In the heart of Lahaina, Maui a few steps from the calm lap of the ocean, throngs of tourists gather by the beach as the sun sets across the Pacific. All eager with anticipation for the Feast at Lele, an inspired cross between a lu’au and a fine dining restaurant that, for once, lavishes as much care on the food as its entertainment. I arrived shortly before the dinner hour, greeted by a Hawaiian folk band that crooned at the revelation of a full moon. Guests formed a long line that snaked across the sand and once at the entrance pretty waitresses placed floral lei’s over each of our heads while “dare I say sexy” male waiters dressed in nothing but floral sarong and oiled chests kindly placed a cocktail avec umbrella in our eager hands.
Guests are seated on a raised terrace offering pleasant views of the beach and beyond. Waiters and waitresses dressed in traditional Hawaiian fashions scurry to and fro to top up cocktails and clear plates throughout service. A wooden platform in the centre of the space acts as a stage throughout the evening where decorative headdresses, grass hula skirts and coconut bras scream and shout under the glow of the night sky.
The feast is organized in four, a culinary agenda which is explained by an enthusiastic host who welcomes everyone with a warm Mahalo. The evenings four courses celebrate the food, dance and folk music of Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti and Samoa. Among my favourite Polynesian specialities: kalua pork from Hawaii, fafa (steamed chicken) and e’iota (marinated raw fish) from Tahiti, and grilled fish in banana leaves from Samoa. Each course consists of at least two or three dishes, while the romantic beachfront setting forces us all to sigh and stare out at the ocean as we sip our Pina Colada’s and fiddle with our new foliage perfumed necklaces. Playful Hawaiian Hula and hilarious Maori Haka performances punctuate the evening, culminating in a Samoan fire dance. Be sure to skip lunch as the Feast at Lele is indeed a meal you’ll have to work hard to tackle.
rum, orange, pineapple
rum, coconut cream, pineapple
Polynesia Traditional Strachs
banana and sweet potato chips, tropical salsa with ogo seaweed
pohole fern, asparagus and heart of palm salad
seared island catch with mango sauce
kalu’a pork with braised cabbage and poi
Aotearoa – New Zealand
country green duck salad with poha berry dressing
harore kumara – roasted mushrooms with sweet potato
kuku patties – fishcake with scallops and shrimp
scallops on the shell
fafa – steamed chicken and taro leaf in coconut milk
shrimp and avocado with passion fruit
palusami – young taro leaf and coconut milk with breadfruit and squash
supasui- grilled steak
caramel macadamia nut tart with haupia
hawaiian vintage chocolate truffles