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New Cane & Taro restaurant offers island cuisine in a perfect setting

By Staff | Jun 24, 2010

From left, Kaipo Nakata, Casey Piquet and Royden Sato display Cane & Taro’s gourmet cuisine: (clockwise from top) Chop-Chop Salad, Daily Fish Special (Blue Marlin), Ahi and Salmon Sashimi, Surf and Turf (center), Loco Moco, Stuffed French Toast and Huevos Rancheros. Photo by Rob Reed.

KAANAPALI — Well, D.K. Kodama has done it again! Another successful restaurant! Is it his eighth or his ninth? Whatever the number, you can be assured D.K. will always pick a prime location, and this one is nestled in the heart of Whalers Village on one of the world’s most renowned beaches, Kaanapali!

And in keeping with the history of that prime area, Kaanapali was known to early Hawaiians as the ancient fishing village of Keka‘a, where fields of cane and stately patches of taro were cultivated. Thus, this fine new restaurant — situated on sacred, historic grounds — is aptly named Cane & Taro!

And the exemplary chef chosen to reign supreme over this new establishment is Executive Chef Royden Sato, born and raised in Oahu but living on Maui since 1984.

“My grandparents had a small store and gas station on Lower Honokowai (now the ABC store),” said Chef Sato. “I visited every summer when I was young and always wanted to live on Maui. I remember how dark and scary Honokowai was at night then, especially for a little kid.”

“As a child, I was influenced by my mother, who really enjoyed cooking and was always testing new dishes,” said Chef Sato. “My other grandmother worked in the cafeteria at Ala Wai School, and I remember walking through the cafeteria and being impressed with all the stainless steel kitchen equipment.”

Executive Chef Sato gained his culinary experience at Kapiolani Community College and years of working at Maui’s famous resorts, including Wailea Marriott, Kapalua Bay Hotel, Four Seasons, Maui Prince, Maui Marriott and the Torrance Marriott Hotel in Southern California.

“Our recipes were created with our Corporate Executive Chef Garrett Cho and under the guidance of our owner, Chef D.K. Kodama,” said Chef Sato. “I went to Oahu 38 times to work with them on our recipes, testing each item a number of times until we got it right.”

After sampling a few of the trio’s excellent selections, we agree — they certainly “got it right!”

And we also agree there is no better way to start one’s day than gazing at a sparkling ocean while selecting an entree from a breakfast menu with 25 tantalizing choices.

Our Huevos Rancheros dish, Cane & Taro Style, was sheer perfection, served on a crispy corn tortilla with house-made refried black beans, Portuguese Sausage Rancheros Salsa, two eggs any style, melted cheese, sour cream, silky slices of fresh avocado and pico de gallo.

And many accolades for the Local Moco entree piled high atop D.K.’s mother’s original Plantation Meatloaf with house-made gravy, crispy onion strings, two eggs and steamed rice — you’ve never had a more robust Loco Moco than this one!

Cane & Taro’s Stuffed French Toast is artistically created with thick Hawaiian Sweet Bread stuffed with rose-shaded fresh fruit cream cheese, deep-fried with a unique macadamia nut crust and served with berry compote and whipped coconut cream. Garnished with blueberries and strawberries, it is just a delight!

Moving on to the superb sashimi D.K. is famous for, the ahi (fresh Hawaiian tuna) and the luscious salmon sashimi were served chilled with wasabi and pickled ginger. It’s always so succulent and healthful!

You’ll need a friend to help you devour the mammoth, refreshing Chop- Chop Salad consisting of Genoa Salami, chicken, Spanish onion, tomato, fresh basil, capers, pepperoncini and provolone, gorgonzola and parmesan cheese with sherry vinaigrette.

The Daily Fish Special included exceptionally tender blue marlin slices, alternating on the plate with exquisite Crab-stuffed Ravioli — what a unique combination of taste and beauty!

The Surf and Turf combination — another Daily Special served on a oblong platter — had crispy bacon slices encircling tender morsels of beef that embraced succulent tuna — a very satisfying trio!

The immense menu offers good value and more choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner than most restaurants. You must return again and again to pick your favorites.

Lunch and dinner entrees sound intriguing, including Kona Coffee Baby Back Ribs and Sansei’s Award-Winning Rock Shrimp Dynamite, to simple-but-delectable Three Cheese Quesadillas, Ivan’s Kalbi Beef Taco and Pork Shiitake and Water Chestnut Spring Rolls. There are just too many items to mention here.

Children are treated royally here — their entree is served on a paper plate nestled on a bright orange Cane & Taro frisbee they can take home with them.

Early Bird Specials are offered between the 5 and 5:30 p.m. seating — 50 percent off Tuesdays and Wednesdays and 25 percent off Thursdays to Mondays. That is for food and dining-in only. There is also ample validated self-parking available.

“I really enjoy my job as a chef,” said Sato as we were leaving. “I don’t know of anything else I would rather be doing.”

After sampling a few of Chef Sato’s splendid dishes, we suggest you visit Cane & Taro Restaurant really soon to enjoy island cuisine with an epicurean touch! For reservations, call (808) 662-0668.

Pau for now…