Hula Mama's: Paradise in a Double Wide
|The buffet was nothing to write home about.|
It turns out, Hula Mama's is still going through some growing pains. But they've got the performance aspect down pat. Behind the fire dancer a guitar player and a large Polynesian man sat at the back of the stage, playing drums with such precision that during the first song I was convinced they were a recording.
The man behind the drum, known as Chief Tama, moved to Houston from Florida with his family to work for Continental. He's also a former dancer at the legendary Mai Kai, which makes him an alumni of the gold standard of tiki in America. Tama, who is Samoan, danced there for 10 years and dreamed of opening his own place. In 1986 he started the entertainment group Drums of the Pacific, where you can take hula or tamure lessons yourself. Now that he's retired form the airline industry, he has also opened Hula Mama's, which employs dancers from Samoa and Tonga.
Hula Mama's show is worth the $40 entry price even if the food isn't. The lounge-y MC, who grew up in Maui (and who most likely also doubles as Elvis on their "Blue Hawaii" nights), takes you through a whirlwind trip of the Polynesian islands, explaining the dances and traditions of each archipelago. The dancers are truly skilled, and there's really nothing else like this going on in Houston right now.
Tama told me he's working on the food, and that he wants to expand, get a liquor license and eventually serve tiki drinks like the infamous Mystery Bowl. Even if that doesn't happen, the next time they have a Blue Hawaii night, I'm there.
See more photos from the luau in our slideshow.
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