Throwing Local Flair Into the Mix
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With throngs of tourists filling a growing number of restaurant chains along Kalakaua Avenue, you may think it’s impossible to have a truly local dining experience in Waikiki. Luckily, you’ve been mistaken. Sheraton Waikiki’s stunning beach-front restaurant, Kai Market, is not only dedicated to providing a mouthwatering local haven for kamaaina, but also ensures visitors are able to delight in an authentic feast as well.
Based on the multi-cultural palate Hawaii’s plantation workers historically shared with one another — which served as the foundation for what we know today as a “mix plate” — Kai Market’s pot luck-style breakfast and dinner buffets feature traditional recipes ranging from Hawaiian, Korean, Filipino and Portuguese dishes to Puerto Rican, Chinese, Okinawan and Japanese favorites. This gives patrons the opportunity to make their own mix plate of local classics while embracing a piece of Hawaii’s history.
“Kai Market is all about taking plantation day foods and giving them a local flair,” says executive chef Darren Demaya. “The flair would be using local products from the Islands and incorporating them into all of the dishes.”
Through efforts to support and work with local farmers, the eatery has proven its dedication to seeing local ingredients thrive. It currently uses 70 to 80 percent of locally sourced produce to create its electrifying menu of classics.
Demaya shared some of the most popular items from the dinner buffets (dinner prices are $55 for adults; $58 Friday and Saturday; $35/$39 for seniors age 62 and up; $25 for children ages 6-12, free for children age 5 and under with a paying adult, one child per adult) with AliCarte, one of which is Kauai Head On Shrimp. According to the chef, wonderfully fresh, plump Kauai seafood is prepared Chinese style with salt and pepper seasonings. The shrimp is wok-fried with garlic, pepper, Chinese five spice and salt. Ho Farms long beans add a refreshing green bite to the dish.
You can also dive into the pot luck-inspired buffet with Ginger Garlic Black Bean Manila Clams, one of the most popular choices. “I like to blanch the clams first, and then add them into the sauce. The sauce is basically garlic, ginger, white onions, black beans, Sherry vinegar and oyster sauce,” explains Demaya, who has been with Kai Market since it opened in 2009.
You absolutely must throw his Dole Plantation Pineapple BBQ Baby Back Ribs into your mix plate as well. Succulent, juicy ribs are grilled, then slow-cooked to achieve extreme tenderness. They’re also smothered in De-maya’s very own barbecue sauce, which is dressed up with a bright burst of pineapple juice. Fresh Kahuku corn kernels are sprinkled over each rib, taking the overall flavor to another level.
These are just some of the fun, fusion-filled eats you can devour at Kai Market, where every dish is truly made in Hawaii. “Our main focus is sustainability,” adds Demaya, “so that means working with the farmers, working with the product and giving our guests the opportunity to sample what we have to offer here in the Islands.”
2255 Kalakaua Ave.
921-4600 for reservations
Daily, Breakfast: 6–11 a.m. Dinner: 5:30–9:30 p.m.