Here Today… Gone to Maui: LUAU!!!

We did the “Feast at Lele” luau. Again, this wasn’t our first choice, but the slightly-higher-rated one was ALSO booked solid for the two days (if you count the day where we could still rush over with me being seasick – what fun THAT would have been) we were going to be on Maui.  It is slightly more-expensive than the higher-rated one, but it is also a different format than the other (who, interestingly-enough, STARTED at the same location and basically “spun-off” the “Feast at Lele” when they moved to their new location – in fact, they still own 50% of the “Feast at Lele” show), with the current show featuring a “tour” of the tropical islands whose people at least came to Hawaii, and might have eventually became part of what evolved as the “native” population (Hawaii appears to have started without people, having pretty much just sprung-up in the middle of the Pacific one eon from volcanic activity – what culture ACTUALLY was – or contributed largely to – what became the “native” population has not been clearly determined – one account suggests that the island had a humanoid population even before the arrival of the Polynesians, the culture widely-believed to be the contributors to what became the “native” population).

(You Can’t Know TOO Much Trivia: the legend of the “menehune,” probably best-explained as Hawaii’s version of leprechauns, are thought to be, along with legends of “dog people” who had long tails, to be indicators that Hawaii HAD a human or humanoid population predating the arrival of other cultures and were driven into extinction by them. There is no anthropological evidence to support either claim. Yet. 🙂 ) 

Pony gets LEI'D against beautiful Maui sunset
Pony gets LEI’d against beautiful Maui sunset

The “Feast at Lele” also has seating for parties of two, mostly along the aisle ways and further back from the main stage, but raised a couple of levels so you get a nice view. So this basically means they crammed as many tables into the place as humanly possible (but it doesn’t impact your view of the show – although it will play havoc with the auto-focus on your iPhone – just because the focus box SAYS it’s looking at the stage does NOT mean it’s NOT actually focused on the back of someone’s head who is ten-feet closer to you)(but your eyes are smarter than that, of course – and like I said, I hired the iPhone to be a smartphone, not my best camera) – but the other luau has only tables of eight (both traditional Hawaiian sitting on floor and standard tables and chairs) and notes that if you don’t HAVE eight in YOUR party, you will be seated with others – traditional, of course, but if you had an intimate date in mind (or an intimate celebration – couples seated at the tables on either side of us were celebrating wedding anniversaries) – this might work a little better for you. This arrangement also works well for people who don’t like banging elbows with less-considerate folks – like me – we have to be MUCH better-acquainted or I have to be a LOT more… ummmmmm… under the influence, before we start banging elbows. (This obviously doesn’t encourage you to meet new people, of course – and that’s probably why and how the traditional Hawaiian seating arrangement evolved – or it might have been a matter of that being the maximum usable length of wood from trees on the island 🙂 )

The “Feast at Lele” also has table service, in that food is brought to your table (although not discussed at all on their Website, the other luau is said by some reviewers to be a “buffet” arrangement). The “Feast at Lele” has THIS down to a SCIENCE – the course of food is brought to your table, whisked away when done, and fresh plates brought to your table in a carefully-orchestrated, highly-efficient process that also took into consideration some people eat slower than other – and still others lick their fingers after putting food in their mouth, because they are cavemen at heart 🙂 (Just kidding – Pony taught me how to use fork, spoon and the knife they have at the table – instead of me drawing a bayonet to cut things – and I will have to admit using a table knife to butter bread is MUCH easier than using a bayonet.)

The downside to this is, of course, that if you LIKE some thing more than others, you can’t pick what you might prefer. I prefer cow and pig – the selections lean toward things you are more-likely to find in an island culture – which would be chicken and fish (and neither Pony or myself are really big on fish). We’re not allergic to it – just not WILD about it (and if you HAVE an allergy and let them know in advance, they are ALL over it – the couple at the table marveled over the fact that they were NOT served dishes with sesame in it – apparently they were served a second portion of another item in that course).

