Okole Maluna Dining Review
Authentic Hawaiian food in Colorado???? Shut the front door! Never for a moment would I have expected to discover such tasty island cuisine in such a landlocked state. But that’s exactly what happened when visiting my pals last week. I guess it’s been too long since my last visit to the Rocky Mountains?
My dear old friend Eric knows what a picky food snob I can be, and I’m not quite sure he’s ever forgiven me for that first sushi bar experience back in college. When he heard I was coming to town he immediately booked reservations at Okole Maluna, in Windsor, Colorado – knowing it would be a slam dunk.
This was a first for me – sampling Hawaiian cuisine. So I immediately dove into the menu and went hunting for the most authentically Hawaiian-sounding, foreign-to-me dish on the menu and ordered it without hesitation. I’m never interested in the safe and familiar, and I figure if I am going to try something new, I may as well go all out and jump in with both feet.
We started the meal with two appetizers for our large party; Ahi Poke – fine cuts of raw ahi tuna mixed with fresh Hawaiian ogo seaweed, special spices and a dash of chili pepper (for the braver folks at the table), and Edamame – soybeans in the pod, boiled and sprinkled with Hawaiian sea salt (for the not so brave). Neither of this dishes is unfamiliar, as I tend to inhale copious amounts of raw tuna and soybeans on a regular basis. I do want to say that the way they seasoned and dressed the ahi tuna was a fresh taste and I simply loved their use of Hawaiian sea salt on the edamame.
My entree was the Smoked Hawaiian Lau Lau – a traditional island dish of tender cut pork rubbed with Hawaiian sea salt and wrapped in taro leaves; served with a side of lomi-lomi salmon, sesame seasoned brown rice and Haupia coconut cream pudding.
Oh.My.God. That’s really all the words I can find to describe this dish. The smoked essence of the pork. The filling earthiness of the taro leaves. The I-Don’t-Even-Know-What-They-Did-To-That-Salmon-But-Wow. The tiniest taste of coconut pudding. All perfect, filling, flavorful, divine, and joyfully unfamiliar.
Eric also opted for a traditional dish. He’s a regular here, so I suspect this is his go-to meal. He grabbed the Ali’i Plate – a generous portion of Kalua pig served with a side of lomi-lomi salmon and Haupia coconut cream pudding. Similar to mine, but missing the taro leaves. There were other dishes ordered at our table, but I was too busy having a taste bud party over my plate to pay much attention to what everyone else was eating.
My biggest regret about Okole Maluna is that is nearly 2000 miles from my home. I already want to go back and try everything else on the menu. Even the Spam dishes. Where’s long-distance take out when you need it?