Navio Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay Brunch

Navio Restaurant Brunch Review | JustOneCookbook.comDear readers and fellow foodies,

Welcome to the first restaurant review on Just One Cookbook.  Nami has asked me to contribute to her blog from time to time with reviews on restaurants that we feel strongly about.  As Nami mentioned in the previous post, we went on a stay-cation in Half Moon Bay this past weekend and we chose to dine at mostly local restaurants during our short trip.  When we go on trips, I tend to seek and support local restaurants for several reasons.  The most important reason is to truly taste the local flavor and understand why the spot is popular, and secondly to avoid tourists.  On this particular trip, we had two very satisfying meals at a few local restaurants but today I will talk about our Sunday brunch at Navio Ritz Carlton.  I spent a few days prior to the trip studying the menu before committing to making a reservation for the brunch.

We actually debated on the brunch since it was $88 per person, and if you include tip and CA tax it’s over $100 per person.  For comparison, a full course dinner at Wakuriya (Michelin 1 star Japanese restaurant that we’ve been eying on) is $90.  Navio typically only do two seatings for their Sunday brunch, one at 11 AM and the second at 1:30 pm.  Reservation is required.  We made a reservation for the 11 AM spot.  We got to the restaurant at 10:50 AM and there were at least 70 people waiting in line in front of us.  And before 11 AM there were at already another 20 people behind us.  The seating preference is first come first serve and we were lucky enough to get a window seat.  As we passed the dessert section walking through the restaurant to our seats, it caught my eye how each individual dessert plate is perfectly placed.

desserts at Navio

Navigating my way through the different food stations, I realized that the food layout is extremely well done, brilliant actually.  There was almost no wait at any of the food line except for the raw bar, and even that was only 15 – 20 seconds at most.  The food were presented in multiple sections, and they are: pastries, sushi/sashimi, cheese, raw bar, cold cuts, dim sum, salad, single serving, traditional brunch, and desserts.  Instead of going into details on what is served in each section, I will briefly describe the highlights of the each section.

For my children’s, most of their food came from the American brunch section, eggs, bacon, and mini pancakes waffles.  For the pancakes and waffles, I topped them with fruit compote instead of syrup.  Very delicious!  The presentation of the food was done quite nicely.  Instead of serving all the food in large dish, Navio offered several delicate dish in their own mini serving dish.  The seared scallop not only looked great, each piece was seared to perfection and the taste was very elegant.

Individual plates - Navio brunch

From the sushi/sashimi section, the Mrs. loves salmon so I got some salmon sushi as well as slices of salmon sashimi for her.  For us it’s the true test of quality by tasting the raw food and it passed with flying colors.  We were both surprised by how fresh the salmon was.  Since Nami and I both don’t eat wasabi, the sushi chef was able to make the sushi without wasabi for us on the spot.

sushi at Navio brunch

For me personally, the highlight was the raw bar.  Navio served raw oyster, littleneck clams, and caviar.  All the seafood from raw bar were spectacular and I am getting hungry again while writing up this post and looking at pictures.

raw bar at Navio brunch

Last but not least, the desserts section.  The attention to detail was amazing, from the silver cappuccino bean on top of tiramisu to delicate strawberry and banana chocolate truffles, we were in sugar heaven.  In addition to the individual dessert offering, there were also 4 flavors of artisan ice cream, 8 types of cookies and truffles each.

more desserts at Navio brunch

We managed to taste 75% of the food choices with multiple runs to the raw bar.  As far as the food goes, it’s definitely not your average Sunday brunch quality.  Starting from the sushi which Nami and I absolutely agree are top grade to the gold flakes on lychee shots, we agreed that Navio strived to achieve perfection on each and every dish that was served.  The service was amazing (I think they replaced my silverware 6 times during my meal) and the atmosphere is fantastic.  We had a perfect view of the ocean and the golf course.  Despite it’s very expensive price tag, I believe it was reasonable for the quality of service and food that was provided.  Will I go back there anytime soon, probably not, but it’s definitely somewhere I would want to go at least once a year to celebrate special occasions.  Next time when you visit San Francisco and want that amazing brunch experience, don’t forget Navio on your list.

seared scallop at navio brunch

snow crab legs at navio brunch

CHEESE at navio brunch

Prime Rib at Navio Brunch
Lychee shot Navio brunch

ocean view at Navio

Navio at The Ritz-Carlton on Urbanspoon

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  1. This looks very tempting, in such an idyllic setting as well. Is there a children’s price? Did you see many other families there, and would you consider it “family-friendly”? Thank you for the detailed review!

    • Hi Sheri,

      There were quite a few families there with young children besides us (8-12 that that I saw). I would consider the restaurant “family-friendly” and the waiter/waitress were just as attentive to our children as they were to us. I didn’t mention in my post but the restaurant did not charge for my children who are under 4.


      • Thank you for the additional info. We should definitely put it on our list for a special occasion. Look forward to more restaurant reviews!

