An Eclectic Mix Of Ample Portions

Nanea executive chef Kahau Manzo with food and beverage manager Jayden Callahan. Daniel Lane photos

Nanea, the Westin’s premier restaurant in Princeville, offers poolside dining, elegantly prepared meals and heaping portions. Heading up the kitchen is a local boy with a blended background that developed his eclectic cooking style.

Executive chef Kahau Manzo grew up on Maui with a father who was a chef and owned two Italian restaurants. Family vacations were spent at his grandmother’s home in Montreal, Canada, where homemade prosciutto and cheese hung from basement rafters.

“She had one cheese, I still don’t know what the hell it was,” he recalls, and a hearty laugh follows. “She’d make these big balls of cheese, but the middle was like a ball of butter. It was so good.”

Growing up on Maui, island flavors filled the young boy’s plate when he wasn’t in dad’s kitchen. “I was adopted, so I’m half Portuguese, Hawaiian and English,” Manzo recalls. “I had hanai grandparents who were Hawaiian/Portuguese, and I learned how she (my hanai grandmother) made laulau, pipikaula and all that kind of stuff.”

Crab and Scallop appetizer

Maybe it’s the Hawaiian blood that makes him somewhat of a playful prankster, but Manzo has a tendency to give his appetizers, such as Ahi Wraps, a conventional name, which are really an elegant deconstruction of the original. His bona fide laugh washes over me like a font of kindness as he says some people are surprised when they see their dish.

I understand what he means when the Seafood Bruschetta ($17) appetizer arrives. The deep bowl is chock full of tender clams still in their shell, scallops and chunky bits of fish swimming in a savory garlic and tomato broth. Two slices of charred focaccia lean against the steamy rim.

Clearly not your typical bruschetta made up of diced tomatoes, garlic and basil on top of a crusty piece of bread. I like his version though, and I could take a bath in that delicious broth!

Nanea will host a party that promises to have guests ringing in the new year with full bellies and good cheer. The evening begins with a six-course meal ($85) that includes vegan and gluten-free options.

Deconstructed Ahi Wraps. Daniel Lane photos

Chef Manzo starts things off with three of his favorite hamachi preparations. “The three ways I like hamachi the best are a ceviche, a sashimi and then a misoyaki, where it has a good char on it.”

A cold Kona lobster salad with mango vinaigrette and mushroom lumpia is the second course.

“Mangos and lobster go really well together, and the mushroom lumpia are really thin, crispy spring rolls, with open ends, no more than a pencil thick,” explains Manzo, who likes to create contrasts. “So you have the crispy lumpia with the soft lobster.”

The third course is rich and creamy crab bisque with big sherry notes surrounded by a crispy crab cake.

Cava, fresh lemon and rosemary sorbet cleanse the palate so you taste the fresh, clean flavor of Kaua’i shrimp and grilled tenderloin served with asparagus, baby carrots and a truffle mash.

Chocolate fudge cake with Grand Marnier strawberries makes a decadent ending.

Seafood Bruschetta

“These are treats,” says Jayden Callahan, Nanea’s food and beverage outlet manager. “Events like this should have a menu featuring things you wouldn’t prepare for yourself.”

At Nanea’s New Year’s Eve party, revelers can dance to live music and toast with champagne. They’ll even provide the party favors! Don’t forget to ask about the everyday 11 percent kama’aina discount.

Nanea at The Westin Princeville
3838 Wyllie Road,
Lunch: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Dinner: 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Sunday Brunch: 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.