A Foodie's Paradise at KCC Farmers' Market

Sunrise papaya, organic lettuce variety basket, daikon, carrots and mango

It should come as no surprise if you happen to rub elbows with the likes of Hawaii celebrity Chef Alan Wong or Roy Yamaguchi at the KCC Farmers’ Market, as one look around seeing what’s available here, and you’ll immediately realize this is the caliber of locally-sourced produce and goods they would be buying for their restaurants.

Fortunately this market is open to the rest of us as well, including (what you might call) foodies like myself.

There’s so many interesting and unique made-in-Hawaii products to discover here; many of which have little or no mainstream media advertising and/or retail distribution, either because they’re new, limited in production, and/or simply their company’s budget constraints. Thus you’re likely only able to find them at places like the farmers’ market, specialty retailers or from their website.

This is also a great place to discover the latest culinary trends in the islands, with the advantage at open markets such as this being it provides you an opportunity to interact, often personally one-on-one, with the founders and proprietors themselves.

The highly specialized products will often be showcased with a cooking demonstration, followed by samples offered of the dish they prepare, as well as the sale of their wares at (sometimes) below-market prices.

Most importantly, what make this a “paradise” for all us foodies is, since this weekly event is organized by the non-profit Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation, who’s function is to support the economic viability of Hawaii’s farmers and ranchers, unlike the Kam Drive Inn Swap Meet or Aloha Stadium Flea Market where anything goes, all you’ll find at the KCC Farmers’ Market (with the exception of inedible plants and flowers) is FOOD!

Following is a pictorial walkthrough (using my trusty Sony H-5) of the KCC Farmers’ Market, taken by yours truly this past Saturday, February 28, 2009.

Note, because there’s so many photos (get your scroll wheel finger ready), I reduced each one to 250-pixel width thumbnail size to for quicker load time on this main page. If you see a particular photo(s) you’re interested in, click on it for a full-size view (various 700, 800, 900 or 1000 pixel width sizes) which will open in a new window. I also finally disabled the Word Press Snap Shots pop-up balloons, so it should be less annoying to roll over photo links now.


Fresh, Locally-Grown Produce

Jicama, Tommy Atkin Mangoes, Local Beets, Papayas, Bananas and Pineapples

Ung Choi, Curly-leaf Parsley, Basil, Cilantro, Ginger

Zucchini, Avocados, ginger and sweet onion

Apple Bananas and Jabong (Pomelo or Chinese grapefruit)

Zucchini, Avocados, ginger and sweet onion

Pineapple and Papaya

local oranges, misc. produce, ????, radish, fennel, tomatoes

Loon Ngan (Dragon Eye Fruit; tastes like Lychee), Rambutan, more Tommy Atkin mangoes and Jicama

Kukui Sausage Co.

Taro Delight

Tom Purdy of Taro Delight, Taro Delight Smoked Taro Dip products, Smoked Taro Dip Poke, Smoke Taro Dip Poke version 2

Taronaise, Red Chili & Coconut, Chipotle Mustaro, Evil Jungle Taro Green Thai Churry Smoked Taro Dips

Gold Fire!!! Yellow Curry with Sage, Olive the Above, Sun Dried Tomato Smoked Taro Dips and Chinese Dry Land Taro. The dips were all offered as samples to try along with tortilla chips.

KCC Culinary Arts demonstration

Kapiolani Community College Culinary Arts Students give a presentation on cooking with Fennel

Made in Hawaii Foods

Hashimoto Farm Kula Cherimoya and Kona Ono Mea Orchards Mangosteen (both shown cut open in bottom row photos), Island Preserve brand fruit spreads

Paniolo Popcorn

Paniolo Popcorn fresh kettle corn

People at the Market

A shave ice stand and very crowded, yet relaxed-pace concourses.

