Hot Spot: Makana Terrace
Sometimes the greatest gifts are the unexpected ones, like that last overlooked Christmas present beneath the tree or the little red box quietly placed on your desk on your birthday. Just being on Kaua‘i can often feel like a present. From sunrise to sunset, you are gifted with beautiful sounds, sights and smells from the North Shore to the West Side.
Similarly, a meal at Makana Terrace at The St. Regis Princeville Resort, an unexpected treat, can lift your spirits with its understated elegance, casual ambience and fine island cuisine. Makana, in Hawaiian, means gift, which is exactly what you can expect when you sit down at a table on Makana Terrace’s broad lanai with its commanding view of Hanalei Bay and distant Makana Mountain (often referred to by its non-Hawaiian nickname “Bali Hai”).
Gazing out at one of Hawai‘i’s most iconic landscapes from eight stories up (The St. Regis is built on a cliff side so you enter the hotel on the ninth floor), the dramatic beauty of Kaua‘i’s mountains and Hanalei Bay makes for an unforgettable backdrop whether you are enjoying breakfast, dinner, brunch or just pupu (hors d’oeuvres) and drinks at the end of the day.
Makana Terrace specializes in what it calls “Island Bistro,” their name for the finest produce, fish and seafood, much of it locally sourced, used to create dishes that are fresh and satisfying. Overseeing the kitchen is Chef de Cuisine Antwon Brinson, who comes from a background of working with local farmers markets to gather the very best small farmers have to offer.
Chef Antwon has reinvigorated a number of favorite local fish and seafood items with a new vision and fresh perspective to great effect. Pupu like hamachi (young yellowtail) tartare with yuzu mayonnaise, cilantro and crispy ginger combine ingredients like yuzu (a Japanese citrus), quail egg and ginger reflective of Hawai‘i’s East-West influences and make for a pleasant start to your meal. If you’ve never tried Hilo hearts of palm, smoked ono (wahoo) or a togarashi (chili pepper)-seared ‘ahi (tuna), you are in for a treat. Other, more familiar offerings include vegetable spring rolls, braised pork belly and organic greens from Kaua‘i’s own Kailani Farm just down the road from the resort.
Makana Terrace’s entrees fall into three categories: sea, land and sushi. From the ocean, Chef Antwon offers classic Hawaiian ‘ahi (tuna) steaks and Kona lobster from the Big Island as well as miso-glazed sea bass and a delightful steamed Kampachi (great amberjack) served with kaffir lime, Thai chili and shimeji mushrooms. This dish is served wrapped in the paper in which it was steamed, appearing as a gift within a gift.
Island Bistro fare also includes some great meat dishes as well. Hawaiian flavors come through strong with kiawe (mesquite) wood smoked pork chops served with Maui Gold pineapple, huli huli half chicken and a Hawaiian chili sugar cane rubbed ribeye steak.
If you are a sushi lover, Makana Terrace pulls no surprises, but instead simply delivers the goods: traditional, authentic handcrafted nigiri sushi and maki (roll) classics that bridge the gap between Hanalei and Hokkaido. If you’re looking for an authentic Japanese sushi experience, you can’t go wrong with a platter of sashimi and a cold bottle of Sapporo beer. Crisp Junmai sake from Japan’s Okayama region and sparkling Hana Hou Hou Shu pink sake are excellent accompaniments to a summer evening of sushi.
The menu at Makana Terrace can be seductive so don’t be surprised to find yourself stuffed by the time the dessert menu arrives. You may want to consider sharing plates or eating light because the Makana Terrace has a history of employing A.P.C. (Awesome Pastry Chefs) and that remains true today. To forgo concluding an evening at Makana Terrace with one of their desserts is to cheat yourself out of enjoying Portuguese “donuts” called malasadas served with white sugarloaf pineapple or something as wickedly delicious as Chocolate Sabotage.
An evening (or breakfast or Sunday brunch) at Makana Terrace, with its sweeping view of Kaua‘i’s north shore, its no-nonsense delicious Island Bistro menu and satisfying drinks and desserts is, like the setting itself, a real gift to share and to treasure—one you’ll find yourself longing to give and receive again and again.
Makana Terrace is open for breakfast 6:30 to 11am, for dinner 5:30 to 9pm (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays for dinner) and for Sunday brunch 10am to 2pm. Call (808) 826-9644 for reservations.