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Hawaii Prince Hotel Thanksgiving-To-Go

Hawaii Prince Hotel’s Prince Court Thanksgiving-To-Go packaged feast 2009

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving yesterday.

For the meal, this year we decided to try out the Thankgiving-To-Go packaged feast from the Hawaii Prince Hotel’s Prince Court Restaurant.

For $120 pre-ordered, their TTG package included a fully-cooked, warm (not hot) Macadamia Nut Honey Glazed Turkey…

Cornbread, Sausage and Chestnut Stuffing (shown here uncooked)…

Garlic Mash Potatoes…

Giblet Gravy…

Maple-glazed Yams…

Fresh-baked Rolls…

and Pumpkin Pie…

It comes packed with an instruction sheet on how to properly heat everything up for service…

Click on image above to read legible instructions

Like all the turkey-to-go meals from the hotels we’ve had before, Hawaii Prince had drive-through pick-up service, which ours was scheduled for 1pm on Thanksgiving Day…

The van parked in front stored all the ttg boxes, while the blue tent across the driveway was where you drove up, presented your purchase ticket and received the two boxes of goods. That part was very quick and efficient.

What we were disappointed by though, was that once we unpacked the boxes, we discovered the side dishes needed to be heated-up. We had the impression from the ad that the entire meal was going to be hot and ready to serve — not just the turkey. Which is why we didn’t mind the comparably higher price. That higher price also had  us expecting preparations for each dish that had a more gourmet flair, which it did indeed sound like on paper.

After having to transfer all the side dishes out of the non-oven-safe plastic containers they’re packed in into metal pans and pots, it pretty much negates the “ready-to-serve” selling point of what a “Thanksgiving to Go” meal really should be. In this case, you end up washing almost an equal amount of pots and pans as you would had you made everything from scratch, not to mention the added time it takes to conventionally heat everything up.

Oh brother, we’ve been through this before with past “TTG” packages.

I say this now, and I’ll say it again, if you’re a restaurant offering a TTG package that needs to be heated up, PUT EVERYTHING IN OVEN-SAFE DISPOSABLE BAKING TINS, NOT PLASTIC FOAM CONTAINERS! If that costs a little more, it’s worth it, even if you have to pass that expense on to the customer.  At $120, we should have AT LEAST gotten oven-safe and stovetop-safe baking tins with this TTG package.

And don’t say, “You could or should have just threw it in the microwave.” Heck no! That’s as good as relegating this meal as LEFTOVERS.

So anyway, after going through that whole song and dance once again in the kitchen, we had everything completely cooked, hot and ready for a late Thanksgiving Day lunch…

After an appointment with Dr. Electric Knife, here’s the entire Macadamia Nut Honey-Glazed Turkey all carved and ready to plate…

As you can probably tell yourself, the two intact dark meat drumsticks flank the sides, followed inward by the two breasts cut into serving-size slices, followed in the center with miscellaneous pieces of white to dark meat from the remaining areas of this what we estimate to be approximately 12-pound bird.

Here’s their Cornbread, Sausage and Chestnut stuffing (technically ‘dressing’), now fully cooked…

The heated Garlic Mash Potatoes…

Yeah, we’re all about “presentation” on this occasion, aren’t we? Just look at the beautiful cookware and dishware we’re using to serve the food. lol

Maple-glazed Yams…

Cranberry Sauce..

Finally, their Pumpkin Pie…

Now hold on. Since this TTG meal suggested it would serve 4-6 people, and we had about 12, with most of the additional folks being teenagers and young children, I roasted an additional turkey to supplement the spread.

In which case I had a young 14.6 pound turkey which I brined with a solution of 1/2 cup Hawaiian Salt, 1/4 cup golden sugar, 4 bay leaves and a handful of peppercorns in enough water to cover the turkey in a slightly-used disposable styrofoam cooler lined with a new trash bag for sanitation…

Since my refrigerator didn’t have enough room, I brined it for 24 hours in the plastic bag-lined covered cooler, keeping ice cubes in a Ziploc® bag floating on the brine water surface to maintain a sub-40ºF temperature.

Here my brined young turkey all pau roasting and resting before carving…

For seasoning, I simply rubbed the skin all over with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and sprinkled with fresh cracked black black pepper. No salt, as there’s enough penetrated in the meat from the brine.

