This Mauna Lani Dining Review is from our recent Hawaii site inspection stay, during which we stayed at 6 different luxury resorts on the Big Island of Hawaii and Maui. CanoeHouse is the resort's fine dining restaurant, open for dinner daily between 5-9pm, while HaLani is the resort's casual venue, serving a la carte breakfast daily from 6:30-11am.
We arrived at the resort just in time for our dinner at the CanoeHouse, which we'd fortunately reserved in advance. Particularly during busy travel times, we recommend making all dinner reservations well in advance for your Hawaii trip.
Usually in our family we end up agreeing that one person ordered the best meal, but at the CanoeHouse, we were all equally very happy with our respective main courses. My husband's smoked pork jowl was dramatically uncovered at the table, the smoke parting to reveal wonderfully succulent and smoked infused pork pieces that he enjoyed then as well as the following day, since we took the leftovers with us.
Equally delicious was our son's Big Island Chicken, which was moist and flavorful:
I was just as pleased with my Kona Kampachi fish dish and its Hamakua mushroom accompaniment.
Everything came promptly, which we appreciated after a long travel day, and our server couldn't have been friendlier or more helpful. We wouldn't hesitate to recommend the CanoeHouse, whether you're staying at the Mauna Lani or elsewhere on the Big Island.
We came down for breakfast at HaLani at about 7:45am, although there were no tables available when we arrived. We were put on a wait list and told it would be about 15 minutes, and our number was taken so that we could be texted. When 15 minutes were up, with no text message, we returned and asked to be seated. They found a table for us, but it was awhile until we could get a server's attention, and he seemed rather distracted. Finally we grabbed another server and asked if we could order, as we were quite hungry by this time.
To start with we ordered a mixed fresh squeezed orange pineapple guava juice, which was excellent.
Sadly, the barista didn't match the juicers, as my husband's initial cappuccino (which I tasted) didn't even come close to a proper cappuccino. There was no foam and it tasted marginally better than dishwater. We got that replaced with a cappuccino that at least had some foam, but was incredibly weak. I've made much better coffee drinks at home with instant espresso and foamed milk, yet we were assured that it was 100% Kona coffee. Kona coffee is expensive, so maybe they weren't using enough of it to provide sufficient flavor.
Overall our dishes were fine, and mine was especially beautiful. My husband got the eggs benedict, and had no complaints.
Our son got a bagel with smoked salmon, and said it was great.
I was intrigued by the Ube (Japanese sweet potato) pancakes, and it was easily the most beautiful pancake dish of our trip. That said, it wasn't hot when it arrived, the pancakes were on the dry side, and the pineapple that was supposed to be griddled was fresh, not caramelized in any way. So full points for presentation, but about 5/10 for taste.
Fortunately, there's an option if you don't want to be put on a wait list or wait for room service–the Marketplace provides grab and go snacks and drinks, and it even offers gelato and sorbet made right at the Mauna Lani. Apart from the CanoeHouse, this was a culinary highlight of our stay, since we enjoyed some of the best passion fruit sorbet we've ever sampled. Insider Tip: kids are given a token at check-in that can be redeemed for a sorbet or gelato scoop, so if you're staying at the Mauna Lani with kids, make sure each of your kids gets a token…then enjoy a little tax bite of their free scoop–after all, you got them there 😉
Our Mauna Lani dining experience was somewhat mixed. We can unreservedly recommend the CanoeHouse Restaurant, both food and service, but found both a bit wanting for breakfast at HaLani Restaurant. If you're in a hurry, you may just want to pick up something at the Market grab and go place rather than wait, especially during peak periods, at HaLani Restaurant.
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