Hana Polynesian Grill Proves Marriott Cancun Resort Never has a Bad Idea
Like the pool, amenities, and beach, the culinary offerings at Marriott Cancun Resort are among the best in the city. (Marriott Cancun Resort/)
If first impressions are truly everything, then Marriott Cancun Resort wants guests to expect big things at all times. Upon entering the recently renovated lobby, travelers are challenged not to gasp at the size and majesty of the new design and palatial vibes. A person could scream at the top of their lungs and people on the other end might not even hear it over the music of the modern pop videos playing on multiple large screens and the general resort hustle and bustle in the coffee shop and at the GreatRoom bar.
However, that’s not to say we encourage screaming in hotels. Some of us are trying to have the vacation of a lifetime.
And even when the overall vision for this sprawling lobby is incomplete, this resort manages to expand our expectations, boost the hype, and cultivate the idea that a name we already expect the best from can somehow be so much better. Enter this lobby today and among the aforementioned treats and amenities you’ll be greeted by a massive wall advertisement for the best that’s yet to come—Hana Polynesian Grill.
The resort’s renovated lobby is vast and magnificent, like an instant, unspoken promise of big things to come. (Marriott Cancun Resort/)
When it comes to its culinary scene, Cancun doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Like many Caribbean destinations, there are myriad influences on display, even as the authentic Mexican cuisine takes center stage. Most resorts embrace the region’s cultural blend, but none quite like Marriott Cancun Resort, where guests have their choice of a variety of popular dishes, including pizza, pasta, sushi, Thai, steak, and a quesadilla so mouth-watering it’ll make you want to never leave the SacBé Beach Shack.
With an expected opening in December, Hana will eventually offer yet another unique dining option that is highlighted by not only an exceptional menu, but also a very creative culinary team. I had the pleasure of sampling the menu with an in-depth wine pairing on my recent visit to Marriott Cancun Resort, and it was evident from the first course how much pride Executive Chef Israel Cetina and his squad put into their craft.
Exploring the Menu
Szechuan ribs and pineapple upside down might not seem like appropriate dishes for a Cancun resort, but guests will be thankful for this aberration. (Islands/)
Every resort should showcase variety in its on-site dining options, but Marriott Cancun Resort excels in developing options not just across the property, but in each restaurant. Anyone who prefers surf to turf, or vice versa, will be pleased with Hana’s distinct recipe selections; however, my experience was, more accurately, surf to turf.
The evening’s five-course masterpiece began with an ahi tuna salad, which featured the yellowtail marinated in soy sauce and lilikoi, a powerful flavor concoction I would have never imagined enjoying in Cancun. I was also fortunate enough to enjoy the same salad with watermelon substituted for the tuna, and I never imagined that kind of creativity with my favorite fruit.
Next came the crab cake with gohan rice, but I was almost too excited for the third course, the smoked grilled octopus with blackened fried rice. Between this surprisingly tender dish and SacBé’s chicharron-crusted version, I’m not sure I’ve ever enjoyed octopus this much in my entire life. Thinking about it again has me looking at flight costs.
The main course was Szechuan ribs with a Polynesian sweet potato puree and vegetables hand-picked from the resort’s garden. I’ve never enjoyed being as messy as I was while devouring this dish, because the sauce was so good, I twice begged Chef Israel to fill a bucket for me to take home. (He politely rejected my request, despite additional bribery offers.) By the time the pineapple upside down cake arrived for dessert, I wasn’t sure If I could take anymore, but three large bites later I’d proven myself wrong.
A Taste of What’s to Come
With tuna or watermelon, this salad’s creative sauces will wow anyone, at home or at a table in the Hana Polynesian Grill. (Islands/)
Writing about resort food is sort of a fool’s errand, because while I certainly enjoyed the heck out of these dishes, other people can’t taste my descriptions. At least not until I have invented a scratch-n-sniff monitor. So, to make it a little easier for people to understand just how complex and delicious the meals at Hana Polynesian Grill will be, I’m happy to share the recipe for the ahi tuna salad, as well as those for the salsa ponzu lilikoi and spicy mustard dressing.
Hopefully this will help hold you over until the newest restaurant at Marriott Cancun Resort finally opens.
The Dish: Salsa Ponzu Lilikoi
- 0.25 L Light soy sauce
- 0.1 L Natural lemon juice
- 0.25 L Passionfruit puree
How to Make It:
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and put the result in a squeeze bottle.
The Dish: Spicy Mustard Dressing
- 0.6 kg Serrano pepper
- 0.2 kg Parsley
- 0.2 kg Mayonnaise
- 0.03 kg Dijon mustard
- 0.003 kg Agar-Agar
How to Make It:
Peel skins off peppers. Chop the parsley and boil rapidly in hot water, squeeze out, and let it rest. Put all ingredients in a blender and mix until obtaining a smooth consistency with no lumps (without using a strainer). Transfer the sauce into a squeeze bottle.
The Dish: Ahi Tuna Salad
- 0.12 kg Yellow tuna
- 0.030 L Salsa ponzu lilikoi
- 0.03 kg Edemame
- 0.015 kg Cucumber ribbons pickled
- 0.005 kg Curly carrot
- 0.05 kg Heirloom Tomato
- 0.005 kg Pickled cambray onion
- 0.060 kg Spicy mustard dressing
- 0.015 kg Cilantro sprouts
- 1 piece Yellow pansy flower
- 0.005 kg Shredded carrot
How to Make It:
Marinate the tuna in the ponzu sauce and then seal the tuna on both sides. Cut the tuna in 1×1 cubes. Serve on a plate in a horizontal line. Add the cucumber ribbons next to the tuna. Add the pickled chambray onion on top of the tuna cubes, one on each side. Add 1 spoon of edemame next to the cucumber ribbons. Add the shredded carrot, cilantro sprout, and tomato. Finally, add 4 drops of the spicy mustard dressing.