’s kitchen.

The Feast:

Lilikoi Margarita

sauza tequila combined with lilikoi (hawaiian passionfruit) fresh lime, cointreau, lihimui rim (plum powder)

Maui Brewing Co

blonde lager

Lumpia Filipino Spring Rolls

chicken and mushroom, green papaya achara, spicy dipping sauce

Oishi Sushi

spicy tuna, tempura crisp

Ginger Hoisin BBQ Pork Chop

island style shrimp, vegetable and chinese sausage fried rice

Lavender Honey Macadamia Nut Shrimp

seasoned shrimp served crisp with kula ali’i lavener honey sauce and candied macadamia nuts

Pao Doce Frito

portuguese sweet bread filled with coconut gelato, rolled in vanilla sugar, served with kula black raspberry jam

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