Overview: Hawaii is a melting pot of cuisines; tastes of home brought to the islands by immigrants from China, Portugal, Germany, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Vietnam and Japan. Mix all of those sunny tastes and you get Hawaii’s multicultural fare.
ʻAMAʻAMA – Contemporary Island Cooking
Inspired by a beachside house, ‘AMAʻAMA – Contemporary Island Cooking is a stylish open-air restaurant just steps from the ocean. ʻAMAʻAMA is a fish abundant in these waters, a local favorite. This restaurant, open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, is right on the ocean, an attraction in itself.
For breakfast, guests can opt for simple eggs and potatoes, or Belgian waffles. However ʻAMAʻAMA also serves delicious Pacific Rim dishes such as seared island fish or the Japanese breakfast – with Misoyaki Island Catch, tamago, miso soup, steamed rice, and pickled vegetables. The traditional “Loco Moco” breakfast is a sunny-side-up fried egg, white rice and hamburger patty topped with onion gravy. Another guest favorite is a simple Açai Bowl served with berries, banana, granola and local island honey. However the signature breakfast dish is chocolate milk-dipped haupia (pronounced how-pee-YAH) bread French toast stuffed with bananas and peanut butter (haupia is a traditional coconut-milk based sweet pudding.) And Mauka Maile’s 100% Kona press pot coffee is the favorite morning beverage.
Lunch features American favorites with a twist: an Angus chuck burger with crispy pork belly, pepper jack cheese and marinated kale; Kālua-roasted pulled pork sandwich in steamed rice buns; and sustainable catch fish tacos with slaw and salsa.
At dinner, ʻAMAʻAMA serves up the best in modern interpretations of Hawaiian cooking. The signature starter is the ʻAMAʻAMA seafood platter, with ceviche, crab legs, jumbo shrimps and oysters. Other appetizers include big eye tuna poke, macaroni au gratin with lobster and Maui onion soup. Main dish entrées range from seafood Thai curry to grilled prime New York striploin. Fresh fish options include the daily sustainable catch and Hawaiian snapper “lau lau,” served with sautéed spinach, Maui onion and tomato-ogo vinaigrette.
Sweet endings include a Mocha Chantilly Cake, with Coffee Kanten, Coffee Anglaise, Macadamia Nut Nougatine and Chocolate Gelato, as well as a Lemon Grass Crème Catalana, with with Coconut Glace, Black Sesame Nougatine and Fresh Coconut Shavings.
The entryway of ʻAMAʻAMA is framed with a design inspired by the ancient fish traps still used by local fishermen, opening into the spacious dining room with a thatched roof, walls of mosaic, rough stone, or painted in cool shades of blue remindful of the waves of the ocean. A concrete fountain and reflecting pool are the restaurant’s fishing-themed focal point.
Makahiki – The Bounty of the Islands
With a buffet that’s open daily for breakfast and dinner, the spirit of the Makahiki – The Bounty of the Islands is celebrated in the fresh and flavorful cuisine.
Starting with breakfast, the spread includes everything from a simple Continental offering to a Western breakfast with eggs, bacon, sausage, oatmeal, potatoes, pancakes, waffles, French toast – even grilled mahi mahi and grilled Kālua pork hash. The Chinese/Japanese buffet has soy milk, soba noodles, grilled and seared island fish, tamago, greens, miso soup, steamed rice, fried rice and pickled vegetables.
For youngsters, the “Keiki Corner” features fruit, yogurt, granola, Mickey-shaped waffles, chocolate-chip pancakes, eggs, bacon, tater tots and breakfast pastries.
Favorite Disney characters celebrate with diners at “Aunty’s Breakfast Celebration at the Makahiki” everyday.
The casual dinner buffet features line-caught sustainable seafood, fresh salads with local greens, rotating carving stations, Asian-inspired entrees and house-made desserts. A melting pot of cultures, the expansive buffet features starters from a lomilomi salmon to cheeses, lobster bisque and cioppino. On ice, shrimp, marinated squid, scallops, mussels, lobster and tiger prawns showcase the abundance of seafood. Entrees might include sustainable catch, seafood paella, grille poke, roast duck with plum sauce and chicken wrapped in seaweed. For Asian flavors, there’s sushi and sashimi, Chinese pork buns, fried noodles, dim sum and wok-fried seasonal vegetables. The grill heats up with chicken wings, pork chops, Asian-spiced lamb chops, sausages and assorted satay, while live-action stations feature pastas with vegetables, meatballs, clam stew, Portuguese sausage, and carved meats or fish.
“Keiki Corner” for youngsters may include macaroni pasta, baked chicken tenders, potato tots and streamed vegetables.
And there are plenty of sweets, such as chocolate brownies, no-sugar-added mango cheesecake, guava mouse cakes, pineapple cobbler, molten chocolate cake and banana coconut bread pudding.
The interior of Makahiki, showcases beautiful works by local artists, from paintings to glass art. In the entry, artists Butch Helemano and James Rumford collaborated to convey the story of the Makahiki season of peace, play and renewal (the Makahiki season is the traditional Hawaiian celebration of the harvest). Rumford sketched the designs and wrote texts for Helemano’s wood carvings that illustrate the sights and events of the Makahiki season. Also in the restaurant, artists Al Lagunero and Solomon Enos collaborated on a mural that depicts feasting and gaming. As day turns to night, the restaurant lighting gradually turns from rose to indigo with the setting of the sun.
