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Kauai Faves: Box Lunch, Kulolo & Manju

Hot off the heels of Taro Ko Farm Chips, we have several more faves DC Ohana brought back to share from the beautiful Garden Isle of Kauai. All of which have been featured here before, however why not revisit them. ;-)

First up, a box lunch from Po’s Kitchen in Lihue, the main city of Kauai. Now if  you’re expecting to be a round plate packed inside this paper box, nope!

Po’s Box Lunch literally is lunch packed in a box, just like they used to WAY back when in the old school plantation days!

As I’ve waxed eloquently before of my dread for them white styrofoam takeout containers we’re all so used to now, THIS is how I wish they would return to packing plate lunches! Not only is it more eco-friendly, but the nostalgia factor and the overall effect of having everything “kiss each other” together in the same box some reason makes it all taste mo’ ono!

That said, here we have a plethora of Okazuya favorites, where starting clockwise from the top left is Gobo Kinpira, the simmered julienne Burdock Root and carrots in the white tray. Next to that there’s corned beef hash, prepared classic Okazuya style, where the potato is more like a mashed consistency. Wedged by that are a fried hot dog (Not shoyu style) and luncheon meat, both also classic Okazuya staples. Next to that are two plain triangle musubi, sans nori and/or ume. In the center is a rolled omelet. By that are two Shrimp Tempura, while below is a fried chicken drumette. Finally in the tray on the bottom left is Spaghetti Salad, while hidden in the wax paper wrapper is pickled cabbage, sort of like Kimchi without the Kochujang red pepper paste in it.

Now that’s what I call variety in a box!  This was my plate they brought for me, fresh from Po’s just several hours earlier before jumping on the flight, and it was winnnahz! Especially being I haven’t had Okazuya recently, so it was a nice throwback!

Next up, we have Kulolo by the Hanalei Taro & Juice Co., purchased across the island in Waimea at Ishihara Market.

For those of you who don’t know what Kulolo is, think of it as the dessert version of Poi. Or perhaps “Hawaiian Mochi” if you will, being it’s very sticky ‘n starchy ‘n somewhat sweet like that. Albeit, instead of that powdery finish and distinct mochi rice flavor, it’s almost pure Hawaiian Taro in delivery, while being VERY moist! At least great Kulolo like you can only get from Kauai is! 

Kulolo is made of the same wetland taro corm (root) used to make poi, along with the addition of coconut flesh, along with its milk and water, and brown sugar. And Kauai’s Kulolo to most folks is the BEST, being of course Kauai is known as the biggest and best producer of taro in the islands. The taro is fresh, so the Kulolo is fresh, which is very important in this dish!

That is what you can tell is super fresh Kulolo, where it spreads nicely upon cutting it, yet has enough gelatinous stick to hold itself together. This Kulolo also has that perfect gritty texture from the coconut and taro mixture that just dances on your tongue. Love that!

There’s an almost caramel-like flavor from the brown/cane? sugar, while the Kalo and coconut flavors are super intense, yet in perfect harmony with that deep caramel accent. Whoever “invented” the original Kulolo recipe is a total genius, that’s all I gotta’ say!

That said, this was definitely one of the BEST Kulolo I’ve ever had!… fresh-made from Kauai always for the win!

Also from Ishihara Market out in Waimea, Kauai, we have some Manju, with the classic Azuki bean filling. Now I remember in the past the Lawai Manju from Menehune Food Mart in Lihue was da’ best of the island, however that store is no more.

So here we have these Manju, which are actually made by Aloha Sweet Delites in Kaumakani, Kauai.

To be  honest, as much as I LOVE Japanese food, I’m not really a Manju or Azuki Bean fan. However FWIW, these were excellent. The crust was flaky, yet still integral, while not being too oily or dry, also having a nice ‘n golden, well, Manju flavor. The Azuki Bean filling was dense, yet soft, with an overall nice texture and distinct Azuki Bean flavor that matched well with the golden flaky crust. They’re also pretty big for Manju, being about the size of half a racquetball. Which belies the old Pidgin English slang, “Eh! No make Manju!” Meaning, “Hey! Don’t just give me a small amount!” lol

The Tasty Island related links:
Kauai Grindz: Po’s Box Lunch, Breadsticks, Manu and Kulolo
Hawaii Grindz Omiyage Gift Guide
Kauai Classic: Goteborg Musubi
Anahola Granola
Triangle “UFOs” (Flying Saucers)
Plate Lunch Presentation 101


4 thoughts on “Kauai Faves: Box Lunch, Kulolo & Manju

  • March 9, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    A Kauai way of pasta salad is the spaghetti salad….a Kauai tradition

    • March 11, 2017 at 8:28 am


      While I can’t remember exactly where, there’s been a few plate lunch joints on Oahu that serve Spaghetti Salad, as opposed to the usual Macaroni Salad. Whichever pasta is used, from what I understand, the dish was influenced by the Portuguese immigrants in Hawaii. It’s just funny that Macaroni (or Spaghetti) Salad (cold pasta mixed with mayonnaise) is considered a “salad” in plate lunch parlance. Yeah, I totally feel less guilty now. lol

      I’ll tell you one secret though when you make Mac (or Spaghetti) Salad: add just a tad of milk to the Best Food Mayonnaise mixture. Guaranz winnahz laddat! Learned that from an old Waianae Drive Inn Mac’ Salad recipe someone posted at AlohaWorld.com. The milk is da’ secret for that fresh ‘n creamy flavah!

  • March 16, 2017 at 11:28 am

    Hi Pomai! I loved Po’s Kitchen when I was on Kauai! So cheap for a giant box of tasty food. And Kauai has the best kulolo, I’ve found. Is there a spot that sells good kulolo on Oahu?

    • March 16, 2017 at 1:42 pm


      IIRC, Alicia’s Market sells Kulolo from Kauai. I remember Young’s Fish Market also had Kauai Kulolo, which I tried, and it was pretty fresh-tasting.


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