Along with the additional turkey, since this is our favorite side dish, we cooked a pan of  ‘Stovetop’ Stuffing, enhanced with celery, onions, Italian Sausage, Ham and Bacon…

Here’s one of the breasts cut into serving-size slices…

This should give you an idea how MOIST the meat was from this brined bird…

I barely needed a knife to carve this bird. Only thing, the breast wasn’t as moist as it was in comparison to the brined bird I roasted last year. Which I think was because this was a smaller turkey, and perhaps this time I cooked it a little longer than I should have in the convection oven.

Here’s my brined young turkey all carved and ready for service…

Regardless, I must humbly admit everyone yesterday at our gathering yesterday declared my brined and simply-seasoned young turkey superior in flavor and moistness to Hawaii Prince Hotel’s Macadamia Nut Honey-Glazed bird.

Speaking of which, you’re probably wondering how the Macadamia Nuts worked as far as complimenting the Prince Court’s Turkey skin or meat,where I’d have to say, nothing much at all. It looked good slightly caramelized on top, yet all it did was fall off as you carved it, which I placed back on the slices for service. There wasn’t this revelation of a new marriage in culinary heaven of a “Macadamia Nut-flavored Turkey”, which sounds AWESOME on paper, yet stops at that.

Let’s check out a couple of assembled turkey plates from this pretty much back-to-basics spread…

I didn’t get a shot of my turkey gravy, but I also must humbly admit everyone declared mines FAR, FAR , FAR superior to Hawaii Prince Hotel’s “Giblet” Gravy? Giblet Gravy? Are they kidding me?

I have to say myself, their gravy was one of the “LAMEST” turkey gravy I’ve had in YEARS. Swanson’s turkey TV Dinner gravy is better than this.

The gravy used in the plate on top is from the Hawaii Prince Hotel. The gravy used in the plate below is the one I made. Notice my gravy has a slightly darker color, while you can also visually see speckles of giblet, neck meat and pan fond in it.

The best way I can describe Hawaii Prince  Hotel’s “Giblet” turkey gravy is that it tasted like Gerber baby food “gravy”. Seriously. It just didn’t have any character, and hardly, if at all tasted like they used drippings from the roasted turkeys to make it. It also tasted starchy, like they added flour last minute to thicken it.

Here’s how I made my gravy. First  I took the giblets, which include the liver, heart and gizzard, plus the turkey neck, along with chopped onions, celery and carrots (the trinity) in water and chicken broth and made a stock. Simmered for 2 hours, then strained it. Then added the cooked turkey parts (except the neckbones) back into the strained stock and ran an immersion blender to break it up into particle-sized pieces. Then set that aside in the refrigerator.

After the brined young turkey was done, I removed it from the roasting pan and set that aside to rest.  Since there was mostly just fat drippings in the roasting pan, I augmented that with a pat of butter and sprinkled enough AP Flour to make a roux in the roasting pan on the stovet0p. Cooked out the roux until medium brown, then added the turkey stock I made earlier to the pan, adding it warm so that it combined easier with the roux. Adding it slowly, I kept whisking briskly to incorporate. Checked for seasoning, which surprisingly didn’t need any additional salt. Like I always do, to make more gravy, I used packaged dehydrated Turkey gravy to the scratch made gravy. So I initially had about 1 quart of scratch made turkey gravy, then added another 7.5 cups to the yield through additonal packages of turkey gravy and water mix. Finished with another pat of butter for that finishing flavor and glossy sheen. Works like a charm.

Getting back to the Hawaii Prince Hotel’s TTG, their stuffing was also a little strange, with this odd acidic twang to it, which we couldn’t pinpoint what that was. It wasn’t bad, but just different. Being we’re more familiar with it, we preferred our doctored Stovetop dressing much more.

The Garlic Mash Potatoes were pretty good, and it was nice to see chunks of red potatoes with the peel on it, giving it a rustic look an texture. You could certainly taste the garlic.

I also liked their Cranberry Sauce, finding it had a good balance of sweet and acidic, and complimenting the turkey quite well. Although not as good as our own scratch-made Li Hing Cranberry Sauce…

This Li Hing Cranberry Sauce is made in a food processor with cranberries, oranges with peel, Fuji apple, cane sugar and Li Hing Powder. As you can probably figure out, the Li Hing powder really enhances the natural flavors of the acidic fruits in this sauce. When you eat it along with the savory turkey, it’s like POW! s So ono!

Again, back to HPH, their buns were also just OK, yet weren’t as soft and supple as the ones we also had from, of all places, Costco.

Their Pumpkin Pie was pretty good. For that I’ll give them 2 SPAM Musubi.

