Local Grindz' Costco Run


Taro Brand Poi, 3.5 lbs. @ $14.99 current market price (ouch!)

Mom went to Costco (Hawaii Kai) yesterday to pick up just a few things. As it turned out, everything in her cart were local products.

Like that bag of poi. Price? $15!!! Ouch. More than gasoline now, if you break it down per pound. I guess we just need to count our blessings that we HAVE poi! Interestingly, you can’t get Taro Brand Poi at the Iwilei Costco (as so far we know), due to fighting among shoppers for it. Whoah! Not da’ Poi Wars, eh? lol Due to supply, there’s also a 1-bag limit per person at Hawaii Kai Costco. So next time you eat poi, savor it down to every last nibble!

As her usual self, she comes home and mixes it by hand, which always makes me shudder, but that’s “old school” so, so be it. He-he.

You might notice it’s in a recycled Hanalei Poi container. Ha!

She also bought some Kamuela Tomatoes…


Gourmet Select Kamuela Tomatoes, $6.59 (Click image to see under the lid)

These were about $7, which is high, but she insists on them.

They look pretty, but flavor-wise, standard fare. Nothing extraordinary. At least that was my impression eating the entire one I cut in half to show you here…

Mild in acidity and not sweet at all, while being “tight” in texture. Juicy pulp. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good tomato, but nothing I’d go out of my way to seek out.

Finally, a couple of recipe books…


Jean Hee’s Best of the Hawaii Recipes, $10.99, regular cover price $14.95 (click to view back cover)


Hawaii’s Best Local Dishes by Jean Watanabe Hee, $10.99, regular cover price $14.95 (click to view back cover)

The ‘Hawaii’s Recipes’ is actually a compilation of Jean’s other publications, including quite a few recipes from the ‘Local Dishes’ edition.

As you see, all her books are spiral bound, with a few pages here and there with photos of the dishes, but mostly just text recipes.

It’s the ‘Local Dishes’ book that I must say, you must have. After all, how can you not have a recipe book with Oxtail Soup on the cover?!

Just as a teaser, here’s the page on that…


This is the recipe I’ll be using in a an upcoming post.

I really like her footnotes, which includes tips and stories about its origin.

Other recipes include Portuguese (yay!) Bean Soup, Vindha D’Ahlos Roast, Stuffed Cabbage, Shoyu Poke, Evie’s Red Stew (her sister-in-law, so you know that’s gotta’ be good!), Butter Yaki (I must make this), Beef Tomato (perfect for those Kamuela Tomatoes!), Chopped Steak (like Kapiolani Coffee Shop!), Laulau (wow!), Chicken Long Rice, Jook, Kahlua Cake and Okinawan Sweet Potato Pie with Haupia Topping. Just to name a few. There’s so much more!

Best of all, when you read the ingredients, instructions and footnotes, you just KNOW these are tried-and-true recipes.

Jean Watanabe Hee is a retired school teacher originally from Hilo, now living in Kaneohe (yay!). And you just know in their network of peers there’s gotta’ be some good cooking shared amongst them!

Seriously, this ‘Local Dishes’ cook book is a must-have. Enough that my mother gave her first copy up to an aunt from the big island who really liked it. You will too.

Jean’s other books include Hawaii’s Best Mochi Recipes, Hawaii’s Best Local Desserts, Hawaii’s Best Pupu & Potluck, Tastes & Flavors of Mochi, Hawaii’s Best Salads, Side & Soups and Little Hawaiian Cookbook.

There are plenty of made-in-Hawaii “local grindz” products in bulk size at Costco. Kamaboko, Tofu, Ramen, Macadamia Nuts, laulau, Portuguese Sausage (yay!), produce, desserts, recipe books, you name it.

Gotta’ love Costco.

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16 thoughts on “Local Grindz' Costco Run

  1. Wow! Poi price that high? I now live in Calif and miss poi but still I able to find some in Asian market here but price is not too bad. I better keep quite or else they will raise it too ha ha shshh. Readed your pickled mango blog. I used to make instead of green papaya, green mango salad not bad. I do miss manapua island style the most.

  2. At that price I will make it special events to have poi now. Too high for me. I try growing tomatos in own made greenhouse to keep bugs away boy it good. Planning to harvest lichee now bumper crop. My grandmother now is getting ready for Moon Festival with the mooncakes coming soon. Aloha.

