humble market kitchin by roy yamaguchi at the newly transformed wailea beach resort–marriott, maui

Superstar Chef Roy Yamaguchi was a very busy man last year. In addition to already having more than 30 successful restaurants to his credit, Chef Roy opened four additional dining establishments in 2016: three on O‘ahu and, in December, a brand-new concept called Humble Market Kitchin by Roy Yamaguchi at the newly transformed Wailea Beach Resort—Marriott, Maui.

Humble Market Kitchin was named in honor of Chef Roy’s grandfather, who ran the Yamaguchi General Store in Wailuku, and also owned a local restaurant. Chef Roy, son of a Japanese-American father from Hawai‘i and an Okinawan mother, spent his childhood summers on Maui helping his grandfather. “As a kid, when I used to visit my grandparents on Maui, I helped stock the shelves at the store,” he says. “I have a lot of memories of helping out, and just hanging out in the market. So when we decided to take on this project [the new restaurant concept], since my grandfather was a humble man and he had a market, we named the restaurant Humble Market Kitchin.”

As part of the resort’s $100 million renovation, Humble Market Kitchin features an internationally influenced menu inspired by Japanese, Filipino, Chinese, and Hawaiian cultures. “When we started looking for restaurant partners, we were seeking authenticity,” says Thomas Foti, the resort’s general manager. “The local food scene has grown tremendously overall, but is not as highlighted as it could be. Roy Yamaguchi is a master of employing local influences to create amazing cuisine.”

Roy attributes his early appreciation for food to his father, who served home-cooked meals inspired by Hawai‘i’s unique mix of cultures. Roy says there’s no true “Hawaiian cuisine”—it’s an amalgamation of the melting pot that was created during the sugarcane era. When he opened his first Roy’s Restaurant on O‘ahu in 1988, he created quite a stir by using local ingredients to create multicultural dishes. “Back then, pricey restaurants served dishes made with frozen, shipped-in, picked-before-it’s-ripe products,” he recalls. In the early ‘90s Roy, along with 11 other like-minded chefs, formed the Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine movement, a coordinated effort to move away from ingredients shipped over long distances and preparations that copied continental recipes, even when they were not well suited to climate conditions in Hawai‘i.

Humble Market Kitchin (HMK) by Roy Yamaguchi sits at the resort’s highest point, and offers an indoor/outdoor dining experience with stunning ocean views. There’s a variety of seating options, from high-top communal tables, to intimate booths, to low coffee tables with love seats, to traditional table-and-chair configurations. The décor is sleek and modern, and the color palette neutral. The interior walls are brushed concrete made to resemble sand dunes, and it’s impossible to walk by without touching. Besides the primary dining areas, there are three private dining rooms, accommodating between 8 and 20 guests, which can be reserved for business, social, or corporate events, intimate wedding rehearsal dinners, or any other special occasion.

Janet and I are seated outside overlooking the resort’s enticing infinity-edge pool, swaying palm trees silhouetted against the late afternoon sky, and the tranquil Pacific Ocean. We’re presented with a tasty amuse bouche of edamame, seasoned with sesame oil, Japanese 7 spice, and salt, to munch on.

Server Justin’s menu knowledge is impressive. He makes several recommendations, and offers libations to enjoy while we contemplate food selections. HMK’s craft cocktails are $14 apiece, and have clever names like “Aloha Friday,” “Far East Collins,” and “Magnum P.I.” There’s an extensive wines-by-the-glass menu, with prices ranging from $9 to $15.50.

Janet’s in the mood for wine, and chooses the Kaena Wine “Hale” Santa Ynez Valley Rhone Blend ($12.50). This wine, produced by a vintner who is part Hawaiian and was raised on O‘ahu, features complex flavors of dark cherry, pomegranate, and raspberry, with a perfect balance between acidity and tannin. The Upcountry Love craft cocktail has caught my eye: Ocean Vodka, housemade lavender syrup, mint, and lemon, topped with coconut water. It’s easily one of the best cocktails I’ve ever tasted.

We get our meal off to a good start with The Poke at Wailea ($20): glistening, ruby-red ‘ahi cubes are showered with inamona (roasted kukui nut), sesame oil, and Hawaiian sea salt, and served alongside a scoop of seasoned sticky rice topped with succulent avocado slices, and a fresh hearts of palm salad. This satisfying dish is such a generous portion it could be a meal all by itself.

Next we dive into the HMK Steamed Dumplings ($16) and Crispy Brussels & Cauliflower ($13). The dumplings are toothsome little pillows stuffed with savory pork, crab, and shrimp, and bathed in a zingy chili soy sauce. The combination of flavors positively sings in the mouth. Vegetarian guests will swoon for the Brussels and cauliflower (we did, too), which boast a delightful char, along with pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for texture, cilantro lime aioli for tang, and melted queso fresco for a nutty gooeyness.

The Roasted Beets ($14) are a work of art on a plate: vibrant chunks of juicy red and gold beets are served with creamy goat cheese and preserved orange, and dressed with Banyuls vinaigrette and arugula pesto. This dish tastes altogether as wonderful as it looks.

Janet and I test out HMK’s sushi chops by sampling The Phoenix (‘ahi, spicy tuna, shiso, and chili garlic aioli—$21). It’s stunningly spicy with every bite resulting in an explosion of flavors.

For entrees, we’ve chosen the Open Fire Grilled Ribeye ($57), which Justin told us is an astounding 16 ounces, and the Misoyaki Butterfish ($39). As promised, the ribeye is a mammoth hunk of beautifully charred meat, grilled to a perfect medium rare. It sits atop tender roasted white baby new potatoes, and is accompanied by pohole fern, “chili peppa” soy, and warm shallot and herb vinaigrette. Talk about meat and potatoes! The delightfully unctuous misoyaki butterfish is served with a chilled green-tea soba noodle salad, leafy choi sum, and tri-pepper soy.

By this time, we are pretty much stuffed to the gills, but Janet and I end our dining experience at HMK with not one, but two scrumptious desserts. (Actually we’d ordered just one, but Justin insisted upon bringing a second one, and who were we to say no?) The Chocolate Bavarian Mousse ($13) is a decadent combination of dense chocolate, honey marshmallows, peanut crunch, and dulce caramel. The Breton Cake & Sweet Maui Liliko‘i ($12) is a rich butter cake combined with strawberry and liliko‘i preserves and toasted coconut, and topped with ribbons of torched meringue.

As the Wailea Beach Resort—Marriott, Maui’s signature restaurant, HMK also serves breakfast. The Humble Buffet Experience ($33.95 adults; $19 continental; $17 keiki ages 12 and under) offers a wealth of selections from piping-hot breakfast items, to pastries and breads, sliced deli meats and cheeses, house-cured Atlantic salmon gravlax, a farmer’s market harvest of fresh fruits, and a cold bar with Maui’s own Waipoli hydroponic greens. Or guests can choose from a multitude of appealing a la carte items such as a yogurt parfait, eggs Benedict, omelets, and hot cakes.

“It brings me great joy to return to Maui, a beloved island that helped nurture my love of cooking and introduced me to the bounty of the sea and local purveyors,” Roy says. “I am honored to create a place for others to come together to build their own memories over an extraordinary meal and drinks.”

–heidi pool



Humble Market Kitchin by Roy Yamaguchi, reminiscent of his family roots, which started on the plantations of Maui. Captures the sweet and savory flavors he recalls from his childhood.


At the newly transformed Wailea Beach Resort—Marriott, Maui, 3700 Wailea Alanui Dr., Wailea.


Humble Market Kitchin is open for breakfast and dinner daily.


Reservations: 879-4655;;


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