Thursday, May 9, 2013

Royal Lahaina Luau

Last night, my husband and I went to the Royal Lahaina Luau.  We were comped the luau for doing a timeshare tour earlier in the week.  The guy who booked the luau for us said that we should arrive early so that we could get good seats.  I called the luau earlier that day to find out what time check-in would be.  They said check-in was from 6-6:30pm and that the show started at 7pm.  We arrived at 5:45pm, and there was already a line of people at least 100 feet long waiting to get into the luau.  Apparently we should have arrived earlier.  We finally got up to the front of the line, and we were told our seats were preassigned, so maybe it didn't matter what time we arrived.

buffet of welcome drinks
We were given our choice of Mai Tais, Blue Hawaiians, or non-alcoholic drinks.  The luau was open bar.  Then we were led over to our pre-assigned seats, which couldn't have been worse.  We were as far from the stage as possible.  The tables were supposed to seat 3 people on each side, but they had 4 chairs on each side of our table.  I was on the end, and I only had table half in front of me.  I'd have to eat at an angle.  We were seated on folding chairs, and the ground was gravel.  Not an ideal scenario. 
Mai Tai (left) and Blue Hawaiian (right)

I love watching the sunset over the ocean, and we have a perfect view from our hotel room.  Our seats at the luau, although they were near the beach, did not have a view of sunset.  There were palm trees planted directly behind us, and they completely blocked sunset.  I got up about every 10 minutes to walk over to the beach and take pictures of sunset.  It was pretty.

Waiters came around periodically offering us more drinks.  I had 2 Mai Tais.  They were okay, but they tasted watered down.  I like the ones at Sands better.  My husband started with a Blue Hawaiian.  It was okay, but he switched to Mai Tais.

There was a whole fake presentation of a hog being unearthed for the kalua pork, as if that's what we were going to be eating that evening.  I know 100% that that's not the pork that was on the buffet.  I took pictures of the buffet beforehand.  We were ushered one table at a time over to the buffet.  Since we had bad seats, we were one of the last tables to go over to the buffet.  I still had high hopes for the food.

They had multiple salads, including macaroni salad, and they had a bunch of meats including kalua pork, island chicken, teriyaki steak and island fish.  They also had rice, poi, sweet corn, sweet potatoes (which were purple), dinner rolls, etc.

I was disappointed in the food.  The teriyaki steak was tough, at least too tough to cut with the butter knife I was given.  The island fish was breaded (I was hoping for grilled) and tasted like it had been baked, frozen and re-baked.  The island chicken just tasted like chicken.  It wasn't bad, but it didn't have any "island" flavor.  The kalua pork was almost as good as what my husband and I make in the crockpot at home.  (Kalua pork is super easy to make.  I'll have to address this in a future blog post.)  The pork should be good; it's a luau.  I don't like macaroni salad, so I don't have any thoughts on that.  The dinner rolls were just normal dinner rolls.  I would've expected at least Hawaiian sweet rolls.  The sweet corn was good but could've used some salt and pepper.  Basically, we didn't love the food.

I went' back up to the buffet to check out the desserts.  They had white cake, chocolate cake, guava cake and Haupia (a Hawaiian coconut pudding).  The cakes were okay.  I mean, they were cake.  The guava cake was probably the best just because it was a little unique.  The Haupia tasted like coconut gelatin.  I didn't love it, but I think it tasted the way it was supposed to taste.  (I tried to make it once last year, and mine didn't set correctly.)

One super-annoying thing about our seats was that we didn't have any lighting.  There was a shadow on our part of the table, and the lights that illuminated all the other tables went past our seats.  We really could hardly see our plates.  I know the pictures of the food on our plates is a little dark, and that's with the flash if that gives you any idea about the lighting conditions.

It was 8pm, and we had finished eating, but the show hadn't started yet.  We're not big into hula dancers and such.  We went to the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu on our honeymoon, and we were sick of Hawaii after that.  We decided to skip the show.  If it was as good as the food, we didn't miss anything.

In short, I know that 100s of people attend this luau every night, but that shouldn't excuse the poor quality of the food.  We were lucky enough to pay for this buffet with our time (90 minutes of a timeshare presentation) instead of money, but some people paid $100 each.  They deserve a good meal.  Our seats were horrible.  I'm not sure how they got assigned, but it didn't work out for us.  If you've never been to a luau before, maybe you'll enjoy it; however, I would not recommend this luau.  If you have kids, they do have a kids buffet with hot dogs and chicken nuggets.  That wasn't a concern for us.  My major takeaway was that my husband and I really do make a better luau buffet than you get in Hawaii.

Happy eating!

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