Cane and Taro is D.K. Kodama’s newest restaurant in a renovated, prime Ka’anapali location. His success with Sansei, Vino (closed now) and his Oahu restaurants The Counter and d.k. Steakhouse suggests that this restaurant should be a slam-dunk, but in our experience it’s not up to par with its siblings. Still, the location is hard to beat, and while the food isn’t fantastic, it’s at least as good as anything else you’ll find in Ka’anapali (except for Japengo at the Hyatt, one of our new favorites).
When Cane and Taro first opened, it offered a greatest hits selection from all three of Kodama’s other restaurants. Reading the menu felt like someone was throwing wild 95-mile-per-hour pitches at us — we kept thinking “How can they do great meatloaf and pull off the kampachi sashimi in ponzu sauce?” Ultimately the kitchen must’ve asked this same question, since the menu has since been drastically trimmed — probably for the best. Tried and true favorites from Kodama’s other venues have made the cut, including crispy crab wontons with wasabi aioli and sweet and sour sauce. The smallish selection of sushi includes the panko-crusted ahi roll with Waipoli greens and butter sauce and the “Dragonfly” — a spicy ahi roll draped with slices of ahi and avocado and finished with unagi glaze and a lovely chili aioli. These extravagant rolls can easily serve as an entire meal. Thankfully, the beloved Granny Smith apple tart with warm caramel sauce we love at other venues is also on the menu here.
Mom Kodama’s plantation meatloaf is among the new favorites. Moist and drenched with an Asian-influenced gravy, it’s meatloaf at its best. We like the crisp onion disc garnish, too — like a bonus onion ring. Speaking of crisp, the chicken wings have a wicked crunch to them (hear that? Molly’s Boston background just slipped out) and come dressed in a beguiling spicy sweet Korean-style chili sauce.
Your best bet for dinner is to hit the early bird special. Order between 5:00pm and 5:30pm and get a substantial discount: 50 percent off Tuesday and Wednesday and 25 percent off the rest of the week. Not only do you get a deal, but you’ll be treated to a spectacular sunset (almost guaranteed) immediately after. The open-air, shady dining room can feel under-renovated (the Rusty Harpoon was here for years), but the terraced design means most tables have a good view of the Pacific Ocean lapping up to Ka’anapali Beach’s sugary sand. Watch your fingers as you adjust your chair — we’ve sat in several that are positively rickety.
Ironically, the most popular meal at Cane and Taro is new for Kodama: breakfast. He doesn’t serve it anywhere else, but those ocean views must have convinced him to make a go of it. You can find standard breakfast fare, but also some only-in-Kodama-World items; the insanely decadent French toast/fried-dough/fruit concoction comes to mind. First, Hawaiian sweet bread is stuffed with cream cheese and fresh fruit and crusted with macadamia nuts. Next, it’s deep-fried and plated, then buried under a snowfall of whipped coconut cream. Berry compote tops off this breakfast treat. If you have a little girl (of any age), this will put a smile on her face. If you’re feeling more butch, order the breakfast steak “medallions” paired with eggs and steamed rice.
The table service is not as good as it is at Kodama’s other restaurants. But the bartenders are attentive, and drinks are delicious, especially the hibiscus margarita. The early Happy Hour (2-4pm) makes sense only in Ka’anapali, where most of the people taking advantage of the menu are definitely on vacation.
Address: 2435 Ka’anapali Pkwy, Ka’anapali, West Maui
Location: In Whaler’s Village, right above Hula Grill
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hours: Daily 8am-10pm
Parking: Lot, validated parking