“Pack to Fly” is a term heard often in Kauai restaurants and stores, usually referring to the packaging of food being taken on an airplane. Most times, this food will be presented as omiyage (o-mee-yah-gay), the Japanese tradition of gifts given to co-workers, family, and friends upon returning from a trip. Omiyage has been adopted by Hawaii and Kauai locals and usually involves food. Anyone can take on this custom by buying and giving locally-made favorites from the places that they visit.
Kauai visitors know that the island presents a multitude of ono (Hawaiian for delicious) omiyage food choices. Here is a list of some of the best.
- Aunty Lilikoi Products offers a variety of passion fruit mustards, jellies, butters, syrups, dressings, and sauces that are sure-to-please gifts for those with tropical fever. The Passion Fruit Butter is divine to lather on a scone or dollop on ice cream. Notably, Aunty Lilikoi’s Passion Fruit Wasabi Mustard garnered the gold medal and title of Grand Champion at the 2005 Napa Valley International Mustard Competition. Visit their store in Waimea or pick up their products at grocery and specialty stores island-wide.
- Deli & Bread Connection is a sandwich emporium located in the Kukui Grove Shopping Center. Owned and operated by a Kauai family, Deli & Bread Connection’s sandwiches are an island favorite custom made to order using the company’s fresh baked bread. You can’t miss the comforting aroma of the baking bread as you approach the eatery. Purple taro rolls and bread loaves (wheat, white, sour dough, and sweet) are sold in-store and make wonderful gifts to take home to friends.
- Hamura Saimin Stand, a 2006 James Beard Award winner, is a small, family-owned restaurant that has been serving hot ramen out of an unassuming, wooden building with old-fashioned counters and stools for more than 40 years. Tucked in the armpit of Lihue, Hamura Saimin Stand is open for lunch and dinner. Their famous noodles that are made fresh daily are available for purchase (dry) to take home with you. Also made each day are manapua, steamed bun filled with pork, and lilikoi chiffon pie. Boxes of noodles, manapua and lilikoi chiffon pie are repeatedly spotted as carry-on luggage on airplanes departing Kauai.
- Kauai Chocolate Company creates premium chocolates on-site in their quaint shop at the Port Allen Marina Center in Eleele. Savor rich tropical truffles, fudge and homemade ice cream all while watching these sweets being made. A must-buy is the Chocolate Opihi, the company’s most popular item, a shortbread cookie, caramel and a whole macadamia nut covered in chocolate. A box of Chocolate Opihis is a luxurious gift for a special someone.
- Kauai Cigars are certain to hit the spot after a satisfying meal. The cigars are made with premium, all-natural, sun grown Kauai filler tobacco, and are perfect for a business associate. Dark and light varieties are available at nearly 30 locations on Kauai. Visit their website for a list of retailers.
- Lawai Menehune Food Mart offers a variety of Kauai-style pastries. Much loved by locals are the plain or cream-filled malasada, a deep-fried, sugar-coated Portuguese donut; manapua, a steamed Chinese rice cake; and gooey, sweet cascaron, a deep-fried Filipino dough ball. The deep-fried sweets are good to bring along on short jaunts to neighbor islands as they are best eaten on the same day that they are produced.
- Mark’s Place Lawai is located directly next door to Lawai Menehune Food Mart and is a take-out restaurant offering gourmet plate lunches, marinated meats, and poke (seasoned, raw seafood). Mark’s Place Lawai also has an omiyage section boasting freshly made cookies, mini cakes, snack mixes, prune mui, and lavosh, which is available in hot chili pepper, Hawaiian salt, sesame seed, and macadamia-coconut flavors.
- Pono Market is a locally-owned, family business that has been serving Kauai’s Kapaa town for decades. Offering espresso, take-out lunch, sashimi, poke, Spam musubis (Spam wrapped in rice and seaweed), and more. Pono Market is a busy stop for hungry locals throughout the day. A favorite omiyage item from Pono Market is their fresh manju, a bite-size Japanese pastry filled with one of the following: red bean paste, coconut, Okinawan sweet potato, or apple. The manju are made daily and ready for sale at 8 a.m. Arrive early as they sell out quickly, and ask them to “pack to fly” to protect these delicate confections from air travel.
These are just a few of the most popular Kauai food omiyage that are regularly packed to fly. Uniquely-Kauai omiyage can be found in all corners of the island, and the County of Kauai has a Kauai Made Program that represents items made on-island, using products from and by the people of Kauai. View its entire directory of vendors at www.kauaimade.net.
Contact Information for above mentioned businesses:
Aunty Lilikoi – www.auntylilikoi.com
9875 Waimea Road
Waimea, HI 96796.
Toll free 1-866-LILIKOI
Deli & Bread Connection
Kukui Grove Shopping Center
3-2600 Kaumualii Hwy #F05
Lihue, HI 96766
Hamura Saimin Stand
2956 Kress St.
Lihue, HI 96766
Kauai Chocolate Company – www.kauaichocolate.us
Port Allen Marina Center
4341 Waialo Road
Eleele, HI 96705
Lawai Menehune Food Mart
2-3687 Kaumualii Hwy
Lawai, HI 96765
Mark’s Place Lawai
203687 Kaumualii Hwy.
Lawai, HI 96765
4-1300 Kuhio Hwy.
Kapaa, HI 96746