What was supposed to be a 15-minute drop-in meeting with Chef Perry has turned into an hour-long ballad to his homeland. My reservation for 40 minutes ago has come and gone, but he passes me a plate of taro root paste called poi, then hands me over to a hostess who leads me to my wife and son, already seated under a tangle of ropes and thick bamboo crossbeams. We’re all adorned with leis and prepare to cross Maui’s top dining spot off our bucket lists. The warm ocean breeze blows in off the Pacific, across the volcanic shelf, up the coconut grove of Ku’au Cove through the iconic catamaran resting on the white sand and rustles the palm leaves just a few feet outside the open-air dining room.
I go for the Opakapaka, a deep-sea pink snapper that, according to my menu, “was caught in deep reefs near Kaho’olawe Island by Kalani Hirata.”
My wife goes for the restaurant’s most-popular entree: mahi-mahi caught in Hana, stuffed with lobster and crab, baked in a macadamia-nut crust.
But it’s our six-year-old’s dessert that coaxes the iPhone out for an Instagram. The Black Pearl turns out to be as delicious as it is striking: a lilikoi-chocolate mousse in a seashell-shaped pastry.
I decide to honour one last food producer and order the Pink Floyd, a martini named after Mama’s founder and made with Ocean Vodka from the new sugar-cane distillery about half an hour from here and my destination tomorrow.