Speaking of Costco, we also had a giant Apple Pie from there…

And this most EXCELLENT Pumpkin-Custard Pie from a bakery in Kaimuki…

Pumpkin-Custard you say? Hai, as the pumpkin layer is underneath…

Oh man, this Pumpkin-Custard Pie (from a bakery in Kaimuki) is a winnah! Solid 4 SPAM Musubi.

While I don’t usually grade my own cooking, if I must say so myself, I’m giving my turkey and gravy this year a very solid 3 SPAM Musubi. 4 or 5 for the gravy alone, which was reflected by those commenting while eating it.

As for the Hawaii Prince Hotel’s (Prince Court) Thanksgiving-To-Go, overall I’m going with 1 SPAM Musubi. The gravy and stuffing need a major overhaul, while for the price and based on their ad’s punchline, all the side dishes should have been hot and ready to serve at best, or at  least packed in containers that can be conveniently popped in the oven or on the stovetop as shipped.

On The Tasty Island, 1 SPAM Musubi isn’t bad — it’s average — yet far less than I expect from the Hawaii Prince Hotel and their highly-regarded Prince Court Restaurant.

What? Hawaii Prince Hotel Prince Court Thankgiving-to-Go
Where did you buy it and how much did it cost? By phone from the hotel, $120 pre-order.
Big Shaka to: Organized and efficient ordering and drive-through pick-up system. Turkey was warm, fully-cooked and ready to eat.
No shaka to:  Sides were shipped unexpectedly cold, and to top that, packed in containers that weren’t oven-safe for heating.  Turkey on the small side (12 lbs.). Macadamia Nut honey-glazed finish sounded better on paper than it did on the palate. Disappointing gravy and stuffing.
The Tasty Island rating: 1 SPAM Musubi

Related links:
Orders now taken for turkey dinners – The Honolulu Advertiser
Waikiki Eats: Prince Court Sunday Brunch Buffet – The Tasty Island
Turkey Talk – The Tasty Island
After Turkey There’s Jook – The Tasty Island


14 thoughts on “Hawaii Prince Hotel Thanksgiving-To-Go

  • November 27, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Pomai, you can’t beat home cooked Thanksgiving meal and the one you made with that custard pumpkin pie look so much better. Was at one time in Taiwan for business on Thanksgiving and had it in a hotel restaurant it was not bad but missed real home one. I thought you were going to make guri guri ice cream?

  • November 27, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Pomai, boy stuffed from yesterday. Mom got to have chow mein in menu due to lot of family members. Haupia sweet potato pie turn out well and now got to get ice cream maker for guri guri ice cream.

    I see God of Cookery on dramafreak or was it dramacrazy. It better than borrowing from library no waiting too.

  • November 27, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Pomai, didn’t have Turkey or any of the fixins yesterday just had grilled swordfish as a quick yet nice dinner. Your brined turkey, gravy, and stuffing description coupled with pics is the “bomb” and has my mouth watering. We’re in the holiday season right? So there’s no reason why one cannot go about and prepare a dinner like the one you have graciously shared with us.
    Brined turkey it shall be and definitely a “kicked up” stove top stuffing with a good gravy as per your description to boot. Mahalo plenty Pomai!

  • November 28, 2009 at 4:14 am

    Disappointing to hear about the Hawaii Prince junk TTG. I thought they had more class than that. Was thinking about them for this year, but so glad I didn’t get from them.

  • November 28, 2009 at 7:40 am

    Nate, the gravy on your turkey plate from Wheeler AFB Bowling Alley looked better than HPH’s “baby food”. Did you end up getting another TTG? I think the best TTG we’ve had yet was quite a number of years ago from the Pacific Beach Hotel. Very memorable.

    Paki,I’ll bet lots of folks in Hawaii don’t celebrate Thanksgiving with the traditional meal, but eat whatever it is that’s most popular with their family, or that’s affordable. Or they add on to the traditional stuff like Kelike’s mom’s chow mein. Personally, I’ve always had the traditional meal on Thanksgiving and wouldn’t want it any other way. When the leftovers are all pau, it’s back to ramen! lol

    Kelike, I forgot all about getting a Ted’s Pumpkin Haupia Pie for TG day. Darned it! That’s good stuff! Hopefully the markets still have them in stock. Ah, so God of Cookery is heavy on drama, eh? Well, that is how it gets in the kitchen, especially on TG day! lol

    Michael, I’m still looking for an ice cream maker locally. I haven’t checked Sears or Target yet. Otherwise I’ll probably order that Cuisinart model from Amazon. Guri Guri would have hit the spot along with the pies. But that’s OK, we had Blue Bunny’s awesome ‘Homemade Vanilla’ ice cream to go along with it. I’d say that’s arguably THE BEST vanilla ice cream in the consumer market.