North Shore Farms

North Shore Farms Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Grilled Pizza

Country Comfort Catering

Country Comfort Catering offers fresh-made Beignets (pictured above), Lumpia, Polenta and Risotto

Da Spot

Da Spot authentic Mediterranean dishes

Ali’i Kula Lavender

Ali’i Kula Lavender: bottled essence of lavender, lavender scrub, lavender bath and beauty products, lavender plant (lavender is an herb in the same family as mint)

Gourmet Island

Gourmet Island Hamakua Mushrooms

Kaiulani Spices

Kaiulani Spices: Kaiulani Cowell prepares her signature Exotic Curry Fried Rice with Cranberries

Kaiulani Spices: A sample of Kaiulani’s Exotic Curry Fried Rice with Cranberries, display of spice varieties, all made in Hawaii

Music by Kevin Inn & Friends

Kevin Inn and a friend entertain the crowd with sophisticated and soothing classical and contemporary instrumental guitar

Ohana Seafood

Ohana Flavors marinaded salmon fried rice

Kahuku Farms

Kahuku Farms Na Ono Roasted Kahuku Super Sweet Corn: Tent, Sweet Corn just out of the roaster, Fried Kahuku Apple Banana with Vanilla Caramel Sauce, Jabong (Chinese Grapefruit)

Items I tried from this tent: Roasted Kahuku Super Sweet Corn Li Hing Mui flavor with lemon butter ($3), Fried Kahuku Apple Banana with Vanilla Caramel Sauce ($3)

Other roasted Kahuku corn flavors included: Lilikoi Butter with Garlic Herb Seasoning, Butter with Garlic Herb Seasoning, Shoyu Butter with Garlic Herb Seasoning, Shoyu Butter dusted with Furikake, Wasabi Shoyu Butter with Chili Garlic Seasoning, Butter with Parmesan Cheese and Lilikoi Butter with Parmesan Cheese. All $3 each.

The Li Hing Mui Kahuku Corn flavor was alright, but not as interesting or complimentary as I expected it to be. The corn is indeed sweet though. I’d like to try the Shoyu Butter dusted Furikake next time. That one looked ONO! The fried Apple Banana was delicious. The batter had a similar taste and texture to the Krusteaz Pancake Batter I used a while back to make fish ‘n chips. The vanilla caramel sauce drizzled was certainly the icing on the cake here. Winnah.

SKA Tropicals

SKA Tropicals: Tropical Mix, Heliconia, Red Ginger, Lauhala weaved Leaf?

Misc. Tropicals, Kukui Nut Leis (not from SKA Tropicals)

Penny’s Orchids

Penny’s Orchids

Stacy’s Laulau Co.

Stacy’s Laulau Co.: Gramma’s Pickled Onions, Dried Ahi, Chyler’s Hawaiian Beef Chips (sorry, I didn’t get a photo of their laulau.. ack!). Note, they also have Turkey Tail Laulau!

Pat’s Peanuts & Xotic Eat

Pat’s Peanuts: Spicy, Garlic and Original Boiled Peanuts ($3/1-pound bag). Xotic Eats: Spinach and Cheese and Sun-dried Tomato & Olive Calzones ($5 each)

Ba-Le Bakery

Ba-Le Bakery artisan breads, baked goods and Vietnamese cuisine

KCC Students’ Baked Goods

KCC Culinary students’ baked goods: Scones, Cinnamon Rolls, Brownies, Bread Pudding

Ma’o Organic Farm

Stacy’s Laulau Co.: Gramma’s Pickled Onions, Dried Ahi, Chyler’s Hawaiian Beef Chips (sorry, I didn’t get a photo of their laulau.. ack!). Note, they also have Turkey Tail Laulau!

Nalo Farms

Nalo Farms: Dean’s Greens, braising greens, tatsoi, variety of fresh herbs, Kamamiya papayas, Molokai sweet potatoes and much more

Greenpoint Nursery

Greenpoint Nursery Anthuriums

Locally-Made Honey

New Wave Kitchen

Hawaiian Style Chili Co.