I will have to say we at least TRIED everything. Swordfish in sauce actually doesn’t taste fishy at all (and being a filet, wasn’t in the “fish shape” that makes me like fish less either)(beef and pork don’t look like cows and chicken when served – usually – and chicken is served without feathers, but fish nearly always is cut longitudinally, so it always “looks” like fish).  Did I mention the “open bar?” There was time for two drinks before the show started and if you keep-up with the wine suggestions for each course (hey – don’t judge me – we weren’t driving), by the time calamari comes around, you are probably well-beyond caring that at that point that “calamari” is Italian for “battered deep-fried squid, because we know Americans will eat anything dipped in battered and fried, but wouldn’t if we called it ‘battered deep-fried squid,’ of course” – and will eat it. I thought it was okay (Pony seemed to be substantially less-excited about it), but then I’ve had squid – and octopus – before and knew what to expect. Or was that the wine talking? 🙂

We thought the duck in the rakiraki salad was dry, but maybe that’s the nature of duck (and who knew they were something the native people of New Zealand could get?) 🙂

Pony liked the dessert dishes.  I thought they were good – and probably bumped my blood glucose higher than it should have been 🙂 (Obviously I wasn’t TOO concerned – and a luau might not be the place to go if you have serious blood sugar control issues – or a drinking problem, as the open bar is quite generous)(and if you don’t have a designated driver and/or get stupid drunk to the point where you are having difficulty walking, please take a cab for the evening – and if you’re stupid drunk after walking there, then take a cab back FROM there as well).

It’s all a “taste sampling,” of course – they work hard at food to be served on an industrial scale and no one wins a food award for mass-production of a nice dinner. So if you were there for dinner, you are paying WAY too much and will get your feelings hurt – even with an open bar, you couldn’t (or shouldn’t) be drinking enough to even it up.

Pony says: "Don't Be THAT Guy!"
Trog and Pony say: “Don’t Be THAT Guy!”

And as Pony says, you’re really there for the SHOW! Interesting, fun, entertaining, even educational (the traditions of each culture are explained before each presentation). The performers and performances were great (and if you go, PLEASE don’t be the idiot who forgets the “default setting” on your smartphone camera IS “flash” – ESPECIALLY during the “fire show” – fortunately, this clown was further behind us and further off to the side, but this kind of thing is dangerous to the performer and immediate audience, if done closer)(not to mention your typical camera flash is useless at distances beyond 10-feet – if you want to try to capture something that might NEED a flash, but is greater a distance than that, you can capture it in your brain better if you look at it – instead of TRYING to look at it on the cell phone or camera screen).

As I mentioned earlier, your smartphone assumes much about photography (although your conventional camera-cameras and higher-end digital SLRs might do better here). Part of the problem is the stage is lit and performers were different outfits, including things that actually give electronic eyes and brains fits, due to reflections (oh that bauble in the middle of those headdresses on the women in some parts of the show gave no END of trouble to exposure control)(lighting the backs of people’s heads while lighting the stage also confuses auto-focus). Your BRAIN, on the other hand, HAS no trouble with this – and did you come to be entertained – or to take pictures?

Understanding this, I took few pictures, most of which are not really worth publishing here – but if you WANT to SEE pictures, go to their Website (which also has the menu and more details about the show – AND you can reserve seats on-line):

Pictures don’t tell the WHOLE story, of course – it’s a PERFORMANCE. I really think you just need to sit back, take a few selfies of you having fun, and just watch and enjoy the show – with YOUR eyeballs.

I can’t tell you how “Feast at Lele” compares with other programs. Their “parent” seems to be the “traditional” Hawaiian luau program – this one seems to be more of a show about the cultures that contributed (or as I said, at least VISITED). With smaller tables available – they seem to try to keep your party together at the same table, even if it IS just a party of two – as I said, this might be the better place for a date or celebration of a wedding or anniversary (the staff brought the dessert on a specially-decorated plate for the couples on both sides of us celebrating wedding anniversaries, something that the waiter likely became aware of while “chatting-up” the guests he was waiting on)(you’ll be reminded – several times – that gratuity is NOT included, except for parties of 10 or more, so be kind).

If you’re the type that did Oktoberfest in Munich well, rubbing elbows and beer with people you don’t know – maybe you’d have more fun at the other one 🙂

In any event – like most of life, this is probably one of the things you do once. This one is just on the list of “more fun things I (we) have done.” 🙂