Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Aulani and Oahu Gluten Free

Last June, my daughters and I spent five nights at Aulani - A Disney Resort on Oahu with my parents and my brother's family. This was not my first visit to Hawaii. My husband and I spent a week on Maui and a week on Kauai on our honeymoon, six years before I was diagnosed with celiac disease.

I never had any intentions of returning to Hawaii, but when my family told me they were going to Aulani, we decided to join them. On our honeymoon, we found the time change from the east coast very hard to deal with, but now that we live on the west coast, it was not too bad.

Using our Disney Vacation Club points, we booked a deluxe ocean view studio. I requested a high floor, and ended up two doors down from my brother's family on the top floor of the resort. The first photo is the view from our room. My parents chose to stay at a Marriott down the street, because they did not want to use their DVC points.

Aulani is a beautiful resort with subtle Disney touches.

We loved our stay there so much, we hope to go back with my husband while we still live on the west coast.

I had no problem finding safe gluten free options at Aulani.

The day we arrived, I had a gluten free Island Margherita flabread at Ulu Cafe, the main quick service restaurant at the resort. I was really impressed with the gluten free crust. My only complaint was that my flatbread lacked basil. When I eat margherita pizza, I usually ask if it has tomato sauce on it, and request that it be left off, but eleven months after the fact, I don't remember if this was the case at Aulani.

Later in the trip, I tried the Kalua pork flatbread, which I really enjoyed once I picked off the onions.

Ulu Cafe had gluten free prepackaged options, like Udi's gluten free blueberry muffins.

They also had gluten free orange cranberry and chocolate nut muffins made on property. I was told that they are safe for people with celiac. Again, I feel like my memory is failing me a bit here, but I think they told me gluten free housemade brownies were also available, but they were not on display.

Both muffins were incredible, but the chocolate muffin was better enjoyed as a dessert, while the cranberry orange was perfect for breakfast.

Ulu Cafe also had a nice selection of fresh fruit that we would buy for breakfast and snacks.

They also serve Dole Whip. I topped my pineapple Dole Whip with Tajin that I brought from home. Tajin is a blend of chile pepper, dehydrated lime juice, and salt. Once you try it on pineapple Dole Whip, it is hard to go back.

We also enjoyed the vanilla and pineapple soft serve swirl.

I have never been a fan of shave ice, but the shave ice with sweetened condensed milk and Mickey ears at Aulani is not to be missed. I can't remember if I stopped at Papalua Shave Ice two or three times, but I know I chose lychee (floral peach) and li-hing mui (sweet-sour plum) as my two flavors every time I ate shave ice in Hawaii.

Gluten free Snacks with Character are available at Kalepa's Store near the lobby at Aulani.

My favorite are the sweet chili tortilla chips, which are made by Way Better Snacks.

Aulani also has cookies made by Wow Baking Company and Enjoy Life Foods.

You can read more about Snacks with Character here.

During one of our resort days, I ordered a strawberry margarita and Kalua pork tacos from Aulani's poolside menu. I remember enjoying the chorizo-spiced kalua pork with slaw, cotija cheese, pickled red onion, pineapple salsa, and corn tortillas.

My favorite restaurant at Aulani was 'Ama 'Ama, the one table service restaurant at the resort. We did not dine at Makahiki, which features a character breakfast and buffet dinner. My daughters do not like meeting characters, and we stopped dining at Disney buffets once they reached age 10, because they do not eat enough to justify adult pricing.

'Ama 'Ama is an open-air restaurant featuring Hawaiian cuisine and views of Ko Olina Beach.

We dined there for breakfast, lunch, and dinner while we were at Aulani.

'Ama 'Ama had an allergy-friendly menu for breakfast and lunch. You can order gluten free waffles, but I decided to skip them, because the resort is using the Golden Malted gluten free waffle and pancake mix, which is made on shared lines with wheat and several other top 8 allergens, which the manufacturer does not disclose on their website or packaging. It is certified gluten free, but I do not enjoy the taste of it.

Both times we had breakfast at 'Ama 'Ama, I ordered two eggs-any style with Aulani potatoes. I chose poached eggs, and bacon as my breakfast meat. The potatoes seemed to have no seasoning on our first visit, but overall, I enjoyed my breakfasts.

Corned beef hash is another gluten free option for breakfast. My daughter Katie ordered it without the hollandaise.

When I am at home, I eat fruit with every meal, so even though it was pricey, I ordered sides of fruit for my daughters and I to share at 'Ama 'Ama.

 Both times we stopped in for breakfast, we ordered the sliced pineapple and whole local papaya.

I remember eating a lot of pineapple and papaya on our honeymoon, and it did not disappoint on this visit to Hawaii.

