One of the most popular questions posed to me daily is..."what is your favorite local dish?" While I have had so many culinary experiences from lau lau to poi, poke, and more, there is one treat that I steer everyone towards whether they live here in the islands or they are visiting. This dish is not only a superfood but has long been revered in Hawaiian culture. Kalo is supreme in Hawaiian history and one spot, in particular, pays homage to the superfood by turning it into a treat known as pa'i'ai (pai=bundle ai=kalo) which brings this classic into the 21st century.
Kalo Bombs, located in Wai'anae is run by the Kapoi ohana. The family has been making pa'i'ai since 2009 when Sam Kapoi and his wife Tyrell had the dream to continue the family tradition started by Sam's 6th generation grandfather, Harry Poe, Sr. His grandfather was well known for his Wai’anae Lehua Kalo and Poi, grown in Puea, Wai’anae.
Sam explained, "One day, my wife made a dessert for our kids utilizing my pa’i ‘ai and paired it with Yogurt & Ice Cream. The kids loved it. So one day we decided to try and vend at our local surf contest called the Buffalo Big Board Classic."
While the inception of their business began around the onset of the Covid Pandemic, they were able to locate a shop off of Farrington Highway in Wai'anae where they could safely serve guests and share their family tradition with the community starting April 20, 2020. Between word of mouth and social media, their business grew exponentially and drew a crowd every day they slid that window open.
Our entire family has enjoyed kalo bomb's variety of bowls, especially the haupia banana and fresh strawberry topped pa'ia'i. Pa'i'ai is traditionally made by mashing boiled taro root with very little water into a sweet, thick paste almost similar to the consistency of mochi. If you've never experienced pa'i'ai, the subtle sweetness and slightly chewy texture pairs well with ice cream, fruit, or is enjoyable on its own with some coconut flakes and condensed coconut cream. The combination of locally sourced kalo makes this treat a community project which extends past your taste buds and into the households throughout the west coast of O'ahu.
When I inquired as to Sam's favorite dish, his response was pure aloha and gratitude, "One of my mentors (Uncle Jerry Konanui) once told me when I asked the question you posed to me, “my favorite Kalo is the one at the table”. And I hold true to that statement 'til this day. An ‘Ōlelo No’eau, “ ‘Ai ka mea loa’a” which mean, Eat What Get. Basically, don’t be picky. And be thankful for that Akua provides. The goal was always to get more Kalo in our people’s ‘opu. Why? Because Kalo is one of the best superfoods on the planet."
To get a true Hawaiian superfood into your diet, stop by Kalo Bombs and get a taste of history in this local spot.
87-070 Farrington Hwy
Wai'anae, HI 96792
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