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The Polynesian Cultural Center serves authentic modern Hawaiian food at its Alii Luau, some based on ancient recipes, including several specialties offered in sampler-sized portions, including:
- Poi , the traditional Hawaiian staple. It is a starch dish made by pounding boiled taro roots and mixing with water until it reaches a smooth consistency. "Taro is one of the most nutritious starches on the planet," says Ambassador of Aloha Cousin Benny. Some Hawaiians eat their poi with salt, some with sugar, even soy sauce. Some like it thicker or thinner. Others like it several days old for a little extra tang; and malahini, or newcomers, might find it more to their liking at first if they eat it with a bite of the other meat dishes.
- For those willing to try anything once, we offer poke, or raw fish marinated in lemon or lime juice with other condiments and a little coconut cream. Normally offered in the Hawaiian-style of raw fish with sea salt, seaweed and onions, we've chosen the more pleasing Tahitan preparation (poisson cru) to introduce you to this island favorite. If you want the more Hawaiian-style version, you need to go a local food store, backyard luau or small Hawaiian restaurant to get a taste.
- Lomilomi salmon. In Hawaiian, lomilomi means to massage, or in this case to break the salmon into small pieces, which are then mixed with tomatoes, onions, and other small condiments, giving it a delicious tangy taste that goes great with poi. This style of fish preparation was actually introduced to Hawaiians by early western sailors.
- Pipi kaula , literally "beef rope" or seasoned beef jerky, harks back to the earliest days of western sailors who brought their salt beef aboard ship in barrels. In fact, on some of the South Pacific islands, you can still buy a barrel of salt beef.
Other favorite Hawaiian dishes served at the Alii Luau include:
- Kalua pua'a , or roast pork, as its prepared in the Hawaiian imu or underground steam oven. Kalua pig is traditionally seasoned with sea salt and sometimes green onions. Some people prefer the crispy skin from a whole roasted pig.
- Though ancient Polynesians brought moa, or chickens, with them from the South Pacific a thousand years ago or more, Asian influences have livened up the taste with teriyaki chicken.
- Asian tastes have also contributed another luau favorite — chicken long rice. Sometimes also called thread or bean noodles, they are boiled (often in a chicken base) and served hot with pieces of chicken. Add salt and garnish with green onions. If the texture seems a little strange at first, try it over a little white rice.
- Filets of tasty, flakey white meat island fish that is deep-fried.
- Dark purple Hawaiian sweet potatoes that have been mixed into a cold salad.
- Taro rolls that have a distinctive purple color, derived from the taro flour used in the recipe. They are baked fresh daily at the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Other items on the Alii Luau menu include:
A variety of salads: tossed greens with carrots and cherry tomatoes, spinach salad, sweet potato salad, ambrosia, and cucumber-carrot salad...with ranch, papaya seed, and thousand island dressings.
Cold fruits: ripe pineapple spears, of course; watermelon (in season) and other fruits.
Beverages (all decaffeinated): Coca-Cola™, Diet Coke™, root beer, Sprite™, Fruit Punch, Passion-Orange-Guava, Coffee, Herbal Teas.
Even the dessert table offers delightful Hawaiian treats, including:
Haupia (sweet custard cubes made with rich coconut cream), guava cake, coconut cake and chocolate macadamia nut cake.
Of course, in true Hawaiian luau fashion, you can go back for more as many times as you can stagger through the line. Enjoy!
If you're putting on your own luau, other foods you might consider include barbecued shrimp, crab claws on ice, barbecued steak (pulehu). On the sweet side, consider pineapple or mango sherbet, and pineapple upside-down cake.