Humu Humu

All-you-can-eat Brunch on the Reef makes big splash at Grand Wailea

Grand Wailea Executive Sous Chef Jorge Gonzalez serves up crab at the seafood station. GRAND WAILEA and CARLA TRACY photos

Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort is making a big splash with its Sunday Brunch on the Reef that launched at its famed Humuhumunukunukuapua’a restaurant in December.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it twice and can’t wait to savor it again. The third time will be the charm to decide if I’m more enamored with the oceanfront ambience, the all-you-can-eat cuisine or the fact that it features bottomless Bloody Marys or sparkling wine or Mimosas.

Perhaps it’s all three. Yet I have already decided that the Brunch on the Reef is the most outstanding Sunday daytime buffet experience to hit the island in awhile.

This dazzling new Sunday brunch replaces the longtime one in the Grand Dining Room, which continues to amaze with daily breakfast buffets from its perch overlooking the dolphin sculptures and Reflection Pools.

“We moved Sunday brunch to Humu because we wanted to give our guests a different viewpoint,” says Executive Sous Chef Jorge Gonzalez, who cooked for Dean Fearing, the “Father of Southwestern Cuisine,” in Texas before he joined Grand Wailea.

Waterfalls may be seen and heard from the various areas of Humuhumunukunukuapua‘a restaurant.

Situated in the middle of a million-gallon saltwater lagoon, the thatched-roof island of a Best Resort Restaurant is just a rubber-slipper toss from the Pacific Ocean. During brunch hours, you can take in the beach walk and the ocean action, and see boats zipping in front of Kahoolawe and Molokini Neighbor Islands and beyond.

“To eat at Humu is breathtaking. You see people out there paddleboarding and kayaking. The whales are here now, and we’ve upgraded the brunch to really offer something for just about everyone,” says Gonzalez.

In fact, did you know Waldorf Astoria in New York City created the original eggs Benedict? At Brunch on the Reef, you may dig into Humu Benedict with Kona crab cake, poached eggs and Hollandaise laced with the Adobo Loco hot sauce from Maui.

“Our seafood display now features a wall of ice behind it, an ice sculpture with fish encased inside just like they’re swimming,” Gonzalez says. “We’re making sure to give it a ‘wow’ factor.”

The team is expanding on its oyster varieties, shucking fresh-as-it-gets specimens and serving them on the half shell at the seafood table. Slurp from Kusshi to Kumamoto and Malpeque bivalves and squeeze with lemon or top with fresh cocktail sauce or mignonette.

Bloody Marys are included with the feast.

Pile on two types of poke from traditional ahi to hamachi with avocado or say, crispy shrimp with cranberries and mac nuts that people rave about.

Breakfast lovers may indulge in brioche French toast with Kula lavender strawberry compote and whipped coconut cream; loco moco with grass-fed beef, kimchi fried rice and Maui onion gravy; roasted marble potatoes with Maui olive oil and Hawaiian sea salt; seasonal frittatas; and omelets made to order with toppings such as smoked salmon, shrimp, Spam, pork and vegetables.

Celebrate Asian culture with wok-fried Manila clams with local ale, black garlic, Hawaiian chili citrus butter; local Hawaiian steamed fish “Chinese style” with ginger, green onion, cilantro and sizzling sesame-soy; and assorted dim sum and sushi.

Vegetarians will find all manner of options such as market fresh fruit; organic local beets and red quinoa with feta and aged balsamic; Zuhair Farm tomatoes, local mozzarella and garden basil and more.

Meat lovers may sink teeth into roasted prime strip loin; Upcountry passion-fruit-glazed ham; and Maui honey-fried chicken and kiawe-smoked waffles.

A koa canoe and bronze fishermen statue offer photo ops.

“We have a dessert bar in the back, and you may build your own sundaes and grab hot malasadas, brulees, petit fours, cakes and tarts,” Gonzalez adds.

Brunch on the Reef fast facts

• Where: At Humuhumunukunukuapua’a set on stilts in a million-gallon lagoon oceanfront at Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria resort.

• Hours: Brunch starts at 10:30 a.m. with last seating at 1 p.m. Sundays only. Humuhumu is also open for bar bites daily from 5 to 9 p.m. and dinner daily starting at 5:30 p.m.

• Brunch on the Reef highlights: Bottomless Bloody Marys, sparkling wine or Mimosas will whet your appetites for Kona lobster mac ‘n’ cheese; beet-cured salmon; snow crab, Kauai shrimp and oysters; roasted prime strip loin with truffle demi; salads and desserts galore.

Glass fishing balls hang as colorful decorations.

• How much: The cost is $75 per adult; $35 for children ages 6 to 12 (plus tax and gratuity) and complimentary for kids ages 5 and younger.

• For reservations or more details: Call Grand Wailea at 875-1234.

Baker 4 Whyncy Lagang serves hot malasadas at the dessert station.