Off the Hook
Next door to ‘AMAʻAMA near the ocean is Off the Hook, inspired by a fisherman’s seaside shack, decorated with makau, or fish hooks, cowry-shell lures, shark-tooth knives and specially carved fish-shaped stones.
Open daily from 11 a.m. for tropical drinks and small bites, Off the Hook favorites include the beef paniolo burger, with pepperjack cheese, crispy onion tanglers and chipotle BBQ sauce, and the kalbi tacos, with sliced short ribs or chicken and kim chee aioli.
A colorful school of fish swims above the bar, which serves creative cocktails including a Wild Hibiscus Royale Sparkling wine cocktail, Island Red Sangria, a Pineapple Papaya Cosmo and Big Island Iced Tea. Non-alcoholic drinks range from a passion colada to a pineapple ginger splash. There’s beer on draft – Big Wave Golden Ale, Fire Rock Pale Ale, Longboard Island Lager, or the seasonal Aloha Series. And every day there’s an ‘ike mua, or “discovery drink of the day.”
Lava Shack, across from the Rainbow Reef snorkel lagoon, stocks pool snacks and beverages. Pāpālua Shave Ice is on the pool deck and serves up fruity and refreshing shave ice. Ulu Cafe is a poolside venue serving breakfast, lunch and dinner features an outdoor patio with a beautiful ocean view. Little ‘Opihi’s is a beachside, quick-service eatery offering convenient grab-and-go selections of salads, wraps and fresh fruit.. Mama’s Snack Stop serves up poolside snacks like hot dogs, chicken tenders, and more.
Overview: Whether you are looking to cool off indoors with a mai tai or enjoy a glass of wine at sunset, Aulani has several options to soak in the sights, sounds and flavors of Hawai‘i.
The ‘Ōlelo Room
Appropriately named, ‘Ōlelo (pronounced oh-leh-low) is the Hawaiian word for “word, language or to converse,” making it the ideal place to enjoy becoming more conversant in Hawaiian. In The ‘Ōlelo Room lounge, most everything is labeled with Hawaiian terms. And if guests need a little help, the bartenders all speak Hawaiian. The pub-like spot offers cocktails and small plates.
Cool starters include pristine sashimi, ahi poke and a cheese platter with Lehua honey and seasonal fruit. Hot plates include beef sliders, crispy calamari and Kālua pork nachos. For a sweet ending, the miniature dessert sampler features chocolate mousse with a toasted brownie, coconut panna cotta with braised pineapple and macadamia nut cheesecake with guava pate de fruit.
Delightful cocktails such as the wild hibiscus sparkling Champagne, eco-tini, tropical mai tai and Big Island iced tea are among more than a dozen specialty drinks. If you prefer non-alcoholic, go for the pineapple ginger splash, passion colada, sparkling island spice cooler and/or liliko’i splash. Beer fans can choose from four local drafts: Big Wave Golden Ale, Fire Rock Pale Ale, Longboard Island Lager or the seasonal Aloha Series, as well as a selection of bottled beers.
Located in the main building on the lower level, the lounge has a design inspired by the “streamline moderne” style of the 1940s, emphasizing curving forms and long horizontal lines. When guests look down, they’ll see papahele, the Hawaiian word for floor, spelled out in beautiful tile work. Dozens of shadow boxes above the bar display wooden carvings of everyday objects labeled with their Hawaiian language terms: for instance, mokulele is airplane, wa’a is canoe, he’e is octopus, pu’uwai is heart.
More words you’ll find at ‘Ōlelo:
- maiʻa – banana
- paikikala – bicycle
- moku – boat
- pahupaʻikiʻi – camera
- waiūpaʻa – cheese
- moa – chicken
- ao – clouds
- niu – coconut
- ‘īlio – dog
- pinao – dragonfly
- pahu – drums
- iʻa – fish
- pua – flower
- kalipa aniani – glass slipper
- pāpale – hat
- moʻo – lizard
- mahina – moon
- mauna – mountain
- ‘iole – mouse
- waha – mouth
- kai – ocean
- ‘alani – orange
- puaʻa – pig
- hala– pineapple
- ānuenue – rainbow
- pūpū – shell
- palule – shirt
- papa heʻe nalu – surfboard
- ‘ʻauʻau – swimming
- kelepona – telephone
- palaki niho – toothbrush
- kalaha – truck
- lua pele – volcano
And some word pronunciations you might need to know at Aulani:
- ‘ʻAMAʻAMA restaurant (ah-mah-ah-mah)
- Aulani (ow-lah-nee)
- Laniwai Spa (lah-nee-vai)
- Makaʻala lobby (mah-kah ah-lah)
- Makahiki restaurant (mah-kah-hee-kee)
- Menehune Adventure Trail (meh-neh-hoo-neh)
- Waikolohe Valley (wy-ko-loh-heh)
Sip, dine, relax and enjoy a soothing escape at Wailana Pool Bar, located in the adult-exclusivevpool area. At Off The Hook, Guests can grab a quick bite while enjoying a full bar an enchanting ocean views in this laid-back, pool-adjacent lounge.