Waikiki Starlight Lu‘au

No amount of potted plants can hide the fact that this lu‘au is on top of a parking garage. The Hilton Hawaiian Village used to have their lu‘au down by the pool, but anyone from the beach could stroll up and watch. Now, six stories up, the ambiance consists of towers all around and a wall painted like the Ko‘olau mountains. Also it’s exposed to the wind, so the guests and the food can get cold. Despite the lukewarm entrées, we were impressed by the buffet’s best attributes, the non-traditional items: dim sum, sushi rice and paella.

Every guest gets two free drinks, but there’s no bar to walk up to. You must order from your server, meaning you can’t ask the bartender to spice up your drink (and they need it). If you want a third drink, soft drinks are $5, beers are $8 and mai tais are an outrageous $12. The Polynesian revue is pretty good, but the tables are arranged so that half the seats face away from the stage. We noticed a lot of people squirming in the chairs and uncomfortably twisting their necks to see the show. The finale is the best part. They have four talented fire knife dancers performing at once. It’s impressive, but it doesn’t make up for all the shortcomings. $99, or $125 for premire seating. Sunday through Thursday.

Waikiki Starlight Lu‘au (941–5828)

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