First Look: Foodland Farms’ New Store and Restaurant, Mahi‘ai Table
The latest Foodland Farms opened last week in Kapolei with the chain’s first in-store restaurant, open daily for breakfast through dessert. Here’s what we found, ate and loved.
Photos and video: Kelli Shiroma Braiotta
Back in March, we were excited to learn that not only was Foodland Farms coming to the West Side, it would be bringing the brand’s first in-store restaurant to Ka Makana Ali‘i. It was set to open April 8, but … you know.
Three months later, the 32,000-square-foot space, including full-service restaurant and bar Mahi‘ai Table, finally opened on the same side of the mall as Hampton Inn and 24 Hour Fitness. With Mahi‘ai Table, not only can you go out for a sit-down meal before you get groceries, you can actually order groceries online while you eat and have them ready for pickup when you’re done.
Mahi‘ai means “farmer” or “farming” in Hawaiian, so you’ll see a lot of locally sourced ingredients from places such as Pono Pork, MA‘O Organic Farms and Ho Farms on the menu. You can grab fast-casual breakfast items, and lunch and dinner choices include mango-glazed chicken wings with arare, burgers, pizzas, Pono Pork chops and desserts. Reservations are recommended; you’ll need a mask, tables are socially distanced and there’s a maximum of four guests per table if you’re eating in.
We tried a bunch of dishes at a recent media preview. Here’s a rundown of our favorites.
Malassada crullers with liliko‘i caramel
Definitely start with the beef lū‘au, with slow-braised short ribs and Ho Farms lomi tomato; it’s savory with a tiny kick at the end, a fun twist on a local staple. We also loved the grilled opah with avocado relish and bright succotash of ‘Ewa corn and edamame, and the juicy roasted half-chicken with taro mash, Hāmākua ali‘i mushrooms and pan drippings. Save room for dessert—the malassada crullers with liliko‘i caramel are crispy, light and overall pretty incredible, and the comforting ube pie with vanilla coconut anglaise and a hint of ginger is also worth the calories.
UBE PIE ON VANILLA COCONUT ANGLAISE
On to the store: This Foodland Farms will have familiar Foodland favorites, including fresh fried chicken, a good poke selection, fresh produce, full-service meat and seafood counters, and Foodland To You delivery and curbside pickup. There’s a HI Steaks counter in there, too. Some things unique to this Foodland Farms:
There’s a 900-square-foot indoor-outdoor lānai where you can eat your bentos and meals from the food stations.
Only fresh ‘ahi, not frozen, goes into the poke.
Some sections will have more natural and organic products: locally made grain-free granola and power bars, fresh juices and wellness boosts, meat alternatives, gluten-free products and keto- and paleo-friendly foods.
A bowls station next to the burritos station will have made-to-order greens, grains and protein bowls.
In place of the hot and cold bars: grab-and-go bentos for breakfast and meat-and-veggie combo plates at lunch. New grab-and-go items include ready-to-heat family meals and prepackaged local faves like gyoza, lumpia and Okinawan sweet potato tempura.
The number of customers inside the store will be limited for safety. You can reserve a shopping time online at foodland.com/opentable to skip the line. The limit is two people per group. If you show up without a reserved shopping time, you may have to wait to get in.
91-5431 Kapolei Parkway, Kapolei, open daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. (last seating in the restaurant at 8 p.m.), (808) 670-2770