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Travaasa Hāna Unveils New Restaurant & Menu

December 4, 2015, 11:37 AM HST · Updated December 4, 11:42 AM
Kiaora Bohlool · 0 Comments
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Wondering where your food comes from at Travaasa Hāna?

1. Hana

2. Maui

3. Hawai’i

That’s the order of priorities for sourcing ingredients at the iconic 70-room resort on Maui’s eastern coast, formerly known for decades as Hotel Hāna.

What used to be the Kaʻuiki Dining Room has now been transformed into Travaasa Hāna’s new signature restaurant, The Preserve Kitchen + Bar. Travaasa Experiential Resorts took over the 70-acre property in 2011, with a focus on adventure, culinary, culture, fitness and wellness.  Many of those principles are reflected in the food, with fresh-picked produce and fresh-caught seafood.

“We’re really moving forward with this farm-to-table, healthier options,” explains executive chef Jason Johnson, who has added vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and raw food items to the menu. “You’ll see a lot of fish, a lot of locally-grown produce. We’re partnered up with some really good farms. Really fresh unique fruits, a lot of fresh herbs, very simple dishes, utilizing whatever we get here in Hāna and try not mess with it too much and just use its natural flavor.”

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Over the years, Travaasa has nurtured partnerships with local fishermen, and producers like Hāna Ranch (across the street), and Ono Farms (down the road). Much of the kitchen’s produce, including avocado, kalo (taro), ʻulu (breadfruit), ʻuala (sweet potato), watercress, and pohole (fiddlehead fern) are sourced from family farms in Hāna.

“To honor the agriculture and community of Hāna, we’re excited to increase our support of local ranchers, farmers and fishermen,” says David MacIlwraith, general manager of Travaasa Hāna. “Part of the magic of travel is to experience a destination authentically. Enjoying local cuisine is one of the best ways to do that.”

Chef Johnson moved from the Big Island of Hawaiʻi to Hāna in August, and says he loves that “the heritage is really strong” in the community he’s now honored to call home.

“I respect the past a lot, that old Hawaiian feel, and I want to bring that back but then yet still keep it modern,” Johnson says, “Keep everyone surprised on all these different flavors, these ingredients that a lot of locals have that not everyone knows about.”

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    Molokai sweet potato soup with candied ginger at The Preserve Kitchen + Bar in Travaasa Hana. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Molokai sweet potato soup with candied ginger at The Preserve Kitchen + Bar in Travaasa Hāna. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Spread of food at The Preserve Kitchen + Bar in Travaasa Hana. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Spread of food at The Preserve Kitchen + Bar in Travaasa Hāna. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Arugula salad at The Preserve Kitchen + Bar in Travaasa Hana. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Arugula salad at The Preserve Kitchen + Bar in Travaasa Hāna. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Executive chef Jason Johnson at The Preserve Kitchen + Bar in Travaasa Hana. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Executive chef Jason Johnson at The Preserve Kitchen + Bar in Travaasa Hāna. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Fresh fish entree at The Preserve Kitchen + Bar in Travaasa Hana. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Fresh fish entree at The Preserve Kitchen + Bar in Travaasa Hāna. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Outdoor dining area at The Preserve Kitchen + Bar on the grounds of Travaasa Hana. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Outdoor dining area at The Preserve Kitchen + Bar on the grounds of Travaasa Hāna. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    New sign featuring The Preserve Kitchen + Bar in Travaasa Hana. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    New sign featuring The Preserve Kitchen + Bar in Travaasa Hāna. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Maui Now's Kiaora Bohlool reports from The Preserve Kitchen + Bar in Travaasa Hana. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Maui Now’s Kiaora Bohlool reports from The Preserve Kitchen + Bar in Travaasa Hāna. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    A vegan option of spaghetti squash, zucchini and lentil bolognese at The Preserve Kitchen + Bar in Travaasa Hana. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    A vegan option of spaghetti squash, zucchini and lentil bolognese at The Preserve Kitchen + Bar in Travaasa Hāna. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Fountain near the entrance of The Preserve Kitchen + Bar in Travaasa Hana. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Fountain near the entrance of The Preserve Kitchen + Bar in Travaasa Hāna. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    View from the cottages at Travaasa Hana. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    View from the cottages at Travaasa Hāna. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    At The Preserve, Johnson has created two distinct locavore-pleasing menu experiences. The dining room menu reflects gourmet seasonal fare and Hawaiʻi’s cultural diversity. Honoring the resort’s location in the heart of Hāna town, every menu item is crafted with one or more ingredients from the area, with offerings like fresh-caught ahi with coconut jasmine rice and Hāna-grown bok choy and a sashimi sampler, featuring fresh Hāna ahi, Kona kampachi, and Hāna pohole fern.

    “I believe in letting all the products speaks for themselves,” Johnson explains. “I really enjoying working with all these different products, I’m constantly thinking, ‘What am I gonna do next? What am I gonna do next?’ And I just want to keep it still classical for Hāna, but show some new ideas and creativity.”

    The restaurant’s lounge, which also touts a new, creative cocktail menu, will feature lighter fare and some unique twists on local favorites, such as a pork belly saimin with wood-ear mushroom and a musubi trio, along with burgers, wraps and salads.

    “Being able to highlight the local flavors on our menus is part of what makes the trip to Hāna a truly memorable journey,” says Adam Hawthorne, president of Travaasa Experiential Resorts. “It has been our goal all along, and we’re so pleased to be able to share it with our neighbors as well as travelers.”

    The open-air restaurant overlooks the ocean and is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with live Hawaiian music and hula featured throughout the week. Hawaiʻi residents can enjoy kamaʻaina rates of 20% off food and rooms at Travaasa.

    The Preserve is a final piece of a property-wide restoration project at Travaasa Hāna, which includes updates to the rooms, cottages, appliances, cabinets and more.  The work should be wrapped up by Christmastime.

    “We’re doing a $12 million ‘refreshment.’ All rooms are being touched right now; all new furniture, all new soft goods, which is sheets, towels, curtains and drapes,” explains Macllwraith, who adds the resort is using contractors from Hana and other parts of Maui.

    Meanwhile, The Preserve aims to do just that: preserve the authentic, historic quality that helps make Hāna so special, while sharing some of its culture with those who visit.

    “You live aloha, and you give aloha, and preserving Hāna is really important, but then yet letting the world see what Hāna is all about is also important,” Johnson says. “I’m working with some reef fish as well, and we’re going to do more demonstrations on the property.  We already have throw-net fishing and pole fishing; why not cook it for the guests, say, if they catch some fish?  Show them what aloha is all about and, most of all, Hāna.”

    Kiaora Bohlool
    Kiaora Bohlool has been a journalist since 1998. With chefs in her family, she has a lifelong appreciation for food...

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