The Mauna Kea is the oldest hotel on Hawaii’s Kohala Coast and next year it’ll celebrate its 50th anniversary. Built by a Rockefeller, this beautiful hotel doesn’t look anywhere near its age and Manta, the signature restaurant at the Mauna Kea is no exception. Do you see that photo above? That’s the view from my table at breakfast. A full a la carte menu is available, but when you have an admirable buffet spread and an appetite to match, the choice is simple.
For $34, the buffet certainly isn’t cheap, but it’s easy to get your money’s worth. There’s a full omelet station (belgian waffles made-to-order, too), a nice selection of fresh fruit with cottage cheese and Fage Greek yogurt, cereals and Hawaiian granola, a strong range of standard American breakfast foods (eggs, bacon, sausage, etc.), breads and pastries, ample Japanese options including broiled salmon, miso soup, and oshinko (pickled vegetables), as well as sweet treats like banana pancakes and bread pudding made with Hawaiian sweet bread and vanilla cream sauce.
I always look for something local to try whenever I’m traveling and my favorite item on the Mauna Kea’s breakfast buffet was the Portuguese Sausage Eggs Benedict, a take on the classic dish with island favorite Portuguese sausage instead of Canadian bacon. If you’ve never had Hawaiian Portuguese sausage, it’s not exactly like the linguica that you’ll find in Portugal. To me, it always tastes like more of a cross between a smoked summer sausage and chorizo. Either way, the substitution of the sausage worked really well. This version also came with a really nice hollandaise to boost your cholesterol count. My only complaint is that the poached egg on top was severely overcooked. The yolk was completely firm and I didn’t get to unleash the yolk on the other ingredients as I love to do with any benedict.
The beverage options were solid here, too. I’m not a coffee drinker, but if I were, I’d be pretty happy about the steel samovars set up in the wine bar area of Manta. Easy access to coffee is always a good thing and, as a bonus, this buffet offers to-go cups with lids so you can cruise on out after breakfast with a cup of joe in hand. I eschew hot beverages in favor of juice and I was happy to see a shining tower of guava juice waiting for me. They have orange and pineapple, too, so you can make the classic Pineapple-Orange-Guava combination yourself if that’s your jam. I love straight up guava, so I grabbed a glass of that and was glad I did. It was a great counterpoint to the richness of my Portuguese Sausage Benedict.
While there’s nothing that really sets the breakfast buffet at Manta apart from anywhere else, there is something to be said for a buffet that doesn’t let you down. Plus, there’s definitely some local flavor (pardon the pun) on offer here that makes it a worthy way to start your day. I’d be happy to return here for breakfast on my next visit.
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