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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Primo Popcorn in Honolulu: move over hurricane popcorn and get ready for the tsunami

Primo Popcorn's Kalakoa: they look and taste like giant Nerds

Flavors of Primo Popcorn: haole, sweet bacon, lihing pineapple, Thai crab curry, aku, white truffle Parmesan, shiso horny.

"Are you insane?" asked Rylen Sato's dad when Rylen decided to start a popcorn company. Insane, or just creative, perhaps.

Rylen started Primo Popcorn about two years ago out of a spot on Sand Island Access Road and, a few weeks ago, opened a downtown location at the Davies Pacific Center. You can bet that keyboards in downtown offices just got a little bit stickier. The new shop carries around 100 different flavors, which Rylen says isn't even all the varieties he makes, nor all that he's going to make; he adds new ones every month.

His inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. Dried aku, from the guys selling dried aku out of their car on the side of the road. Raging crab, from the crawfish boil places he would go to when he worked in Las Vegas. Thai crab curry, from Mai Lan's crab curry dish (no matter that it's actually Vietnamese). He's even one-upped our beloved hurricane popcorn with tsunami popcorn, combining ghost chili pepper, furikake and spicy mochi crunch.

"Lots of inspiration for the flavors comes from the experience of eating, of eating out, watching Food Network and things that our chefs were putting together at Roy's (in Las Vegas)," Rylen says.

Flavors fall into three categories: savory (like the beer-flavored Heinekorn and prime rib, end cut), candied (the most popular being kalakoa, a mish mash of fruit and color flavors), and chocolate covered (i.e. Muddy Piggy dark chocolate bacon).

"Popcorn should be fun," Rylen says. It's never been this fun.

Primo Popcorn, inside Davies Pacific Center on 841 Bishop St., 260-8550,

Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 in Permalink

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About This Column

From five-star restaurants to hidden holes-in-the-wall, Biting Commentary will let you know what’s hot and what’s not. Find out the latest restaurant news—who’s opening, who’s closing, which chef is moving on, where the great special dinners are. Discover the best menu items, fabulous wines, stunning cocktails, hand-crafted beers. Be the first to hear about upcoming food events and festivals.

Food editor Martha Cheng graduated from Wellesley College with degrees in Computer Science and English. She's a former line cook, food truck owner, Peace Corps volunteer and Google techie. Follow her on Twitter @marthacheng.


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