I don’t know about you people but I don’t get up to Hana nearly as often as I should. And I’ve got a pineapple-stand full of excuses: I don’t have the time, I have to work, it’s too far, my car won’t make it, my tent still stinks of whiskey from that one trip last summer… and so on.
But this time, I had no excuses left. In fact, in a glorious turn of events, I was commissioned through my freelance side-job to make the trek to Hana and check out Ka`uiki—the main dining room at Hotel Hana.
No stinky whiskey tents for me—yippee!
Admittedly, I had my doubts. Having never stayed at the luxury resort before, I wondered if their menu would fall victim to the mainstream Pacific Rim blandness of most hotel cuisine. After all, they wouldn’t have to try too hard, as Hana’s dining options are severely limited anyway.
It’s good to be wrong with a mouthful of freshly baked, herb-buttered Molokai sweet bread with olives, a tropical fruit gazbacho amuse bouche and a glass of crisp, dry 2004 Trimbach reisling from Alsace, France.
As my server Laurie guided me through several courses with wine pairings, I noticed a couple things right away: first, that the wine list is extensive, spanning all regions of Old and New World, along with some interesting selections from decidedly non-traditional places like Lebanon, Hungary and South Africa; and second, that the unusual Kau`iki dinner menu seemed to meld the autumnal comfort foods of New England with the vibrant tropical flavors and Asian influences of Hawai`i.
Laurie also mentioned that all of the produce, meats and fish come from Hana foremost then the rest of the island—and neighboring islands—as necessary. And that Chef David Patterson, who adamantly supports sustainability and organics, changes the menu daily in order to utilize the freshest local ingredients available.
Kind of surprising for a luxury resort that doesn’t have to try so hard, I thought to myself, as I stuffed another golden spoonful of a sweet and creamy, almost mousse-like pumpkin bisque drizzled with sherry into my mouth.
Probably my favorite dish of the night was the highly creative, crispy pumpkin shoot tempura, which was served with a bit of whimsy on a square of crinkled brown paper and a ramekin of tangy orange aioli that was like a high-end Orange Julius. And I mean that in the best way; this dish was just plain fun to eat—and just right with a lively glass of 2004 Grgich Hills fume blanc from Napa.
And then there was the pheasant. I’m not really the biggest fowl fan but the roasted pheasant served atop beets, carrots and kale greens blew me away—beautifully presented on a large frosted glass plate so that the colors of the root veggies really popped, with perfectly cooked pheasant, tender and juicy in thick seasoned slices, and a cinnamon-creamy caramelized Maui onion glace.
I won’t even get into the miso-glazed mahi with Big Island mushroom risotto, or the gorgeously displayed Maui Gold Coffee pot de creme in all its Frappuccino-like glory served with chocolate volcano cookies.
But I am salivating even as I write this. MTW