Thick slices of Kamuela tomatoes are topped with fresh and juicy watermelon, then drizzled with sherry-cracked pepper vinaigrette and quesa fresca, that the new chef makes from scratch with whole milk, lemon juice and salt that he curdles overnight.
The tastes just pop. So do the nuances in the roasted beet and pickled poached pear salad with panko-fried goat cheese and macadamia-nut puree.
New Chef Johnny Nguyen is wowing the crowds with his fresh and contemporary dishes, which also include crab cakes with lobster sauce and mango-papaya salsa, and crispy ginger polenta fritters.
Executive Chef Johnny Nguyen is dazzling diners with roasted beet salad with panko-fried goat cheese; and Chinese-style ribs with pineapple salsa.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
5 Palms locations will offer brunch buffets. Choose from the restaurant at Keawakapu Beach in Kihei or the one on Front Street in Lahaina. Early bird prices are for seatings from 8 to 9:30 a.m. and regular seatings run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at both places.
"I took over 5 Palms Lahaina in March," says Johnny Nguyen, excited to be a chef on Maui. "I worked at Masa's for three years and was also executive chef of the 1st Crush Restaurant Group, a leader in the molecular gastronomy movement."
Nguyen graduated from Orange Coast College in the culinary arts and first got his feet wet at Montage, a restaurant owned by Gregory Short, former executive sous chef of the world-famous French Laundry.
For Mother's Day, Nguyen will do a brunch buffet very similar to the sister 5 Palms, located oceanfront at Keawakapu Beach in Kihei.
The early-bird seatings are 8 to 9:30 a.m. for $29.95 and the regular seatings are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for $32.95 per person. (The prices in Kihei are higher, but the seatings times are the same).
"We'll do a full brunch buffet with salad bar, and stations with seafood, omelets, and sushi as well as have two carving stations for prime rib and honey ham," says the chef. "We'll have 10 other hot entrees, as yet to be decided, and a huge dessert buffet, too. It's a steal."
"At 5 Palms Lahaina, we are striving to exceed our guests expectations," says General Manager Jaison Marconyak. "With polished service, and now Chef Johnny at the helm, there are only great things ahead."
5 Palms is open daily for breakfast from 8 a.m. all the way until 2:30 p.m. Happy hour runs from 3 to 7 daily with discounted sushi, appetizers and drinks. Late-night happy hour is from 9 to 11 p.m. with half off all sushi. Or opt for the early-bird, three-course sunset special for $29.95 with seatings at 5 and 5:30 p.m. For reservations, call Lahaina at 661-0937; and Kihei at 879-2607.