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Good Eats: Kaana Kitchen

Often regarded as one of the best restaurants on Maui, I am inclined to admit that (in my humble opinion) Kaana Kitchen is one of the best restaurants in Hawaii. Located within the stunning Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, this contemporary open-kitchen, dining experience boasts farm fresh ingredients with worldly-inspired cooking techniques and diverse bold flavors.

Multi-Award Winning Kaana Kitchen

Largely influenced by the Hawaiian method of gathering and foraging from the mountains to the sea, Kaana Kitchen is mainly based on the simple concept of sharing. Guests are encouraged to share moments, memories, aromas, tastes and of course food. Portion sizes are small to large and the menu selections are categorized by: “Upcountry Farm,” “Kaana Classics,” “Kona Cold,” “Big Eye Ahi,” and the “Butcher’s Block.”

At the helm, Maui natives, Executive Chef Isaac Bancaco and Sous Chef Jonathan Pasion collaborate and construct (with the help of their talented culinary team) diverse creations with Polynesian, European, Asian and classic influences.

Farm to table family-style dining.

At first glance the menu is a unique and takes some familiarization to navigate as it’s not presented in your typical appetizers and entrees format. Have your waiter guide you and offer some recommendations to decipher what is a starter portion from a sharable main dish. The price points are mid-range to fine dining, but the quality is superb and the service is a mixture of friendly yet attentive and elegant.

The open kitchen concept is a great way to engage with the chefs.

Ultimately, since it’s inception in 2013, Kaana Kitchen has garnered it’s fair share of awards, global recognition and accolades but remains true to its roots. If you’re craving an outstanding meal be sure to add Kaana Kitchen to your list — you won’t be disappointed.

Here’s a look as some of the classic standouts and a few of the new dishes (photographs depict a tasting portion so I could taste everything):

NEW: Kona Kampachi Poke $22 A collaborative approach to poke, this freshly inspired take on the raw cubes of fresh Kona fish is innovative, a delightful mixture of textures and abundant with flavor while enhancing the Kompachi. A touch of fresh sweet beets, highlights of black garlic and Hawaiian chili elevate this to new levels. A great starter!
Ahi Tataki $27 – a modern take on the classic components of caprese — the seared premium ahi lends both texture and savory elements to the fresh, crisp acid of the local tomatoes and the creaminess of the homemade burrata cheese.
Black Sesame Noodles $15 – One of the house favorites, the noodles are fresh, mild in flavor and full of aroma from the garlic, maitake mushroom and sesame essence.This is a modern take on somen salad with bold sesame flavors.
NEW: Wagyu Hanger $24 – A spin off of a Thai green papaya salad, the meat is tender, perfectly marinated and the texture profile on this dish is outstanding. One of the highlights of the night and Wagyu at this price is wonderful to see and savor.
NEW: Berkshire Pork Belly $35 – a spinoff of bacon and eggs this was hearty, decadent and delicious. The pork belly maintains earthy elements paired with the mushrooms and enhanced by the 62-degree egg. Add the Poha Berry hoisin which serves as a mild BBQ sauce and polenta for a great “comfort food” feeling.
NEW: Kona Clams $24 – fresh clams simmered with venison chorizo, stunning ulu (breadfruit) and daikon make this an outstanding umami flavored dish. The broth is to die for and the combination of both earth and sea are making me salivate.
Ahi Belly $28 – Asian elements abound in this dish with the tender and moist ahi belly complimented by Japanese eggplant, ginger, and yuzu dashi. The broth flavors really transport this fresh fish dish. The small char on the ahi belly paired with the dashi is a perfect marriage just add rice.
Fried Chicken $44 – my favorite bites of the night came from this classic Kaana Kitchen entree. The fried chicken is perfectly crispy and both sweet and salty. The flavors are similar to chicken and waffles, but the waffle is instead a mochi or babinka cake. The combination of the crunchy from the cornflake, sweet and savory chicken and the chewy cake is amazing and has me wanting more. I would go back just for this sweet yet savory dish.

Overall, this was an outstanding meal. I was craving something that would really satiate my need for a wonderful experience. This really hit the spot. As far as desserts go the ice cream sundae was a standout. In the end dinner, was wonderful and I can’t wait to go back.

Ka’ana Kitchen
Andaz Maui at Wailea
3550 Wailea Alanui Drive
Kihei, Hawaii 96753
(808) 879-1234

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About Olena Heu

Olena is Executive Editor, Food & Lifestyle at MAUIWatch. The founder of Olena Heu Communications, a social media, digital marketing, consulting and freelance writing company, Olena holds a BA and MA in Communication and Speech from Hawaii Pacific University. An adjunct professor, lecturer and motivational speaker Olena is also an award winning journalist, writer, photographer and avid traveler.

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