Happy Maui Bellies: Luau

09 Mar

Before we went to Maui, mum mentioned one of the things she really wanted to do was go to a Luau.  It wasn’t something that was top of my list (waterfalls, snorkeling and beaches were more my speed) but I was game so we picked the Old Lahaina Luau – partially due to reviews on TripAdvisor, and partially due to location – and the fact that our hotel’s shuttle ran very close to the location (so we wouldn’t have to drive back in the dark… perhaps after a Mai Tai or two…).  We also discussed the ‘style’ of Luau we wanted to go to (plated dinner or buffet/ dinner during show, dinner before show / etc) and this one seemed to suit what we were looking for too.


The evening started off with a beaded lei, a Mai Tai, being introduced to our server, and then the digging out of the roasted (steamed?) pig.  I went to go see it, but didn’t see much because of the crowd.  Luckily, it didn’t look much like a pig at all, or I would have been grossed out…

Full plate!

From 12pm around (mostly)

  • The dark green stuff in the little black dish is taro salad
  • The dark pink chunky stuff is Ahi (tuna) Poke
  • Beside that is Pohole Salad
  • Beside that, the clear/white stuff is Chicken Long Rice
  • The chopped up red stuff at about 5:30 on the plate is Lomi-Lomi Salmon
  • In the very middle of the plate is Octopus Poke
  • At the very bottom was really good banana bread.
  • Beside that is Island Crab Salad
  • Then I’ve got some fruit – kiwi, papaya, and … breadfruit? Jackfruit?
  • Beside that – the purple stuff is purple sweet potato

Yam buns with flavoured butter

The drinks were plentiful, and I ordered a Lava Flow (rum, strawberry and coconut drink) but “weak like a little girl” – which is how I usually order my alcoholic drinks.. since I’m not much of a drinker… (The result was perfect, though mum commented that her drink was also pretty weak…)

There were a number of solo dances to warm up, and then table-by-table we headed to the well-planned and organized buffet.

Since we had gone to the nearby plate lunch place a few days earlier, I didn’t pick up many of the same things I had tried before, and instead went for a few new flavours…

Purple sweet potato/yam buns with flavoured butter.  I’m pretty sure that the butter was mango-flavoured, but I don’t honestly remember…

Chicken Long Rice

The Chicken Long Rice –  shredded chicken with Maui onions, ginger, and rice bean noodles in broth –  looked disgusting. Before we even went to Maui we looked at photos and wondered what it was, and if we would be brave enough to try some.  I took a little bit, and it might have been my favorite thing of the evening.

The clear things are rice noodles – which totally absorb the chicken flavour.  The result is something that tastes almost like chicken noodle soup – but the noodles taste like chicken too.

I didn’t take a separate photo of the banana bread either… it’s just banana bread – good, but nothing special.  We did get a little take-home mini-loaf though after the evening was over, which made for a great breakfast the next morning!

Taro salad

Another thing from a little cup was the taro and spinach salad.  I took this in a cup mostly so that it wouldn’t touch my other things… looking at it, I wasn’t too interested in tasting it (as you can tell by the amount that I took.

However, since the taro and spinach is folded with coconut sauce, it’s almost sweet –  very unexpected.  I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not though – but mum liked it!

I didn’t take a separate picture of the Lomi-Lomi Salmon – tomatoes, Maui onions, and salted salmon, mostly because this was the same as we had eaten at the plate lunch place (they are owned by the same company by the looks of things, so I have to believe that the recipe is the same…).  This was quite good, though not my favorite thing of the evening – and when I started to get full I left a lot of it behind.

Purple Yam

Another unusual flavor was the purple yam.  I am sure that I’ve seen these here in Safeway – though I’ve never had one here.

It might have been the way that it was prepared, but I found it dry, and lacking the sweetness that I normally associate with orange yams/sweet potatoes.

(Yes, I know that there’s a difference between yams and sweet potatoes, but I can never remember what that difference IS…)

It does make an interesting-looking food though!

Poke close up

Next to show you – the Tuna Poke (to the left) and the Octopus Poke to the right.

I liked the Tuna Poke well enough – it was raw tuna with Maui onions (which were almost like cucumbers..), green onion, sesame seeds, all tossed in what I guess is a sesame oil and chili oil sauce. From what I’ve read there are a variety of ways to make it, but the result was flavourful and well-blended.

The Octopus Poke I liked a lot less.  I like octopus (in sushi) well enough – it’s not my favorite in a Love Boat or combo plate, but I’ll certainly eat it…. in this case I found the octopus really tough and way too chewy – as though it was over cooked or something.  The Maui onion/sesame/onion was fine though, and I ate some of that but left the octopus behind.

Fern salad

Next up was the Pohole Salad – fern shoots, Maui onions, fern leaves, and tomatoes in a vinaigrette.  I was really curious about this, since I’ve never had the chance to try fern and have often been curious about it.  It was very light, refreshing, and interesting – though I did find the fern shoots/stems (the things that kind of look like asparagus) kind of tough.

Other things I didn’t take seperate photos of include the Island Crab Salad – crab (or fake crab?) shrimp, and water chestnuts in dressing. This was ok, but nothing special either.

I also had some fruit – kiwi, papaya, and … breadfruit? Jackfruit? Not sure… but it was good!

There were also a LOT of other foods at the buffet – I pretty much ignored half the buffet to be honest with you.  There was also rice, steak, pork done in different ways, etc… my plate looked much different than those of others at our table – but I had plenty to eat, and there was certainly the opportunity to go back and get more if I had wanted…


The desserts were a ‘surprise’ – I guess they don’t always have all of the same thing.  These, like the buns, were delivered to our table rather than being in the buffet – which is nice, because they came right before the big dance-show, so we didn’t have to leave the table and miss anything – but still had things to nibble on during the show.


The desserts included a Chocolate Macadamia Nut Brownie, (really good, probably my favorite) a Macadamia nut tart (the filling was good, but the shell was dry), and Lilikoi Mousse (delicious, but the shell it was served in was dark chocolate so I didn’t eat that) and a square of coconut pudding.

The dance show that concluded the evening was great – not too long, but long enough so it really felt like a good show.  The dancers were energetic and lively – though since I have no idea about what makes a “good” dance or not, I can’t really comment on their talent.  They sure did a LOT of costume changes though, and I found the ‘missionary-era’ dance costumes interesting.. the costumes went from colourful, creative, and showing lots of skin to being covered up and pretty dull/boring.  Gimme the pre-missionary costumes any day! Haha

At the end of the evening we received little mini-loaf banana bread, and walked back to the nearby mall to catch our shuttle back to the hotel.  The timing was great, because we waited maybe 15 minutes at most before our bus picked us up.

So, that’s my Luau experience.  Ultimately I’m glad we went… and it was interesting to try the different foods – but I don’t think that I’d want to have much of it again!  Gimme sushi instead!  I’d suggest if you really want to get your money’s worth (they were expensive tickets…) and really want to try a wide variety of food – don’t have lunch and have a small breakfast before going; go with a healthy appetite!

Old Lahaina Lu’au
(800) 248-5828
1251 Front St.
Lahaina, HI 96761
Old Lahaina Lu'au on Urbanspoon

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Posted by on March 9, 2012 in Out of town - USA


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