The Cuisine of Lanai
Lanai is one of smallest islands of Hawaii. But even though it is less developed than the other islands, it has much to offer to visiting tourists. Lanai does possess a certain charm that makes it the island of choice of many city dwellers and adventure travelers. Bill Gates, for one, chose Lanai to be the venue of his wedding in 1994. Perhaps the world-famous billionaire found the privacy and serenity he wanted for celebrating a special day in his life. The same is true for people from around the world who come to visit Lanai all-year round to spend vacation, take part in festivals, and hold their weddings. It's not called the "The Secluded Island" for no reason at all.
Here in Lanai, you won't find any traffic light or endless stretch of paved road. Instead, you'll be surrounded by lush greenery and sandy beaches, which serve as a good backdrop for oceanfront dining that's popular in the island. Aside from the friendliness of the people, the spectacular view of the ocean and mountain peaks, dining here in Lanai is something to look forward to. With its wide array of dishes and mix of culinary influences, it is in Lanai where you'll get a true taste of Pacific Rim flavors.
You'd probably think that because of the rich soils of Hawaii, it was fairly easy for them to infuse new flavors to their dishes using the local ingredients. But the gustatory delights Hawaii is known for were not made overnight. There was even a time when locals mostly enjoyed packed food that came from the US. Popular treats back then were frozen pizza and its world-famous pineapple. But as time went by and as tourists soon flock to the islands of Hawaii, local dining only became more exciting. Different ingredients were grown to add new and fresh flavors to their homegrown recipes. The plantation days also brought in different culinary recipes from the Philippines, Korea, Japan, and even Portugal.
It is here in Hawaii where you'll find a good mix of traditional oriental cooking and dishes from the Western world. From these, they infused their own styles of cooking and tried to diversify by adding new flavors that are native to the island. These specialties are commonly served in the famous luaus and Hawaiian festivals. There are also local diners and beachfront restaurants that offer a wide array of Hawaiian dishes in their menu. Today, Hawaii is not just known for its sweet pineapples but also for its Pacific Rim flavors that were cultivated over the years.
Dishes in Lanai
Here in Lanai, poi remains to be a staple food, commonly served in luaus and even as ordinary home meal. It is a sticky purple paste made from the taro plant. Poi actually plays a big role in their culture. It is said that with poi on the table, people around it should not engage in any fight or argument. This is because poi is a symbol used to represent the ancestor of chiefs and the native Hawaiians.
The people of Lanai also carry the tradition of roasting pig during special occasions. The inhabitants of this island also takes advantage of the rich marine life. Many of their cuisines are actually prepared using seafood. Locals take pride in their seafood specialties. These dishes are sprinkled with just the right herbs, spices, and other ingredients to add flavor to fresh catches.
The native Hawaiian dishes are just part of the island's cuisine. Like everything else in Lanai, many cuisines have been influenced by diverse cultures. In this island, you can actually sample various types of dishes, from native Hawaiian, European, and Japanese to the fusion of all these.
If you're in for a week-long vacation in Lanai, you'll have all the time you need to dine in all its restaurants. There are just a little over 10 restaurants here. While some of the dining estalibshments are downright luxurious, some are just right even for a tight budget. In any of these restaurants, you'll surely receive the gift of the "aloha" spirit from its service crew.
Fist-class restaurants in Lanai
The two major resorts in the island can offer you a fine dining experience. Lodge at Koele's Formal Dining Room and Manele Bay Hotel's Ihilani Restaurant are both listed in Gourmet Magazine as among the best restaurants in Hawaii. Lodge at Koele's Fomarl Dining Room serves mostly American cuisines, while the Ihilani Restaurant of Manele Bay Hotel offers French cuisine. Here in Ihilani, you have the poached lobster, foie gras, and Porcini mushroom soup as among your menu choices. Both Ihilani and The Lodge at Koele require formal wear.
Henry Clay's Rotisserie in Hotel Lanai is also one of the best restaurants in the island that serve American cuisine. Among the culinary specialties of this establishment are seafood dishes and rotisserie meats. Henry Clay's Rotisserie is also acclaimed for its pecan pie. Compared to the above-mentioned restaurants, Henry Clay's Rotisserie has a more laid-back ambiance.
The Terrace Restaurant of Lodge at Koele offers American cuisine as well. The menu includes burger, salads, and sandwiches. while dining in this place, you can watch the beautiful garden and pine forests through its glass walls.
The Challenge at Manele Clubhouse is best known for its fish tacos, ahi sashimi, and Chinese barbecued chicken salad. This restaurant provides a nice view of the Pacific Ocean. If you want to try a combination of various cuisines, you should visit Hulopoe Court, which is found in the Four Seasons Resort at Manele Bay. This restaurant has received accolades for its Pacific Rim seafood dishes. Aside from serving sumptuous cuisines, it also offers excellent oceanview from every table.
Restaurants with laid-back atmosphere
Pele's Other Garden is another recommended dining place in Lanai. It offers gourmet deli, from sandwiches and pizzas to many more delectable snacks. Pele's Other Garden can provide you with a picnic basket if you want to tour around the place. The best thing about this dining place is that it transforms into an Italian Bistro by night.
If you want a poolside dining experience, Ocean Grille is an ideal choice for you. Here, you can dine during or after you dip in the water. This tropical bar provides drinks and smoothies, salads, burgers, and sandwiches, among other island specials. This establishment is popular for its basket of taro chips.
You can also enjoy a more laid-back ambiance in Blue Ginger Cafe. Its menu includes spam, egg, burgers, sandwiches, and Portuguese sausages. You can also opt to have your juicy burgers from Tanigawa's. Here, you'll surely enjoy meat dishes. If you want to sample a blend of Lanai's ethnic and local cuisines you can go to Cafe 565, which serves pizza, salads, and sandwiches. If you are fond of ice creams, you should not miss the Sweetest Days Ice Cream, where you can buy scoops of your favorite ice cream flavor and other desserts.
If you want to experience the famous luau or the traditional party of the Hawaiians, you can make arrangements with the Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay.
Most of the restaurants in Lanai do not have delivery services, so you really have to go to the restaurants to have your meal. It would be worth it because the dishes are not the only things to look forward to, you'll also enjoy the view, the ambiance, and service from the friendly staff who are always ready with their smiles. Many of the establishments are located in beach front, where you will surely have a view of the clear waters, powdery sands, and tropical trees.
Remember to make reservations in fine dining restaurants to get a good seat and ensure accommodation. In restaurants for middle-class budget, there is no need for you to dress up formally. You can just wear anything comfortable.
During festivals, there are also cooking contests where you will see how people prepare different cuisines. Aside from this, there are lots of booths that sell food and beverages. If you attend the Pineapple Festival, for instance, you can sample the different dishes from these booths. During Lanai's Aloha Festival, you will also find food stations that serve Hawaiian favorites. What's great about this experience is that you will get the chance to mingle with the locals and tourists alike. This is a good opportunity for you to hear their stories and travel experiences.
Your dining experience in Lanai won't be complete if you miss the island's local cuisine. You have to include in your itinerary restaurants that serve local favorites. Budget don't have to be much of a problem. There are lots of restaurants in this island that offer excellent Lanaian cuisines without burning a hole in your pocket.
Other than good-tasting food, there are a lot of things to make your dining experience in Lanai memorable. The magnificent view of the beach and the lush greenery in the island would also whet your appetite. Another essential part of the Lanaian dining experience is the warm welcome and the hospitality of the people.