My dad and I had lunch at 'Ama 'Ama the day before we flew home.

I broke my no mayo at restaurants rule to try a lobster roll at Aulani. I will not be breaking that rule again anytime soon. I just do not like mayonnaise unless it is on the potato salad, tuna salad or egg salad we make at home. My dad enjoyed his lobster roll and sweet potato fries. My french fries were made in a dedicated fryer, but I don't remember liking them that much. My dad's were made in the same dedicated fryer, but I was not going to try them, because his sandwich was on the same plate with gluten-filled bread. I am pretty sure Aulani is using Udi's commercial rolls, which are very good when heated well.

Our favorite meal at 'Ama 'Ama was dinner. An allergy-friendly menu was not available in the evening, but our server was super knowledgeable about gluten free options, and double checked everything with the kitchen. Our meal started with a complimentary amuse bouche - macadamia nut horchata. It was so amazing, my mom and I would have ordered more if they would have let us.

For an entree, I chose the fish of the day (opah) with macadamia nut brown butter sauce. The opah was delicious, and perfectly accompanied by the brown butter sauce.

We loved the puree of three potatoes so much, we ended up ordering four sides for the seven of us by the time our meal was finished.

Before dessert, we were given a complimentary candy that was safe for me to eat. I wish I remembered exactly what it was, but it has been too long since our trip, and I failed to keep food notes on this vacation. Thankfully, I was able to get a lot of good information from old Instagram and Facebook posts. Update - After I published this post, I found a picture on Facebook that said this was a guava jelly. 

For dessert, I ordered the Chocolate with Aloha. My flourless chocolate molten cake served with vanilla ice cream and raspberry coulis was the perfect way to finish an incredible meal.

Both my dad and I rented a car, so we could go shopping and sightseeing. Down to Earth, a great grocery store with plenty of gluten free options, is just a few miles away from Aulani.

I bought some fruit and snacks there to keep in our room, which had a small kitchenette.

Outside of Aulani, we visited Matsumoto Shave Ice, which is supposed to be the best in Oahu, but I preferred the shave ice at Aulani.

While we were visiting the North Shore, we also stopped at Giovanni's Shrimp Truck to have their famous shrimp scampi. My shrimp was super fresh, and I loved the sticky rice and all the garlic. Be  sure to get there before noon to avoid long lines, and bring cash, because they do not accept credit cards.

After we ate at Giovanni's, I discovered a 100% gluten free food truck called Aunty's Lil' Green Hut.

It is located on the North Shore in the same area as Giovanni's, and they share a parking lot.

Because I was so full from the shrimp scampi, I decided to order an acai bowl, minus the granola.

It was the perfect palate cleanser after eating shrimp with lots of garlic.

The day we visited Pearl Harbor and Honolulu, we had lunch at Duke's Waikiki, a restaurant I never would have chosen to eat at, but I decided to go along with my family, because my daughters wanted to spend time with their cousins. Duke's did not have a gluten free menu, and safe options were very limited, but the manager I spoke to was super helpful, and I was able to order fish tacos without the tortillas. My daughters and I were not that impressed by the food, but I was glad I was able to have a safe meal with my family.

There was no way I was going to Hawaii without visiting Roy's. My husband and I ate at Roy's several times on our honeymoon, and we have dined at the Roy's in Orlando and at Pebble Beach. Roy's Ko Olina is right across the street from Aulani, so we could walk to dinner.

I am not sure why I did not post pictures of this meal on Instagram or Facebook, so I don't have the kind of details I would like on what I ate or drank. For example, I do not remember if the complimentary edamame I took a picture of was safe for me to eat.

Roy's did not have a gluten free menu, but our server was very knowledgeable about safe options, so I was able to customize an entree to fit my needs. I remember loving my butterfish, and the sauce it was served with, which might have been a lime butter.

For dessert, I never pass up a chance to have Roy's amazing chocolate souffle with vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce. You can view the recipe here. Last year, I made it at home on our anniversary.

Roy's is pricey, and the service was incredibly slow the night we had dinner there, but I would go back the next time we visit Aulani.

Before our flight home, I stopped at the Pinkberry at the airport twice. The first time around, I had a a large cup of mango frozen yogurt. The second time, I chose a smaller bowl of chocolate hazelnut. I was hoping the frozen yogurt would prevent me from being hungry on our long flight home.

Overall, we had a great trip to Hawaii, and I look forward to going to the Big Island over Easter Break with my aunt and uncle next year. I love my parents and my brother's family, but my aunt and uncle are a lot easier to travel with. They are always willing to let me pick the restaurants we dine at, which I really appreciate. 

You can read more about Aulani - A Disney Resort and Spa on their website here.

What are your favorite spots for gluten free dining on Oahu?


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