Here’s a place where you can get traditional poi and Hawaiian-style food for lunch and dinner on Oahu, Hawaii.
Located in the Northeast shore of Oahu between Kaneohe and Ka’a’awa on Kamehameha Highway is a little old building that houses the Waiahole Poi Factory. Taken over in the 1970’s by the Hoe family, they make their own poi on the spot and sell delicious plates of food for a reasonable price. I heard from the news that they use local farms for most of their needs to support the community there as well.
We have never tried this place before, but it has been featured in several Hawaiian Language and Cultural resurgence features in the news and public service commercials. The building is old, from the early 20th century and if you are not paying attention you could easily drive right by. The atmosphere is laid back and unhurried and the staff was kind and helpful explaining anything we needed.
They have a simple menu where you have a choice of dishes like Kalua Pork, Lau Lau, or Squid Luau and either rice or poi with the Lomi Salmon and Haupia. You can get it to go or sit at some of the tables and benches out front. Poi is also sold in take away bags.
I ordered Kalua pork with Poi, Lomi Salmon and Haupia and my wife got the combo plate of Lau Lau and Squid Luau.
Here are some definitions:
Squid Luau is luau leaves (spinach family), Squid and coconut milk.
Kalua Pork is traditional earth oven-baked pork pulled and added with sea salt.
Lomi Salmon is fresh tomatoes mixed with salmon, onions and Hawaiian sea salt.
Haupia is a gelatinous desert made with young coconut.
Poi cooked taro that is mashed into a paste.
Lau Lau is normally pork and fish with laulau leaves and outer packaging of banana leaves and cocked in an earth oven or steamed..
Hawaiian food is rarely cheap, but it is because it is a labor-intensive cuisine so it makes a nice treat every once in a while. It will hit the spot on a hot day.
Another great thing about the Waiahole Poi Factory is that next to the dinning area is an Arts Center. The Waiahole Poi Factory supports local artists and the community. Their social media page posts about music and art shows of the past, as well as other community gatherings. That day, the gallery featured children’s paintings from a recent art class.
If you are in Oahu getting to try Hawaiian food is a real treat. Not to diminish the commercial luaus, but if want to try Hawaiian food more to the local’s liking, Waiahole Poi Factory should be on your mind!