  • November 28, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    Pomai, you should cook up turkey and sides next year and sell your own TTG meals!

  • November 28, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    Pomai, great job with the post on the Hawaii Prince turkey dinner. Your turkey was the bomb and gravy! Christmas everything will be HOMEMADE!!!! Even the desert…. I think that peanut butter chocolate cream cheese pie will be added!! Good times celebrating with family overrides the food!
    I gotta make that guri guri ….

  • November 29, 2009 at 12:45 am

    For my first attempt at roasting a bird this year, I used your brine recipe from last year’s “Turkey Talk” in combination with Safeway’s 2-Hour Turkey recipe and it came out great. Based on my turkey weight of 14 poundages, my turkey only took an unbelievable 1-1/2 hours. I’ll show you pics later.

    Thanks Poki, you da man!

  • November 30, 2009 at 2:55 am

    Pomai – My SIL won a turkey from his workplace so my daughter said she wanted to cook it. So a small dinner of turkey, dressing, mash potatoes and gravy. Plus a salad, cranberry sauce and yams. Good enough. No other family. Nice and simple.

    On Wednesday when we were let off by Obama at Noon, I thought I check out Sunny Side in Wahiawa. I knew it would be though – and is was. Wanting a choclate cream pie I went to check, and it was a madhouse. Met someone who told me that they tried to order three weeks before and was told they were sold out with orders and not taking anymore. So no pie.

  • October 21, 2010 at 12:49 am

    Your turkey, stuffing & gravy look & sound “fantastic”, I wonder if I can order from you, appreciate a reply, thanks!

  • October 28, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Hmm..That’s funny, maybe you got one of the very rare “bad” batches from Hawaii Prince because my friends and I have been ordering from them for about 5 years now and we are satisfied every time. Defnitely worth it all! Just Delicious! My family LOVES their stuffing! And service is extremely quick and very friendly! That’s too bad you weren’t satisfied, but thanks for the detailed description of your meal, photos and all, maybe you should just prepare your own Thanksgiving dinners from now on.

  • November 25, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    I ordered the Thanksgiving dinner to go for 2010 from the Prince Hotel. It was very disappointing, and some of the items they served bordered on HORRIBLE. I had purchased the dinner a few years ago, and things were very good at that time, but things have changed for the worse. The potatoes tasted like they were artificial from a box, and then they threw a few red skin remnants in the bowl to make it appear they were the red potatoes they advertised ,and that are portrayed in the picture on their web-site. The stuffing was dry and awful. The worse stuffing my wife and I had ever tasted. They advertised it as stuffing with sausage and chesnuts, but neither item could be found. My wife found something that could best be described as pork fat. ABSOLUTELY GROSS. They advertised there would be 32 ounces of yams and we were given four measley pieces of yams. The things they claimed were cranberries did not taste like cranberries . and they were equally bad. The nerve of these people to charge $125 for these terrible dishes. They portray this as a quality meal but they never delivered. The turkey and pumpkin pie were good,but I will never order from the Prince again. In effect I paid $125 for a small turkey and a pumpkin pie.

  • November 26, 2010 at 7:37 am

    Scott, sorry to hear about the junk, junk, junk “TTG” deal you got from Hawaii Prince. Sounds like a real bummer! Jeez, that’s really, really, REALLY BAD! I would ask for my money back if I were you.

    We’ve had some good and some not-so-good TTG meals in the past from various hotels selling the stuff in Waikiki. Keep in mind, most of these establishments pre-cook the stuff, then freeze it, which essentially makes it LEFTOVERS that you as the consumer end-up reheating. REHEATING, hence, more work on your part! Hah?

    This year we bought our “TTG” meal from Foodland of all places, where EVERYTHING in it was processed ‘n packaged stuff. Yet you know what? Not bad! Pretty darned good actually, as far as flavor and portions (quantity). Especially for under $40 for everything out the door. Unlike the Prince, which ran twice the price for essentially the same thing.

  • November 12, 2011 at 12:45 am

    I say this now, and I’ll say it again, if you’re a restaurant offering a . This Li Hing Cranberry Sauce is made in a food processor with as soft and supple as the ones we also had from, of all places, Costco. .


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