Sadly my stay in Maui came to an end, but I could have not asked for a better way to finish my trip. I can actually say that I went out with a bang!
The fabulous Julie Yoneyama and Matthew Erickson from the Old Lahaina Luau came to my Persian Cooking demo where we finally met in person after having interacted for a while on Twitter. They were ever so gracious to extend an invitation my way to attend the Old Lahaina Luau where Julie would not only be the MC but also dance. Who am I to turn down such an awesome opportunity, especially when someone you know is going to be performing??!!
During the time that The Sous Chef was in Maui with me we contemplated attending a Luau, but ultimately it was one of those things that we didn’t end up doing for a couple of reasons. We had gotten feedback from friends who had attended Luaus during their trips to Hawaii and mentioned that they were heavily commercialized and that the food was nothing to write home about. But we also had a personal experience where we did something similar to a Luau on a trip last year which cost a pretty penny and we both were very disappointed in the turn out, basically it was a huge waste of money and our time.
After accepting Julie and Matt’s invitation I went on the Old Lahaina Luau’s website to browse around and see what awaited me. I read the About Us page with much interest as it described how the founders of the Luau came up with the concept and how it has evolved in the past couple of decades into the show that it is today. As soon as I read the following words I knew in my heart that this show was going to be good:
“[T]he partners felt there was a need for more culturally sensitive entertainment than was then available though the hotel Luau. There was no Luau on Maui strictly showcasing traditional Hawaiian music, dance and food.”
Because really, I don’t want to see blond haired blue eyed dancers shake their bon bons and eat some type of buffet style Americanized food. Nop, that’s not what I want at a Luau! I want Hawaiian people, food, and music through and through.
I took Elena with me to the Luau, who by the way was kinda nonchalant about it until we set foot in the premises. Each guest, upon check-in, is escorted to the Hale A’i, eating house. On the way to their designated table guests are treated to a beautiful fresh flower Lei and a Mai Tai, Hawaii’s signature drink. It is safe to say that there is no bad seat in the house. All of the tables are set up in a semi-circle around the stage with the view of the ocean in the background. You are encouraged to walk around the ocean front premises to check out local crafts on display and Hula lesson by one of the dancers.
I would suggest to stay close to where the Imu, the underground oven, is located. The Kalua pig is placed in the Imu as early as 6am. Then it is covered with banana and tea leaves as seen in the above picture. The whole thing is completely covered with soil. In the twelve hours that the pig stays in the Imu it cooks to perfection! The Pig is unearthed in front of the crowed circling the Imu to ooohhhs and ahhhhss!
The Kalua pig is then taken away to be readied for the Luau buffet. It was such an awesome sight for me to see!
In the mean time the staff readies the buffet area. There are several of these buffets stations therefore there is barely a line to get your food. It all works out so perfectly and smoothly!
Each guest’s welcome packet includes a menu for the Luau. It all sounded so delish and I could not wait to have a taste of each dish listed on the menu!
I was pleasantly surprised at how good the food was. I find that it is rate to find great food at any buffet, but I had some really delicious food! Here is a picture of my first plate! My most favorites were Kalua pork, Taro Salad, Sweet Potato, and Ahi Poke. Truth be told, I did go back for seconds for those four alone!!! The Kalua pork was simply cooked to perfection, the Taro Salad was incredibly delicious, and I don’t have words to describe the sweet purple potatoes, divine, simply divine!
Our waiter, I believe his name was Vincent, was simply awesome! He always made sure that we were comfortable and our glasses were never empty! He definitely brought his own layer of entertainment to our experience!!
The dinner portion of the Luau ended with a tray of sweets. From left to right: Maui Macademia Nut Tarts, Chocolate Mac Nut Brownies, Lilikoi Mousse Chocolate Cups, and Coconut Haupia. What I found super interesting about the Coconut Haupia is the fact it is very similar to Yakh dar Behesht. Haupia is basically made with coconut milk and corn starch. Although the taste is different, the texture and method of preparation is practically the same as our very own Ice in Paradise.
Once dinner and dessert were done and over with the real fun began!
The dancer were absolutely phenomenal! Their energy along with the sound of the drums by the nearby band warmed up the whole place. The Hula dancers all looked like they were having so much fun! All I have to say is that the whole dance company was a well oiled machine.
The dancing portion of the Luau takes the spectators through the history of Hawaii. Through each dance a piece of Hawaiian history is shared, beginning with the migration of the Polynesians to the islands, the early forms of Hula, the arrival and changes that the missionaries brought to the islands, to modern day Hula.
Throughout the various dances Julie expertly narrated the historical significance of each dance while at times also treating us to a solo dance!
I found the expressive movements of each dance to be so beautiful. I can’t tell you how much fun I had. I absolutely loved every portion of the evening. Each Hula dance was uniquely beautiful and the costumes were very pretty.
Here is another video…for you ladies! Gentlemen, the girls are hot; but ladies the boys, oh the boys are hotter!
Not the best video quality as I took it from my small point and shoot camera, but you get the point, dontcha?!!
The whole night I wished that The Sous Chef would have been there to experience this amazing show. The next day the first thing that The Sous Chef asked me was whether it was a waste of money like our above mentioned experience. I could totally hear the disappointment in his voice when I said the Old Lahaina Luau was worth every single penny!
Next time you are in Maui, please do yourself a favor and splurge on an amazing evening at the Old Lahaina Luau as it is simply spectacular! Let your hosts take you on an amazing journey through Hawaiian food and culture as their hospitality is top notch! Someone whispered in my ear that this Luau was the best one in the state. I can see why!
I can’t thank Julie and Matt enough for their generosity and hospitality. Aloha and Mahalo to both!
The Old Lahaina Lu’au
1251 Front Street
Lahaina, Maui, Hawai’i 96761
Worldwide (808) 667-1998