Sign Up for Our Monthly Hawaii Newsletter
Sometimes bigger really is better. That's definitely the case at Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC), where the renovated and re-envisioned Gateway restaurant now stands as one of the largest enclosed dining and special events venues on Oahu.
With a 24,400-square-foot grand dining hall seating 1,000 people, Gateway offers two buffet spreads. The Island Feast option features authentic Pacific dishes like Fijian chicken curry and koko alaisa (chocolate rice pudding) along with a variety of local favorites. Visitors upgrading to the Prime Dining buffet have all the dishes of the Island Feast plus additional bounties like crab legs, shrimp cocktail, kalbi-style short ribs and prime rib.
"When we first looked at reinvigorating the Gateway experience, we knew it had to be more than just a facelift and food upgrade," said PCC's chief operating officer Alfred Grace. "We set out to create a unique venue that captured the essence of a Polynesian feast on a grand scale - something that was an experience."
While immense in scale, Gateway's architecture pays attention to distinctive details. The restaurant's structural design is reminiscent of a Samoan fale (hut) with wide wooden pillars and an angular sweeping roof. The doors, each one 12 feet tall by six feet wide, are ornamented with intricately carved leaves.
Inside, 68 massive pillars patterned after koa wood logs support the ceiling and are adorned with shell torches providing ambient lighting. One of the largest murals in the world dominates the walls, extending nearly 8,000 square feet. The mural takes guests on a visual journey by depicting the many cultures of Polynesia, complementing the storytelling aspects of PCC's daytime activities and evening shows.
Gateway also features a state-of-the-art cooling system. Two large ventilation fans - more powerful than those used for indoor skydiving - can completely circulate the entire volume of air in Gateway every three minutes, enhancing the natural breeze.
The Gateway renovation is part of several features being added to PCC. Within the next five years, the attraction plans to unveil a new immersive experience in the Hukilau Theater, an expanded market place and plenty of hands-on activities.