One more similar plate from an unidentified vendor…

Big Island Abalone

Marine AgriFuture

Organic & Healthy

Land of Organica Organic Sorbets ($5 ea. for larger tub) and from a different vendor, a Kula Watercress Salad made with Shingo Pear, Goat Cheese, Pomegranate and Walnut and Raspberry Vinnaigrette ($7)

North Shore Cattle Company

North Shore Cattle Company features naturally-raised hormone-free beef from Haleiwa; all beef Portuguese and Andouille sausages; grilled burgers and breakfast specials, including Loco Moco and Eggs Benedict

Here’s a bite-through view of North Shore Cattle Company’s 1/2 Pound Paniolo Burger (just $5!)…

Fresh from the Farm

Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation

The KCC Farmer’s Market happens every Saturday at the Kapiolani Community College campus main parking lot at the foot of Diamond Head on Monsarrat avenue, from 7:30am to 11:30am.

A decent amount of (free) parking is available on campus in the remaining open lots in the front area near the entrance. If that gets full (which it just about was when I arrived at 8:30am), there should be plenty parallel options along Monsarrat and other nearby streets surrounding the KCC campus. The main entrance is right across the street from Diamond Head Theater.

From the HFBF.org website, here’s a few shopping tips (which I completely agree with based on my experience):
• Bring a shopping basket or bag; have a cooler with you, too. A cart on wheels is a good idea – those papayas get heavy quickly!
• Bring cash in small denominations, especially if you’re shopping early.
• Buy seasonal items when you see them; find out how long the season will last.
• Wear comfortable flat shoes for walking during your market adventure.
• There’s plenty of parking.
• Early shoppers usually wait in lines; there’s usually plenty of product for shoppers who come later.
• Check our weekly Tip Sheet on this site to plan your purchases.

In conclusion, The KCC Farmers’ Market has grown into a HUGE event, said to be the biggest in the state, with a head-spinning amount of vendors to visit. So plan on spending your entire Saturday morning here, as that’s how long it will take in order to thoroughly browse and shop here.

Whether you’re a kama’aina or visitor, if you’ve never been to the KCC Farmers’ Market, place it RIGHT NOW on your MUST-DO list. Just get up early one Saturday (or every Saturday) and make your way down there. KCC Farmer’s Market truly is a foodie’s paradise!

What? KCC Farmers’ Market
When? Every Saturday from 7:30 – 11:00am
Where? Kapiolani Community College main parking lot
Why? Because there’s a lot to see and TASTE!.. and because you have nothing better to do on a Saturday morning
Big Shaka to: A huge selection of vendors offering a diverse selection of made in Hawaii products. Very friendly folks working the vendor booths (for the most part). Highly interactive and educational, including lots of demos and free samples! An ideal place for both tourists and locals to get updated with Hawaii’s culinary scene. Supporting the economic viability of Hawaii’s farmers and ranchers.
No shaka to: Prices can be a hit or miss.
The Tasty Island rating: 5 SPAM Musubi

The Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation official website:

Go to that website for more information about the KCC Farmers’ Market, including weekly updated Farmers’ Market “tip sheet” vendor listings and schedules.

Note, HFBF also holds Farmers Markets in Kailua every Thursday, in Mililani every Sunday and in Kino’ole and Waianae on select dates. See website for more information.

The following link is the KCC Farmers’ Market TIP SHEET from the day of my visit on Saturday, February 28, 2009. This includes the complete vendor list (it’s a LONG one!) and their assigned location by row on the included parking lot map:
kcc_farmers_market_2.28.09.pdf (275kb 2-page PDF document)

According to last Saturday’s TIP SHEET, this upcoming Saturday’s (3/7/09) vendors will include Sea Mountain Coffee, Mauna Kea Baking, Big Island Bees, Happy Cakes, Island Rainbow Tropicals and Kieth’s Cookies.


