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Impressed Juice Kulolo

While their specialty is as advertised, being pressed juices, as I was about to leave KCC Farmers Market yesterday morning, I spotted this bowl of what looked totally weird to me sitting alone on the table at the Impressed Juice tent.

There was no sign on it, so I immediately asked, “What the heck is that?!” To which the gal working there replied with a big smile, “Kulolo!” I was totally shocked, as I never ever seen Kulolo prepared like this before!

This Hanalei Kululo from Kauai is what most people are familiar with….

Hanalei Kululo (island of Kauai)

Huge difference in the way the Hawaiian wetland Taro corm and coconut meat is processed, where the traditional Kauai Kulolo’s taro is grated into a somewhat grainy pulp, as opposed to Impressed Juice’ Kululo, where it’s very course, looking like they use a Cheese Grater, or something to that effect….

It could almost pass as a Hash Brown. In fact, that could be interesting! Mixing shredded potato (or sweet potato?) with Hawaiian Taro and frying it like a “Hapa Haole Hash Brown”. Hah, how you figgah?

For those of you who don’t know what Kulolo is, it’s a traditional Hawaiian food usually served at a Luau as a sweet side dish/dessert, along with Haupia, which is similar, except Haupia only has coconut.

Somewhat laborious to prepare, Kulolo is made of grated Hawaiian wetland Taro called Lehua Kalo (the same type pounded and mashed to make Poi), coconut milk, brown sugar and honey, set in a cracker tin lined with Ti Leaves and or Banana Leaves. Traditionally it’s cooked for a long period of time in an underground oven called an Imu, alongside the Kalua Pua’a (roast pig), however modern methods include steam-baking it in a conventional oven.

Its flavor is difficult to describe, where the best way I can put it is, it tastes like you mixed Poi with Coconut milk and caramel, while having a pronounced roasted, earthy tone. Texture-wise, the traditional grated type Kulolo is sort of like Cream of Wheat, while being somewhat gelatinous, like a very firm Jello, or Fudge, if you will.

You can usually find the best, most genuine Kulolo from Kauai on Oahu at Hawaiian food restaurants and grocery stores that offer Hawaiian food at their deli. Alicia’s Market and Young’s Fish Market in Kalihi carries the Hanalei, Kauai Kulolo, for IIRC, about $12/pound.

This unique course-shred Kulolo by Impressed Juice Hawaii are $5 each slice, measuring 3″x3″x1¾” thick, so it’s a pretty generous portion, easily enough to satisfy two people as a snack, or a decent sampling for four.

Let’s cut into it…

According to Impressed Juice owner, Taelson, the Lehua Kalo he uses is from Hanalei, Kauai, so this stuff is legit.

Let’s try it…

And? Frickin’ awesome! Taelson, my brothah, you got a winnah here! I LOVE the course texture. It’s almost like rice. Really, it’s like you’re eating a Kulolo Musubi. Shoots, throw one slice fried SPAM and wrap that suckah wit’ Nori, and Bam! Kululo SPAM Musubi! lol

No, but seriously, it has a deep, nicely caramelized, very genuine “Hawaiian Luau” flavor imparted from the Ti Leaves that it’s baked on. The coconut flavor is subtle, yet there’s enough to enhance it and keep it genuine. What really shines though is that great texture, being very moist, soft and gelatinous like fresh Kulolo should be, while as said before, almost coming across like eating “Kalo Rice”. In a word, it’s Neat-O! lol

I envision taking slices of this course style Kulolo and applying it to a gourmet dish, such as being served alongside a Pulehu (flame-grilled) Island Pork Chop for that “Hawaiian style”, semi-sweet flavor and texture contrast, with the Kulolo acting as the main starch in the dish. Man, I should attend the KCC Culinary Arts program. I think I’d make a great Chef. But ah, I have this blog; I’ll just “ack” like it here. Eh, no ack! lol

Well that was a first for me, trying this course-shred Kulolo, and I think it’s FANTASTICO-MUNDO! Where am I getting all these weird words from? lol

Here’s Impressed Juice full menu at the Farmers Market…

Taelson Larrow, owner of Impressed Juice…

Impressed Juice Business Card…

For more information, visit www.ImpressedJuice.com

Related links:
Making Kulolo with Uncle Val – Vimeo video (excellent!)
Kulolo calls across the sea – Honolulu Star Bulletin archives (includes recipe)


P.S. I came across this interesting Chinese Broccoli at the Aloun Farm’s tent called Kai Lan…

I asked the Chinese gal who works there if I could use this like regular broccoli, such as Chinese Beef Broccoli, and she said, totally. I’ll try doing a vegetarian version, using the Hamakua Mushrooms Ken-San recommended.

