With Maalaea Harbor in the midst of major reconstruction, iconic Buzz’s Wharf decided to do their own renovation. The result is a surprising new look.
“We did the interior in a ‘Nantucket’ style rather than Hawaiian kitsch,” says marketing manager Emily Koenig. “It’s looking really great in here and we have gotten a lot of very positive feedback.”
Buzz’s just celebrated 40 years on Maui. The interior now features new ash wood modern laminate flooring and new dark wood chairs. But it’s the lounge that underwent the biggest transformation. The old booths are gone, replaced with a new casual couch dining area. Still, modern updates and the East Coast inspiration aside, the restaurant still reflects considerable Polynesian influences through local art depicting island flora and fauna, Polynesians, boating and marine life.
With the remodel done, owner/manager Marla Marla Braun-Miller has had time to play with the menu.
“We wanted to bring back some of our Tahitian roots,” she says. “I wanted to add more of our Hawaiian and Polynesian influences. The addition of ‘Poisson Cru’ Tahitian poke was perfect, and the steak frites can be ordered with sweet potato or breadfruit fries.”
They were out of the breadfruit fries the day I visited but I will come back and try them. The poisson cru was phenomenal–a refreshing change from the usual poke dish, with a perfect coconut and lime balance and made with the attention to detail that you can expect at Buzz’s. Want more than a starter portion? You can order it as a bowl with rice.
The Sweet Prawns Tahitian is the house specialty, a recipe passed down through the family from the restaurant’s founder, French Tahitian Eileen MacDonald. The sweet Markea Prawns are imported from the Braun-Ortega farm in New Caledonia, where they can control “all phases of production” of this seafood. Its sweet meat is showcased in the new shrimp poke with tobiko and lemongrass aioli.
The shrimp poke’s crunchy tobiko accent and seaweed salad garnish created perfect crunchy blasts of seafood, each with their own distinct flavor offering. The sweetness of the shrimp is urged out by the delicate perfumey citrus lemongrass essence in the aioli. But you will get to shrimp nirvana faster with the Markea prawns sampler, shrimp poke, coconut panko shrimp, prawn cocktail and beer batter prawns all in one dish.
The sliders are another new offering on the menu with choices of pulled pork, fresh fish or tuna melt. The pulled pork is topped with killer fried onions and a mango barbecue sauce; it begs to be washed down with a Maui Brewing Company Bikini Blonde beer. The sliders are served on little French rolls, with the fish slider topped with a little coleslaw and the tuna melt smothered in cheddar.
Buzz’s is also turning over a new leaf with Kanikapila Thursdays, which begin this Thursday. Special happy hour drinks and menu will be offered in the lounge from 3pm to 6:30pm starting March 1 with Tarvin Makia.
On Mar. 8, Best of Maui winning entertainer Kanoa will play, with the rest of the month looking like this: Dane Fujiwara on Mar. 15, Francis Kamakaokalani on Mar. 22 and Kapali finishing out the month on Mar. 29. Kanikapila happy hour prices will be domestic bottled beer for $3, well cocktails at $4 and Margaritas on the rocks for $5. Pupu menu will feature 30 percent off on select items.
These sweet additions make Maalaea look like the new destination for prawns and happy hour come this Thursday.
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About Jen Russo
I write lifestyle and culinary columns for MauiTime. I love being a Maui girl and adore my big family. Dedicated food taster, blogger, internet fanatic, and Maui and Hawaii specialist.