Kai Market…from our farms to your plate

Kai Market, at the Sheraton Waikiki, opened in August 2009 with the concept of fusing the influence of 7 different plantation cultures, Chinese, Japanese, Okinawan, Korean, Puerto Rican, Portuguese and Filipino.  I think they succeeded in meeting their objective. The food here is authentic and features fresh, local products whenever possible. There’s even a “living wall of herbs.” Local people especially love buffets and I think they’ll enjoy the food at Kai Market.

My husband and I went to Kai Market for dinner tonight.  The last time we went to the Sheraton Waikiki at the same location, the restaurant was called the Ocean Terrace.  The quality of the food is superior to what we had then. The Sheraton Waikiki is undergoing renovation so the view of the ocean is blocked.

The buffet items change daily. The cold items included sashimi, ocean salad, tako poke, Thai style long rice noodles, and my personal favorite, the Waimanalo spinach salad with Kula farm strawberries and candied walnuts. I had two servings of the spinach salad.

There were also an assortment of bread items which included taro rolls and lavosh.  Hummus, balsamic vinegar and oil were at the station as complements to the bread.  Butter was also available. In my opinion, the taro roll was dry.

The Niihau island chowder was thick and delicious, chock full of seafood and taro.  I would have had another bowl of soup but was getting full and hadn’t even tried any of the entrees yet.

The chef carving station featured an alae salt crusted prime rib.  The prime rib was tender and delicious.  The au jus sauce was a tad salty to me.  The fresh catch of the day was the onaga, prepared Chinese style with Chinese parsley and green onion.  The fish was one of my favorite dishes.  The fish was tender, flaky, and flavorful. Onolicious. There were also clams which were tender and not rubbery, scampi, and a lemon grass chicken that was moist and tasty.

Dessert included creme brulee with a lilikoi sauce and blueberries, chi chi dango mochi, Satura cakes, sweet bread pudding, fresh fruits, and more.  The haupia was delicious, creamy with a strong coconut taste and not watery.

Breakfast prices are $26 for adults while children under 12 eat free with a paying adult (one child per adult). Children 13-16 pay 50% off the adult prices.  “Plantation nights” is $49 for adults with the same discounts for children as for breakfast.  That price is comparable to other hotel buffets in the area.  However, there is a 25% discount for Hawaii residents ($36.75/person for dinner) and includes free self parking, a definite plus in Waikiki. Breakfast is offered from 6 – 11 a.m. while dinner is from 5:30 – 9 p.m.

Children are welcome at Kai Market. Keiki are given a tray with crayons and a paper to color tropical fish in addition to a plantation style yoyo.  Children dining in the evening are also given a chef’s hat.  We saw children with the chef’s hat playing with the yoyo while we were dining.

Would I go return?  The answer is yes.  The economy is tight but paying $76.96 not including tip for dinner for two with the quality and type of items that were served is a value.  The restaurant is still one of the hidden secrets in Waikiki.  My compliments to Chef Darren Demaya.

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