  3. haha, costco is the spot 🙂 it’s never too far here in CA (richmond, ca & san leandro, ca)….why when i travel…just the sight of the red costco sign gets me all giddy.

  4. Raph, my aunt gets “giddy” at Costco as well. Like a religious “zen” experience. lol I too find just browing the Costco Hawaii Kai aisles quite relaxing. Not to mention da’ food samples. If I can get any before the “vultures” have at them. lol

    Kimo, Eric, yeah da’ price stay getting outta’ hand. Still, I would NEVER eat Hawaiian food such as Laulau, Lomi Salmon and Squid Luau without it. Nevah!

    Robyn, you must have had a good batch.

  5. I prefer the Ho Farm tomatoes. Often Costco has them in a large plastic container for about $6.00 I think they’re about 2 pounds (cherry or plum) anyway I roast the whole container and use them all week for various things.

    I would love some poi right now! Your picture made me hungry!

    Blueberries are a good thing to buy at Costco as well.

  6. Pomai-

    We love your blog! As for poi we prefer Hanalei brand (the ones in the tub) though they are even more expensive if you can believe that. Hanalei has a thicker consistency and sweeter taste. There is a place in Kaneohe that still sells the tubs for $5.00, a small Chinese convenience store next to Chi-Chan’s. Everywhere else I’ve seen sells it for $8.99+.

    I definitely encourage you to seek out Richard Ha’s – Hamakua tomatoes. They are way better than the Kamauela’s in my opinion. It’s worth the slightly inflated cost when you compare the taste of a beautifully vine ripened tomato to that of the normal Safeway offerings (cardboard!).

    Also Ha’s blog is very enlightening. It’s nice to know that local farmers are making informed choices regarding sustainability Definitely one more reason to keep our support local.

    http://hahaha.hamakuasprings.com/

    PS-Costco’s roast chicken is winnahs! Make chicken soup from scratch on the second day.

  7. We love Costco’s roasted chicken, too! So moist and flavorful. Even my 7-year-old daughter, who swears she hates chicken, will eat it.

    I must try that oxtail soup recipe, too. I always thought it would be much more complicated to make than that. Can’t wait to read your post after you give it a try.

  8. Howzit Manele, I’ll look for the Ho Farm tomatoes next time in Costco.

    You know what would be funny, is if some restaurant sells what they call a “Kamuela BLT”, just because it has their tomato in it. lol

    I guess you could also say “Ho Farms BLT”, but that doesn’t sound as fancy. He he.

    Ooh, roasted tomatoes. Great with pasta!

    Aloha4all, mahalo for the compliment. Marukai usually stocks the Hanalei Poi tub (same size shown that the taro poi was poured into in this posting) for $6.99 regular price, although it does occasionally go on sale for $5.99.

    I will most definitely do a Taro vs. Hanalei Poi comparison in the near future. I’m still contemplating what the accompaniment will be. I’m thinking either my Big Island Smoked Meat, a Kalua Pig, Laulau and Lomi Salmon luau plate, or just Dried Ahi.

    Did you see the photos Richard Ha’s grandson took of Kilauea erupting? Amazing! Wow! I’m certainly adding his blog to my links page.

    Jenny, I’ll try getting around to making that Oxtail soup in the coming week. Especially since I still have the taste of Kapiolani Coffee Shop’s version (c/o Asahi Grill) fresh in my memory.

    Costco’s roast chicken is certainly a good deal. I once bought one just to make Chicken Noodle soup, and it tasted way better than Campbell’s! The secret was adding a cube of Knorr Chicken stock cube to the broth. That gives it that “Campbell’s” flavor and yellow color we’re all familiar with, while you can “choke” da’ meat, that’s plentiful on the carcass.

    Wow, this is turning into “Soup-mania”!

    Mahalo everyone for stopping by!

  9. Great! Now I know other places to get poi. Their prices is not bad still. My late mother when I was little used to work at Young Fish Market making all kind of Hawaiian foods they sold. Enjoyed it very much and learned from her how to make it too. My cousin Jimmy owned Far East Restaurant in Waipahu enjoyed Hawaiian food also.

