Oahu’s best brunch buffet is at Ko Olina

Oahu’s best brunch buffet is at Ko Olina

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Truth be told, I don’t visit Ko Olina nearly enough. I live a six-minute drive away. But now, the mere whisper of “Sunday brunch at the Four Seasons” will get me stirred like a tall Bloody Mary topped with bacon. Why?

La Hiki Kitchen is on the same level as the pool, below the lobby at the Four Seasons Oahu.

This brunch is lit. If it weren’t so cozy and overlooking a lagoon, the $65 Sunday Brunch for the Seasons could easily be on the Las Vegas strip. Aside from Bacchanal in Caesar’s Palace, which is what all buffets aspire to be when they grow up, I’ve never been so impressed by a buffet. So what does $65 get you?

The atmosphere is relaxed with a touch of luxury. People come as they are, before and after the pool or beach.

For starters, six live stations that include fresh fried churros and malasadas as well as a barbecue pitmaster grilling up ribeye steak, lamb riblets and huge tiger shrimp. If this all sounds like a plateful, it is — and I haven’t even reached the buffet line with its bacon benedicts, imported Italian charcuterie and cheeses, and tropical fruits like mountain apple, longan and Makaha Mangoes. As the name implies, food items and stations change seasonally.

Resembling a windswept shack on Cape Cod, this little seafood hut should be your first stop.

I highly doubt you’ll be able to try everything (feel free to prove me wrong), so I’ll lay out the highlights.

Build your own seafood tower with fresh shucked oysters, crab claws, peeled shrimp and lobster parfait.

Start at the seafood shack at the entrance and build your own seafood tower of crab claws, shrimp, oysters on the half-shell and a lobster parfait that couldn’t be replenished fast enough.

The make-your-own poke cup station is a hit. The best part is you can always go back for more.

If you’re still on a seafood kick, visit the poke cup station where the poke man will slice up slabs of sashimi-grade ahi or hamachi and mix in your favorite toppings and dressings. They’ve even got a couple types of limu!

The poke is served in a mug, so it’s a little clumsy.

Next, hit up the prime rib and crispy pork belly carving station. Dress your cuts with creamy horseradish, a vibrant chimichurri and/or au jus. I asked for a slice with crust and was rewarded with a juicy and flavorful cut. I went back for seconds and thirds.

Don’t you want a slice of this?

Now, jump over to the barbecue grill. You’ll find the barbecue man ready to serve up a steak cooked to your desired temp as well as juicy tiger shrimp and thick lamb riblets.

Piles of meat! Just what a buffet was made for.

 

The shrimp are definitely worthy of precious stomach space.

Now head back over to the kimchi pancake station. Yes! Gone is the boring omelet bar (well, sort of — you can get eggs your way here), swapped out for freshly cooked Korean-style kimchee and seafood pancakes served with sambal aioli. I got two, just to be sure it was that good. It was.

I asked the pancake dude to keep it in the pan a little longer to crisp up the sides.

At this point, an intermezzo of fresh fruit will help you digest a bit. Pick from mountain apple, starfruit and more. The selection of exotic fruit is more impressive than the Chiquita girl’s basket.

Fresh mountain apples from Waianae! At a brunch buffet!

I hope you saved some room for dessert. Remember those churros and malasadas I mentioned? They’re made fresh in small batches, so they’re always hot and ready.

 

Other desserts and pastries include cream puffs, chocolate-dipped fruit, chocolate and nut bark, muffins and parfaits galore. As for items like the kouign amann, tater tot hash and bacon benedicts, you’d do best to pass on these as they’re not as unique (or well executed) as the live stations found around the restaurant. You know, there’s a strategy to buffet eating and it all begins with pinpointing the differentiators – find those and you’ve found buffet gold.

Unlimited soft drinks, coffee, tea, juices and Bloody Marys are included in the $65 price. A glass of fresh fruit mimosa or Louis Roederer Champagne adds $10 and $20 respectively.

As you can see, this is a Sunday brunch buffet on steroids. You can make a day of it by hanging out poolside or in the Four Seasons lobby, or at one of Ko Olina’s lagoons. Got kids? They can partake in the $27 keiki buffet option, or else join the staffed keiki area beside the main dining room where kids of all ages can socialize and play while their parents find a moment to eat.

Here’s more from what I couldn’t cover in writing.

 

Brunch for the Seasons
La Hiki Kitchen at Four Seasons Oahu
92-1001 Olani St
Ko Olina

Sundays only, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
http://www.fourseasons.com/oahu/dining/restaurants/la_hiki/