  2. Susan

    Very nice. The raw bar itself makes the cost of this brunch well worth it! Many times with brunches the quality of the food is sacrificed due to the quantity of food that needs to be made. But with soo many people already in line before your family and after yours just goes to show that Navio will not sacrifice anything and will only serve the freshest foods! Great post!

    • Hi Susan, I absolutely agree with you on the raw bar. I spent most of my time there and the oysters with mignonette, caviar, and a few drops of lemon were divine.

  3. What a fantastic spread! Very pricey, but worth experiencing at least once. It is good that they have a spread for children, too. We used to have a problem finding food for the children (when they were little) in restaurants with posh menus. We end up ordering other things aside from paying for the buffet which they hardly touch.

    • Hi Adora, Nami and I try pretty hard to introduce “adult” food to our children and always ask them to taste everything at least once. Their favorite food from brunch was actually the salmon sashimi!

    • Hi Belinda, it was really expensive but I would say it’s definitely worth it for that special occasion once a year. I am already trying to convince Nami that we should go back to celebrate our birthdays.

  4. Great review and fantastic photos. You guys made me so hungry! I live quite far away, otherwise I’d go there to celebrate a special occasion. I’ll surely keep in mind if I get to come again in the area! Thank you Shenchen!!! :-)

    • Hi Manu, you guys have amazing food in Australia as well. Nami’s been showing me different food blogs from Australia and we are always drooling looking at the pics.

  5. WOW! What a fabulous spread! I think I need to hop on a plane so I can experience Navio’s brunch. Wonderful addition to your blog, Nami…great review and incredible photos :)

  6. I love that your husband did this guest post Nami! The website is truly a family affair =)

    And you definitely made me jealous with all those delicious brunch goodies!

  7. Wonderful post Shen! I love that you and Nami work as a team on this blog and the content speaks volumes! The buffets sounds like a foodie’s paradise, the photos are beautifully done. I need to make sure to visit Navio one day with my family (maybe skip dinner the night before to make sure we have enough space in our tummies)!

    • Hi Cindy, our kids went swimming right before so they were super hungry by the time we sat down. :) I skipped the heavy food this time (prime rib, leg of lamb, etc) so we can try more varieties. Next time I’ll definitely go for the heavier food.

  8. Looking at the photos I think you had a wonderful brunch! I would have probably camped in front of the raw bar as well! Very nicely written review, if I’m ever in the area I’ll know where to indulge in a lovely brunch! :)

  9. What a wonderful job you did with the review. Very professional and through! Great pictures too. I celebrated a special occasion at Navio a few years ago so I am a huge fan. Such a lovely setting and I found the food to be impeccable too. I may need to try brunch now.

  10. Hi, too bad I live in Asia! Your photos and reviews about Navio are making me feels like I’m just standing outside the restaurant looking in! LOL
    Me too love salmon sashimi w/o wasabi (don’t like the taste of it) and sometimes just on its own! The sushi/sashimi section, raw bar and the dessert section are drawing all my attention in this post! 😀

    • Hi Lyn, as soon as Nami told me she doesn’t eat wasabi as well, I knew she was the one for me :) Neither one of us is allergic to wasabi but we just don’t like the taste.

  11. I get so hungry looking at your beautiful photos! (And I’ve had quite a big dinner 😉 ) Congratulations for the interesting and detailed review! I am looking forward to read your next contributions! Great idea!

    • Hi Sissi, thank you for your comment! We don’t eat out as much anymore because Nami’s an amazing cook/chef/mom. If we come across a memorable meal we’ll definitely share.

    • Hi Kath *wave*, thank you for your comment. I hope your laptop is now okay. You should check if the hard drive is still okay, if it is then the data should be still salvageable.

      • Aww, you’re so kind for taking interest in my private troubles! My data are safe, and after a few days (of recovery from me, I guess ;)), I could turn my laptop on again. But it runs very hot, and I don’t quite trust the peace …

  12. Hi Shen! Nice to meet you. :) This is a very nice review and your pictures are stunning! The spread is outstanding and I can see myself camping out at the sushi and raw bar. It has been a while since I’ve been to San Francisco and I will keep this place in mind when I do visit.