    I learned dim sum making from him too. Costco roast chickens rock. Many people like it very much. Pomai must ask you a question where to get a photo and history of manapua man? Doing a story of old Hawaii with Sun Sun Lau Restaurant in it too. Not sure when Little George’s close also.
    Miss that restaurant very much.

  10. Hi Dana,

    I posted a photo of the classic “Manapua Man” holding the tin cans on a stick in a previous posting about “Bento Man”.

    Click on the following link and scroll to the bottom of the posting. it’s there. You can save it to your computer.

    http://tastyisland.wordpress.com/2008/05/16/the-neighborhood-bento-man/

    As for the history of Manapua Man, you’ll have to ask the Kupuna about that. When I was small keed, Manapua Man had already graduated to using an old white van. Must have had sore back already carrying those heavy tins around. lol

    Between Young’s Fish Market and Ono Hawaiian Food, I don’t know who get da’ best laulau, but they’re both up there at the top!

  11. I like the Costco roast chicken too. My Mom likes to shred the roast chicken then make sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, mayo and good kine bread. Supa ono. Costco get one winnah shoyu poke too. I heard they buy their poke from someplace else, then I heard they make their own from a locally developed recipe. Rumor has it that they use kalbi sauce in place of shoyu which gives it the ono flavor. Anybody know what’s the secret of the Costco poke? Good on hot rice. The quality of fish is average, but the sauce is killah.

  12. I have several of Watanabe cookbooks that my family in Hawaii has gifted me with. I give kudos to the recipe I use from “Prince Golf Club’s Bird of Paradise Restaurant” (an adaptation…not mine per se) that I saw in one of the news rags there. I am not familiar with the restaurant (left HI a long time ago) but you might know of it.

    This recipe calls for a can of chicken broth and a can of beef broth instead of the bouillon cubes. I don’t do the peanuts (my preference). I do the par-boil and skimming for about half and hour. Strain the broth. Rinse the oxtails. Back into the pot with the broths (plus extra water to cover the oxtails), ginger, garlic, bay leaves, star anise and black pepper. Simmer for 2-1/2 to 3 hrs. or until tender; adjust with alae salt to taste and skimming off.

    Even though I’m dying to eat it (!), I cool and refrigerate it overnight. Next day, skim the fat/oil. Reheat until any gelled portion is liquified. Remove the oxtails, set aside and strain the broth again and then put the oxtails back. The broth is so clean and to die for! 🙂 Worth it to wait the next day for the flavor. Perfect for a pho broth. Time to eat: cilantro, green onions and grated ginger on the side.

    Pomai, I did the hot sauce dipping sauce you mentioned and yum! I didn’t have the Vietnamese dipping sauce but used Hawaiian chili pepper water (I make my own from, yup, Hawaiian red chili peppers my family brings me from their back yard and I freeze for use.), soy sauce and grated ginger. Sometimes I’ll put in some choy sum at the end of cooking time for just a wee bit of greens.

  13. Spotty, ha ha! You noticed my “Portogee” hair arms, eh? lol eh, but my fingah nails was clean, main ‘ting!

    Carol, it looks like Jean’s Oxtail recipe is the “easy method” in the use of Knorr bouillon cubes. But hey, easy sounds good to me! Main ‘ting ono!

    ilikegrind, whoah! Now THAT is a great idea! Korean Kal Bi sauce to make ahi poke? Genius! I’m so trying that. The korean Kal Bi Sauce they sell at Costco is the best. Perfect balance of sesame, sugar, shoyu, ginger and garlic, with an nice, thick consistency. I can just taste that on Poke. Brah, “killah” is ‘da word, da’ buggah must taste! I would still jazz ’em up and add Maui onions, green onions and ogo. Gotta’ get da’ ogo.

    Gwen, mahalo for sharing that recipe. It sounds like prepping the oxtail by par-boiling and removing the fat is critical in making Oxtail soup the right way. I’m guessing if you don’t do it like how you instructed, the broth would taste “funny ‘kine”.

    As for the dipping sauce, truthfully, next time I wouldn’t use Shiracha, as I don’t really care that flavor. I’d stick with the Hawaiian Chili Pepper watah’ you wen’ use. Shiracha has too much character. Chili Peppah watah mo’ neutroz’. lol But definitely choke ‘da gingah in da’ shoyu. Winnahz right there.

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