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Review: Taro Ko Chips & Papa’a Sweet Potato Chips

Natives of Kauai, DC Ohana recently returned to the beautiful Garden Isle to visit family, where bringing some Kauai omiyage with them back to Oahu were a couple bags of Taro Ko Chips & Papa’a Sweet Potato Chips from Taro Ko Farm.

According to this excellent Honolulu Magazine blog post by Catherine Toth Fox, Taro Ko Farm is located on the biggest bend of the town’s main drag of Hanapepe Road, in an old faded green cottage, where if you blink you could miss it. It’s run by Dale Nagamine, heir to the business of his parents Shoichi and Shizuko, who started the chip company in 1985, after retiring as taro farmers in this quiet Kauai farming town.

Every bag of chips they sell are hand-made and packaged by Dale himself, being the sole employee.

The 4 oz. bag of Taro Chips and  3.5 oz. bag  of “Papa’a” Sweet Potato Chips are packed quite full with delicate, thinly-sliced chips, priced at $5 each direct. As expected being how thin they are, there was quite a few crushed chips from the island-to-island carry-on flight, but overall lots of more or less whole pieces to enjoy.

The Taro Ko Chips ingredients are simply Taro (Lehua Kalo variety), Soybean Oil (with Citric Acid) and Garlic Salt.

When I say thinly-sliced, meaning VERY thin; about around the thickness of construction paper (cover stock), no more than that. Some of the Taro Chips practically as thin as bond 20# copy paper. Those being the ones that suffered the most breakage in transit.

The ingredients of Taro Ko Farm’s Papa’a (Cooked Crisp) Sweet Potato Chips are Okinawan or Molokai Purple Sweet Potatoes, Garlic Salt and Soybean Oil (with Citric Acid).

These Papa’a Sweet Potato Chips are sliced just as thinly and delicate as the Taro Chips, with about an equal amount of broken and whole chips as the Taro version that made it through transit.

Along with the the Taro Chips and Purple Sweet Potato Chips featured here, Taro Ko Farm also makes Li Hing Mui flavored Potato Chips and Li Hing Mui flavored Sweet Potato Chips.

So how are they? WINNAHZ! Super fresh and “crispety-crunchety”. The garlic salt seasoning is ever so subtle, yet there enough to bring out the naturally sweet and exotic flavor of the fried Hawaiian Lehua Kalo (Taro) and Molokai Sweet Potato. The thinness of the slices are its greatest virtue, as that allows your palate to really embrace the natural flavor, versus a thicker cut where you’d otherwise also be focusing on the crunch factor. All those virtues, Taro Ko’s are a delicate balance of chip-eating perfection!

OK, now let’s take this a steps outside the box (or package) and top the Taro Ko Chip and Papa’a Sweet Potato Chip with Shoyu Ahi Poke! Oh yes, went there!

Hey, Fish ‘n Poi go hand-in-hand, so why not Ahi Poke and a Taro Chip?! Actually, I got this idea from a previous post on combining Ahi Poke with Maebo’s famous One-Ton Chips.

And? The lightly salted thin-sliced Taro Chip with the soft ‘n buttery-fresh Shoyu Ahi Poke totally works!  The contrast of the fried taro flavor and its crunch factor with all the great attributes of Ahi Poke are a solid combo’! If a bar offered this as a pupu dish, guaranteed would be a hit. Guaranz!

Ditto for the Papa’a Sweet Potato Chip with Ahi Poke. All the virtues explained with the Taro Chip and Ahi Poke combo’ apply to this one as well. Addictive! In fact I polished that whole container of Shoyu Ahi Poke with these Taro Ko Farm Chips and no time flat! I should’ve bought more poke!

Before closing, it must be noted that company owner Dale Nagamine has no plans on expanding its operation or online marketing. He will ship chips anywhere in the world, providing you pay for the additional cost to do that.

If I were to pick between the two, I’d go for the Taro Ko Chips, either plain or with the Ahi Poke, however they’re both EXCELLENT, and worth a trip to Hanapepe for them if you’re ever on Kauai!

What? Taro Ko Farm Chips and Papa’a Sweet Potato Chips
Where did you get it and how much was it? Direct from Taro Ko Farm in Hanapepe, Kauai; given as Omiyage, regular $5 per bag direct; not distributed to retailers; mail order available; call for details @ 808-355-5586 
Big shaka to: Thin slices allow more natural flavor of the chip out as you eat it; very fresh and crispy-crunchy; light dusting of garlic salt help to amplify the natural sweet flavor of the taro and sweet potatoes; fair in price, all things considered; very exclusive and unique made in Kauai product, paying tribute to its taro farming island heritage! “Bomb Dot Com” with fresh Ahi Poke topped on it!
No shaka to: n/a
The Tasty Island rating: 5 SPAM Musubi

Related links:
Taro Ko Factory – Yelp user reviews
Chips & Dale: the tasty handmade chips of Kauai’s Taro Ko – Honolulu Magazine blog by Catherine Toth

The Tasty Island related links:
One-Ton Ahi Poke Chips

 

4 thoughts on “Review: Taro Ko Chips & Papa’a Sweet Potato Chips

  • March 7, 2017 at 3:14 pm
    Permalink

    Shoichi used to deliver two bags taro chips to my office every other  week until his health failed. The chips were huge which made it fun. We had a standing  order as did a couple other offices. A really nice man who looked forward to the delivery and a small chat. If he missed a week, everyone got nervous.

    Reply
    • March 8, 2017 at 1:29 pm
      Permalink

      pat,

      When you say the chips were huge, do you mean the bag was huge with lots of chips in it? Or was each Taro chip itself cut extra large? If it was the latter, that would be fantastic!

      Reply
  • March 8, 2017 at 7:42 pm
    Permalink

    LOL. I mean some of the chips were huge around. Soft ball size.

    Reply
    • March 9, 2017 at 6:52 am
      Permalink

      pat,

      Ah, so it was the size of the actual chip. Wow, Softball size! Lucky you had them hand-delivered locally by the owner. As thin as they are, they’d never make it in one piece in a package hand-carried on a plane, that’s for sure!

      Reply

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