Here’s my weekly veggies yield from yesterday’s shopping expediction at KCC Farmers Market…

Left to right: Green Onion (2 bunches) @ $1/bunch, Ung Choi @ $2/bunch, Red Onion @ 2 for $1, Kai Lan (Chinese Broccoli) @ $2/bunch, Choi Sum @ $1.75/pkg. and Chinese Parsley @ $1/3 bunches. Source Aloun Farms and Pit Farms c/o KCC Farmers Market.

Finally, here’s an interesting view of Honolulu’s skyline that I shall conveniently retitle as “Honolulu Pipeline”…

Honolulu Pipeline

That was taken from the driveway that connects the lower parking lot with the upper parking lot on the Ewa side (I always love saying that) of the Kapiolani Community College campus.

Following is the always incredible Tavana, whom in case you’re wondering, he’s half Samoan from his father’s side, while from his mother’s side, he’s part Portuguese, Armenian, English and Irish. Having grown up in Hawaii Kai (Kaiser grad), Tavana now plays gigs all over Oahu, including regular appearances at Kelly O’Neil’s (an Irish Pub in Waikiki) on Lewers Street on Friday and Saturday, and Rum Fire in the Sheraton Waikiki early on Saturdays at 5pm. You gotta’ see Tavana play live! B.B., Hendrix and SRV would be proud!


8 thoughts on “Impressed Juice Kulolo

  • August 3, 2014 at 11:38 am

    My neighbors make kulolo and and i have assisted. All from Niihau with a second home on Kauai. They pound Lehua taro (wet), cane juice and coconut together. hand mold the paste and pack in burlap then old 5 gallon cracker tins. it is then steam baked in imu for eight hours.

  • August 3, 2014 at 11:55 am


    When you say they pack it in burlap, is the burlap first soaked in water? Also, is the burlap lined inside the cracker tin? Or do they have some special method, so the finished Kulolo has a certain shape?

    Making Kulolo and pounding fresh Poi is something I’ve never done before. I have a 100% Hawaiian friend also from Niihau who knows how to do all that. One day I’ll ask him to do a demo and blog it.

  • August 3, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Yes, Burlap is wet at least on top. I am not sure of how shape is derived. I have seen it put in and taken out, but the women then take it to kitchen for slicing and prep. By the way. The women make the kulolo around me. men attend to the pig, fish, laulau(usually wild beef) cooking and beer. Women do all deserts and cold food storage and prep. A system exists. Niihau luaus are great. They often have a secret menu that only a few are invited to get. Lobster, lobster salad. Crab. Intestines, and other delicacies that are simply too dear to share with hundreds. .

    • August 3, 2014 at 12:20 pm


      Well if a Hawaiian cooking system exists, and only women make the Kulolo, then I guess I won’t be making my own Kulolo anytime soon! Unless I change my name from Pomaka’i to Lei Pomailani. lol!

      Speaking of intestines, Na’au Pua’a is another dish I’ve actually never ever tried, nor am inclined to. I’m a firm believer animal guts are bad for your health. Those parts are designed to maintain and protect the animal from illness and harmful organisms, so why would anyone want to eat that? Especially if the animal is older, where toxins can be higher. As much as I enjoy it, even pig’s blood dishes like Portuguese Blood Sausage and Filipino Dinuguan I’ll only eat on special occasions.

  • August 3, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    My father made a really good Na’au. And I still have his Hawaiian recipe book. But the people have lost the taste for it. As well as many other common stuff. Like my grandmothers laulau that had both beef and pork and salt cod.
    And as for names, as you well know true Hawaiian names are unisex. Pomaikai is one such. :)

  • August 4, 2014 at 8:20 am

    I would definitely try that Hapa Haole Hash Brown. And not just because I’m hapa haole!

  • August 4, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Love Kulolo, but it’s getting harder to find when I get to come home to visit. Would love to try this one. Always worth a trip to the KCC Farmers Market, and this makes it more so.


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