  13. What a lovely spread of food!!! It’s been a really long time I have been to buffets like these, as everyone in my family says it’s not worth the money for me to go for buffets as I am such a small eater…LOL:p
    The price is a little expensive for this buffet, I have to say, but looking at the food, it was probably the very reason for this kind of price as well:)
    Hahahaha…amazing feat that you attempted 75%…WOW, that’s really really amazinggggg…..hehe…I wonder whether I even covered 50% sometimes! (Now you know why I am discouraged from buffets?:)

    • Hi Christy, I think the younger me could probably cover 100% of the buffet but as I get older my appetite has decreased (unfortunately my weight keeps increasing). 😛

  14. Mika

    Hi Shen! I loved reading this page!!!! So you will be having your own page “restaurant review”, right? We are also waiting to read “Shen’s Pick Wine List” : )

  15. Hi Shen,

    Nice to meet you and it looks like behind every wonderful wife, there is a talented man too :) :)

    Looks like a fantastic lunch and the seafood looks so fresh! My fav would be the prime rib counter :)

    • Hi C&MSP, somehow during this food blogging process my wife has become my boss. :) It’s amazing how many things Nami could think of everyday for me to do… LOL

  16. Wonderful! I love going to restaurants and reading this gave me so many wonderful ideas for recipes. Thank you so much! Piquillo pepper with prime rib. I never would have thought of that. Fantastic. And yes, it’s nice to splurege on occasion. Thank you so much for sharing. The pictures are beautiful!

  17. This is wonderful review Shen, I love all the pictures that are bringing true light and delightfulness to the dishes that you have presented!
    Like you said despite the high price, it is worth every once in a while to let go and enjoy good service and delicious food! I would say very well done! I enjoyed reading it it very much, and of course drooling over those fantastic dishes!:)

    • Hi Sandra, I am so glad you agree with us. It’s so nice to splurge once in a while and treat ourselves to great food. Luckily for us there is no shortage of great restaurants in SF.

  18. Wonderful review Shen,..I like neat pictures and the way you have brought across the setup at the restaurant.I hope I ll be able to go in there sometime.I so want that lychee panacotta & crab legs..drooling!! Normally restaurant pictures do not come great coz the lightning is not in our hands but you have done a gorgeous job!

  19. i stay in bay area and have been to half moon bay but never heard of this restaurant. Next time I am going to give a try. Beautiful review .. gorgeous clicks and mouthwatering dishes !

    • Hi Kankana, the restaurant is inside the Ritz Carlton. When you enter the hotel go straight and then make a right. Please let us know your dining experience after you go.

  20. Thanks Jill! Nami’s recipes are great, the only problem is my weight gain 😛 My favorite thing to do after dinner each day is packing leftover for my lunch the next day. LOL

  21. Hi Lin Ann, thank you for your comments. I love your artwork (especially the sandals) and your garden. Nami and I tried planting some flowers in our backyard but deers would come by and eat everything.

  22. Wow…I’ve always wondered about this brunch, but have never gone. It looks like the food was amazing, down to the very smallest details. Beautiful photos and excellent review. Like you say, it’s probably not a monthly kind of place, but great for special occasions. And it looks like you hit some pretty good weather too….not totally fogged in!

    • Hi Karen, definitely do try this brunch on a special occasion. Btw I’ve seen the winery you mentioned numerous times driving on 92 but never stopped by. Based on your recommendation it’ll definitely be one of our stops on the way to HMB. :)

  23. Shen I loved reading your review :) and I love this kind of food and restaurant. The pictures are amazing, wish I lived near this place I think I would love their sushi-sashimi section 😀 I don’t think I’ve come across better restaurant review in a while :) Awesome :)

  24. Hi Alisha, your tuna salad sandwich looks delicious. We happen to have some tuna in the freezer so I’ll try making it this weekend. I am also looking forward to adding “herbs de Provence” to our spice collection. cheers!

  25. Wonderful wonderful review. The photos are just beautiful. Is it weird that I want to look up flights just so I can go to this place for brunch? The seafood looks to die for! The scallop, ahhh yummy. There are no scallops in Israel, such a shame, I miss them. Great post. And, gold flakes on the lychee shots? what?! Amazing. It seems definitely worth the price! I look forward to more reviews!

    • Hi Beth, your photography is amazing and I loved your post on Negev Culinary Tour. The desert and the ruins are beautiful and do you know we actually have a cactus that produces sabra in our backyard?

  26. Excellent review. Our small city doesn’t have anything close to what you experienced at brunch. And most people around here wouldn’t pay that price for brunch or a meal. Things for now we can only dream of. Good idea to introduce the kids to more grown up food. They’ll get to appreciate it longer.

    • Hi Sandra, thank you for your comment! We really appreciate living around SF because of the great variety of food that are offered here. Within a 30 min drive there are amazing food from almost all corners of the world.

  27. Half Moon Bay is such a beautiful place. We have a friend who owns a surf shop down there – and it’s always pleasant visiting all the local stores and restaurants. There’s one little Mexican restaurant we love to go to. I can’t remember it’s name right now though!

    This restaurant, you reviewed though, looks simply divine.

  28. Thank you for the yummy write-up.

    This restaurant reminds me of Singapore. Singapore is the land of Buffets! This should be shared with all visiting Singaporeans coming to visit SFO. They would definitely find this restaurant up to expectations and may even remind them of home. The price is similar to what you would pay for a similar meal in Singapore.

    I will definitely keep this in my bucket list to visit when I ever venture out to Half Moon Bay.

    Thank you again.