Poke and Sake Chef Demonstration at Disney’s Aulani
Disney’s Aulani recently launched a new tasting experience for DVC Members, Poke, and Sake Chef Demonstration. During our trip in March, we had the honor to experience one of the first classes. Do note that this was during Covid restrictions, and this review outlines what you will do. The team informed us of the ever-evolving course as they received feedback from guests.
The demonstration takes place in the beautiful Makihiki restaurant. The setup is beautiful, with the mural as the backdrop of the chef’s presentation table. For our experience, the event was hosted by Chef Greg and Cal, General Manager of Makihiki. They introduced themselves and gave some background on their work history. Cal served in the Marine Corps for 15 years and then 15 years in food & beverage and currently serves as manager of Makihiki and the Olelo Room. Chef Greg grew up in Honolulu, and fishing was part of his childhood and had a close connection with the island’s food and the work and passion it takes to make great food.
We were a group of 8 for this experience, and each group had its own table to keep distancing. During this experience, we did not make our own poke for health and safety reasons. All food was pre-packaged and made for us.
The purpose of the course is to introduce us to the styles of poke, how to find the right fish and what drinks pair well with the fish. We had one person in our party who requested non-alcoholic options, which we will also highlight during this review.
History of Poke
To start us off, Chef Greg gave us some history of poke, the core ingredients, and the importance of these. The first step is to choose the right rice. They provided a few options to use and said to wash the rice to remove the starchy film. It is recommended to wash the rice two to three times to remove the starchy outer layer. There was a fun discussion between the cast members about how much water to use and which rice cooker is the best, but they all agreed that the most basic option is never bad.
Now onto the type of fish you want to buy. Chef Greg explained that Hawaii’s markets are open six days a week. The tuna he showed us was caught and purchased the day before. He says it usually sells for around $20 a pound. In Hawaii, the two most common fish are Yellowfin and Bigeye Tuna. Skipjack is the most available and least overfished. It is used for many dishes, but it has an acquired taste, according to Chef Greg. Poke means chopping or dicing, which is precisely what you do with the selected fish.
Two types of Poke and Sake
During the demonstration, we sampled two common types of poke. The first we sampled is the traditional Hawaiian-style poke. Chef Greg describes it as the most traditional and fresh forward-tasting poke. It includes green onion, Maui onion, ogo, salt, kukui nut, and a little chili pepper. This was paired with Akashi-Tai Junmai Daiginjo Genshu Sake, which is a full-bodied, dry sake with fruity and floral aromas. The non-alcoholic option was the classic POG, Passion-Orange-Guava.
The second tasting was the Shoya Ginger Poke. Chef Greg described this as the sweeter, richer poke from the plantation days. Like the first option, it includes onions but with sweeter notes like soy sauce, toasted white sesame seeds, white sugar, and sesame oil. This was paired with Kubota Junmai Daiginjo, a full body but dryer sake. It complements the sweetness and spiciness of the dish. The non-alcoholic option was a bright and refreshing Strawberry Sprite.
The final demonstration allowed us to make our own flavor of poke. We were given a pre-packaged set of ingredients, and we could mix our perfect poke together.
Everyone had a fun time with this while sampling and mixing together more ingredients. The team decided that instead of traditional sake, they would share what they would normally drink if they were with family and having poke. They paired our final dish with Honolulu Beerworks Hop Island Pale Ale. The non-alcohol option was whatever the guest would like to choose. Our family member chose a delicious organic green tea, perfect after all the poke.
At the end of our course, we were offered some drinks to take home and any food we couldn’t finish, which we were able to package up and take with us. It was a very good portion of food that we received, plus with the beer, we were full! As we wrapped up the event, we received our exclusive DVC gift. A traditional Choko Japanese sake set with the Aulani logo stamped.
Having previously done the Cocktail course, I have to say this one is just as good, if not better. It was a very relaxing and fun experience. Everyone asked good questions, and the overall course flowed at its own pace. The only thing I was expecting out of this course was more information on sake and its production, but the information on types of poke was thorough. I would recommend this to anyone who likes poke or has no idea if they like poke, as some guests also discovered they enjoyed the taste of poke.
Reservations and Price
The Poke and Sake Chef Demonstration costs $75 per person and is only available for guests ages 18+. Reservations can be made at the hotel or by calling Reservations: (808) 674-6200