22 thoughts on “A Foodie's Paradise at KCC Farmers' Market

  1. We went to the HFBF market in Mililani a few weeks ago. What was there was delicious, but the selection was very slim. As an island newbie I was underwhelmed comparing the market to the hype. KCC looks like what I was hoping for in a farmer’s market. 🙂 Thanks to your review the drive from Kunia actually looks worth it.

  2. wow, Pomai, that was a long post. Plenty of great pictures, looked like my grandma eating samples. (but then, everyone’s grandma eats samples. It’s a grandma thing_

  3. Thats it! I’m going back to bed. What a wonderful post and great looking farmer’s market! I might never have to go to a “store” if I could shop there!

    I can’t even get anyone here in Tennessee interested in heirloom tomatoes, snow peas (?!) or spaghetti squash! If/when I see a red cabbage at the FM, I snap it up. The farmer says most people don’t even know what that is.


    Thanks for making me believe that somewhere, people have a clue!!

  4. The KCC Farmer Market is the best ever. The San Francisco is not as good or interesting too. When I am back in Honolulu will go there. It better now then when first started. More vendors now. If tourists found out of this foodies place they will be most happy to see and taste many island special food.

  5. Oh. my. gosh. Thank you for this lovely post! I’m in WI but got to visit the Thursday night market last fall. Your photos are gorgeous and brought back great memories! I tried the Kahuku Super Sweet Corn with Li Hing Mui – om nom nom – the Hawaiian Chili Co. chili and fresh passionfruit and guava for dessert.

    I still have some chocolate sauce and a jar of pickled sea asparagus, which I put in tuna salad (the sea asparagus, not the chocolate).

    > local oranges, misc. produce, ????, radish, fennel, tomatoes

    Is the ???? here swiss/rainbow chard?

  6. OMG BA-LAE bakery is awesome, i love thier sandwiches! especially when they put that pickled green papaya and carrot thing in it! totally ono! 2 bad kaua’i no more ba-lae haha

  7. kaleonani, we found out that Ba-Le doesn’t sell their baked goods to the public from their bakery on Dillingham. It’s only wholesale. To get them, you must pre-order them by phone, OR, simply attend any one of the various Farm Fairs around Oahu which they attend throughout the week.

    nichole, wow all the way over in Wisconsin. I see it’s currently in the 40’s and 50’s temperature. BRRRRRRRRRRR. It’s quite chilly here in Honolulu too, at least by our standards. That sea asparagus is some GOOD STUFF! I’m certainly going to buy some this Saturday when I go back. It was delicious in “Lomilomi” style as well.

    As for the call on ???? being Rainbow Chard, looking at some Google images, that appears to be right.

    Betty, the word is already out with the tour companies here on the KCC Farmers’ Market. You may have noticed in my photos that there’s a lot of Japanese tourists at this event. Come to find out according the HFBF rep, they’re now bussing the tourists in from Waikiki to this event. I’d say tourists (mostly Japanese) make up at least half of those in attendance here.

    Lisa, did you see the size of that Nalo Farms Heirloom Tomato? It’s huge! About the size of a softball. Pricey too at just under $5 each. The variety of produce – many of which can’t be found at regular supermarkets – that Nalo Farms produces is just incredible. No wonder so many chefs here source them for their produce needs.

    Jodi, those Island Preserve brand fruit spreads are really ono. You can check out all the flavors (and buy too!) at http://www.madeinhawaiifoods.com

    Kristin L, I can guarantee you will not be disappointed upon arrival at the KCC Farmers’ Market. It’s HUGE, with so many interesting food vendors. It takes at least least 2 hours there browsing all the tents. Longer if you end up getting into Q&A conversations with the demonstrators (like I did). Head out there this Saturday. I’ll be there!

    Raphael, glad you like the photos. Surely there’s some amazing farmers markets over there in Cali’. Some probably so huge they make even the KCC Farmers Market look like a garage sale. Still, they don’t have that magical “Made in Hawaii” stamp on them! A-ha!

  8. Pomai, Glad you finally got KCC Farmers Market. It more than a farmer market it a foodies festival every weekends. Glad tourists enjoying it also. Best ever tour for foodies lovers.

