The Waiahole Poi Factory is a family owned Hawaiian food restaurant that features the most authentic Hawaiian cuisine on Oahu. Located in Waiahole, on the Windward (East) side of Oahu, the historic wooden building that houses the delicious smells and tastes of Hawaii can easily be passed by if you’re not paying attention. But to overlook it would be to miss out on a true Hawaii experience.
Locals and visitors alike line up at the small rustic window to place their order for the freshly made Hawaiian food. Using local ingredients from the farmlands of Waiahole Valley, located just up the street, the menu features all of the staple dishes eaten during an traditional Hawaiian Luau.
Hand Pounded Poi - Made from the Kalo (taro) root, the process is simple, but laborious. The dense taro root is steamed and pounded into a smooth, gray paste, adding water to obtain the desired consistency of a thick or thin paste, depending on personal taste. Poi was, and in many cases still is, the staple of the Hawaiian diet, filling the bellies of Hawaiian’s dating back to Ancient times. Today it is still celebrated, made, and eaten at family gatherings, simple meals, and even as a quick snack. While many non-local people consider it an acquired taste, it can be learned to love. The best description: sourdough bread served in the consistency of paste.
Kalua Pig - Here is the trick, dip your pig in the poi. The salty pig compliments the bland poi. This slow cooked salted pig has been simmering in its own juices for hours, exploding with natural flavor. The pig was cleaned and rubbed with salt, then wrapped in multiple layers of banana leaves. The prepared pig is lowered into an imu, an underground oven dug 2-4 feet into the ground. Containing kindling and volcanic rocks to maintain the heat, the wrapped pig is then covered with dirt and cooked for 6-8 hours. The moisture in the tropical leaves steam cook the pig in its own deliciousness. When fully cooked the meat falls off the bone much like a pulled pork.
Lau Lau - The most classic of Hawaiian dishes, Lau Lau is simply slightly salted pork wrapped in a taro leaf and steamed for 3-4 hours. When cooked down the taro leaf can be compared to a flavorful spinach. This is my personal favorite.
Beef or Squid Luau - Luau is not only a Hawaiian celebration, but also a delicious dish. It is cooked beef or squid stewed in taro leaves. Coconut milk is added to give it a creamy and flavorful complexity of salty and sweet.
Lomi Lomi Salmon - While salmon is not found in the waters of Hawaii, the dish has become a local tradition. No one is certain how the fish was first introduced to the islands. But many speculate the whalers brought the salted fish with them in the mid-1800’s and it found its way into the hearts of the Hawaiian people. Lomilomi means to massage. The shredding and mixing of the salmon is done by massaging the salted fish with diced tomatoes and chopped green or white onions creating a perfect cold side dish that compliments the bland poi.
Haupia - This simple coconut pudding has only 4 ingredient. Served in squares made up of Coconut milk, cornstarch, and sugar, these gelatinous white cubes of deliciousness are the perfect dessert to a traditional Hawaiian meal.
Whether or not you want to order an entire plate of food or just sample some of the items ala carte, the Waiahole Poi Factory is a stop on your coastal East Oahu food tour drive that shouldn’t be missed. Don’t let the modest wood exterior of the building misguide you, while the outside may look dated and used, inside the little kitchen is an authentic Hawaiian recipe and a Hawaiian family who is sharing the Aloha Spirit to their customers. This makes it a perfect stop to create the best Hawaii food tour.