Birthday Luau with the 309th


Keoni – an Air Force F-16 Avionics Specialist with the 309th AMU “Wild Ducks” – holds up a Hawaiian Luau plate. That’s a funny, rather odd-lookin’ montage. lol

Our family threw a “small” luau this past weekend for my nephew Keoni in celebration of his recently-belated birthday. Joining in the celebration were 40 of his closest Air Force friends (he’s Mr. Congeniality) from the 309th aircraft maintenance unit (AMU) he’s with. Based at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, they were stationed here at Hickam AFB recently for several (short) weeks in support of the 309th fighter squadron (of F-16s), performing combat training in the pacific. Keoni is an F-16 Avionics Specialist, now in his fifth year in the Air Force, as well as an Iraq war veteran.

Here for such a short time on duty (and play) in the islands, this was a great opportunity for us to share some good ‘ole home-cooked island style food for these fine young men and women serving our country.

Being in the Air Force, those who attended mentioned having experienced cuisines from places all over the globe, including pacific-based locales such as Korea and Japan. Yet Hawaii, and the related indigenous and fusion cuisine we offered were mostly unfamiliar to most, as they attested after all was said and done.

Getting right to it, let’s look at the spread, starting with the appetizers, including my sister’s ever-popular fried wontons…


309th Luau – Keanu’s Wontons, served with a sesame, garlic and ginger soy dipping sauce

Yes, Wontons. While obviously not part of a traditional Luau, these Chinese Dim Sum are popular all around the islands as an appetizer, and are often served at pot lucks and parties, as is the case here today.

Adding to this more eclectic, modern take of a luau theme (as is often the case nowadays) was a platter of Sashimi, which is raw, thinly sliced Ahi (tuna), served with soy sauce and wasabi…


309th Luau – Sashimi

Reason I’m only showing a portion of the tray, is because the other two-thirds of it had been quickly wiped out before I could get there with my camera. Big mahalo to Kazu san and ohana for bringing this super-fresh and super-awesome Sashimi spread!

There was also a huge tray of Au Poke, but I missed a photo of it.

Of course, there also was the usual store-bought snack stuff like tortilla chips and salsa, as well as clam dip and potato chips.

Getting back to the buffet line, we have the starch portion of the main meal, with none other than Poi…


309th Luau – Poi

“Sampler” portions were offered in the containers on the right side. This, in anticipation of those who wanted to try Poi, without wasting an entire container (poho!) in case they disliked it. Hey, nowadays Poi is GOLD… no can waste!

A hand-in-hand starch accompaniment along with poi at every luau are sweet potatoes…

Throwing in some personal favorites, here’s my sister’s (Keoni’s mom’s) Fried Noodles…


309th Luau – Fried Noodles with SPAM

While we call it a “salad”, in essence this is really a starch, which we’re talkin’ macaroni salad…


309th Luau – Macaroni Salad

Hopefully nobody was expecting this to taste like Mac ‘n Cheese!

Now for the entrees, every Luau has to have Chicken Long Rice…


309th Luau – Chicken Long Rice

And Kalua Pig..


309th Luau – Kalua PIg

and Squid (or Chicken) Luau


309th Luau – Squid Luau

The squid luau came out very good. Personally I’d have preferred more coconut milk, but that’s just me.

and Lomi Salmon


309th Luau – Lomi-lomi Salmon

If it looks like there’s something amiss in that pan, you’re right, which – no, wouldn’t be the salted salmon, as there’s CHOKE! – it’s the green onions – which were offered on the side as a courtesy to those who don’t like onions. And there are many nowadays, come to find out, who don’t like onions. But this is NO “Lomi Tomato” my friends; get CHOKE (plenty) salmon.

There was also a huge tray of rice.

For dessert, there was my sister’s Pineapple upside bunt cake…


Keanu’s Pineapple Upside-Down Bunt Cake

There was also cut pineapple, and a variety of pies…


309th Luau – Fresh-cut Pineapple

And there was a tray of Haupia, which I also missed a photo of, as it was covered with foil.

Here’s how it all looks plated-up…


309th Luau Plate

Shown above clockwise from the top is: Au Poke, Sweet Potato, PIneapple, Poi (in container), Wonton (with sesame/garlic/ginger/soy dipping sauce below), Lomi-lomi Salmon, Kalua Pig, Fried Noodles and Squid Luau.

Here’s another plate…


309th Luau Plate

Shown in the plate above that wasn’t shown in the first plate is the Haupia (the white block in the top-left corner) and chicken long rice in the bottom right corner compartment. Speaking of compartments, this is a MUST when you serve Hawaiian food, as many of the dishes are very “saucy”, and you don’t want that running into the other item.

As you might imagine, the sum of all these complex parts was very ONO (delicious)!

As expected the more “strange” sounding items – mostly the seafoods – like the au poke, squid luau and lomi salmon weren’t as popular with this mainland crowd as the other dishes, yet still, some of the more adventure in the bunch dove right into it and mentioned how much they enjoyed it. Others who tried them were still unsure. That’s OK, we’ll be more than happy to finish those leftovers!

All-in-all, it was an enjoyable afternoon spent celebrating Keoni’s birthday, along with all his friends of the 309th AMU.

Related Links:
56th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Maintains Flight
309th Fighter Squadron


Comments

Birthday Luau with the 309th — 11 Comments

  1. That’s so sweet that you put the green onions on the side. I’ve never liked them, and always pick them out (which is easy with lomi lomi salmon, I guess, since they stand out so well).

    Ah, I’m really hungry now, after reading this post, haha.

    Happy birthday to your nephew~!

  2. What a nice featured story!!!!!!!! Making me really ono for local food-sitting at my desk here in NYC-i must also thank you for your continued great writeups-i just can’t wait everyday for new topics and enjoy every bit of your columns!!!!!!!!!!! I crack up so much wen ya pidgin comes up-being da Kahili boy I was.

  3. Hey, I am a island guy and body surf too and thank lovely wahines on the maineland. Oh yeah food is super good looking (not eat) now got to watch my weight for the holidays.

  4. What a wonderful way to share aloha (and grinds, of course) with the young men and women who serve our country. I would have loved to have seen the faces of the uninitiated when they first took a taste of poi!

    I never realized until I moved to the mainland what a hybrid of cultures Hawaii is. Sure, I knew that as a fact, but it didn’t really hit home until I moved away and realized that I could only find Chinese food OR Japanese food OR Portuguese food, etc., but not a combination of all the above. It’s one of the things that makes the island special. Of course, now we have a bunch of plate lunch places here, so that takes away some of the culture shock. :)

  5. Maybe lovely wahines from mainland saw me not Kelike. Ono foods at luau. Now to get ready menu for holidays see all love pineapple upside down cake very much.

  6. Oh, I would give my right arm for a plate of that luau food!

    …Make that my left arm, because I’m right handed.

    Only thing missing is some baked ulu…

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