  9. You should be paid a marketing fee for your post, Pomai.

    You did such a great job that I’m thinking about heading down to the market tomorrow.

    I really appreciate the time you take to post your thoughtful analysis and photographs.

    EXCELLENT job!

  10. Loved seeing all the beautiful photos. Colors sure come alive at KCC. We try to make it there once every couple of months. I am totally in love with the North Shore pizza and the grilled corn. The crust is super crispy and the fresh tomatoes and basil tops it off. Yes, the corn with shoyu butter w/furikake is as good as it looks. A trip to KCC is not complete without my pizza, corn, Kukui kimchee sausage, and baked goods from Bale. Can’t forget to load up on fresh fruits and veggies as well.

  11. Amy, if someone asked me to coordinate a “Foodie’s Tour of Oahu™” for tourists, the top two on my itinerary would be downtown Honolulu’s Chinatown and KCC Farmers’ Market. Some time in the near future I’ll haul by okole and camera over to Chinatown and do a thorough pictorial walkthrough of that place like how I did KCC Farmers’ Market.

    Menehune, by you saying that, I just got paid. Big mahalo for that comment! (and for everyone’s comments, of course!).

    Kym, if you looked around the place seeing what everyone was eating, I’d say a majority of those who were had a slice of that North Shore Farm Neapolitan Tomato and Mozzarella Pizza in their hand. That buggah’ must be ono. Only thing is, for me, I can’t eat pizza (or burgers) that early in the morning. Perhaps I’ll get a slice to go and eat it later.

    Well, they said it was gonna’ be rainy this Saturday, but it looks like it’s holding up, so I’m off again to KCC! See ya’ there!

  12. i’ve heard so much about this market and never been. my parents live mililani side that’s why. looks good though. one day i’ll make it out there.

    as far as the foodie tour, i’ve always wanted to do that!

  13. This foodies tour is great way to have a business and earn money. Low overhead. Minivan and flyers and tour guides. Hawaii have many great places still for small tours and restaurants and stores like way to increse customers sales.

    In this hard times everywhere start own business parttime is way to go to earn money. Some people collected unemployment and have side business to get by it only way to go.

  14. Thanks for the great article. Re the recommendation to look at the tip sheet of the week , I could not find it. Please advise.
    Thank you very much. Gratitude

  15. Gratitude, I just got back from this morning’s KCC Farmers’ Market. It was crowded as ever! The parking lot was full by the time I arrived at 7:30am. I was like, “damned!”. lol

    The tip sheet is located at the main concourse entrance in a little basket behind the KCC Farmers’ Market Marker Pen Easel Sign (see second-to-last photo above). They usually print enough, as most people don’t even realize or can find it (like you) that it’s there. Otherwise, most of what they print on there is on their website, except for the parking lot map. Hope you find it next time!

  16. I’ll see you there on Thursday! I’ll call them on Monday and check their menu for the week. If you change the day, just let me know.

    Do check out the KCC Farmers’ Market. I think you’ll really enjoy it. Take plenty cash, ’cause get plenty ono stuffs fo’ buy!

    I just went there this morning and picked up some Goya (Bitter Melon), Manoa Lettuce and Thai Basil, as well, and some Misoyaki Salmon and Butterfish Fried Rice from Ohana Seafoods for lunch. When you go there, try that… so ono! Don’t forget to try the North Shore Farms Pesto pizza. Winnahs too.

  17. Pomai, can’t go wrong at KCC FM. Fresh produces and great foods. I sometime get a lot of herbs and green onions when I there and chopped it up and freeze them and package it in ziplock bags. It still good for later use in dishes since I am busy at time to shopped.

  18. Pingback: Kaiulani’s Exotic Curry Fried Rice with Cranberries « The Tasty Island

  19. The photos are great to look at. Everything looks so ono!! I’m looking forward to shop at the Farmers Market soon.

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