Those who have dined at Grand Wailea's Humuhumunukunukuapua'a may remember the off-the-charts food by Chef de Cuisine Michael Lofaro.
The protege of chef Michael Mina of Aqua fame took time off to be with his growing family and to build outrigger canoes for a year or so. Now, he's back, and amazingly, the food is better than before.
I guess when you are an artiste of this high caliber, your creativity remains intact. Of course, he did come back to hone his skills at the hotel's Bistro Molokini for awhile, until the vacancy left by chef Isaac Bancaco at Humuhumu became available. Now, he's hitting his new menu out of the ballpark like a true grand slammer.
Grand Wailea’s Chef de Cuisine Michael Lofaro is back at his old job at “Humuhumu” and his latest menu is better than ever before.Diners will find lots of raw and fresh seafood as well as gourmet entrees that are all “out of the box” in both taste and presentation. It is expensive, yes, but there are deals to be had. You may dress in relaxed resort attire.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
This is good news for the Grand Wailea, which is also wowing diners with the new Alan Wong's Amasia, voted "Best New Restaurant on Maui" in the recent Best of Maui contest.
In fact, Wong, a superstar chef and James Beard Award winner, dined at Humuhumu recently, and we hear he raved about each and every bite.
So Lofaro can keep up with the Joneses, or the Wongs, so to speak.
Humuhumu at a glance:
Where: Located in the middle of a million-gallon saltwater lagoon at Grand Wailea.
Hours: Open for dinner nightly. The lounge opens at 5 p.m. and meals are served in the restaurant from 5:30 to 9 p.m.
Happy hour: Come before the sun sets each evening from 5 to 6 p.m. and get 50 percent off on the rocks well drinks as well as house wine by the glass and a selection of domestic beers.
Ono Ono hour: Bring out your "inner fisherman" from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. nightly and get half off of fresh hand-caught lobster (offer based on availability).
Kamaaina discounts: Those with valid Hawaiian ID are welcome to buy one dinner entree and get the second one of equal or lesser value at 50 percent off.
For reservations: Call Grand Wailea at 875-1234 or visit the web site at grandwailea.com.
"We rolled out my new menu the first week of September, starting with appetizers," says Lofaro. "We're doing the whole raw bar thing and people say they're some of the best dishes on the menu."
On a recent visit, we tried several of the new raw bar items and it was love at first bite. The carpaccio of Japanese hamachi just popped with tangy yuzu, Hawaiian chili and celery-ginger granite that was like a cool and crunchy shave ice on top.
The Hawaiian ahi tartare was adorned with perilla leaf, more commonly known as shisho at sushi bars, and Lofaro took it to a whole new level with soft herbs, green onion and toasted cumin.
The Kona kampachi poke with cilantro, avocado puree and smoked ponzu was also a winner and a half.
Sip a nice glass of champagne with these raw bar items or ask Bartender Scott Dalton, a sake sommelier, what cool sake pairings will play off of the dishes.
Lofaro's new dinner menu also includes his version of the Growing Future Farmers Salad.
What salad is that, you may ask?
"Humuhumu was one of Maui's first restaurants to sign up in support of the new chefs' initiative to grow the next generation of farmers and ranchers in Maui County," says Christina Yumul, the Grand Wailea's director of public relations.
"Each time someone orders this salad, which features 'grown in Maui' products, $1 is donated to the GFF Fund."
The salad in mention is composed of Waipoli watercress and shaved fennel with dried sour cherries, cabrales, candied pecans and sugarcane vinaigrette. Another fun salad is the Surfing Goat Dairy cheese and melon with red-wine gastrique.
"As for the entrees, I didn't stick to any specific style or box. It's not in the confines of any real type," says Lofaro. "I just simply changed the whole menu except for the surf 'n turf, the spiny lobster and the signature butter lettuce salad."
"I reworked some things. Tweeked it a bit here and there. I think it's a lot better this time around."
Diners will find a bunch of fun sides such as purple sweet potato mash, forbidden rice, glazed baby bok choy, and sauteed seasonal wild mushrooms.
Do try Lofaro's new seared ahi loin with foie gras dumpling with stir fried mushrooms and snow peas in a pho inspired broth that is poured at the table; and the brioche and lemongrass-crusted rack of domestic lamb with asparagus.
The resort's Executive Pastry Chef Natalie Wilkinson will wow you with desserts and you may enjoy them with Malulani Estate French-pressed coffee.
The stunning oceanfront restaurant made out of ohia wood with thatched roofs in the middle of a lagoon boasts arguably the most impressive ambience in the state and its new menu is a great match.