A Royal Lu’au

Yesterday, I had the privilege of a sneak preview of the renovations at the famed Pink Palace of the Pacific - the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki Beach. For those of you who don’t know the Royal, it is one of the oldest and most prolific hotels in Hawaii. Built in 1927, in the Spanish & Art-deco styles, it is currently undergoing a much-needed facelift, coordinated by the esteemed West Coast design firm, Philpotts & Associates. The grand re-opening is scheduled for January 20, 2009 and appears to be on-track. Design changes include room renovations and reconfigurations of the check-in area, entry pathways/drives, and the main ballroom, The Monarch Room. A more updated color scheme and new lighting, paint, rugs and furniture are all prominent changes. Fortuntely, they has the good sense to keep the art deco stenciling on the ceiling in the main hall and most of the historic detail.

The Royal is the site of a fundraiser I am co-chairing at the end of January, helping to open the hotel, and closely following Hawaii’s Grand Inagural Ball in honor of President-Elect Obama on opening night. I was invited to the hotel for a preview of the site and tasting of the delectable meal our guests will savor that evening. The theme of our event involves musical entertainment in the Hapa Haole style by award-winning Paul Shimomoto (think 40′s crooner – Hawaiian music & hula) and ali’i (royalty) luau-themed food and decor. Of course, at $150 a plate, we didn’t want a traditional luau buffet, featuring kalua pork, white rice and mac salad, so requested something more upscale and plated.
Here is the menu Chef Alfred Cabacungan created for the guests of our Ali’i Style Luau:

First Course: Salad of Local Greens and Lomi-Lomi Salmon with Guava and Taro Rolls

FOOD NOTE: Lomi Salmon is named after the Hawaiian word for massage: “Lomi-lomi,” meaning “loving hands. It is the Hawaiian version of Pico de Gallo — diced tomatoes & onions and/or green onions, tossed with salt and sugar cured salmon, also diced. The salt and sugar are massaged into the fish, in the curing process. It is served cold and is a traditional accompaniment to luau food.

Entree: Macadmaia-crusted Mahi-Mahi topped with Hamakua Mushroom Sauce, teamed with Chicken and Pork Lau-Lau with Pineapple Lomi Salsa, Fresh Spring Vegetables & Roasted, Sliced Sweet Potato.

FOOD NOTE: Lau-lau is another traditional Hawaiian luau food. Lau-lau is usually made by combining butterfish with chicken and/or pork, and wrapping in taro leaves, sort of like a Mexican tamale. It can be steamed or wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in a undergound oven, called an emu.

Dessert: Royal Hawaiian Signature Chocolate Ganache Cake with Creme Anglaise, Vanilla-Bean Ice Cream on a Butter Cookie and Macadamia Brittle, Gold Leaf and Berry Garnish.

We asked for a few minor changes, but overall, were very happy with what the Royal Hawaiian prepared for us — Luau food elegantly presented and fit for a king!

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