Kai Market Boasts Farm-to-Table Dining in Epic Proportions

Kai Market Boasts Farm-to-Table Dining in Epic Proportions

Large resort hotels don't need to go green. With corporate funding coming from overseas (and profits/losses headed in the same direction), there isn't much stigma for executive boards, chair people and shareholders to insist on sustainable processes. However, the folks behind the Sheraton Waikiki have jumped the necessary hurdles, and pushed forward to offer a dining experience that other large-scale businesses—and even small proprietors—should adapt.

Kai Market, the ocean-facing restaurant within the Sheraton Waikiki, hosted a luncheon last week that had more congressmen, elected officials and people of Hawaiian authority than we've seen grace any pair of tourism budget or marketing meetings over the last 2 years. The reason? The opening of Kai Restaurant is an all-positive, win-win business model that everyone is on board with.

Strolling past bikini stores, a coffee stand and the new infinity-edge swimming pool where tourists sip mai tais, it's not hard to realize that these are businesses practiced in the art of earning the tourist dollar: Inexpensive goods marked up to the highest value. However, upon entering Kai Market, it's easy to shake off these typically large-scale beach resort sights. Immediately your eyes are drawn to the living wall; a swath of greenery teeming with fresh herbs that grows, quite literally, out from the wall. Today, underneath this wall, what seems like every affiliate of the Hawaii Farm Bureau and local assemblymen are shaking hands, congratulating each other for something that most patrons of this restaurant won't even know the extent to which their plan was hatched.

Kai Market is a sprawling buffet of greens, fruits and vegetables, meats, fish, pastas, pastries and coffee all harvested in Hawai`i nei. Over "Ni'ihau Seafood Chowder" we chatted briefly with Victor Kimura, Kyo-ya director of operations (owners of the hotel), about hotels making a difference in the lives of local farmers. As we moved on to a succulent "Warm Kona Lobster and Wailea hearts of palm salad with Kamiya farms papaya, tarragon, celery and Meyer lemon", we chatted with Revell Newton, Sheraton's sales director, about the punch of flavor in each ingredient. We had the good fortune of slurping a "Thai-inspired noodle salad with Dean Okimoto micro greens and diced macadamia nuts" with the head of the Hawaii Farm Bureau himself (and farmer), Dean Okimoto.

Things heated up with a "Seven-spiced duck breast served over gingered cranberries, Dean's arugula, and a honey pumpkin puree". On the plate, it fought in competition for the day's tastiest dish with "Soy sake braised short ribs, local daikon and Roy Bereger's watercress". However, this was not to overshadow the lovely "Pine nut crusted rack of lamb served with a blueberry grap jus", nor "Clyde Fukuyama's Szechuan style Japanese eggplant with Katsuhiro Farms spring onions".

See a pattern developing here? Executive sous chef Darren Demaya, who moved over from RumFire, hopes you do. This isn't your grandfather's resort food.

To top, Demaya is about to launch monthly "Plantation Nights at Kai Market", which will feature a Farmer's Dinner table of cuisine inspired by generations of Hawaii's multi-ethnic people.

Hotels guests from all over the globe will dine solely on Hawaii-grown produce and proteins at Kai Market, supporting local farmers and cooperatives, as well as healthy eating. It's a trend we wish would be mimicked by other resorts who plow through produce by the ton. Encourage your favorite eateries to do as Kai Market has done. Get involved. Grab a fork!

Kai Market is open seven days a week and will validate all parking. The restaurant will serve breakfast and dinner.
Breakfast is served from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and costs $26 for adults, $13 for children 12 and up (the rest eat for free).
Dinner is served from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and costs $49 per person, or $26 per child.

This isn't your grandfather's resort food.