Kō, which translates to sugarcane in Hawaiian, is inspired by the sugarcane plantation era, a time when people from around the world came to the Hawaiian Islands to work in the sugarcane fields. The plantation workers brought recipes and cooking techniques from home, while utilizing the ingredients available to them in the islands. This culinary evolution eventually developed into what is now considered modern Hawaiian cuisine.
In 2012, Kō's concept was brought to life by the esteemed Chef Tylun Pang. Chef Pang passionately led and developed Kō into a cultural melting pot that best represents Hawaiian-style cuisine.
Today, Executive Chef Aris Aurelio leads the culinary masterpiece of Kō restaurant in Wailea. The expansive menu features island family recipes that have been passed down for generations - including Hawaiian, Chinese, Filipino, Portuguese, Korean, and Japanese favorites. By utilizing the island's fresh produce, meat and seafood, Chef Aurelio gives these authentic recipes a farm-fresh, contemporary twist.
Every element of Kō's contemporary design is reflective of the restaurant's deep respect and connection to Maui's sugarcane plantation era. The colors, textures and cuisine blend seamlessly to offer a dining experience unlike any other.
The largest and most impressive architectural feature at Kō is the cloud-like roof. A seamless extension of the iconic white Kea Lani curved architecture, the roof is supported without exterior beams and appears to be floating. Designed to emulate a cloud hovering over a sugarcane field in central Maui, the bottom is painted in iridescent white with warm khaki accents, much like the color of a cloud reflecting the green of a field.
Maui Rain Steel Beads
Hanging from the bottom of Kō's roof are rows of thousands of small stainless steel beads which are reminiscent of the sun cascading through Maui's misty rain, especially when they catch the sunlight and dance in the breeze. The beads are arranged in organic swirls, to signify Maui's daily trade winds.
Native to Hawaiʻi, ʻōhiʻa trees greet guests at the entrance of Kō. Tropical foliage is planted around the south side of the restaurant, while a nearby fresh herb garden is just past the restaurant. Bear grass is pressed between frosted acrylic and natural Brazilian granite, and large hollowed stone pendants frequent the bar tops and tables.
Linear elements are repeated throughout Kō to reflect rows of sugarcane crops - the flooring is arranged in thick, even rows and the upholstering on the bar cushions is striped with shades of green and browns. The circular backsplash around Kō Bar features columns of recycled glass. Fire is incorporated with odorless torches and glowing acrylic sconces which symbolize the sugarcane smoke rising into the Maui sky at harvest.