Experience a traditional Hawaiian Luau

Helumoa was the historic playground for Hawaiian royalty - today it's the site of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki.

And twice a week the hotel puts on a feast fit for a king or queen - the Aha'aina Luau.

A traditional luau is cooked in an imu. And as Royal Hawaiian's Executive Chef Colin Hazama explains to us how it's done, it all starts to sound very familiar to his New Zealand guests.

"An imu is basically cooking underground with volcanic rocks which they heat up to a very, very high heat, and slow cook and roast the pig underneath with banana leaves - it gives a nice even temperature of cooking, as well as making the meat very tender and giving it a smokey flavour."

Hazama has come up with a modern twist on the traditional Hawaiian cuisine, and this is clearly no place for vegans.

The roasted pig's head which takes pride of place at the buffet table filled with food leaves diners in no doubt that pork remains the main event.

The pork shoulder is slow cooked and smoked - a process that takes more than three and a half hours.

Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Hawaii.
A hotel built for royalty. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Alongside the pork, there's an array of local cuisine, such as ahi tuna poke, a raw fish salad made with yellow fin tuna fresh from the Honolulu fish markets.

Another highlight is huli-huli chicken. Starting with a soy-based marinade of ginger, vinegar and black peppercorn, the chicken is flipped several times on the grill, allowing the marinade to caramelize to perfection.

Hazama's proud of the fact that 70 percent of the ingredients used in the luau are sourced locally - something he attributes to the good relationships he's built up with suppliers across Hawaii.

And that helps him maintain the strong local ethos behind the idea of a luau. As he puts it, "It's celebrating and having memories and time together as a family - and friends become family - and that's what we like to have here in Hawaii."

Newshub travelled to Honolulu courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines, and was hosted by the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

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